If you have a vague creative idea or question, but aren't sure how to put it into action, bring it here. "I need some kind of interactive artwork that helps people discuss healthcare provision", "I'd like some wedding table decorations, something to do with flowers but out of recycled materials...", "We've got an empty shop as part of a weekend arts festival, can we make it into some sort of museum of stories?", "I need an art activity for Y4 kids to do with WWII, but more about the home front..." - I hate to use the term "creative solutions", but if you take it out of its corporate bullshit context, that's really, actually, what I do! I help people find solutions to creative conundrums, so that they can carry on doing their thing - conference, teaching, wedding planning, etc - without having to stress about the details of execution.  Please do get in touch if you have an event you need "something" for, because really I have a head full of ideas, and I'd love to help you 🙂  Check out some of the projects I've been involved with here:

For The Telling

A collaboration with several other artists (including but not limited to: Warren Draper, Rachel Horne, Phlegm and Mr Fox), to put on a free arts event in the courtyard of a mostly derelict arts college in Doncaster (Church View).

Hand painted banner: The truth of the tale is in the telling

Running on the theme of "It is through stories that we weave our reality", we worked together to pull in local artists and the Church View Trust, to create an incredible evening of music, poetry, performance, stories, art, fire and community - with no money, no electricity, and no hierarchy. People said we couldn't do it.  It was a storming success, and we have held three more 'Tellings' since, and raised the profile of Church View to the point that renovation and re-utilisation is underway.

Red firelight against a brick wall, showing the sillhouettes of people, dancers, and a man in a stag outfit, with antlers

More information on this project, and lots of gorgeous photographs of what went on, can be found on the 'For The Telling' website.  For my part, I helped organise and coordinate the event, I liaised with other artists who wanted to join in, I helped, and organised volunteers to help, physically clear the site (lots of rubble), I did my stint behind the bar and on the door, I brought fabrics and taught embroidery (our second event was much more about getting everyone involved), and I created large embroideries to hang around the site. But the most important thing about The Telling is that no one person was in charge. We all worked together on the basis of 'fluid authority'  and allowed people to bring their own strengths weave into the creation of an incredible event, which felt like it was in another world.  Our favourite comment from our first Telling was "I forgot I was in Doncaster".

Large firepit made of concrete breeze-blocks, with chairs in front, and bunting flags behind.
Building one of the firepits



Arts & Health Derbyshire Interface conference

I was invited to help design a small annual conference for arts and health practitioners with the brief to enable attendees to "Explore who you are and what you do, and how you fit into your local (and national) context. Meet others who have an arts, health and wellbeing remit and discover your similarities and differences, learning from each other on the way. Delve into the challenges, needs and benefits for Arts and Health work in Derbyshire in 2015 and determine how we can move forward."

I met with the arts officer who was organising the conference, and we discussed what she wanted to fit into the time, and how I could create art that facilitated networking, discussion, and practical recording of what was and was not being done to extend arts and health collaboration in Derbyshire. I created all the 'props' out of recycled materials (mostly paper and cardboard), including a large tree with labelled branches where people could stick leaves to show which area their organisation was working in. This not only encouraged people to think about how and where their work was of benefit, and meet people working in the same areas, but also to see, once all the leaves were on, where the gaps were, and which areas were in need of more support (as it turned out, hardly anyone described their work as beneficial to physical health, for example).


I also ran a fabric flower making workshop, which provided a creative focus for discussions (the flowers were hung up for display, and then people could take theirs home at the end), and created signposts for the Five Ways To Wellbeing which could be reused by Arts Derbyshire for future events.


One person commented that the "artwork was beautiful and uplifting", and the organiser said it "really made the whole afternoon special". So that was nice 🙂

Dr D’Cleyre’s Imaginarium of Wonder, Wyrdness and Curious Tales

Collaboration with Tim Ralphs and Warren Draper, as part of the Right Up Our Street celebration in Doncaster (DNweekeND, 19-21st June). We took over an empty shop unit with stories, masks and a collection of strangeness. With a 'curiosity shop' feel, we invited members of the public to have their imaginations sparked and their creativity poked with curiously labelled exhibits (Per Ekstrom's sackpipa (Swedish bagpipes): granted royal pardon 1976; Ammeter donated by Dr Frankentstein; Tang dynasty bee collecting box...), a 'Please do touch' table of strange things and instruments to pick up, play with, listen to, a secluded Butterfly Garden where you could enjoy the flowers and draw on the floor, and a craft table where I - as Abigail Emila, Masketeer - encouraged people to make their own masks to take away.



Feedback from the public was overwhelmingly positive. My favourite from one teenager, who took a long time to become impressed, was "Extra extraordinary" 🙂 More details on my blog post "Imaginations running wild".

We would love to do this again, and so we are making the Imaginarium available for festivals and events.  It can be tweaked to suit different situations, so please get in touch to discuss how we can best fit it in with your ideas.

Festival Banner and workshop

I was invited to the 24th storytelling Festival at the Edge, in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, to run two 'craft workshops with a strong storytelling theme'. One was an all-ages sock-monster making workshop, encouraging people to 'see the extraordinary in the ordinary', and coaxing creativity and stories out of the most reluctant I'm-not-an-artist-s.  I was also asked to prepare and run a workshop for the younger festival goers, to tie in with a morning of Elephant Tales from the wonderful Pete Chand, Shonaleigh and Andy Harrop-Smith. I chose to do some easy mask making, as I wasn't sure what age groups I'd get. There was to be a parade, too, so I drew an elephant outline on a beautiful flowery bedsheet, and got the children to cut up scraps of shiny, colourful scarf fabric to decorate it with. This banner could be carried at the head of the procession, and then I could stitch it together more robustly at home, and return it to the festival as a permanent artwork.

mask workshop

Photo credit: Festival at the Edge

The children decided to name the elephant Eli, and I hope that next year he will have his own stories 🙂

Photo credit: Festival at the Edge

I'd love to work more festivals, it's great doing random creative things with a bunch of strangers in a field 🙂

The Beacons

A collaborative project led by Shonaleigh (storyteller) and involving myself and several other artists, the Sheffield Parks and Woodland Rangers, the local branch of The Rambler's Association, and two local primary schools.  Shonaleigh worked with the schools to create a story (in three parts, told over three years), which would then form the base of a two hour event in a local woodland/parks area.

The Great Ralphini, evil circus ringmaster, next to a handpainted sign advertising his circus
The Great Ralphini, enslaver of our hero, Lord Fox!

My part in this was to work in the schools in the weeks leading up to the event, to get the children making things to decorate the woods with, and carry as the story processed through the woods.  We made willow lanterns and kites one year, story bunting another year (the teacher said Y2's would struggle with embroidery - they excelled at it!), and collage paintings of imagined circus performers the next.  I also created other 'backdrop' artwork to create mini stage areas within the woods, and was in charge of coordinating the participating children on the day (didn't lose a single one!).

Children's collage paintings of imagined , half animal half human, circus performers
Y5's imagined half-animal-half-human circus performers

Embroidered Digital Commons

"...Where the digital is common, or rather what is digital is common to all, commonly owned, commonly accessed or available. ... Instead of trying to claim ground or restrict access, the Digital Commons invite open participation in the production of ideas and culture. Where culture is not something you buy, but something you do.

The 'Embroidered Digital Commons' is based on the beautifully crafted language of the Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons written by the Raqs Media Collective, and published in the Sarai Reader 2003. The full lexicon is an A-Z of the interrelationship between social, digital and material space.

Embroidery of "to decode a signal", pale on black background

The 'Embroidered Digital Commons' is an artwork facilitiated by Ele Carpenter as part of the Open Source Embroidery project, utilising social and digital connectivity. This distributed embroidery aims to collectively stitch terms from the Lexicon as a practical way of close-reading and discusing the text and it's current meaning. Each term is chosen in relation to the specific context of its production through group workshops, conferences and events. "

My part in this global project was the facilitation of the collaborative stitching of the term 'Access'. I garnered support from embroiderers and non-embroiderers both online and through Access Space, the physical location where stitching workshops were held, and the finished piece was displayed. 

Person embroidering "a book", orange on purple background

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