With tongue in cheek I define myself as a contemporary folk artist. ‘Folk’ is a slippery and divisive term, with some uncomfortable associations, however for me it doesn’t represent a specific vernacular or style, nor set of rustic artefacts once gathered by Victorian collectors and promptly preserved in aspic. Instead, it’s what can happen when people come together, regardless of anything, to share in cultural practices they create for themselves. My practice aims to draw out this kind of folk via contemporary re-workings of ‘traditional’ performances and skills, and in the creation of hybrid forms, showcasing the ‘folk’ arts of the 21st century (such as ‘hand-blinging’!).
Identifying primarily as a socially-engaged — or dialogical — artist my practice involves making, performance and research. I work closely with communities, sometimes collaborating over long periods (for example, working with carnival troupe dancers since 2013) and at other times working in short bursts to explore an idea (such as my 4-week residency, ‘Make Your Own Entertainment’ in Stoke-on-Trent in 2015, and ‘Rose Queen Re-imagined’ project in South Manchester, 2013).
My work aims to challenge narrow portrayals of the traditional arts—typically associated with historical depth, rurality and masculinity— through emphasis on the dynamic cultural contributions of working class communities, particularly women.
CV & Education
2017: Bling! Bank Street Arts, Sheffield.
2017: ‘This Girl Can’ Morris Dance, Cecil Sharp House, London.
2014: Making Traditions [Pop-up], People’s History Museum, Manchester.
2019: Play, Air Gallery, Manchester.
2019: Dancing England [Pop-up], Nottingham Playhouse.
2018: 2021 Open, 2021 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe.
2018: Crowd Show, NNContemporary, Northampton.
2018: Next Wave, RBSA Gallery, Birmingham.
2017: Creating the Countryside, Compton Verney, Warwickshire.
2017: The London Group Open, Cello Factory, London.
2017: Blowing a Gail, The Old Town House, Warrington.
2017: Reclaim Photography Festival, The Light House Media Centre, Wolverhampton.
2016: LEAVE//REMAIN, Bank Street Arts, Sheffield.
2015: KULES Public View, Olympus Engineering / Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
2018/19: Jersey Heritage, Jersey.
2017: Bank Street Arts, Sheffield.
2015: KULES @ Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
Funding and Awards
2018: Malcolm Taylor Grant, English Folk Dance and Song Society
2018: AFS International Bursary
2018: Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Award
2017: Arts Enterprise Grant, ‘This Girl Can Morris Dance’
2015: British Council Travel Grant
2015: National Centre for Research Methods Bursary
2014: Economic and Social Research Council Bursary
2013: PRS for Music Foundation Award
2009 – 2014: Vice Chancellor PhD scholarship
2014: Manchester School of Art, Practice-led PhD (Vice Chancellor Scholarship)
2009: SOAS, University of London, MMus Ethnomusicology (Distinction)
2006: University of York, BA Hons History of Art (First)
2019: Practice-based Research Fellow, University of Leeds
AHRC-funded project, 'Cultural Participation: Stories of Success, Histories of Failure', School of Performance and Cultural Industries
2019: Arts Research and Development Co-ordinator
2018/19: Lecturer (maternity cover), Nottingham Trent University
School of Art and Design
2018: Research Fellow, Anglia Ruskin University
WISE / Amazon project
2017/18: Senior Research Associate, University of East Anglia
AHRC-funded Connected Communities project, 'Participatory Arts and DIY Cultures', Department of Art, Media and American Studies
2016/17: Research Associate, University of Sheffield
AHRC-funded project, 'Digital Folk', Department of Music