United We Act: a scoping study and a symposium on connected communities

The book for the AHRC funded Connected Communities scoping study can be found via the below link. Enjoy

United We Act: a scoping study and a symposium on connected communities

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Bensham & Saltwell Express

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SRP posters and leaflets

SRP leaflets and poster








I have been out leafleting this week to households and putting up posters around Saltwell in Community Centres and public spaces, the aim being to publicise the Saltwell Road Project and gain support for the digital voting system that will be placed in Saltwell in June/July.

St Chads Community Project, Saltwell

Bensham Grove Community Centre, Saltwell



Dominic's cafe, Saltwell Rd

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Spaces of (Dis)Location

I am presenting a poster at the Spaces of (Dis)Location conference, a multidisciplinary postgraduate conference at the College of Arts at the University of Glasgow on the 24/25 May.

My poster Boundaries, conflicts, similarities between the virtual (digital) and the physical (urban), takes as a starting point ideas from De Certeau (The Practice of Everyday Life, 1980) and Manovich (The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life, 2008) and Nina Simon’s Museum 2.0 concerning lurkers, judges and contributors. The poster investigates the boundaries, similarities and conflicts between the virtual (digital) and the physical (urban) spaces that the community inhabits and my role as an artist, researcher and community member.

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Saltwell Road Project

I have recently started The Saltwell Road Project (SRP) with the aim of creating a space, both digitally and physically for discussion, debate and the development of creative ideas and solutions to the issues and challenges that concern the community of Saltwell.

The aim is to be for the site to be very much community led and about the people of Saltwell, with the idea that every person who has a connection or an interest in the area, no matter how small can be involved and has something to say and contribute of value. The intention being that people from all walks of life, with different experiences, skills and knowledge can come together to look at and understand the place where we live, work and play.

SRP will be both a digital space – where people can be creative, add films, photographs and writing about Saltwell as well as suggest ideas for one off or long-term events and projects that people would like support in developing. With the support of other community member’s knowledge and experience local residents can develop and create these ideas and events and make them happen in and around Saltwell.

Whilst predominantly located around Saltwell Road and coming out of a specific interest in the regeneration and changes taking place, the aim is to look at the area to try and understand the place and the people that use it. To create a platform for people to come together in the spaces and place of Saltwell to share and develop creative solutions to the challenges that face us in our everyday lives.

If you are interested in knowing more about The Saltwell Road Project you can read more at:

Email: thesaltwellroadproject@gmail.com

Blog: http://thesaltwellroadproject.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SaltwellRoadProject

Twitter: @SaltwellRdProj

SRP is in the early stages of development and will be added to as more and more information is created by myself as well as by local residents. The project aims to be fluid and organic where community members can dip in an out of the project, add, comment and if they want to lurk, similar to how social media sites work.

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Cultural Trends 2012

The second conference I am talking at about my Ph.D. research this summer is the 2012 Cultural Trends conference, Engagement in the Arts 2012, in association with Leeds Metropolitan University’s Knowledge Exchange Network on Participation and Engagement in the Arts on the 26th June at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield.

The conference concerns participation and engagement in the arts encompassing theory, policy and practice and aims to encourage networking between academics, policy makers and arts practitioners. It is the culmination of the work that the Knowledge Exchange Network has been undergoing (including the talk at Culture Lab in January) and will bring together international academics, policy makers and practitioners to share research and debate issues affecting the whole cultural sector. To book a place and for more information you can do so by going to the Leeds Metropolitan University website.

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North East Photography Network annual symposium 2012

I will be talking at two conferences this summer in relation to my PhD work.

The first is the North East Photography Network and their annual symposium on Friday May 18th at the Mining Institute, Newcastle. NEPN aim to ‘create opportunities for the development of new photographic work and for discussion and debate around lens-based practice.’ The symposium will ‘explore questions such as, the possibilities for social engagement in shifting cultural contexts; the role of the photographer and the artwork in such processes;  new aesthetic strategies and the limits of documentary; the role of new media and changing relationships to audiences.’ Including talks by practitioners, curators and critics, speakers confirmed so far are Bas Vroege from Paradox NL,  Pauline Hadaway from Belfast Exposed and David Campbell (independent photography consultant).

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Archive for Change

This Wednesday I visited and interviewed Laura Maragoudaki, Julie Ballands and Taryn Edmonds, who together created the art project Archive for Change.

Archive for Change was developed roughly 2 years ago to look into the issues around urban change in the West End of Newcastle by collecting, archiving and exhibiting the many stories in one of the largest regeneration areas in the UK.

The West end of Newcastle, consisting of Scotswood, Benwell and Elswick has been a place of constant regeneration and urban planning, some of it successful but a lot of which has been a failure. This is a ongoing and continuous issue with an answer to the problems yet to be found. There has been constant building, knocking down and building of areas with regular mass clearances. The area has also been a place of research for universities around the subject of community, urban planning and regeneration.

Concentrating mainly with film, Archive for Change aims to compliment the many grass roots community led activities currently taking place in the area as well document past community and political activities that have come from local residents. The aim as Laura, Taryn and Julie said is to archive and reflect on past issues but to also create a place where people can think about the present as well as consider what the future could be.

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On the 1st and 2nd of February I went to Liverpool to visit a project by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk called 2Up2Down as part of this year’s Liverpool Biennial. Based in the Anfield area of the city the project aims to work with local residents and young people to investigate the issues surrounding housing regeneration and development in the area. Anfield has a long history of housing regeneration initiatives and strategies, many of which have not come to fruition, resulting in large swathes of boarded up housing.


The project has taken over a former Mitchell’s Bakery and  the two house next door, on a corner opposite Anfield football ground The aim the project is to create a community run bakery and turn the upstairs flat and  next door houses into flats for members of the community. From talking to residents, it seemed that there was a feeling that they were always forgotten in terms of large investments, such as the City of Culture, 2008 with little support (‘fortress Anfield isn’t called a fortress for nothing’). In contrast, they are also bombarded with urban planning and regeneration plans which hardly ever come into fruition.


Whilst I was there, a public meeting took place in the bakery, for local residents to air their concerns, thoughts and support for the project. Jeanne, very eloquently, spoke about the project and the fact, after roughly 2 years, is at an important stage where residents have to come on board for the project to happen. The meeting was well attended, but as Jeanne and Laurie Peake, (Programme Director for Public Art at Liverpool Biennial), said to me this was after a long period of knocking on doors, leafleting, meeting with people and gaining trust and confidence in an area that has been let down on many occasions.


Jeanne visits the area once every three weeks and sees herself, as she does with all the projects she implements in communities, as a community member, not geographically, but with a common interest or goal. The project also does not make the community believe that it can make a difference or aim to solve all the problems and issues in the area (so whether the bakery and the refurnished flats actually come into existence is not set in stone). Potentially the bakery may not happen and the flats may not become homes to people but residents are told that for the project to work, a lot of it is down to them to make it happen

In September 2012, the Liverpool Biennial takes place where the bakery will hopefully be open to the public.


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Gateshead Council

Gateshead Council is in the process of moving forward with the housing led regeneration in Gateshead. Here is a link to their plans, Live Gateshead, Love Gateshead.

The council do have a good track record of consulting local residents on the housing regeneration, with leaflets out through doors, consultations, street representatives and community involvement. There have been groups set up, such as the Urban Design Reference Group who are a team of residents who are trained in neighbourhood planning and design. It would be interesting to hear how these groups were set up and people invited to take part. How open was the selection process and who were the types of people who took part.

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