CURATORS at a Southampton gallery are celebrating after receiving a host of awards nominations.

The team at Solent Showcase Gallery were invited to two awards ceremonies in the space of a week - before being told one of their exhibitions was also named as one of the UK's 100 best.

But the art specialists - who can already call themselves "award-winning" after picking up prizes last year - say their success all down to the communities they serve.

This week the Small Faces exhibition - which showed more than 7,000 portraits by members of the public at the Above Bar gallery - was named one of the UK’s 100 best projects by Universities UK for its "pioneering work in removing barriers to creativity and engaging diverse audiences."

The same exhibition was nominated for the Times Higher Education Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community award.

The Showcase team also won silver at this year's CIPR awards for the best arts culture or sport campaign with their exhibition of Hampshire artist Kev Munday's work.

The Solent University graduate - whose work has been hailed as some of the most collectable contemporary art - spent three months at Solent Showcase Gallery making new murals and helping transform city centre bins into colourful works of art.

Curator Kate Maple said: "The awards and nominations the gallery have received are for exhibitions that local communities helped to build so everyone should be valued and recognised for their part in it – it’s a collaborative, collective achievement.

University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Baldwin, said: “It is a fantastic achievement for the university to be featured in the UK’s Best Breakthrough list. We’re extremely proud of differences our staff and students are making to people, lives and communities.

“The MadeAtUni campaign is an incredibly important initiative for Solent University as it allows students, alumni, the local community and the wider population to understand the work that we do and the impact it has.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list is a testament to the difference that universities make to people’s lives and we want everyone to join us in celebrating the work they do.”

As reported last year Kate Maple and her team won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) regional PRide Community Relations award for Small Faces.