Place and Community

Sarah Butler (chair)

Sarah Butler has three novels published by Picador in the UK and with fourteen international publishers: Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love (2013), Before The Fire (2015) and Jack and Bet (2020). In November 2018, she published a novella, Not Home, written in conversation with people living in unsupported temporary accommodation in Manchester.

Sarah’s work explores ideas of home, belonging, identity, family, and urban landscapes. She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and has an MA in Creative Writing.

Jenna Ashton

Dr Jenna C. Ashton is an artist and curator, and Lecturer in Heritage Studies, at the Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester. Jenna’s research contributes to evolving social practice and creative methods within “heritage studies” theory and practice, for addressing social and ecological (in)justice. Jenna’s work is often site-specific, highlighting experiences and knowledge(s) of place. Jenna is currently leading the project, “Community Climate Resilience through Folk Pageantry”, AHRC, UK Climate Resilience Programme (2020-2023), and is a Co-I on “Creative Adaptive Solutions for Treescapes of Rivers (CASTOR)”, funded by NERC Future of UK Treescapes programme (2021-2024). Jenna is the founder and Creative Director of feminist arts and heritage organisation Digital Women’s Archive North (2015), and in 2019-2020 in collaboration with women artists, she co-founded the Centre for International Women Artists, a collective artist studio and gallery experiment in Manchester, UK. Jenna is also 1/4 of artist collective InsideOutsideHouse (2018 -), with puppeteer and theatre maker Alison Duddle, animator Eleanor Mulhearn, and textile artist Alice Kettle.

Annie Lord

Annie Lord is based in Edinburgh. She studied sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art before developing her work to encompass storytelling, writing and community-based practice. Annie’s work explores geographic and cultural histories and the ways in which they shape the present. Her performances draw on local history as well as material processes. In 2018 she began collaborating with Forth Rivers Trust, working on public art commissions exploring river ecosystems and fish migration. In 2019 she began a residency with Art Walk Projects, creating work inspired by historic orchards in Edinburgh. In 2020 she developed ‘The Neighbouring Orchard’, a network of 150 trees planted in individual and shared gardens across the east coast of Edinburgh. Annie’s illustrated lantern lectures have been presented at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Science Festival and Hidden Door Festival. In 2021 Annie began an MA in Creative Non-Fiction at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Claire Boardman

Claire Boardman is a PhD Candidate based in the University of York’s Digital Creativity Labs and registered with the Department of Archaeology. Claire has spent over 20 years balancing research archaeology with commercial computing and design and her current research interests include Human-Environment interaction, Heritage Informatics, and Applied Digital Humanities. 

Elaine Speight

Elaine Speight is Reader in Curatorial Practice and Place at the University of Central Lancashire. Since 2005, she has co-curated In Certain Places – a place-based art project, based in Preston. Elaine teaches on the MA Fine Art course and supervises practice-based PhDs which explore aspects of place and community. She is Director of the Creative Practice Research Academy, which supports and promotes creative practice research across the university, a trustee of the arts organisation Art Gene and Co-editor of the Journal of Arts & Communities.

Our Green and Pleasant Land

Dr Jenna Ashton shares her arts research project in North Manchester, which focuses on community knowledge and creativity for exploring and understanding local resilience, adaptation and empowerment for climate action. The project is embedded in the ward of Miles Platting and Newton Heath, working with residents and partners to create a half-day celebration with scheduled and timed community and climate-themed Pageant at its core. 

The Neighbouring Orchard

Artist and writer Annie Lord will discuss her ongoing public artwork The Neighbouring Orchard. Launched in 2020, the project has seen a network of 160 apple trees planted by individuals across the coastal suburbs of Edinburgh. Each tree is planted in a location visible to the public, reviving the land’s history as a site of cultivation. 

Communities within Communities

Working with two neighbourhoods and their hidden pasts, this project sought to better understand how minority/marginalised ‘Communities within Communities’, ascribe meaning to their surroundings and (re)build a sense of place through the integration of auto- and geo-biographies. Key findings will be presented including the centrality of kinship and childhood in the creation of place.

FEED: A Public Baby Feeding Chair

Through a focus on Feed – an arts-based research project which includes the construction of a baby-feeding chair – Elaine will discuss some of the cultural tensions around how maternal bodies are presented and performed within public places, particularly when breastfeeding, and ask, ‘who has the right to be comfortable in public?

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