With tongue in cheek, I call myself a contemporary folk artist. Folk is a slippery and divisive term with some uncomfortable associations, however we only need look at the UK Brexit vote and rise of populism worldwide to see how customs and traditions continue to inform our sense of self and other, often with agonistic consequences. And yet traditions are not inherently malignant: they are also heartfelt vehicles of human sociability whose infinite adaptations and calls to action help us punctuate and make sense of time and place. My practice is driven by the conviction that now more than ever, we need to pay attention to the things people make, do and think for themselves— and it is this kind of folk, and this kind of art that informs my work.
Some of my projects interrogate the problematic relationships between folk, nationalism and colonialism. Others deal with the under-representation of women, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities in the existing canon of English folk arts and the need for new, more inclusive traditions for our divided society. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the relationships between human and plant populations and the interspecies traditions of care required for living together on a dying planet. A lot of my past work has involved performance and craft, but I’ve also begun to integrate my studio practice as a painter. Recent / current commissions include Plough Witches for Meadow Arts, Chasing the Harestail for Jersey Heritage and Apotropaia for Leeds Piano Trail.
I have a PhD from Manchester School of Art but I don’t like to brag about it.
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