Contemporary Art Academy

Contemporary Art Academy is an online art educational initiative offering courses to practicing artists, co-founded by Zavier Ellis & Mathew Gibson.  


Contemporary Art Academy is home to an award-winning faculty of artworld professionals, each with a valuable network of industry connections. They have a wealth of experience in the contemporary art arena as practicing artists, curators, gallerists, art writers, magazine editors and educators.

Lead Artists

Kiera Bennett


Kiera Bennett is a practicing contemporary artist and has recently relocated to Southend-on-Sea. She continues to teach in London and is represented by CHARLIE SMITH LONDON. Kiera has work in various leading corporate, private and artist collections globally, including David and Serenella Ciclitira, Arthur G Rosen, Julian Opie, Cornelia Parker and Soho House.  

Kiera studied at The Royal College of Art and The Ruskin School, Oxford University. Since graduating from the RCA in 2002 she has consistently exhibited both nationally and internationally. Kiera was a member of Rockwell Gallery and Studios, Dalston Lane, London, 2002 – 2007. Rockwell was an artist run project space and studio complex that exhibited over 200 artists. The Hackney based collective showcased the work of emerging artists; rare and unseen projects of established artists; projects by particularly exciting curators; and occasionally work by Rockwell’s own members. Kiera has also co-curated exhibitions including In Memoriam Francesca Lowe, Old Truman Brewery, London (2017); The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – 22 painters (2016); and The Beard (2011) – both at CHARLIE SMITH LONDON. Kiera has also been co-selector of the Barbican Arts Group Trust / ArtWorks Open with Graham Crowley (2011) and Reece Jones (2012). 

Kiera has extensive teaching experience. For the past 15 years she has been Fine Art tutor at City and Guilds of London Art School, teaching across the BA and MA Fine Art courses. She has also been visiting lecturer at art schools including Chelsea College of Art, Norwich School of Art, Camberwell Art School, The Ruskin School, Oxford University, University of Bedfordshire and through the Cocheme Fellowship at Byam Shaw School of Art, taught on their Post Graduate course. Kiera has also been a mentor on the Turps studio programme. 

Andrew Carter


Andrew Carter lives and works in London. He is a painter, printmaker and teacher. He studied Fine Art Painting at Central St Martins and an MA in Printmaking at Camberwell School of Art. He has over twenty-five years of art teaching experience alongside developing his own work as a painter and printmaker. Over the last ten years he has focused his own practice on relief printmaking, developing ideas for limited edition prints, artists books and installation. Primarily the focus of this work is about shape, colour and pattern found in the process of making and in the observation of the natural world. He has exhibited his prints widely, including at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and various contemporary print fairs. Carter’s work is held in public and private collections including the V&A Museum, the British Library and Warwick University. 

Mark Entwisle


Born in Amman, Jordan, Mark Entwisle is recognized as a highly accomplished figurative artist working in oil and watercolour. Only diagnosed with dyslexia aged 45, Mark had always found art to be a profoundly expressive vehicle, constantly working in sketchbooks as well as towards finished pieces.

Mark studied Illustration at Brighton Art College under John Vernon Lord and Raymond Briggs. Upon graduation his fluid style was immediately in demand with numerous commissions from leading book publishers globally; and he also undertook editorial work, album cover and poster design.

Fifteen years into his career, Mark began to focus on painting, and specifically portraiture. His observational paintings uncover a poignancy in the everyday and appear effortless. With success in many competitions including the BP Portrait Award, Mark won the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2020. He continues to exhibit and work to commission, with the human figure being central to his work.

Laxmi Hussain


Laxmi Hussain has been drawing for as long as she can remember. But it is only since the birth of her first child that she turned her passion into a profession. Re-inspired by the irrepressible joy in creativity shown by her children, Laxmi picked up the pencil again, finding artwork to be a valuable means of reclaiming her own identity amid the emotional blurrings of motherhood. 

Elegant and ethereal but also precise and geometric, Laxmi’s drawings and paintings exist somewhere between abstraction and realism, often presenting what appear to be the free-flowing organic forms of the body through intricately ordered patterns. Her inspiration comes from everyday life, especially the tenderness of motherhood.

Working in different media, and usually at night, Laxmi is driven by experimentation, constantly exploring new techniques. Often, her work includes elements that appear incomplete, obliging the viewer to pause and engage with the artwork, and to fill in the absences themselves.

Laxmi has been commissioned for artwork or illustration by numerous private and corporate clients including the Henry Moore Foundation, H&M Home, Tate, Royal Academy of Arts,Vans, Derwent Art, Chronicle Books and Astrid & Miyu. She has has been featured in prominent publications including Vogue, TimeOut, Elle Decoration, Financial Times and The Sunday Times.

Sam Jackson


Sam Jackson is represented by CHARLIE SMITH LONDON and Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt. He graduated from the Royal Academy Schools, London with a Post-Graduate Diploma Fine Art in 2007 having completed his BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Middlesex University in 2003. 
Sam has exhibited widely, including Saatchi Gallery, London; The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich; Walker Art Museum, Liverpool; Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth; Dean Clough, Halifax; Galerie Robert Drees, Berlin; Galerie Rigassi, Bern; Koraalberg Contemporary Art Gallery, Antwerp; and Mark Moore Gallery, LA. His work is placed in prominent private collections globally including Javier Baz, Denver; Glen Luchford, New York; David Roberts, London; Sir Norman Rosenthal, London; and Kay Saatchi, Los Angeles. 
Sam has extensive teaching experience, from school age to Masters. He has taught GCSE, A-level, BTEC, Foundation, BA (Hons) and Masters. He currently teaches MA Painting at Arts University Bournemouth, a course which he co-wrote with artist and Associate Professor Dominic Shepherd. 

Liane Lang


Liane Lang is a mixed media artist with a focus on the conversation between sculpture and photography. In her work she frequently prints images onto objects to explore the tension between the narrative and historical and the texture, scale and presence of the object. Lang takes a particular interest in monuments, statues and historic spaces and uses a wide range of materials from bark, lead and leather to marble and bronze. Born in Germany, Lang was partly raised in the U.S.A. She studied at National College of Art and Design in Dublin, took a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London, and an MFA at the Royal Academy Schools, London graduating in 2006. She lives and works in the East End of London.  

She has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, including the Royal Academy of Arts, Musée de Beaux Arts Calais, Museo Reina Sofia Madrid, PS1 New York, Kunstwerke, Berlin and Kunstverein Heidelberg. She won the Photofusion Award, the Tooth Travel Award and the Selina Cheneviere Prize. In 2019 she completed a six-month fellowship at Fundacion BilbaoArte in Spain. 2021 has seen a solo show in London at James Freeman Gallery and a residency with Ampersand Foundation and the Wirksworth Festival which culminated in a major installation in 2022. In 2022 she collaborated with musician Philipp Schlotter on a video, sound and sculptural performance at the Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao as part of the Toparte program. In 2019 she exhibited a major installation at Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany as part of Come Back and at James Simon Gallery, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, as part of Nah am Leben. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections, such as Royal Academy of Arts, MoMA, V&A, The Art Institute of Chicago, Arts Council England, the Saatchi Collection, Deutsche Bank, Kunstverein Bregenz, Ernst and Young and the Collection of the Kunstamt Spandau, Berlin.

Critical Context

Richard Dyer


Richard Dyer is Editor in Chief of Third Text (Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Culture), and a Contributing Editor to Ambit literary magazine. He is a widely published art critic, reviewer, poet, fiction writer, and a practicing artist. His critical writing has appeared in Third Text, Frieze, Flash Art, Art Review, Art Press (London Correspondent), The Independent, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Time Out, Citizen K (London Correspondent), and many other publications and catalogues. He was a curator on A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920−2020 (24 February – 5 June 2022), a major exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery.

Richard’s previous publications (before becoming full-time Editor in Chief at Third Text) include: a monograph on the UK based artist Wolfe von Lenkiewicz (Anomie Publishing, 2016); Ben Turnbull: Truth Justice and the American Way (The Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University, 2012); Art on Demand: Custom Colours and Materials: Sébastien de Ganay, Abstract Works Catalogue, 2008–2009 (onestar press, 2009); Controfacciata: Solid Water, Liquid Stone on the work of German photographer Matthias Schaller (Ben Brown Gallery, London, 2008); Keith Coventry: Deconstructing the Modernist Utopia (Haunch of Venison, Zurich, 2008); and the major monograph Making the (In)visible in the Work of Mark Francis, (Lund Humphries, 2008). Previous publications include Transitive Transduction: Breaking the Integument in the work of Tony Bevan (Ben Brown Gallery, 2006); Dan Hays: Impressions of Colorado (Southampton City Art Gallery, 2006); Zineb Sedira: Saphir (Photographer’s Gallery, 2006); and the first monograph on the British feminist performance and video artist Tina Kean, Electronic Shadows: The Art of Tina Kean (Black Dog, 2004).

Richard has conducted interviews with Gilbert and George, Nicholas Serota, Euan Uglow, Gregory Crewdson, Sarah Lucas, Andres Serrano, Isaac Julian, Yinka Shonibare, Fred Wilson, Raqib Shaw and Georgina Starr among other leading contemporary artists. He gave the opening keynote speech Breeching the Integument between Making, Looking and Writing at the 45th AICA Congress at the University of Zurich in July 2012. He has lectured at the Royal Academy, UAL, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art, and the University of East London.

Hettie Judah


Hettie Judah is the chief critic on the daily newspaper the i, a columnist for Apollo magazine, a contributing editor to The Plant, and writes regularly for the Guardian, Vogue, Frieze, the New York Times and a number of magazines with ‘art’ in the title. Recent and upcoming books include Lapidarium (John Murray/Penguin, 2022), How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents) (Lund Humphries, 2022), Frida Kahlo (Laurence King, 2020) and Art London (ACC Art Books, 2019).  

Hettie regularly talks about art and with artists for museum and gallery events, and has been a visiting lecturer for Goldsmiths University, London and Dauphine University, Paris. A supporter of Arts Emergency she has mentored artists and students through a variety of different schemes. As a broadcaster Hettie can be heard (and sometimes seen) on programmes including BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and Art That Made Us. She is currently working on a Hayward Touring exhibition. 

Emily Steer


Emily Steer is a London-based arts and culture journalist. She was online editor and then editor of pioneering biannual art magazine Elephant for eight years, and has written for titles including the Telegraph, Wallpaper, i-D, AnOther, Vice, Grazia, Marie Claire and Time Out.

In her time as a journalist, she has interviewed industry leading artists including Marina Abramović, Tim Walker, David Bailey and Theaster Gates. She has appeared on BBC shows Front Row and The Art of Now and hosted panel discussions for institutions such as The Royal Academy and The Arts Club.

She is currently training to be a psychodynamic psychotherapist at The Tavistock and Portman Clinic in London and has experience working with clients around suicidal ideation and sexual trauma. Her studies will lead to membership of the British Psychoanalytic Council.

Professional Practice

Zavier Ellis


Zavier Ellis was born in Windsor in the United Kingdom in 1973. He read History of Modern Art at Manchester University (1993-1996) before undertaking a Masters in Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School (2003-2005).  

Zavier has a multi-layered approach to the art industry. He is the founder and director of CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, a curatorial gallery project that runs off-site exhibitions in diverse locations. He was also co-founder and co-curator of the independent and annual show THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (2007-2017), which between 2011 and 2014 was organised in partnership with Saatchi’s New Sensations. THE FUTURE CAN WAIT was the largest exhibition of its kind globally. Zavier also curates a regular exhibition called Young Gods, which is his personal selection of London graduates and postgraduates. In response to recent global events Zavier launched the online work on paper initiative PROJECT PAPYROPHILIA during the first lockdown; and the Ukraine Support Pledge with Matthew Burrows MBE to raise funds by selling artwork for the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.   

Zavier has curated exhibitions internationally including in Berlin, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Klaipėda, London, Los Angeles, Naples and Rome; and continues to place work in notable collections globally. Known as an acute talent spotter Zavier has identified and exhibited a number of important young artists directly from art college who have gone on to considerable success with galleries, museums and collectors.   

Zavier also collects and maintains a studio practice, and as such has exhibited at Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Pera Museum, Istanbul; Saatchi Gallery, London; Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles; Klaipėda Culture Communication Centre, Klaipėda; Royal West Academy, Bristol; Dean Clough, Halifax; Paul Stolper, London; Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt; Raid Projects, Los Angeles; and ENIA Gallery, Pireas. His work is featured in prominent private collections including the seminal Sammlung Annette und Peter Nobel, Zurich and Beth Rudin DeWoody, West Palm Beach.  

Zavier sits on various selection committees and juries and is co-founder of Contemporary Art Academy. He has delivered many talks and seminars including Masterpiece Art Fair, Arts University College at Bournemouth, Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, London Art Fair, Chelsea College of Arts, Aesthetica Magazine, Griffin Gallery, King’s College, London and City & Guilds of London Art School. 

In 2014 Zavier published the iArtBook 100 London Artists with renowned art critic and historian Edward Lucie-Smith.  

Andrew Etherington


Andrew Etherington is a former Northerner who has cobbled together a living from the art world for the last 16 years. 

He has worked variously as a gallerist, dealer, researcher, art technician, writer and market stall holder, and was a PhD dropout before taking over as Gallery Director at Bermondsey Project Space in 2020. In that role he has supported artists at all stages of their career to stage projects on their own terms, from working with established names to create commercially successful solo exhibitions, to mentoring graduate artists to secure funding and hold sell-out events.

Previously Andrew has collaborated with West-End galleries to stage touring exhibitions by their artists outside of London, organised retrospectives by outsider industrial artists at regional museums, and has given several artists who have gone on to have international success their first solo shows. He is also a committed collector, focusing on contemporary printmaking and works on paper.

Andrew holds an MA in Museum and Gallery Studies from Newcastle University and has lead workshops and seminars on the practicalities of exhibiting for artists and curators, alongside mentoring practicing artists on their professional development.

Jade Mitchell


Jade Mitchell is a coach for creatives with a background in the contemporary art world. She set up Blank Canvas Coaching in 2019 after qualifying as a Relational Dynamics 1st coach and is also a practitioner of Positive Intelligence mental fitness and mindfulness.  

Jade previously managed contemporary artists, helping them gain international recognition and commercial success. She worked for galleries as Head of Artist Relations including Haunch of Venison (London, Zurich, Berlin, New York). Jade has also worked for artists directly, including as a consultant for Joana Vasconcelos, one of Portugal’s best-known artists, and as Director of Jonathan Yeo’s studio. This involved curating exhibitions with international museums and galleries to raise profile and commercial value.   

Jade understands the pressures of the competitive commercial art world and brings to coaching a deep knowledge of the challenges faced by individuals, such as confidence, focus, motivation, and self-doubt. She combines the knowledge and experience from her background in the art world with coaching skills and a positive, solution-focused mindset, to benefit many highly creative people.  

Kirsty Ogg


Kirsty Ogg is an independent curator and educator.  

Between 2013 and 2023, she was the Director of New Contemporaries, the UK’s foremost annual arts initiative offering critical support and exposure to emerging artists. During her time at New Contemporaries, Kirsty significantly expanded the organisation’s offer to artists, developing its annual open submission touring exhibition to encompass residencies, studio bursaries, fellowships and commissioning opportunities. Kirsty also strengthened New Contemporaries’ commitment to increasing access to its work for artists from a broader range of backgrounds (including those developing practice on alternative programmes). 

Between 2009 and 2013, Kirsty was Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London curating exhibitions including Claire Barclay’s Bloomberg Commission, Gerard Byrne’s mid-career survey, and a historical exhibition of Karl Blossfeldt’s photography. She was also responsible for the re-launch of the Whitechapel Gallery’s triennial open submission exhibition as The London Open and a year-long series of collection displays produced in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society.  

As former Director of The Showroom, London, Kirsty worked with artists including Barby Asante, Subodh Gupta, Jim Lambie and Eva Rothschild, presenting their first solo shows in London. 

Kirsty started her curatorial work as part of the organising committee of Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, before joining Norwich Gallery, Norwich School of Art & Design. She has also independently curated a number of shows with artists including Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Karen Kilimnik, Mike Nelson, Thomas Schütte, David Shrigley and Cathy Wilkes.  

Having taught extensively, she currently teaches on the MFA Curating course at Goldsmiths, University of London. In addition, she is a member of the CVAN London steering group and Taco!’s board.