Meet the commissioned artists who will be working with the Knowle West community to co-create hybrid (digital plus physical) inclusive experiences to connect and ‘come together’.
Come Together has commissioned a cohort of four artists: Ant Lightfoot, Linda Brothwell, Malcolm Hamilton, and Emma Blake Morsi; and two digital storytellers: Mary Flora Hart and Michelle Roche. They each have different lived experiences that they are excited to bring to this project and are at varying stages of their career.
Throughout summer-autumn 2021, the Come Together artist cohort will explore new inclusive ways of connecting through a mix of digital and physical approaches and tools. Their work will be tested with national partners across the country (Onion Collective, Maia group and Grizedale Arts) as it develops and shared widely in the autumn.
Over the last month, we have been meeting with the artists to help develop their exciting projects and we cannot wait to share their journeys with you.
Ant Lightfoot (he/him and they/them)
Ant Lightfoot is a queer, neurodivergent artist who works in writing, filmmaking, performance, and facilitation. They make work which tackles difficult, sticky themes, predominantly through the use of comedy. Ant strongly believes in empowering people to be radically kind to themselves and creating work that is ‘loudly imperfect’ by embracing failure. They strive to make complex themes accessible for audiences by creating candid, endearing, and occasionally uncomfortable spaces for ideas to thrive.
Through Come Together, Ant is exploring what we can learn from our time spent online during the pandemic, and how we can harness those lessons to come together in a way that centres inclusivity and accessibility. Currently, Ant’s project is looking at Introversion and non-verbal communication, incorporating features from online into real world interactions (such as video off, mute and other tools that have helped neurodivergent and disabled peoples’ access) and ways to embed radical care and kindness into your day-to-day. Ant is looking forward to collaborating with KWMC’s young people through Jump Studios to make new hybrid (digital plus physical) work.
Linda Brothwell (she/her)
Linda Brothwell is a maker of objects, tools and publicly sited interventions. She considers what it means to make something by hand that takes ‘care’ as its core, to not only make the ‘thing’ but to make the tools to make the thing, to spend months or years immersed in the techniques, the materials and the stories of a place. Linda uses craft traditions in her work including fine metalwork, tool making, ropework, and wood inlay.
Linda has been walking every Knowle West street in order to meet local people and map out small-scale industries, community spaces, crafts / trades people, and public objects. She is exploring digital methods of connection and communication and applying this to how communities connect through drinking tea.
Emma Blake Morsi (she/her)
Emma Blake Morsi is a multidisciplinary Arts Producer and visual storyteller predominantly working across photography, words, graphics, film and events, and has been training as a creative intersectional environmentalist. Emma challenges approaches to inclusion and innovation in the spaces she works in, and believes in platforming the voices of local communities as well as marginalised groups.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for people to experience moments of stillness in the chaos of everyday life. Responding to this need, Emma will be exploring how to create hybrid events in nature where, ‘taking part virtually is just as valuable as being there in person’. She is particularly hoping to engage those from marginalised backgrounds who have not previously had opportunities to connect with nature. These sessions will explore holistic healing, environmental play and everything in between to empower individuals to form their own personal relationships with the outdoors and explore how we can come together to protect it.
Malcolm Hamilton (he/him)
Malcolm Hamilton creates playful interventions and tools to help local authorities, planning groups, designers, and communities to interrogate systems and environments. He notes that while empathy and inclusivity are getting more space in some quarters, polarisation and conflict in communities and decision-making are ever present. In response to this, Malcolm strongly believes in using tactile, accessible, active tools to encourage empathetic design from all participants in the process.
Malcolm’s project for Come Together involves re-imagining local spaces through interactive storytelling using a Balance© box. These boxes contain a range of hands-on materials which participants use to build a landscape while being guided through a narrative. Through this immersive storytelling, Malcolm is hoping to support collaborative thinking and empathetic design while providing crucial data to designers and planners. These Balance© boxes can be posted, enabling participants to engage in the story both physically and digitally via a video call.
Come Together’s Digital Storytellers
Alongside our four artists, we have commissioned two digital storytellers to help capture and tell the story of the Come Together programme and artists’ projects throughout.
Mary Flora Hart (she/her and they/them)
Mary Flora Hart is a Digital Illustrator based in Bristol. Mary enjoys creating immersive scenes bursting with unexpected details, whether that’s reportage illustrations or imaginary worlds. Their work, is often created for editorial and marketing purposes, focuses on anything from tropical environments to sex education. They love creating colourful illustrations with a story behind them!
Alongside illustration, Mary is passionate about travelling, encouraging green and feminist attitudes, roller-skating and music, particularly within the genres of hip-hop and RnB. Mary immerses themselves within these cultures which is often signified in their work.
Mary has previously worked as in-house illustrator at Kionii (2020 -2021) and been commissioned by Writerz & Scribz in partnership with the National Trust (2021), Voicebox and Parent Zone (2021), Where the Leaves Fall magazine (2021) and China Dialogue (2020). Mary is represented by Illo Agency.
Michelle Roche (she/her)
Michelle Roche is a multi-heritage POC multi-disciplinary artist and journey maker, facilitator and entrepreneur. Michelle’s work has included large scale theatrical co-creations in non-traditional spaces, magical journey’s for two with Secret Date Club, and more recently an award-winning audio journey for one co-created with Splash & Ripple, Play Inside.
She likes people, working in and building communities, and journeys exploring belonging and connection to oneself, each other, and to place, and making joyful, unexpected experiences that make you excited about the world and proud of your part in it.
Other projects have included an online computer game with young people with Roundhouse and Royal Opera House, creating content for a virtual reality tour for Norfolk and Norwich Festival & National Trust with young people, producing a multi-location theatrical street game with Southbank and IGFEST as well as working internationally in New York, West Bank, Palestine and Rajasthan, India on youth projects, using the arts as a tool for social change. Michelle is also a life skills facilitator for British Council and Future Foundations, empowering youth to connect with their community and be mobilised to make changes in relations to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
‘Listen, I’m here for you’ audio piece by Michelle Roche.
Take some time to have a cup of tea whilst listening to this audio experience designed and created by artist Michelle Roche. This sound piece is accessed by calling the free number 0117 4631815 and is paired with a postcard made by digital illustrator Mary Flora Hart. The audio can be found here: Listen, I’m here for you
The ‘Come Together’ project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.