Artists Make Change

July, 2020

We are aware that the ideas of Change and Making Change, can mean different things to different people and practitioners, and take many forms and approaches. Following on from the set of Case Study presentations and facilitated group discussions, Artists Make Change has commissioned a series of artist-to-artist conversations as a way of diving deeper into the subject. We invited one artist to choose their conversation partner(s) and set their own agendas, to create a conversation space to explore personal experience, and dig into shared concerns and the pressing issues challenging artists today. In each of these in-depth, wide-ranging, evocative and provocative discussions, the sentiment is explored in a variety of ways - all urgent and contemporary - but offering different and differing perspectives of whether, how and why Artists Make Change.



In this vital, engaged and wide-ranging cross-generational discussion, Barby Asante and Languid Hands (Rabz Lansiquot & Imani Robinson) talked radical action, covering a series of urgent topics and themes; representation and diversity, the 'hyper-visibility' of Blackness, curatorial obligation, time for deep thinking and reappraisal, community building and care, violence and carcerality - a commitment to Black Liberation, and Black quiet/Black interiority.


In this full, frank and engaging discussion, artists Tony Heaton and Terry Smith, cover amongst many topics: the importance of discussion in the arts, Venice, the expectations of curators and gallerists when working with artists with disabilities - the joy of provocation and the satisfaction of unticking rather than ticking boxes.


An exploration of friendship and collaborations - a shared interest in "Fictional Activism" through their work exploring Sabu and Josephine Baker, respectively, along with corresponding interests in language and writing and creating safe and supportive familial atmospheres in working environments and how to ensure Art has a continued place - or even a central place - in education.


Here, Demi and Suhaiymah cover a range of topics ; gate-keeping within the art world, the nature of care, calling out malpractice, where the support is for 'emerging' artists, fetishising diversity and lots more.


Barby Asante is an artist, curator, educator and healer in training. Her practice is concerned the politics of place, space and the ever present histories and legacies of slavery and colonialism. Her work explores memory and archival injustice through re-collecting, collating, excavating and mapping stories and narratives, through collective writing, reenactment and creating spaces for transformation, ritual and healing. With a deep interest in black feminist and decolonial methodoliges, Barby also embeds within her work notions of collective study, countless ways of knowing and dialogical practices that embrace being together and breathing together.

Languid Hands is a London-based artistic and curatorial collaboration between DJ, filmmaker and curator Rabz Lansiquot and writer, facilitator and live art practitioner Imani Robinson. Their work is informed by ongoing explorations in Black and queer studies, Black creative practice, Black liberatory praxis and queer methodologies. Currently they are undertaking the Cubitt Curatorial Fellowship for 2020-21. They began collaborating in 2015, through the collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable (SYFU). Their SYFU projects included public programming in a variety of institutions and community spaces in the UK and Europe, co-curating the BBZBLKBK Alternative Graduate Show 2018 aimed at promoting work by artists who identify as queer womxn, trans and non-binary people of Black Ancestry at Copeland Gallery, London; and curating (BUT) WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT WHITE SUPREMACY?, a group exhibition at Many Studios as part of G I Festival 2018.

Tony Heaton - Sculptor, Chief Executive - Shape Arts. I am concerned with my own existence and my interaction with both the material and non-material world. In my interaction with other humans I am almost always reminded that I am perceived as a disabled person, this in manifest in their actions towards me and their interaction with me. Much of my work explores my personal analysis of these everyday interactions. Sometimes art making becomes self-psychoanalysis. My materials are often the impedimenta of disability. I have also worked with light, neon and film. My work has also utilised found materials and objects that have had a particular identity and could be transmuted as part of the realisation of the idea. As a disabled person, many of the objects I have used or ideas I have pursued have been within a disability context and have resonated with my experience as a disabled person, both individually and in my interaction with the world. There are usually layers of meaning to entice other humans into the work or the game of it. Disabled people often seem invisible or ‘other’ and I have explored this notion. Predominantly I am interested in how thoughts and ideas can be translated into form and therefore say something in a new and expressive way. I return to themes, usually when I review older works or ideas that were never fully resolved at the time. I am reminded of Henry Moore’s comment about walking along the same stretch of beach but finding new and interesting stones that had been there, unnoticed.

Terry Smith (circa 1956) made in London, lives in Folkestone. In 2008, Smith was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Award. He is known for his cut outs into the plaster of walls, mainly in derelict buildings and spaces. Smith notably held the keys to the Tate Turbine hall, during the refurbishment in 1996 having been given permission to create his work in the walls and spaces of the building that was to become Tate Modern. Only the staff at the Tate and a few invitees were permitted access to the works areas inside the Turbine Hall and other areas of the building site to see Smith's work. Images of these works at Tate Modern were later shown at the South London Gallery in July–August 1996 for a group show called "Inside Bankside" Smith was permitted to create the same cut out works at the British Museum CAPITAL 1995 Smith had his first major retrospective Parallax at the John Hansard Gallery, Southampton from December 2011–January 2012. Other works of note were The Foundling, a video-audio installation commissioned by Gill Hedley as part of the Foundling Museum’s contemporary art programme. Smith has exhibited extensively in the UK and South America (e.g. Instituto de Artes, Porte Alegre, Brazil, Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, Caracas, Venezuela and Museo X-Tersea, Mexico City.) Solo Exhibitions include Fault Line, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City (1999), Marking Time, Lux Gallery, London (2000) and One thing leads to another, Studio 1.1, London (2004). Publications include: 2000 Marking time. Nuova Icona, Venice. 2008.

Jade Montserrat is the recipient of the Stuart Hall Foundation Scholarship which supports her PhD (via MPhil) at IBAR, UCLan, (Race and Representation in Northern Britain in the context of the Black Atlantic: A Creative Practice Project) and the development of her work from her black diasporic perspective in the North of England. She was also awarded one of two Jerwood Student Drawing Prizes in 2017 for No Need for Clothing, a documentary photograph of a drawing installation at Cooper Gallery DJCAD by Jacquetta Clark. Jade’s Rainbow Tribe project – a combination of historical and contemporary manifestations of Black Culture from the perspective of the Black Diaspora is central to the ways she is producing a body of work, including No Need For Clothing and its iterations, as well as her performance work Revue. Jade was commissioned to present Revue as a 24 hour live performance at SPILL Festival of Performance, October 2018, a solo exhibition at The Bluecoat, Liverpool, (Nov – 10 Mar 2019) which toured to Humber Street Gallery ( July-sept 2019) and was commissioned by Art on the Underground to create the 2018 Winter Night Tube cover. Iniva and Manchester Art Gallery have commissioned Jade as the first artist for Future Collect project (2020).

Michelle Williams Gamaker works with moving image, performance and installation. She explores fictional activism, which dialogues with different politically problematic aspects of film history, focusing on 20th Century Hollywood and British studio films. Her work is widely exhibited in the UK and internationally, including her solo Distant Relative at Tintype, London, BFI’s LFF Experimenta Programme, BFI FLARE (2018) and Arts Council of England collection shows: Women, Power, Protest at BMAG, Birmingham, As Seen on Screen, Walker Art Museum, Liverpool and Go On Being So at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, Penzance (2019-2020). She was recently awarded the Stuart Croft Moving Image Award 2020 for The Bang Straws (2021). Williams Gamaker is a Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths and Chair of Trustees at Pavilion, Leeds.

Demi Nandhra is a neurodiverse artist based in Birmingham. She makes and curates both solo & collaborative performances, live art, theatre & sociopolitical enquiries with a focus on Mental Health, Care, Trauma & Oppression. Her work has been performed in beds, theatres and galleries. Demi was the 2017 Flying Solo Commission Winner presented by Contact (Manchester). Demi’s debut Edinburgh Fringe show Life is No Laughing Matter won a Lustrum Edinburgh Award and was shortlisted for the prestigious Total Theatre Award and shortlisted for the Mental Health Fringe Award.

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is an educator, writer and poet from West Yorkshire, UK. Her work grapples with questions of history, race and power - interrogating the purpose of narratives about Muslims, migrants, gender and violence. She is the author of poetry collection, Postcolonial Banter (Verve Poetry Press, 2019), co-author of the anthology, A FLY GIRL’S GUIDE TO UNIVERSITY: Being a woman of colour at Cambridge and other institutions of power and elitism (Verve Poetry Press, 2019) and hosts the Breaking Binaries podcast. Suhaiymah was the runner-up of the Roundhouse National slam 2017 with her viral poem, This is Not a Humanising Poem which gained 2 million views and was short-listed for the Outspoken Prize for Poetry in 2018. In 2018-19 she was a Nicola Thorold Fellow at the Roundhouse and is currently an Associate Artist at Freedom Studios, 2020-21. Suhaiymah has lectured, given workshops and performed her poetry internationally from New York to Las Vegas, and Berlin to Edinburgh by the permission of Allah. She regularly facilitates political education and creative workshops in the UK and campaigns against Islamophobia and other state-sanctioned forms of racism - particularly through policing in all its guises.