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With For About 2015: Conversations About Collaboration

4th Dec 2015
Event Details
St Helens Town Hall
  • Collectivity

Heart of Glass and Axisweb are delighted to present an exciting professional development and networking opportunity for artists, producers and creatives interested in the field of social and collaborative arts practice.

With For About: Conversations About Collaboration included opportunities to network, as well as critical conversations led by leading practitioners in this field exploring themes including Public Art + Publics, Validation Beyond the Gallery, Working in Context and Approaches to Professional Development.

This is a sharing event and critical reflection day for artists, producers and curators from across art form working within or interested in the field of social arts practice.

Do you work with people when creating work?

Do your collaborators share an interest, space or place?

Does your work respond to social and community themes, situations and contexts?

Does your work often take place outside of traditional art spaces?


9.30am – 10.00am Arrival + Registration

10.00am – 11.50am People and Place

Sharing and Presentations led by Debbie Chan (Producer) + Claire Weetman (Artist) featuring Ian Greenall, Kevin Crooks, Stuart Kenyon, Matthew Griffiths, Naoise Johnson-Martin and Rhyannon Parry (Yellow Door Artists), Victoria Edgerton, Michel Logan and Michelle Wren.

11.50am – 12.15pm Conversations About Collaboration Introduction / Patrick Fox Director, Heart of Glass

12.15pm – 13.45pm Validation Beyond the Gallery / Sheila Ghelani and Anthony Schrag

13.45pm – 14.30pm Lunch

14.30pm – 15.30pm Working in Context / Idle Women, Britt Jurgensen, Ian Brownbill and Evie Manning

15.45pm – 16.45pm Public Art + Publics / Joshua Sofaer and Mary McCarthy

17.00pm – 18.00pm Exploring Professional Development / In-Situ and Chrissie Tiller

** Including the launch of The Northern Faculty of Social Art Practice with Heart of Glass, Super Slow Way, Creative Scene and Left Coast.

18.00pm – 18.15pm - Check Out

About Axisweb

Axisweb is an arts charity, agency and platform. Developing, sharing and showcasing artists' ideas and talent.

Contributor Biographies

Chrissie Tiller

Chrissie Tiller is a creative practitioner, writer, teacher and thinker with over 30 years experience of working globally in participatory and collaborative arts and social practice. Following a Churchill Fellowship to explore the wider impact of the arts in economic, social and political change across Central and Eastern Europe in 1990, she created and led a number of major transnational programmes for artists, producers and curators working in socially engaged contexts in the performing and visual arts. She continues to work regularly in Central, Southern & Eastern Europe and across the EU, as well as Palestine, Uganda and Japan. All Chrissie’s work is informed by a passionate commitment to the possibility for everyone, no matter what their class, education or cultural background, to engage with the making, sharing and enjoyment of the arts. Ten years ago this led her to found and lead the MA in Participatory and Community Arts at Goldsmiths College, London University. Her concern with the impact of the current political and economic climate on Higher Education, particularly in terms of diversity and access, has recently decided her to leave academia and to explore alternative, and more dynamic models, of learning.

Claire Weetman

Claire Weetman is an artist whose work manifests itself as interventions in public spaces and gallery installations, including work using film & animation, drawing and performative actions. Based in St Helens, she has initiated a range of artist-led activity including international exchanges with Linz and Istanbul with POST Liverpool (2008-2013) and the establishment of Platform artist studios in St Helens (2011-present). She participates in residencies, including Shanghai (2012) & Southend (2014) and in 2015 will travel to Ireland with The Bluecoat's Liverpool-Ireland Cultural Connections travel grant. Claire produces Family Art Club for Heart of Glass, working with a wide range of artists from the region and wider UK.

Sheila Ghelani

Sheila Ghelani is an artist whose work spans performance, installation, participatory event and moving image. She likes to cut things up, break things apart and mix things together. She is also very interested in the practice of medicine and care and the relationship between art and science with particular focus on hybridity. She has shown work at venues and festivals across Europe including Belluard Bollwerk International in Switzerland, Fierce Festival in Birmingham, NRLA in Glasgow, Trouble Festival in Brussels, Performance Space in Sydney and the Wellcome Collection in London. As a collaborative artist she is a long-standing Associate Artist of Blast Theory and has toured and performed nationally and internationally for them and many other companies (Duckie, Rajni Shah Theatre, Pacitti Company). She also teaches in Academic contexts and regularly mentors artists and students and gives public talks.

Michelle Wren

Amongst many other things, I am an artist and activist and I have dedicated my life to fight for social change and to challenge the things I don't agree with. I do this with humour and art because both are powerful weapons (and I think we can always do with a laugh). I work in many mediums from large installations made from images, objects and CARDBOARD (I am obsessed with CARDBOARD) to reclaiming small objects to make peep shows. Now I am happy with my own practice I have spent the last year collaborating with other artists to form unstoppable unions that video, map, make films and tell stories by bringing our practices together I feel we achieve more than double the amount. I have two new projects in the pipeline with my current collaborating artists Jack King and Simon Jones so watch this space!!

Anthony Schrag

Anthony Schrag was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the Middle East, UK, Canada and is currently based somewhere in Scotland. He has worked across the UK as well as internationally, including residencies in Iceland, North Carolina, Vancouver, Finland, Holland and South Africa. He doesn’t do many exhibitions because he is conflicted about ‘objects’ and is afraid of the permanence they suggest. Instead, he works in participatory manner, and central to his practice is a broader discussion about the place of art in a social context.

Evie Manning

Evie Manning is co-Artistic Director of Common Wealth, a site-specific company making contemporary political theatre that responds to the here and now. Evie’s directed a wide range of site-specific work ranging from big community casts in the middle of housing estates to performances in taxis. Evie works with people from all walks of life from 4-80 years old, to make work that comes from them and what they want to say about the world we live in. Evie was brought up in Bradford and lives in Bradford today.

Credits include: The Deal Versus the People, No Guts, No Heart, No Glory by Aisha Zia, Our Glass House (All for Common Wealth) Taxi Tales by Ishy Din (Tamasha), At Night by Louise Wallwein (Royal Exchange), Worlds Apart by Aisha Zia (Chol), Everyday Heroes (Chol/Royal Exchange), Slipping Through the Net by Chris O’Connor, (Freedom Studios), Magna Carta on Trial (Freedom Studios/Mind the Gap), Photography Party (Royal Exchange). Evie received a BBC Performing Arts Fellowship in 2015.

Ian Greenall

I’m a multi-disciplinary performance based artist, who first started performing 26 yrs ago. My background was in contemporary dance, and as a youth dancer I performed nationally and internationally. Through my degree in Creative Arts and Masters in Contemporary Arts I developed a strong interest in incorporating other art forms into my dance work, particular photography, video and sound collage. And then I started teaching. For 18 years! Unfortunately this meant that my own practice gradually took more and more of a back seat. My arts engagement was reduced to facilitating the work of my students, though it has allowed me to develop my collaborative and project management skills. This year I decided that wasn’t enough anymore and I have started to produce my own work again!

Britt Jurgensen

Britt Jurgensen is an independent theatre and performance artist based in Anfield, Liverpool. She is a co-producer of Homebaked and currently helps define an overall strategy combining social enterprise and creative participation processes to develop a sustainable scheme of community-owned business and housing. Britt co-wrote and directed the Award winning Anfield Home Tour as part of Liverpool Biennial 2010. Working with Homebaked helps her to find a sense of belonging in her neighbourhood.

Additional to her work with Homebaked Britt collaborates with Jeanne van Heeswijk on several commissions in the UK and Germany. She often uses her skills to filter individual and collective narratives into performative encounters with the broader public, creating platforms that allow people to negotiate and manifest their hopes and ideas and re-imagine their surroundings.

Kevin Crooks

Kevin Crooks is St. Helens based photographer who has recently completed an MA in Photography at the University of Central Lancashire, whilst teaching Photography at Priestley College, Warrington; his work currently explores the effects of how changes to government policy, initiatives and programmes shape the lives of people within society. His work tackles social and spatial mobility and the politics of community and recent project saw Kevin work collaboratively with a group of Army Reservists to produce a documentary project which explored their motives behind joining the Army and the effects this has on their civilian lives.

Ian Brownbill

Ian Brownbill is a musician, a former soloist with the Black Dyke Band who has performed with artists including Tori Amos and Barclay James Harvest. Before embarking on a successful career within the third sector, Ian taught music for five years at St Vincent’s School for the Blind in Liverpool. He has always held a passion for maintaining equality in the arts and has led a number of discussions and seminars on diversity in the arts. Ian was Director of ground-breaking arts organization Metal in Liverpool from 2004 - 2014 where he managed numerous projects that brought together community members and artists from across artistic disciplines and from all corners of the World. He also continued to undertake his own projects and in 2011 his photographic collaboration with Phil Starling, ‘Made in St Helens’ was exhibited at London’s Southbank Centre. Apart from a few fairly brief excursions Ian has lived all his life in St Helens.

Yellow Door

Yellow Door artist duo, Rhyannon Parry and Naoise Johnson-Martin are based in the North West. Having graduated in 2013 with B.A (Hons) Fine Art Painting degrees and having established a strong connection with each other through their creative practice, they have since continued to work collaboratively as Yellow Door Artists. Their work involves organising and facilitating exhibitions, collaborative projects and residencies. They work with a variety of groups of all ages across the North West on a variety of creative and artistic events and projects. They have most recently occupied a disused retail space and transformed it into a dynamic creative space.


In Situ is a not-for-profit artist led organisation based in Brierfield Library, Pendle, Our vision is to bring art into the mix of the existing culture and environment of Pendle: for art to be part of everyday life. Our action research and enquiry extends to include perceptions of environment, people, place, and culture. In-Situ’s work also examines the role of the artist and collaborative situations.

In-Situ serves to examine, through art, environment and culture:

The natural and built environment.

How we live our lives

Perceptions of aesthetics: everyday, cultural and ecological.

How we perceive, appreciate, and affect our landscapes.

How artists collaborate.

In-Situ, established in 2012, currently consists of three practitioners: two artists and one social practitioner, 2 full time artist interns. With an open approach, we neither presuppose nor make assumptions about environment, people, place or culture.

Patrick Fox

Patrick Fox is Director of Heart of Glass, a new arts commissioning organisation based in St.Helens with a focus on place, people and context specific commissioning. Since taking up this position less than 18 months ago Patrick has worked with a wide range of local, national and international artists on ambitious and dynamic collaborative arts projects. Patrick is the former Director of Create, Ireland's national development agency for collaborative arts and during his tenure was the founder of the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme - a Creative Europe funded 9 organisation partnership programme investigating and experimenting within the field of collaborative arts. Patrick is interested in dialogical and open-ended approaches to the artistic process and growing international trends in this field. He is interested in expanding critical discourse and the infrastructures around collaborative arts, including the development of new models of arts education. Patrick is also the former Head of Collaborations at FACT Liverpool (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), leading the acclaimed tenantspin project as part of his portfolio. Patrick holds a Bsc in Multimedia and a Masters in Cultural Leadership and is a Board member of Axisweb, the UK's contemporary art radar.

Debbie Chan

I am currently Prototype Projects Producer for Heart of Glass working with artists and community groups to develop ideas and ambitious projects in St Helens. Having committed over 15 years to working in the arts sector, operating as a project manager, producer, fundraiser, facilitator, curator and adviser, I believe collaboration is challenging and complex, yet rewarding and worthwhile. My knowledge is constantly shifting and developing due to the changing art & media landscape and I hope to share my experiences of working collaboratively with artists and organisations; having commissioned site-specific artworks for heritage locations, delivered community led art projects and managed a consortium of (up to 15) organisations with the aim to raise the profile of media arts practice through collaborative opportunities. I am also Networked Narrative Creative Producer for FACT, Liverpool, working with young people and partners across Burnley, Wigan and Hull to commission new artworks for their communities and libraries.

Joshua Sofaer

Joshua Sofaer (b. 1972 Cambridge, England) is an artist who is centrally concerned with modes of collaboration and participation. For Scavengers (Tate Modern, London; SFMOMA, San Francisco) the public raced around the city answering clues and forming a new gallery exhibition. Name in Lights was a competition and installation in the City of Birmingham that culminated in a giant illuminated name. Viver a Rua was the opportunity for citizens of Porto to nominate someone to become the permanent name of a city street; all the maps have had to change. In 2014 he directed a new staged version of Bach’s St Matthew Passion for Folkoperan in Stockholm. The Rubbish Collection for Science Museum, London, was a giant archive of the museum’s waste. In Summer 2015 he conceived and directed Border Force an immersive nightclub, for Duckie and created Your Name Here for Heart of Glass in St Helens.

Mary McCarthy

Mary McCarthy is the Director of National Sculpture Factory Cork (NSF). The NSF works to support visual artists through the provision of flexible studios, residencies, awards, projects and programme initiatives. Mary was previously Executive Arts and Culture manager for Dublin Docklands Development Authority. While in that role she was responsible for the integration of the arts across the Docklands and for the roll out, implementation and development of the Authority’s initial arts and culture strategy. Previous to that she was Director of Programmes and Deputy Director for Cork 2005, the company established to manage Cork’s designation as European Capital of Culture. Mary is chairperson of Culture Ireland, the unit within Government for the promotion of Irish arts abroad. She is also a board member of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and a company member of EVA - Ireland's biennale.

idle women

idle women is an organisation that initiates, creates and produces contemporary art with women. Founded by its two caretakers Rachel Anderson and Cis O'Boyle in 2015. idle women (on the water) is our inaugural touring project delivered in collaboration with partners in the North West. We initially thought of idle women as a retreat, a place to recover and restore...but as the idea grew we realised that what we want is to create is a space that both restores and activates, somewhere that inspires and grows our creative voices and our power.

idle women caretakers

Cis O’Boyle is a collaborative performance maker who specialises in lighting and spacial design. She works closely with artists and groups to transform space and realise narratives that are accessible and inspirational. Cis has been a performance maker since 2001 collaborating on a wide variety of projects in the UK and abroad including theatre, opera, live art and dance. Rachel Anderson is a creative producer who supports the development of short and long term working relationships between artists and a wide range of communities, groups and individuals. She develops projects that place emphasis on their shared process, working in partnership to realise new works which couldn’t otherwise happen. Rachel spent 8 years at Artangel as Producer, Collaborative Projects where she developed site-specific works with artists in collaboration with a broad range of communities.

Michel Logan

Michel is an artist who graduated from St Helens College BA Fine Art (painting) in 2015. He is currently studying for his MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts and has worked on various Heart of Glass projects as both assistant artist and lead artist.

Stuart Kenyon

Stuart participates in a range of art forms including painting, drawing and poetry. He regularly performs his work at open mic events around the region. His nomination of his friend Nigel was shortlisted for the Your Name Here project to rename a park.

Matthew Griffiths

Matthew is a student at Cowley International College and volunteers with Heart of Glass Family art club and at St Helens libraries.

Victoria Edgerton

Victoria is a performer and runs For Real simulation a company that provides actors for business training scenarios. She was associate producer of Haunted Furnace, working alongside director Marisa Carnesky and a team of young women on a haunted tour of the tunnels at The World of Glass museum.