A different kind of conference. Each year we invite colleagues and comrades from the UK and beyond to the town of St Helens to discuss, share and consider:
What is the role of art and artists in civil society ?
What are the fierce and urgent questions facing collaborative and social art today?
What the potential of collaborative art, with and within community and social contexts?
#WithForAbout is a moment for public critical reflection and a chance to explore some of the tensions and challenges in our work and in this field of practice. We invite interested parties to critically reflect and discuss in a different type of ‘conference’ setting. Read about previous conferences below.
In April 2019, over 120 participants were invited to collectively produce a dinner course, present it in a meaningful way; document the process and the event; contribute to discussion; submit a page for publication. Facilitated by artists Joshua Sofaer, idle women, Claire Weetman, Chrissie Tiller, Mark Storor, Eggs Collective, Cathy Cross and Heather Morison, groups were encouraged to take part in a collective experience in space and time, to embody the values we expound and to reflect on a common task.
This was a special edition of our With For About conference series, the fifth Staging Post of the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP). An ambitious transnational cultural programme focusing on the dynamic area of collaborative arts across Europe.
2017 With for About: Art, Activism & Community In May 2017 we partnered with Axisweb, idle women and Chrissie Tiller to host the second iteration of the conference With For About. The conference took place at Friends Meeting House, St Helens. 16 speakers / provocateurs and 100 participants explored collaboration, language and our role as artists, producers and commissioners in an ever-changing socio-political landscape.
2015 With for About
For our first With For About, 73 artists, producers, caretakers, educators, participants and commissioners gathered to talk and share ideas in St Helens Town Hall. The event aimed to create the space to explore validation, working in context, public art and publics and approaches to professional development. More information here.
Heart of Glass, in collaboration with Mark Devereux Projects, is delighted to announce a series of six practical artist professional development sessions for artists working within socially engaged practice. The sessions will take place in St Helens between November 2018 and April 2019.
This new collaboration is one component of Heart of Glass’ new national professional development programme for artists, producers and commissioning agencies working in social and community contexts. Details of other components including specialist areas of practice and coaching & mentoring will be announced in due course.
Led by Mark Devereux Projects, each workshop in the series will address key aspects of realising projects and commissions, providing attendees with the confidence and know-how to move their practice forward.
Each workshop will be tailored to the participating artists’ key questions and concerns; providing information, advice and guidance alongside open discussions and peer-to-peer sharing.
Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Workshop lunches will be hosted by a different member of the Heart of Glass staff/associate artist team to provide informal networking opportunities and access to staff expertise where relevant.
Whilst primarily aimed at artists working within socially engaged practice, artists working within other mediums are also welcome.
Sessions can be booked individually or as a whole programme at a discounted rate. Find out about the season ticket here.
Find out more about each workshop by following the links below:
If you require access support to attend a workshop please be in touch with us via email@example.com or on 01744 623290 so we can arrange this for you.
We are now delighted to offer a limited number of travel bursaries (up to £50 per individual, per session) to support attendance. Bursaries may be used to contribute towards the cost of travel and/or childcare costs. All artists attending (including those who have already booked tickets) are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to those who would otherwise be unable to attend. Those wishing to apply for a travel bursary should send the following information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Thursday 8th November 2018:
Amount applied for (up to £50 per individual, per session)
Brief explanation (200 words max) of how the bursary will support attendance
Breakdown of costs
Travel bursaries will be paid after attendance, and on receipt of proof of expenditure.
Individual sessions: £25 per session (£10 concession for students, senior citizens and St Helens based artists)
Season Ticket – all 6 sessions: £135 (£54 concessions: students, senior citizens & St Helens based artists)
Professional Development at Heart of Glass
Professional development is one of a number of research and talent development strands initiated by Heart of Glass to establish essential critical pedagogy around collaborative and social arts practice, and to offer a collegiate space for debate, enquiry and sharing in this field. Other strands include WITH FOR ABOUT – Heart of Glass’ annual conference, the fourth iteration of which will take place in May 2019; writing & publishing – PRAXIS Volume II will be published later this year; and FIERCE AND URGENT CONVERSATIONS: The First International Triennial of Social and Collaborative Arts Practice, which will take place in Autumn 2021.
About Mark Devereux Projects
Mark Devereux Projects has established a proven track record of developing artists’ practices and careers since forming in 2013. This year marks our fifth anniversary.
Mark Devereux Projects:
• specialises in supporting artists during crucial transitional stages in their career
• works collaboratively with artists, placing their core interests and ambitions at heart
• believes in paying artists
• supports artists both outside and within the commercial art market
• provides tailored information, support and guidance through mentoring and
• professional development programmes
• champions art which is compelling, critical and ambitious
• produces and curates exhibitions, talks programmes and events that challenge artists and audiences
• encourages creative risk
• forges connections between artists, galleries and audiences
• advocates for artists and works to enhance their national and international profile
Many of the artists we have worked with have gone on to receive important commissions, prizes, exhibitions and grants that have furthered their careers.
Mark Devereux Projects is a Company Limited by Guarantee (8818208), receiving project based funding to support our activity and programming.
Booking is now open for Take Over Festival (#TakeOverStHelens) and for six thrilling weeks between 16th September and 13th December 2018, art, culture and pop-up performances are igniting the streets and the spaces of St Helens. No location is off limits as artists are invited to showcase new and engaging work in libraries, shops, labour clubs and public spaces. St Helens 150’s edition of the festival examines the idea of identity. In a world where the only constant thing is change, what does that mean to our sense of self?
Contributors include son of St Helens, Frank Cottrell Boyce, award-winning US performance troop Split Britches (in a North of England debut of their Unexploded Ordnances show), and – fresh from her Edinburgh festival triumph – Selina Thompson presents salt – her visceral, vulnerable and beautiful exploration of her family’s colonial history.
Whether challenging, enthralling, captivating or enchanting – or, possibly all of the above – Take Over Festival promises to break culture free of its borders, and bring it kicking, screaming and exploding into the places where you’ll least expect it.
A documentary film about the campaign to unionise the women who cleaned office blocks at night and who were being victimised and underpaid by their employers. A key work of the 1970s, this intensely self-reflexive film implicates both the filmmakers and the audience in the processes of precarious, invisible labour. Find out more here.
Berwick Street Film Collective Marc Karlin, Mary Kelly, James Scott and Humphry Trevelyan. UK, 1972-75. 90 min.
£4, £3 (St Helens Library Card), £2 (concessions). Tickets and access info here and any library in St Helens.
Sunday’s Best – Larry Achiampong
Friday 5 October – Friday 16 November (12-6pm), 20B Church Street, St Helens
Sunday’s Best is a series of film and installation comprised of vivid audio and images of praise and worship sessions in a Ghanaian community church, married with the comparatively stark interiors of a traditional Catholic church. Documented across a number of sites in London, the work considers how belief systems within the African diaspora are inflected by colonial histories. In particular, the relationship with Christian imperialism and its impact on Achiampong’s tribe (the Ashanti). Sunday’s Best is an attempt to unbraid and reconcile the incongruence between western and non-western faith practices and the remains of history, nostalgia and trauma. More info here.
Thursday 11 October (7pm), Rainhill Library. This event is suitable for 16+ BSL interpreted performance.
Saturday 13 October, (1.30pm), Eccleston Library. This is a family friendly event.
To celebrate Libraries Week, Frank Cottrell Boyce will deliver a series of readings from his popular books including Millions and Sputnik’s Guide to Life at two different events. Frank Cottrell Boyce, who was educated in St Helens, has written television episodes for Coronation Street, Brookside and Doctor Who and contributed to movie screenplays including: Forget About Me, Butterfly Kiss, Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People, The Revenger’s Tragedy, and Millions. Find out more here.
Both events are FREE, tickets required. Book online here or call into any library in St Helens to purchase your tickets. Access info here.
The Rank and File (PG)
Thursday 18 October (7pm), Chester Lane Library
Director Kenneth Loach. Producer Graeme McDonald. Script Jim Allen. 1971. 71 min.
Based on the Pilkington Glass strike that took place in St. Helens in 1970, this film by Kenneth Loach uses a documentary approach to cover a wildcat strike among rank and file union members antagonised by a too-cosy relationship between the board and union executive that had resulted in the gradual erosion of pay and conditions. Loach uses a documentary approach to cover the action. Find out more here.
£4, £3 (St Helens Library Card), £2 (concessions). Tickets online hereand any library in St Helens.
salt. – Selina Thompson
Saturday 20 October (7pm), Parr Library
Selina Thompson presents the multi-award winning salt. – her visceral, vulnerable and beautiful one woman show retracing of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle – from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica, and back. In February, two artists got on a cargo ship, and retraced one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle – from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica, and back. It was a long journey backwards, in order to go forwards. This show is what they brought back. Find out more here.
£6, £5 (St.Helens Library Card Holders), £3 (concessions). Tickets and access info online here and any library in St Helens.
Jonathan Beaver Residency and Exhibition
Residency: Monday 22 – Saturday 27 October (10-4pm), various St Helens libraries. More detail here .
Exhibition: Thursday 15 November – Wednesday 19 December (10-4pm), Moss Bank library
Jonathon Beaver is an embroiderer, animator and arts educator based in Liverpool. He began working with needlepoint at the age of nine, encouraged by an auntie. He uses this traditional craft, often used to mark family occasions and decorate homes, to evoke queer family. Jonathon’s pieces range from small scale to large tapestries reminiscent of work from a bygone era, but bringing an old craft into a contemporary setting through subject matter. His practice takes traditional constructions of gender roles and identities and allows them to be explored and freed from societal shackles. Much of his work is an exploration of his personal gender preferences and identities both as an individual and an artist. Using words and literature as a starting point Jonathon will be in residence at various St.Helens Libraries from Monday 22nd – Saturday 27th October, creating new work for an exhibition at Moss Bank library as part of Take Over Festival & Homotopia in November.
This event is free and drop in.
Le Gateau Chocolat
Thursday 1 November (7.30pm), exact location to be confirmed (venue will be accessible and in central St Helens)
The opera-occasional, lycra-loving, black-beard, drag-diva Le Gateau Chocolat returns to St Helens to present a unique performance of his newest treat, RAW CACAO, in collaboration with a local brass band. This specially curated cycle of songs is the six-inch heeled, six and half foot tall, wig-clad wonder to the sound of brass, everything you expect and as you’ve never seen before.
£6, £3 (concessions – students, senior citizens). Tickets and access info available online here.
Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) – Split Britches
Thursday 8 November (7.30pm), St Helens Town Hall
Award-winning veteran US performance duo Split Britches will present a North of England debut of their show Unexploded Ordnances (UXO). Combining a Dr Strangelove-inspired performance with a daring forum for public conversation, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO), a theatre piece by Split Britches, explores ageing, anxiety, hidden desires and how to look forward when the future is uncertain. Find out more here.
Performed by Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw Written by Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw and Hannah Maxwell
Technical Design: Jo Palmer Video Content Design: Claire Nolan Design Consultant: Matt Delbridge Sound Design: Vivian Stoll Choreography Consultant: Stormy Brandenberger Production Manager: Hannah Moore Company Manager: Laura Petree Producer: Alex Legge
£6, £3 (concessions – students, senior citizens). Tickets and access info available online here.
Funny Cow (18) and Q & A with Maxine Peake
Monday 12 November (7pm), Ravenhead Social Club
Maxine Peake plays the gritty role of ‘Funny Cow’, a comedian who breaks through the glass ceiling of the all-male 1970s comedy circuit to rise to stardom. Set against the backdrop of working men’s clubs in the North of England, Funny Cow is both a love-letter to a bygone era and the defiant story of a woman who refuses to give up her dreams. Find out more here.
Director Adrian Shergold. Producers Mark Vennis and Kevin Proctor.
£4, £2 (concessions – students and senior citizens). Tickets available and access information online here.
We Are Still Here – Simon Mckeown
Saturday 8 December 2018, 7.30pm, St Helens Town Hall
Digital specialist and DaDaFest Artist of the Year, Simon Mckeown is working with the local disabled community to present a fun, exciting and visually poetic spectacle inspired by the town. We Are Still Here will use the complex Victorian facade of St Helens Town Hall as its canvas. Featuring massive super-sized outdoor projectors, next-gen digital mapping software, and immersive soundscapes.
This event is free but tickets are required and can be booked online here.
Wrap Party with Eggs Collective
Thursday 13 December (time TBC), The Citadel
To cap things off, writers, performers and producers of politically-charged theatre, Eggs Collective (party political artists in residence with Heart of Glass for the whole of 2018) will curate the unpredictable and unmissable besequinned centrepiece ofa send off to the 150th anniversary celebrations.
Ticket information to be confirmed, keep an eye on our website and social media.
Liverpool/St Helens-based artist Kate Hodgson believes in the power of print to shape, and to shift conversations. As part of this year’s Independents Biennial, Kate has been working with a group of women and their children to produce a new print-based creative project.
Over the summer the group have been experimenting with print techniques and exploring the artform’s past, pivotal role as a way to disseminate political messages. With Parr’s Torus Housing, the group have also held a series of sessions with local councillors, touching on equality, democracy and the machinations of local government. These conversations have fed into the series of printmaking workshops, along with the group’s passion for crafting, to produce a series of posters, t-shirts and totes – keep an eye out for the resulting images on a street near you!
The Heart of Glass Schools and Colleges Programme is a pilot scheme working with key partner schools in St Helens. A key output will be a series of online resource packs that complement the Heart of Glass Programme, aimed at different key stages and available for all schools and colleges in St Helens and delivering CPD to local schools networks.
Cathy Cross is Artist in Residence: Schools and Colleges. As well as developing her own practice – which will include bringing in additional artists to collaborate with – she aims to become truly embedded in the key schools and respond to partnerships collaboratively with teachers and pupils.
Cathy builds dens, creates projects, and constructs new spaces for pupils, teachers and parents to forge a deeper relationship with learning. Her work explores how the environments we use – often those overlooked or ignored – can become inventive incubators for personal growth. Harnessing projections, sound scapes, low-tech gadgets and high-spec smartphones, Cathy is embedding herself within the communities of St Cuthbert’s and Lansbury Bridge schools. Her practice doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions either: if our children lack ambition and drive, what’s at the root of that? And what can we all do – teachers, parents, peer groups – to engage curious young minds, inspire those who work with them, and help all of us reach our full potential in the process?
In partnerships with St Helens LCEP, we have produced a number of schools resources that provide ideas for how to be part of the fun, build cardboard castles and create animations. These can be found below. You can find two PDF resources under the resources section of this page.
St Cuthberts Catholic High School, St Helens
March to May 2018
Working alongside art teachers at St Cuthberts, we delivered our pilot project in Spring 2018. During GSCE art lessons, year 10 students explored themes of structure Architecture and mechanics. We devised new lesson plans in line with the current Independent Study Pack. We built some temporary structures/ pods in the covered area outside of the art rooms, these structures could be used as starting points for the students to study, take part, record and interview the artist in residence for their own research. Some students worked directly with me (Cathy Cross) to construct the spaces and therefore devise uses for the pods as further learning spaces for outdoor learning. I met with the teachers who run the Farne Centre (learning support) and we have identified a cohort of year 7 students that may choose to take part in the Talking Corridors project that will run from September. This will be an informal approach, getting to know the students in the learning support centre, finding out what they might be interested in doing, either during break/lunch times or during lessons. Using projectors and smart devices I intend to look at how messages can be conceived, created and delivered, by students that may not always have a voice. I plan to project content, images, videos throughout the corridors during lunchtimes to raise intrigue, interest, engagement and questions.
Lansbury Bridge School and Sports College
During the autumn term, Cathy will be working with the whole school community at Lansbury Bridge School to create an installation suspended above the atrium in the dining hall. We will be using various medium to produce abstract surfaces on circular discs that will be in part opaque, textured and clear. This will then create a multi layered projection surface. Cathy hopes to use this as a basis for exploration using projection, Lighting and soundscapes. Sending images, videos, animation and artwork, projected across the air above our heads…as we meet to eat together each day..
Building Cardboard Castles: How to Make a Castle Den
Building Cardboard Castles: How to Make an Ant Castle
Building Cardboard Castles: How to Make a Playground Castle
Building Cardboard Castles: How to Make a Toy Castle
Introduction to Animation
This school resource video has been created by Twin Vision, a multimedia charity, as part of the project We Are Still Here.
Simon Mckeown is an award winning internationally exhibiting artist renowned for his work which touches on and considers disability as well as our digital futures. Over the past year, he has led a new art project celebrating St Helens as a location for invention and innovation. This energy is still present today, taking form through artistic and cultural experiments, making St Helens a fertile ground for community and collaborative based arts practices.
Titled We Are Still Here, this new art project has been commissioned by Heart of Glass as part of St Helens 150 and in partnership with DaDaFest, a leading disability and D/deaf arts organisation based in Liverpool. Simon Mckeown has worked with BuzzHub St Helens Coalition of Disabled Peopleto create a series of works which will not only reflect on 150 years of the town’s history but also project into the future, exploring St Helens and its people as a creative force.
As part of this co-production programme, Mckeown has led a number of workshops over 2018 in the lead up to the mass outdoor video projection, which will take place on Saturday 8th December 2018. This bombastic artistic endeavour, which includes massive video projection, will temporarily manipulate the townscape, blurring reality and space and presenting new and alternative realities for our consideration.
“Working with Buzz Hub on this outdoor light show has been a privilege. They are a fantastically strong creative team and they worked hard with me to achieve the work we will see. Outdoor events on this scale are rare and exciting and the support of St Helens Council has been vital. Heart of Glass as the organisers are forward thinking, situating collaborative art and disability together into one massive event. This is going to be state of the art in so many ways!”
As part of We Are Still Here, Heart of Glass has commissioned the Liverpool-based multi-media charity Twin Visionto work with 12 local schools and community groups to create a stop frame animation that explores the creative force of the people of St Helens and the future. Titled Invaders of the Lost Park, the collaboratively created animation tells the story of a child called Lansbury who reimagines their home town with amazing results! The animation will be premiered at the We Are Still Here: St Helens 150 Finale event on 8th December 2018.
Invaders of the Lost Park has been created by the following groups during workshops with Twin Vision, you can see photos in the gallery on this page:
Knit and Knatter, Newton Le Willows; Lansbury Bridge School; Your Voice, Your Choice, Knowsley; Autism and Friendship Group, St Helens; Knowsley Disability Concern, KDC; Citadel AHSC; Change Grow Live, CGL St Helens; Mill Green School; Activate Knowsley; BuzzHub St Helens Coalition of Disabled People and The Autism and Asperger Society, St Helens.
Find out more about the free We Are Still Here: St Helens 150 Finale event, including full access information, here.
Baa Baa Baric: Have you Any Pull? is a twelve year undertaking by artist Mark Storor in collaboration with the people of St Helens, and commissioned by Heart of Glass.
In the past two years Mark has partnered with Merseyside Police, Change Grow Live, St Helens Young Carers, St Helens YMCA, Rainford High Technology College and Peter’s C. of E. Primary School.
The project poses the question: Is the most brutal act of barbarism civilisation? Confronted by its own set of negative statistics, St Helen’s is a town symbolic of national inequality. In a radical act of rebellion Baa Baa Baric harnesses the powers of creativity, imagination and possibility, refuting labels and challenging the status quo.
An enactment, a visual manifesto and a fairy tale, Baa Baa Baric: Have You Any Pull? is an artwork that recognises the mighty strength of our youngest children to take on the challenges of the world, gives older men in St Helens a voice from beyond the grave and communities a platform to share wisdom and dance to a different tune.
Click here to watch a series of thought provoking acts that took place in St Helens in September 2017 as part of Baa Baa Baric: Have You Any Pull? and read a report on that special day by Jack Welsh of The Double Negative.
on the water is a slow touring canal-based project in Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
The artists are currently delivering workshops at the idle women institute on Haydock Street in St Helens.
idle women offers a place for all women and girls to belong. Founded by co-caretakers Cis O’Boyle and Rachel Anderson in 2015, idle women is an artist led organisation that initiates and creates contemporary art with and by women.
idle women is responding to the devastation caused by austerity cuts to women’s services and the systematic erasure of women’s contributions to public life. They believe in creating opportunities, networking and other connections with women across the UK and beyond, and nurturing long term partnerships with specialist women’s providers.
A new art project has been encouraging residents in two St Helens housing schemes to reach out and get to know each other.
This summer artist Sheila Ghelani has worked with the residents of Helena Partnership sheltered housing scheme.
Each week Sheila will work with residents to make out-of-the-ordinary gestures, creating a stir that reaches out to their community and invites others to step over the thresholds within the scheme.
Sheila, an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, installation, participatory event and moving image, is currently leading the series of workshops in the schemes that continue into September.
Shelia, explained: “When I first visited the housing schemes one of the main things that struck me was that both the residents and Health and Wellbeing Office Nikki Wilkinson mentioned wanting to somehow engage with the more private residents, those who are a bit invisible and might not come down to meetings for a variety of reasons.
“There was also a lot of talk about doorways! So I started to wondering about how to cross some of those more private thresholds, to gain access or make contact with those that don’t come down to the common room, in the most non-intrusive of ways (letters, invites, gifts, sound).
“So that was the project’s initial starting point – ways in which to cross this very important boundary – the one between the residents private space and public space. It’s going to be great to see where the project ends up!”
The opening workshops saw participants create individual floral invitations, which were hand delivered to each of the properties within the scheme.
The mysterious hand printed invitations dropped through letterboxes with a note offering everyone in the scheme the chance to ‘Join Us’ – on a specific date, but with no location offered. This created a talking point, whereby participants and staff were able to share more detail about the forthcoming event.
Newcomers to the project then came out to join early participants and see a cellist and violinist perform – including the song ‘Getting to Know You’.
The growing group of residents from Parr Mount Court and Heald Farm Court will continue to work with Sheila to create new ways of getting to know their neighbours and explore the thresholds and boundaries that exist in their communities.
The project will continue throughout August and into early September. If you would like any more information please contact Suzanne@heartofglass.org.uk
Helen is a programme that will create immersive and explosive art experiences focused on women.
With international partners, Anu Productions and idle women, we will explore women’s persistence and resistance. We will contextualise present day violence against women in unspeakable and unimaginable histories, and look to the future.
Anu is renowned for interdisciplinary work that delves into historical and contemporary events, with scalpel like precision and dreamlike intensity. They bring unheard voices of the community to the fore, and aim to blur the lines between immersive and site specific installation art.
“★★★★★ ANU are responsible for the most searing and provocative works of the past decade and delivered some of the most ambitious and thrillingly intimate theatre in living memory”
Peter Crawley, The Irish Times
idle women create contemporary art with women. Their current work ‘on the water’ is a slow touring canal based project in the North West of England and West Yorkshire. Selina Cooper, a tailor made narrowboat, serves as a resource and arts centre for women.
Using a combination of enquiry, artistic endeavour, unconventional engagement practices and historical research we will create a new set of productions in 2018; the year St Helens celebrates its 150th birthday. Helen will create tectonic shifts in the everyday lives of the women who co-create her as well as the structures that work against us.
As we go, we will address inequalities in women’s labour in both the arts and construction sectors. We will develop skills for the future and create change in the power held by women from a diversity of backgrounds.
create new art experiences for audiences from across St Helens and beyond
re-imagine a local house, creating a nationally significant women’s space
provide talent development for early career and established female producers and artists
create change in the arts sector, in relation to collaborative practice and employment opportunities for women
disseminate learning through publishing and a national conference
We are in the early stages of developing this programme, and will update this project page as we go.
For more information about the current professional development opportunity please click here.