Jazz legend Orphy Robinson MBE to perform original new work live at the AFFAs!

We are delighted to announce that jazz legend Orphy Robinson MBE will be performing new original work live at the AFFAs! ⁠

Don’t forget to reserve your ticket!

With a career spanning more than 40 years, he has played on over 100 recordings, won or been nominated for numerous industry awards, including winning the Jazz FM’s Live Performance of the Year in 2017. ⁠

The past 5 years, Orphy has featured in the top 12 placing in the Critics Poll for ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’ in the historic jazz magazine Downbeat. ⁠

Orphy is regularly invited to perform with internationally acclaimed artists from many genres of music these have included such diverse artists as Nigel Kennedy, Carleen Anderson, Dr Robert (Blow Monkeys) Wadada Leo Smith, Thurston Moore, Joss Stone, Robert Plant, Robert Wyatt, Hugh Masekela and Courtney Pine.⁠

Orphy sits on various Boards including the Ivor’s Academy where he is the Chair of the Jazz genre committee. ⁠
He is a Trustee and Vice Chair of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Trustee on the Jazz Promoters Network.⁠
He is on the judging panel for many top industry awards these include the Ivor Novello Awards, The British Composer Awards & The Commonwealth Resounds International composition Competition. ⁠

In 2018, Robinson was awarded an MBE for services to music. ⁠

AFFA Special Guest: Lily Cole

We’re delighted to be joined by Lily Cole at this years AFFAs!

Lily is a committed environmentalist, writing regularly for media including The Guardian, Vogue and the FT. Her first book, Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in our Changing World, was published by Penguin in 2020. Lily spent four years researching this work, and interviewing hundreds of people around the world who are working on environmental solutions, from technologists and scientists, to activists and indigenous leaders. In tandem with the book, she has produced a series of podcasts interviewing leading experts, activists and founders on topics such as technology, food, gender and capitalism. Tune in here.

To book your place at the 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Awards, click here.

To view the 2021 AFFA brochure, click here.

AF Fellow Lydia Ourahmane exhibiting at Kunsthalle Basel

Lydia Ourahmane
15. Jan 2021 –05. Apr 2021

A ransom, an illicit border crossing, an exchange of nationality: Transactions of different sorts are often the conceptual starting point for Lydia Ourahmane’s (* 1992) art. The results encompass video, sound, performance, sculpture, and installation, exploring the way histories of displacement and colonial oppression are inscribed upon bodies. For her first exhibition in Switzerland, the Algerian-born artist presents a newly commissioned work.

Read more

AF 2020 Comics Fellow : Esther McManus is finding new ways to make work for a new world

We spoke to AF Fellow Esther McManus about making comics in the year of Covid.

How has your professional life changed since lockdown?

Some of the activities that constitute my daily life and annual schedule have been considerably altered! My comics are underpinned by physical processes of printing and binding, and access to equipment was necessarily restricted. This took a while to adjust to, as I had to turn away from making as a source of inspiration and hone in on the things I was able to do: drawing & research from home, and brief forays into the outside world.

The annual cycle of zine & book fairs, which I attend as both exhibitor and visitor, has been put on hold, but it’s been exciting to see how publishing communities and organisers have experimented with online formats to fill the void in physical fairs. I think that void is simultaneously social, creative, professional, financial, and is certainly not unique to zines & comics.


How have you adapted your methods of making in the light of those changes?

At first everything took a lot longer than normal, and I felt like I was working constantly and achieving very little. The fear, uncertainty and isolation during that period of time made it harder to push myself to work really long hours to get something finished. But I continued to structure to my days around ‘normal’ work hours, ensuring that I took breaks for fresh air and getting away from my desk. I crave time outdoors, and this has always created a tension with my professional need to be indoors, drawing or on a laptop. Over the last few months I’ve started to acknowledge the outdoors-loving side of myself, and have found ways to build some moments of walking or cycling every day.

Importantly, I also had to radically rethink the project I proposed to the Arts Foundation, which was centred around visiting archives, exploring physical records and building relationships with people and groups. As lockdown unfolded, I changed the focus of my project to something that could be researched and developed within the new restrictions. My research is currently quite self-generated – visiting locations on my bike and doing lots of drawing, reading books and journal articles. Compared to how I habitually approach projects, my work is currently more rooted in drawing and exploring visual connections, rather than being shaped by archival research.


What have you learnt about making in the changed environment?

I’ve always been suspicious of finding creative work ‘too’ pleasurable, and assumed that the only way to make progress was to move towards the things that felt challenging or even anxiety-inducing. It took me a few months to accept that I should let go of the project I proposed to the Arts Foundation (for now), and work on something that was actually possible under the current restrictions. In this context it felt acceptable to work on something exploratory that might not directly feed into a larger work at all. I was surprised that moving towards rather than away from fun & pleasure yielded much more conventionally ‘productive’ results than my usual approach, which had started to feel stultifying. Through explorative drawing I was still able to explore my original intentions about how comics represent time, but in a way that was playful and which can subsequently inform larger works.


What have you learnt this year that you intend to carry forward in your future career?

This year I embraced drawing with a faith that improving my skills is central to the success of any project, and this commitment is something I’ll actively be carrying forward into the future. Weekly online life drawing became a very enjoyable habit, and something I can’t wait to keep up when in-person classes resume.

Researching and developing a new comic over the last few months has helped me appreciate the knowledge and breakthroughs that only come from drawing. A really compelling project doesn’t necessarily benefit from being planned or theorised into existence! Even though I’m keen to approach my work with rigorous theoretical & historical research, I’ve begun to value the eloquence of image-making more deeply.

This year is teaching me about pace too, through a process of unlearning the habits of ‘using’ time to maximise productivity. Approaching time in an instrumentalising way isn’t overly helpful for creative work, especially at the research and exploratory stage that I’m currently in. Working more slowly and reflectively, and being comfortable about not knowing where something will lead has been beneficial in this context. I know it takes time to unlearn old habits & tendencies and replace them with new ones, but I’ll keep challenging the old stories of productivity and give myself more flexibility in my creative process.

AF 2020 Social Innovation in Materials Design Fellow Bethany Williams shares her year

This past twelve months of my Arts Foundation Fellowship year has been an extraordinary one – between expanding my brand, building on my portfolio and responding to the current crisis, I have been extremely busy!

One of my most satisfying projects this year has been working with the Emergency Designer Network, an initiative I established with Holly Fulton, Cozette McCreery and Phoebe English united to galvanise local production to support hospital stocks of key garments such as scrubs. This is vital armour in the fight against COVID-19. Chris Evans recently donated funds to support our collective, comprised of an initial group of 10 small-scale UK manufacturers and designers. This December we were delighted to win the Community Honoree award at the Fashion Awards. EDN is still looking for experienced seamstresses who can support our endeavour!

Another major project for me this summer, was my commissioned programme at Somerset House, All Our Children, in which I invited audiences to reflect on our future generations and consider what wisdom and legacy we’d collectively like to pass on to those who come long after us. Through this I launched a collaborative capsule collection, and raised a flag over Somerset House made in collaboration with the Magpie Project.

My work has become more widely exhibited this year. The V&A Museum of Childhood have taken on a collection of my work for display in the museum, and I am preparing for a cabinet display at Design Museum London, due to go on display this coming July. My furniture sculpture for the new sustainable Adidas store on Carnaby Street was launched in October, and will be remain in place for the coming three years.

Another achievement being a finalist for the Woolmark Prize, who are supporting me in the development of a wool collection to be launched in 2021. I have had the pleasure of hiring a full time colleague working with me, and I have now moved into Poplar Works  offices. We have also increased our stockists and have launched a capsule collection with Selfridges. Finally, as enquiries about internships have become a daily occurrence, I have started mentoring younger designers. Every last Friday of the month, instead of unpaid internships I offer tutorials and advice to the students and young professionals who approach me.

Our 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Award Brochure

We are delighted to release a full and detailed brochure for our 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Award!

To find out more ab0ut our Finalists, the awards, and the Arts Foundation, have a look through the Brochure here.

AF Fellow Permindar Kaur opens exhibition Home

Permindar Kaur
12 December 2020 – 12 June 2021
Curated by HS Projects
5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG

Home brings together new and existing works, for an exhibition at 5 Howick Place, London, curated by HS Projects. The show surveys Permindar Kaur’s continuing interest in the ‘public’ and ‘private’ and a common central question in her practice: ‘where is home?’

Kaur presents a range of work from early in her career and a major new sculpture –Overgrown House made specifically for this exhibition. She makes viewers aware of the difference between the ‘private & public’ by abruptly converting this very public space into a bedroom in a private home. The central new work is a large steel bed which upon closer inspection reveals a world of colourful creatures ‘lurking’ beneath it. These creatures are a conception of private thoughts & dreams, giving viewers a sense of domestic insecurities & vulnerabilities.

Other works will explore hierarchical structures at home and at work, looking at the unspoken, often hidden positions of power. One such work, Tower (2014), a stack of chairs reflecting how we have a ‘place’ in society. Kaur’s most recent solo exhibitions were Black and Blue (New Art Projects, London, 2017) and Interlopers (University of Hertfordshire, 2016). Interlopers spanned the vast glazed front wall of the Arts & Design Gallery. Permindar relocated works through the course of the exhibition. A blog by Barbara Brownie and a publication with essay by Richard Cork accompanied the exhibition.

A new publication with critical texts by Prof Eddie Chambers (University of Texas) and Dr Alice Correia (co-chair of the Black British Art Research Group) is planned for publication in early 2021.

Home is supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

AF 2012 Fellow Ahren Warner selected for 2020 Bloomberg New Contemporaries

#AFFellow Ahren Warner has been selected for this year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries! Warner was awarded his fellowship for poetry in 2012 and writes:
“I came to making films and photographs through, or preceded by, my work as a poet. In a 2014 lecture, the French poet Yves Bonnefoy argued that photography “bears directly on what poetry seeks to be” (Yves Bonnefoy. Poésie et photographie. Paris: Galilée, 2014). That – because of its ability to capture the ‘real’ and the necessity of ‘chance’ – photography “deflects the aim of what we call composition… present[ing] things existing as such in an existence beyond that which is reducible to thought” (Bonnefoy, 2014).
In this way, Bonnefoy sees photography as an outrider for a poetics that seeks to “rattle… the scaffolds of conceptual thought” (Bonnefoy, 2014). There’s a lot to digest in this: it intersects with plenty of *cool art theory* – new materialism, Quentin Meillassoux and Peter Osborne’s differing readings of ‘finitude’ – but there’s also a way in which it feels like a kind of outmoded, or romantic, idea of the photograph and poem. What, for example, of the networks of social and political determination that condition what is found within the photographic frame or the language and form of a poem?”
Read more on the New Contemporaries website.

AF 2019 Fellow Will Harris wins Forward Prize for Best First Collection!

One of the most acclaimed debuts in recent years, 2019 AFFA Fellow Will Harris won the £5,000 Felix Dennis prize for best first collection with RENDANG, which explores his Chinese-Indonesian and British heritage, family ties, language and borders. RENDANG was praised by judges as containing “acute intelligence and mobile grace”.

Read more

AFFA 2021 Environmental Writing Finalists Announced!

Nancy Campbell, Garry MacKenzie, Selina Nwulu and Joanna Pocock have been shortlisted for the £10,000 award which is supported by the the Yoma Sasburg Estate.

“In the year of the global pandemic when our very relationships with the natural world are critically exposed, this award is both timely and important, addressing global concerns and to different communities, bringing environmental science from academia to a much broader audience.  This award has given voice to the wide-ranging environmental concerns of the 21st century, from climate change to environmental pollution. It rewards creativity in partnership with environmental knowledge and understanding. The opportunity for wider engagement has never been more necessary and the shortlisted writers and poets all have important contributions to make now and into the future.”    
Jean McNeil, Lucia Pietroiusti, Professor Annie Worsley

The finalists were chosen from a long list of nominated UK-based writers of non-fiction whose work engages directly with the climate crisis, the anthropocene or with the sixth extinction. Bringing together writers of books, essays and poems, the award highlights some of the most striking voices in environmental writing in the UK today. The award was judged by an expert panel comprised of author Professor of Creative Writing at UEA, Jean McNeil, ecological curator Lucia Pietroiusti, and writer, physical geographer, crofter and Professor of Environmental Change Annie Worsley.

The judges commended poet, essayist and writer of books including The Library of Ice: Readings in a Cold Climate, Nancy Campbell for her generosity of spirit and depth of feeling in her writing, demonstrating great empathy with the flow of energy and power through the natural world.

Reviewing work by Scottish poet Garry McKenzie, the judges admired his ability to get beyond the ramparts of language which divides us from the animal kingdom, giving us a sense of shared consciousness and shared language and clearly contextualising his poetry within landscapes he clearly loves and knows very well.

Writer, poet and essayist Selina Nwulu was commended for her work which examines migration, race, climate change and social justice through a personal lens. The judges saw great potential in her approach to actively engage audiences on the issues of climate change and justice in environmental issues.

Joanna Pocock’s capacity to write philosophically yet simply about climate concerns was greatly admired by the judges. Her last book Surrender, a work of creative non-fiction, encompassed  arguments around sustainability and edges which are transitional and transformative, particularly poignant in a period of  political and social change.

The recipient of the £10,000 Environmental Writing Award will be announced along with awards in four other artforms (Visual Arts, Theatre Makers, Choral Composition and Materials Innovation) at an online celebration on the 27th Jan, 2021. Please check the website nearer the date for details about how to view the awards event.  The three runners-up will all receive £1,000 awards towards their practice. Go to AFFA2021 pages for details of all 20 award finalists.

AF Fellow Wayne McGregor’s Company performing at Design Museum’s Electronic exhibition

Join Company Wayne McGregor (one of our 1994 Fellows!) for a performance and talk at the @DesignMuseum in response to Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers!⁠

Immerse yourself, from wherever you are, in an evening of dance and electronic music at the museum.⁠

Follow dancers from Company Wayne McGregor through Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers as they perform bespoke choreography inside the exhibition in response to the soundscape. The event includes a talk by Wayne McGregor and friends.⁠


Online only event, book via @DesignMuseum’s website⁠

Adult £10, Members FREE

AFFA 2021 Choral Composition Finalists Announced!

Tanya Auclair, John Barber, Samantha Fernando and Jack Sheen have been chosen as finalists for the £10,000 award.
The finalists were chosen from a  long list of nominated UK-based composers who write music for groups of voices ranging from small ensembles to large choirs and for either amateur or professional choirs. The panel of experts was made up of soprano Juliet Fraser,  CEO of Garsington Opera Wasfi Kani OBE, and composer Orlando Gough who said:

“At a time when choral music is ferociously challenged, what a pleasure it has been to sift through a raft of strong applications from a wonderfully diverse group of composers. It makes me look forward even more to a time when we can hear live the choral work that is currently in the pipeline.” – Orlando Gough

Finalist Tanya Auclair meshes organic and electronic, pop and experimental, exploring unusual rhythms, vocal harmony and electronica, while John Barber has a passion for drama, collaboration and voices, taking him from working with refugees and asylum seekers, to professional ensembles. Juliet Fraser says of them:

“Tanya Auclair draws on music from a variety of cultures to offer a fresh perspective on the choral sound. John Barber’s catalogue of works is a testimony to the breadth of the choral tradition here in the UK. “

Samantha Fernando is credited as ‘a composer with an ear for stillness and subtext’ (The Times), while Jack Sheen is a conductor and composer whose music encompasses concert works and performance-installation. Juliet Fraser said:

“Samantha Fernando is developing a handling of the voice that looks set to equal the assuredness of her instrumental writing. Jack Sheen’s recent choral works combine compositional clarity with performer autonomy to great effect.”

In 2020 a significant number of choirs have been unable to meet and have subsequently disbanded. The Big Choral Census (Voices Now) found that there were over 40,000 regularly meeting choirs in the UK in 2017, equating to over two million singers – more than those playing amateur football each week. The Arts Foundation are delighted to be able to highlight this artform at such a challenging time.
The recipient of the 2021 Fellowship along with four further £10,000 awards in Visual Arts, Theatre Makers, Environmental Writing and Materials Innovation will be announced at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards on the 27th Jan, 2021 at an online evening of celebration from 7pm. The three runners-up will receive £1,000 awards towards their practice. Please check the AFFA2021 pages for details of all the finalists.

AF Fellow Paul Clark has launched a free online Master Class in Music Writing!

#AFFellow Paul Clark has launched a free online master class in music writing, Ear Opener!

Designed for music students, teachers and independent music makers, Ear Opener uses simple, accessible explanations of the tools people who write music use everyday, with practical tips that composers of any level can put straight into practice.

Get insights and advice from artists including legendary producer Brian Eno, composer & saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, film and TV composer Isobel Waller-Bridge and many more.

Find out more on their website!

AFFA 2021 Theatre Makers Finalists Announced!

Josie Dale-Jones, Matilda Ibini, Urielle Klein-Mekongo and Keisha Thompson have been chosen as finalists for the  £10,000 award, with support from the Maria Björnson Memorial Fund .

They were chosen from long list of nominated UK-based experimental theatre-makers who lead their audiences on a unique journey through their creative methods and process, by a panel of experts made up of Director of Battersea Arts Centre, Tarek Iskander, performer and maker Bryony Kimmings, and Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival, John McGrath.

Josie Dale-Jones is an artist who clearly believes in the power of her art to incite change, and has the remarkable craftsmanship and talent to realise those ideas. Josie’s art is always brave, always surprising, always uncompromising – I can’t wait to see what she might do next.” – Tarek Iskander

“Matilda Ibini has that rare thing that many theatre practitioners dream of… a unique and effortless voice. Part geek, part soothsayer, part reluctant activist her work is exciting, other worldly and honest. Ibini deserves more accolades” – Bryony Kimmings

“Urielle Klein-Mekongo is clearly a truly significant voice. With a style that moves easily from spoken word to dialogue to lyric, she is helping to re-invent theatre as a relevant and powerful medium for a new generation.  The judges were impressed by her vision, truthfulness and creativity.” – John McGrath

“Keisha Thompson is an artistic force to be reckoned with.  Her politics are resonant and surprising.  Her use of theatrical form is thoughtful and inventive.  Her open-ness to influences and inspirations is invigorating. A voice for the present and the future.” – John McGrath

UK Theatre workers have faced unprecedented challenges over the past months, and we are delighted to continue our support of the performing arts. Previous Arts Foundation Fellows include Alice Birch (Playwriting, 2014), Chloe Lamford (Design for Performance, 2013), Rufus Norris (Theatre Directing, 2002), Sarah Kane (Playwriting, 1998) and Alexander Zeldin (Performing Arts, 2018). More information about our Performing Arts Fellows can be found in our directory.

The Theatre Makers award is the first in an exciting series of three annual theatre-themed awards, made possible by the Maria Björnson Memorial Fund. The fund was set up to honour the brilliant theatre, ballet and opera designer Maria Björnson who died in 2002. Her best known design was for the Phantom of the Opera for which she received a plethora of awards, although she designed for many other organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet, Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, Sydney Opera, La Scala, in the West End and on Broadway.
The recipient of the 2021 Fellowship along with four further £10,000 awards in Visual Arts, Choral Composition, Environmental Writing and Materials Innovation will be announced at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards on the 27th Jan, 2021 at an online evening of celebration from 7pm. The three runners-up will receive £1,000 awards towards their practice. Please check the AFFA2021 pages for details of all the finalists.

Image above from Dismantle (2020) by Josie Dale-Jones

AF Ambassador and former Fellow Wayne McGregor appointed Director of the Dance Department for La Biennale di Venezia

A DREAM challenge ahead…… 
Honoured to be appointed the new Director of Dance for La Biennale Di Venezia. A chance to use a different part of the creative brain and a unrivalled opportunity to invite artists I respect and admire to share their brilliance at the BIENNALE. And tough I know………you will have to come to Venice!”
 Wayne McGregor

La Biennale di Venezia announces that the Board of Directors has appointed the Artistic Directors for the Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre Departments for the four-year term 2021-2024:

The following appointments have been approved: Alberto Barbera was confirmed as the Director of the Cinema Department
Wayne McGregor was appointed as the Director of the Dance Department
Lucia Ronchetti was appointed as the Director of the Music Department
ricci/forte (Stefano Ricci and Gianni Forte) were appointed as the Directors of the Theatre Department

The Board of Directors of La Biennale has thanked and expressed its most sincere gratitude to Marie Chouinard, Ivan Fedele and Antonio Latella for their great commitment and the excellent results they achieved during their four-year terms as Directors respectively of the Dance, Music and Theatre Departments.

Read more here.

AFFA 2021 Materials Innovation Finalists Announced!

Elissa Brunato, Julian Ellis-BrownShneel Malik and The Shellworks have been chosen as finalists for the  £10,000 award made possible by the Clothworkers’ Company!

They were chosen from long list of nominated UK-based artists, makers and designers by a panel of experts made up of inventor Thomas Duggan, commissioning editor of Wallpaper* Magazine TF Chan and curator and writer Priya Khanchandani who said;

“This year’s finalists are united in their exploration of design as a medium for tackling the exploitation of our planet, which has been driven by consumption. The bioplastics derived from waste crustacean shells by Shellworks, and Elissa Brunato’s bio-iridescent sequins, demonstrate ingenuity in being derived from, and capable of being returned safely to, nature.

For Julian Ellis-Brown, Saltyco’s fabrics, made from plants grown in salty water, address the over-use of freshwater by proposing a viable alternative fertile source while Shneel Malik’s photosynthetic membranes offer a way for architecture to clean polluted water using the natural processes of micro-organisms. I can see so much potential for the objects that surround us every day be transformed by these new forms of materiality.”

The Materials Innovation Award was launched in 2014 by a desire to highlight the fast-growing development of designers working in the creation of new materials, which was an area largely unknown in the public domain. The category also highlights the growing popularity of cross-disciplinary, collaborative work between artists, designers, scientists and engineers and allows for a range of approaches, from new bio-materials to innovations in re-use; and from speculative materials to start-ups already having impact. All of them engage in-depth study of both material life cycles and their impact on the environment and people.

Over the seven years since its inception, consumers and companies have not only come to recognise the central role of  materials, but are actively looking for both radical social and sustainable solutions from materials design. The work by our award winning practitioners is driven by a desire to develop innovative materials by asking new questions, to find solutions for some of the most complex problems we need to address for the future. For a list of all finalists please visit here.

The recipient of the 2021 Fellowship along with four further £10,000 awards in Visual Arts, Choral Composition, Environmental Writing and Theatre-Makers will be announced at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards on the 27th Jan, 2021 at an online evening of celebration from 7pm. The three runners-up will receive £1,000 awards towards their practice. Please check the AFFA2021 pages for details of all the finalists.

The Clothworkers’ Foundation was set up by The Clothworkers’ Company in 1977 and aims to improve the lives of people and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage. To date it has awarded grants of more than £1200m.

AF 2020 Fellow Bethany Williams launches new collaborative collection and video

All Our Children is a capsule collection by designer and AF Fellow Bethany Williams, made in collaboration with The Magpie Project.

Video and images by Ruth Ossai.

Poem by Eno Mfon.

Text from Vogue.

A flag with the words All Our Children is flying from the roof of Somerset House. Made by Bethany Williams, it’s a publicly visible statement about the work she does with the Magpie Project, a London charity that cares for immigrant women and children to whom the state refuses access to benefits or health care. “They repeatedly hear from councils that ‘these are not our children to look after, they are not our responsibility,’” says Williams. “We’re like, No! These are the most vulnerable people in society. So we wanted to reclaim that phrase and raise a flag above London to say these are all our children.”

Yesterday, she’d filled a gallery in the grand arts institution to exhibit photographs of families: mothers, babies, and teenagers wearing the latest installment of her partnership with Magpie. “During lockdown, my artist and illustrator friend Melissa Kitty Jaram sent the mothers and children a project, asking if they’d like to draw each other. Then she made their pictures into little prints, which we’ve used in this collection,” explains Williams.

Williams indivisibly folds caring for people and the planet into her definition of sustainability in a way that’s as visually uplifting as it is exemplary. Moving along an installation of her clothes, she related how the making of the collaborative mother-and-child collection sprang out of the Mothers and Minis creative play sessions that the charity organizes. “These are made from white vintage bedding that we asked our sorters to find; these knits are patchworked together with crochet from reclaimed sweaters. The canvas jeans are made from bell tents; the corsets are made of fruit packaging waste by Rosie Evans. And oh,” she paused for breath, “the screen printing was done by a female printing company in Peckham.”

After everything was made, there was a socially distanced photo shoot by Ruth Ossai at the charity’s HQ, with mothers, infants, and Magpie Trust youth standing against fantasy backdrops. Helen Kirkham, the London trainer remaker, made children’s shoes from upcycled sneakers.

Twenty percent of Bethany Williams’s proceeds always goes to the charity. On hand to explain the impact of providing this happy moment of respite for her clients was Magpie’s founder, Jane Williams. “The very phrase homeless toddler should never have to be spoken,” she says. “In our one London borough of Newham, there are 2,000 children living with mothers who have no legal recourse to welfare. It is the same all over London: women living on the very edge, who will have been sex-trafficked, brought to London as domestic slaves or who have fled domestic violence. COVID-19 has made things worse for them, yes, but it’s far down the list of concerns for people coping with their levels of trauma.” In Newham the women are housed in decommissioned office tower blocks on industrial estates or roundabouts. “They’ll be living in one room with no insulation, sometimes with three children, who have nowhere to learn to crawl or walk. Mothers tell us about staying awake holding their children through nights to keep them safe from vermin. This is why we focus on the under-5s,” says Jane Williams. The only provision members of this destitute community receive from the British Home Office is 37 pounds a week. They’re not entitled to access to health services. “When our mothers give birth in a hospital, they are handed a 7,000 pound bill,” she adds.

Fashion’s relationship with humanitarian aid has been a long but typically distanced one. Bethany Williams’s softly spoken mission is to bring home the fact that there is also a desperate need to take direct action to alleviate the scandalous abuse of vulnerable people in our own cities. She acts more than she preaches, as a hands-on volunteer, but she also consciously uses the conversations she can have in fashion as a catalyst for opening eyes and raising funds. “Bethany isn’t about printing a slogan on a T-shirt,” Jane Williams testifies.

Her persuasive advocacy is making personal bonds with much more powerful people within the industry. This season she also has a collaboration with Adidas, using fabric the brand accumulates in its customer buyback scheme. A brilliant stroke of inspiration brought it right back to the theme of childhood. “We reached out to our network of suppliers and buyers and asked them what their hopes and dreams were for the children of the future, and also for photos of themselves as children. So we’ve made blousons that have their faces patchworked into them,” says Williams. Well, which of those buyers wouldn’t want to order those?

Her way of doing things—fashion as a nonprofit social enterprise, involving, respecting, and uplifting the life chances of women and children—rewires the whole process of what a clothing business is for. The self-searching refrain repeated by so many heads of fashion companies in the age of COVID-19 is: What is our purpose, how can we be more sustainable, how can we contribute to social justice in our communities? They could easily hire Bethany Williams to advise on that. Consultancy is part of her business model. In 2020 young people are in the position of being able to teach their elders, if only they have the sense and the humanity to listen.

AFFA 2021 Visual Arts Finalists Announced!

Ayo AkingbadeSonya Dyer, Tanoa Sasraku and Rosa-Johan Uddoh have been selected from a long list of nominated artists as finalists for the £10,000 Arts Foundation Futures Award in Visual Arts 2021, supported by The David Collins Foundation! The award celebrates emerging artists based on both their work to date, and their demonstrated potential.

This recipient of the 2021 Fellowship will be announced at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards on the 27th Jan, 2021 at an online evening of celebration from 7pm. The three runners-up will receive £1,000 awards towards their practice.

The judges for this years award were Editor of Frieze magazine Andrew Durbin, Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid, and curator and writer Fatoş Üstek, who said:

“The pool of nominations provided a real insight to the contemporary practices of emerging artists in the UK today. We unanimously agreed on shortlisting four exciting artists for the awards. From documentary film making to installations, their practices span a wide breadth of interest, including voices that are charged by social concerns, personal narratives, historic alliances and humour. We hereby celebrate all of the artists for their ingenuity.”

The four artists selected this year are all women who engage with Black experiences and perspectives. Ayo Akingbade’s video interrogations of life in the shifting landscape of London oscillate between document and performance to enact lived experiences, while Tanoa Sasraku’s highly referential works examine the intersections of her identity as a young, mixed-race, gay woman raised in Plymouth, and the endeavors to draw these senses of self together as one in 21st century England. Rosa-Johan Uddoh uses humor to explore our obsessions with places, objects and celebrities, and their influence on our formations of self, while Sonya Dyer projects Black women of science and legend into a fictitious future in which she questions whose image it will be built in.

We are delighted to be including these four artists in our list of finalists, that include previous winners of our Visual Arts Awards Jamila Johnson-Small, Hannah Starkey, Thompson & Craighead, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Simon Fujiwara.

The £10,000 Arts Foundation Futures Awards 2021 in Choral Composition, Materials Innovation, Environmental Writing and Theatre-Makers will be announced over the coming weeks.

Image above by Rosa-Johan Uddoh. Still from ‘Performing Whiteness 3 (Private Life Drama)’. Photo ELC & Rosa-Johan Uddoh

AF Fellow Lynette Yiadom-Boakye opening solo exhibition at Tate Modern this November



18 NOVEMBER 2020 – 9 MAY 2021

The first major survey of one of the most important painters working today.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British artist and writer acclaimed for her enigmatic portraits of fictitious people. This exhibition brings together around 80 works from 2003 to the present day in the most extensive survey of the artist’s career to date. Lynette is a fellow of the Arts Foundation winning the Arts Foundation Award for Painting back in 2006.

The figures in Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are not real people – she creates them from found images and her own imagination. Both familiar and mysterious, they invite viewers to project their own int.erpretations, and raise important questions of identity and representation.

Often painted in spontaneous and instinctive bursts, her figures seem to exist outside of a specific time or place. Her paintings are coupled with poetic titles, such as Tie the Temptress to the Trojan 2016 and To Improvise a Mountain 2018. Writing is central to Yiadom-Boakye’s artistic practice, as she has explained: ‘I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about.’

Yiadom-Boakye was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2018 and was the 2012 recipient of the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Prize. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013.

Exhibition organised by Tate Britain in collaboration with Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean

Find out more on the Tate website.

AF nominee Alan Warburton to open experimental exhibition at arbyte gallery


Alan Warburton

16 October – 19 December 2020

“We’ve gone through the looking glass and been turned inside out by computation, into a new post-photographic world of synthetic images.”

arebyte Gallery presents a new commission by UK based artist Alan Warburton. RGBFAQ comprises a research-led experiential exhibition in which the audience navigates a “black-box” set populated by gigantic geometric sculptures. Warburton’s ambitious new video essay will be
projection mapped onto this sculptural background, expanding the form of his popular video essays (Goodbye Uncanny Valley, Fairytales of Motion) into an immersive 3D space, with a soundtrack by Jacob Samuel.

This post-photographic origin story bridges x-rays and z-buffers, radar and Pixar, video games and machine learning, concluding with insights into how synthetic data is changing the nature of vision forever. Informed by the latest development in machine learning and computer graphics, as well as Warburton’s ten years working in animation, RGBFAQ puts viewers inside software,
and inside software history.

“My process is like a comedian developing a set, but without the laughs,” says Warburton, who describes this spatial video essay as “a cross between a software tutorial and a ghost train ride that channels an episode of late 80s Tomorrow’s World”

RGBFAQ will be open from October 16 – December 19 2020 at arebyte Gallery.

This is a timed exhibition, running every 30 minutes from 1pm – 6pm, Tuesday – Saturday.

Visitors are advised to book here in advance.

AF Fellow Onyeka Igwe screening with BFI’s London Film Festival online

Arts Foundation 2020 Fellow Onyeka Igwe is showing her new short film No Archive Can Restore You with the BFI London Film Festival online! Watch her work any time from 7th – 18th October on the BFI player here.

No Archive Can Restore You⁠

An imagining of lost films from the Nigerian Film Unit archive, with distinctive soundscapes, juxtaposed with images of the abandoned interior and exteriors of the building that housed it.⁠

Runtime: 6 minutes⁠

Directed by⁠
Onyeka Igwe⁠
Produced by⁠
Omowunmi Ogundipe, Mason Leaver-Yap

AF Fellow Ali Smith publishes Summer, their fourth novel in four years

Ali Smith

The unmissable finale to Ali Smith’s dazzling literary tour de force: the Seasonal quartet concludes in 2020 with Summer

In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world’s in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.

This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?



‘The novel of the year is obviously Autumn’ Observer on Autumn

‘Masterful… Winter is utterly original’ New York Times Book Review on Winter

‘Luminous, generous, hope-filled… A dazzling hymn to hope. Ali Smith is lighting us a path out of the nightmarish now’ Observer on Spring

‘Smith’s seasonal quartet of novels is a bold and brilliant experiment’ Independent


Summer can be purchased here.

AF Fellow Simon Fujiwara to exhibit at Berghain, Berlin

Arguably the world’s most famous techno club, Berghain in Berlin hasn’t rumbled with 130 beats per minute since March, silenced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Come September, it will start welcoming back guests — but to gawk at art, rather than party until sunrise.

Formerly a power station, Berghain will become an extended outpost for the Boros Collection, housed in what is locally known as “the bunker,” a hulking bomb shelter built during the Second World War, and for a few years in the Nineties, a techno club with terrible air circulation (and presumably no noise complaints).

The Boros Collection, which opened in 2008 and offers one of the most unique contemporary art experiences in town, turns out to have had a pandemic-ready concept, welcoming only 12 visitors at a time for guided tours spaced 30 minutes apart.

Reservations are made on a first-come, first-serve basis, and this will be applied to the Berghain project, making it finally possible for all to enter. (The nightclub has a notoriously difficult door policy.)

Organized by the nonprofit Boros Foundation, the exhibit will feature works by more than 80 Berlin-based artists spread across 3,500 square meters of space, encompassing the main club known as Berghain, the Panorama Bar, Säule and Halle.

Berghain houses many permanent artworks, including giant Wolfgang Tillmans photos that lord over the Panorama Bar, and the collaboration with Boros “aims to offer Berlin artists a public platform to establish a place for dialogue,” according to the partners, who trumpeted the importance of the city’s professional artists.

They note that more than 160,000 people work in the “cultural and creative sector” and have made Berlin one of Europe’s most dynamic capitals for music and art.

Titled “Studio Berlin,” the exhibition includes new works — all made under lockdown — by Olafur Eliasson, Alicja Kwade, Carsten Nicolai, Katja Novitskova, Simon Fujiwara and Keto Logua. A word-based piece by Rirkrit Tiravanija will be plastered across the top of the hulking building: “Morgen ist die frage,” it reads. (“Tomorrow is the question,” in English.)

Restricted to those over 16 years old, it opens to the public on Sept. 9. In line with the nightclub’s famous policy, photography is strictly prohibited.

Article via Yahoo.

AF Fellow Kwame Asafo-Adjei debuts performance made in lockdown on our Instagram

“Before Us was made in two days at the start of the Covid pandemic, responding to the moment with the resources available to us at the time. My work explores tension and release, living in London during Covid, #blacklivesmatter, and using dance to respond through the influence of krump.”

Watch the performance on our Instagram

Directed and Choreographed by Kwame Asafo-Adjei

Starring Ashely Goosey & Isaac Ouro-Gnao

Beatboxing by Hobbit

Produced and Edited by Victoria Shulungu

AF 2020 Fellow Onyeka Igwe writes on women’s bodies and archives for Feminist Review

Being Close to, With or Amongst, Onyeka Igwe

Feminist ReviewVolume 125, Issue 1, July 2020, Pages 44-53

“There is an oft-touted thought, which has perhaps fallen into adage for its authorlessness, that women carry archives in their bodies. It seems a romantic or old-fashioned thought—that bodies can be ‘a witness, testament and document’ and so are sites of history-making (Schneider, 2019). It is a thought that has been swept aside by an epistemological framework that has come to dominate how it is we know. And so, as a challenge to this, an ‘act of love against the foreclosures of reason’ (Singh, 2018, p. 29), I went looking for archival bodies.”


Read the full article

AF Fellow Bethany Williams launching capsule collection at Somerset House pop up show

19-20 September 2020, Seaman’s Hall, Somerset House

Marking London Fashion Week 2020, British fashion designer Bethany Williams launches a new fashion capsule collection, with this pop-up installation.

Be one of the first to see Bethany Williams‘ new collection in this pop-up installation, featuring items from the collection, a new film commission offering insight into the project and a replica of Bethany’s flag commission, also undertaken as part of All Our Children.

The project began with DIY workshops in April and May, inviting audiences to contribute to Bethany’s research process for the collection, which will now be on display here at Somerset House.

Bethany is celebrated for her innovative and inclusive practice in the fashion industry, placing both sustainability and social responsibility at its core. All Our Children forms an extension of her recent collaboration with the Magpie Project, a charity based in Newham providing safety and support for mothers and under-fives suffering in temporary or insecure accommodation. In All Our Children, Williams offers a platform for these vulnerable voices, highlighting the urgent need to transform society’s relationship with the planet, to better protect it for future generations.

Find out more here.

The Arts Foundation is celebrating five years of partnership with The David Collins Foundation!

This year we are celebrating five years of support from @thedavidcollinsfoundation!⁠

Scroll down to watch our video and hear how the The David Collins Foundation and our Fellows have benefitted from our partnership!

Following the untimely death of David Collins in 2013 from skin cancer, The David Collins Foundation was created to commemorate him, his work, his passion for the arts, and his love of beauty. The Foundation’s board of trustees comprises his friends and his colleagues.⁠

The David Collins Foundation seeks to support talented artists and designers at pivotal points in their careers across a diverse range of artistic mediums, allowing them to focus on their research and to develop their practice.⁠

Since 2017 The David Collins Foundation has partnered with The Arts Foundation. In 2017 Max Frommeld was awarded the Foundation’s inaugural prize under the category of Furniture Design.⁠

In 2018 at The Arts Foundation’s 25th anniversary awards, The David Collins Foundation awarded bursaries to glass artist Jochen Holz and choreographer Alexander Baczynski-Jenkins. In 2019, Will Harris won the Poetry award, and in 2020 Onyeka Igwe won the Experimental Short Film award, both sponsored by The David Collins Foundation.

AF Fellow Will Harris takes over our Instagram with poems from RENDANG

Arts Foundation Fellow Will Harris took over our Instagram to share poems from his debut poetry collection RENDANG (2020) available at @grantabooks, and nominated for @fowardprizes for poetry, for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection!

State Building: “This first poem ‘State Building’ came out of a mix of things: my mum’s Chinese Indonesian heritage, my dad’s work as an antiques dealer, a broader reflection on brokenness as a positive, my tenuous relationship with my grandma, the pressure to assimilate if you’re “other”, and how to resist that.”

Yellow: “I wanted to write a series of poems about the phenomenon of yellowface, where white actors mimic a person of East Asian heritage. I read about this Chinese American magician whose act was stolen by a Scottish magician William Ellsworth Robinson. Robinson committed to the bit so thoroughly that he ended up dying on stage with his secret pretty much intact. It got me thinking about orientalism and mimicry, and the ways in which they reinforce one another. I was also thinking about the figure of the twin or doppelganger in literature and horror. I’ve always had this low-key fear of twins, which probably speaks to some worry that I’m in no way unique, and also – culturally speaking – this idea that mimicry effaces what it copies.”

My Name is Dai: “I met a person called Dai one night in the pub and he shared this sad story with me. At the time I’d been working on a series of “encounter poems”, so it seemed natural to write about him. I was thinking about the legacy of British Romantic poetry – not the side that seems to celebrate the self, but those moments where the self is ruptured through contact with the other. The kind of moment that forces you to recognise your own power and complicity in power. And I was thinking about talking, the compulsion to talk, how you can talk and talk and fail to communicate anything. That’s what Coleridge’s figure of the “Ancient Mariner” means to me: someone who can’t stop talking, who’s locked inside their own narrative. So it was strange and sobering to meet this drunken mariner. It felt – in some ways – like a reminder about the risks of writing: don’t get trapped in the feedback loop of writerly self-justification; keep in mind the world beyond the poem.”

Glass Case: “This poem came about through walking around the @britishmuseum with a notepad, trying to see anew the terror and strangeness of the museum as an institution, with its horde of brutally displaced objects turned into lifeless “cultural artifacts”. I couldn’t believe the Enlightenment Gallery was still called that, and how shamelessly it still celebrates imperial power, showcasing a jumble of objects from Asia and Africa “acquired” in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s plunder, artlessly – worse, soul-destroyingly – arranged. And it’s worth noting the prevalence of donors’ names plastering the walls of the British Museum, like BP and JP Morgan. Culture, as ever, is what money uses to whitewash its origins.”

The White Jumper: “These are extracts from a longer poem. I’ve discussed it before so I’ll try not to repeat myself! I had this dream in which I was in a kind of platform game, running through a woodland area, when I saw a white jumper on a ledge of grass that was too far away for me to reach. I was struck by the banality of the dream, but also by how vivid it was. It stayed with me. I started keeping a journal, recording things I’d read and places I’d been to, thinking back to this dream again and again. The poem became a reflection on how a dream can seep into a life, colouring it, and how a dream might be used as a source text for making new work. Weirdly I’ve been dreaming less vividly in lockdown.”

Illinois: “This one is harder to talk about, I guess because it’s a lyric poem. Like with a song, you could summarise the content but it would tell you almost nothing about it.”


AF Fellow Ahren Warner takes over our Instagram with The Sea is Spread and Cleaved and Furled

Hi everyone! I’m Ahren Warner – @ahren_warner – here for a #FellowsTakeover. I was lucky enough to receive support from the Arts Foundation in 2012, and I’ll be sharing some extracts from my recent, current and forthcoming work over the next week or so. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

See the full takeover with texts, videos, photographs, poetry and readings on our Insta feed...


New Arts Foundation Futures Award for Choral Composition to highlight the importance of UK choirs

With choirs across the UK under significant threat due to the Covid crisis, we are delighted to be providing a new 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Award for Choral Composition! Experts in the field are currently sending in their nominations, with shortlisters announced in the Autumn and the award winners announced in January 2021. The winning Fellow will be awarded £10,000, with all nominees awarded a further £1000.

AF Fellow Gregory Batsleer won his award for Choral Conducting in 2015 and holds hope for the future of choral music with the right support.

Choral music is one of the UK’s oldest and most treasured art forms. Choirs in all shapes and sizes form a crucial part of our wonderful cultural life, and in recent years being a member of a choir has become popular once again. Sadly the Covid crisis and question marks around the dangers of singing has plunged this art form into a perilous position. Choral musicians throughout the UK are collectively concerned for what comes next.

However, there remains a hope that we will navigate our way safely through this together, and that on the other side there will be great opportunity. In this moment we have a chance to press the refresh button and look at new and innovative ways of presenting and showcasing the glory of choral music. 

I am without doubt that it is the curation and composition of new works that will be at the center of this. It is my excited belief that we have an opportunity given to us to think outside the box and really create a musical voice for today – a voice that represents our current time, and one which can sit alongside some the most glorious works by composers of the last 500 years.