For an overview of the areas in which I work, which include as a workshop facilitator, writer-in-residence, community writer, working in schools etc please see my Creative Practitioner page. You’ll find out more too on the Commissions and Residencies page.
Here you will find a much more detailed look at just a few of the recent projects I’ve been involved with and some that are currently ongoing. There are many, many more, you’ll find a list at the bottom. The projects shown here are chosen as an eclectic snapshot of the varied work I undertake. Do please get in touch if you feel we’d be a match to work together.
At the bottom of this page you will find information about my qualifications and professional memberships, as well as a list of all recent projects.
Disconsortia – Assistant Producer
I was Assistant Producer for Disconsortia, a collective of disabled artists in the North East, for their A Place at the Table project funded by Arts Council England. The role included supporting a group of artists with their commissions, and working across areas such as organisational development, regional takeover, PR & marketing, funding, and administration.
Protest Writing – Durham Book Festival and New Writing North
Greta and the Giants by Zoë Tucker and Zoe Persico was the Little Read book for Durham Book Festival 2020 which was used as a springboard to enable young people to take part in a Discover Arts Award. I was commissioned to create this short film about Protest Writing as part of the project.
Kirkleatham Museum – Get Creative at Home
In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kirkleatham Museum were keen to get digital content online which meant that their community could be supported to create in these difficult times. I was commissioned to create numerous projects in film, written, PDF and audio formats. I subtitled and audio described the films I created to ensure accessibility as well as providing transcripts for audio. The projects include an audio meditation writing guide, a film and accompanying PDFs about how to create Little Books, a poetry performance, creating a rainbow of memories and lots more.
MIMA Celebrating Age – lead workshop facilitator
Delivered by MIMA in association with Thirteen Housing and funded by Arts Council England, I worked as Lead Workshop Facilitator for over two years on this incredible project. Working with over 55s in community settings around Middlesbrough, many of whom were living with dementia, I devised and facilitated workshops to promote creativity, ownership of space and belonging. Together we also made community charters, codes of conducts and, over time and with support, these sessions became self-governed and funded groups. We wrote poems which were beautifully printed and took pride of place on community centre walls, we made banners to welcome others to their residential settings, we sang together, ate together, laughed together and got through about 3 tonnes of glitter.
I am currently mentoring a middle grade writer as part of the WriteMentor mentoring summer scheme, and a young poet for the New Writing North New Narratives commission. I have worked one-to-one with poets, writers and performers of all ages and levels to build confidence, learn new writing skills and to push them in terms of boldness and creativity in their writing and performance. I have mentored as part of the Arts Council England Develop Your Creative Practice fund. I offer this as a tailor made package – contact me for further details.
Reader for the Northern Writers’ Awards 2021
Established in 2000, the Northern Writers’ Awards supports work-in-progress by new, emerging and established writers across the North of England.
Our team of specialist literature professionals read the entries at various stages in our carefully designed sifting process, helping us to prepare longlists and shortlists for our judges. All entries are assigned to our readers anonymously and given a considered read. Entries that win an award will have been read by several people during the judging process, reinforcing our efforts to iron out as much subjectivity as we can.
Art Assembly – Co-Curator
MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) was invited by Art Fund to be part of Art Assembly – a one day festival showing how art can make a difference as part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019. I work a lot with MIMA on a freelance basis and was delighted to be invited to co-curate this event. I spent a day in MIMA working with all the community groups and created a charter for every one. We took over an empty space in Walthamstow High Street which we turned into a mini MIMA on tour, in which the charters were beautifully and proudly displayed. As well as loads of makings and doings, I also talked to all the people who came to visit us, and asked them what they believe makes a community. This work will be turned into a charter for Walthamstow, to share our learning and to say thank you for having us.
Get creative with MIMA’s innovative programme, live in the heart of Walthamstow. A colourful pop-up display, co-curated with disabled activist Lisette Auton.
The Little Shed of Forgotten Dreams – Commission for Hartlepool Waterfront Festival
Vici Wreford-Sinnott and I spent the summer working with members of Artrium Studio in Hartlepool to create the Little Shed of Forgotten Dreams. Artrium is a unique art studio using arts and crafts to improve mental health and well-being. We invented and created local myths and legends inspired by the stories of Hartlepool and those of the members. We made and collected items to store in the Little Shed which became a living museum and art installation for 6 weeks.
MIMA – Who Are We?
Spending time in MIMA saying hello, having conversations, attending lots of the sessions going on in the building, eating lunch together. Taking all the notes I made and turning them into a lyrical essay with verbatim text from the conversations to tell the story about who we are. The writing was displayed in the gallery and also used to make incredible table tops.
An Evening With – Host, Curate and Perform
I curated, organised and hosted An Evening With Lisette Auton at the fabulous Thought Foundation. BSL interpreted and audio described, it was an evening to give voice to incredible disabled artists, poets, writers, musicians and spoken word performers who live in the North East.
Social Action Speaker
With New Writing North I went into schools and delivered a talk to different year groups about Disability Arts, social action, my journey as a writer and changing the world with words. This was followed by workshops with selected students.
Belonging – Poetry Commission
I was commissioned to create new work reflecting the local identity and the meaning of ‘belonging’ within the post-industrial area of Middlesbrough. To work with a community group to create new narratives around the term ‘belonging’. I worked with Creative Age at MIMA, a group from the traditionally working-class areas that inspired the paintings of Teesside artist David Watson (born 1944). The piece will be recorded to form video installations, these will exhibit alongside Watson’s paintings (20) at an exhibition Dorman Museum in 2020. The new narratives will also form the exhibition guide.
Vital Xposure – Medicine’s Monstrous Daughters – Actor
Well that didn’t go according to plan… I’m so very sad we didn’t get to show the world the incredible piece of work the whole team made, having spent three weeks rehearsing in Hackney. I hope we get to come together again, I hope we stay safe, I hope the venues and staff and freelancers are all okay.
Julie McNamara, artistic director of Vital Xposure, wrote about the rehearsal process, it feels even more important now that this testament to this important piece of work is read. LINK TO ARTICLE HERE.
Spring 2020 – four weeks rehearsal in London and then four weeks national tour in the role of Mad Mary with the acclaimed Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, Vital Xposure.
Two plays by Julie McNamara and Omikemi. Directed by Penelope Freeman
Different women. Different times. Same system.
Two powerful plays, inspired by real life events, are woven together across time to expose unpalatable truths about the treatment of people deemed ‘different’ or ‘damaged’ and asks how much of our humanity do we lose in search of the cure?
Together, these plays tell some of the untold stories behind medicine’s ‘magical’ gains.
Age recommendation: 14+
The Secret of Haven Point publishes with Puffin in February 2022, with another title to follow in 2023.
The main character in my voice-led middle grade adventure novel is eleven year old Alpha Lux, the first Wreckling, who lives at the lighthouse on the rugged North East coast with the mermaids and Cap’n with a kitten in his beard. Alpha wants to know why her mam abandoned her. When a mysterious stranger threatens to destroy the secret world she loves, she realises she doesn’t need to know the answer in order to belong; that friendship and the families we make for ourselves are the most important things to fight for. Alpha is disabled, as are all the characters who live at the lighthouse, but this book is not ‘about’ disability, nor is it ‘inspiration porn’. It’s a cracking and glorious middle grade literary adventure story with a spiky strong female at its heart. It’s missing from book shelves.
I am represented by Molly Ker Hawn at the Bent Agency and this novel won me a coveted place on Penguin Random House’s Write Now programme.
Disconsortia – Writer-in-Residence, Workshop Facilitator & Performer
Invited to be writer-in-residence, to devise and facilitate a workshop, and perform as the Crip Mistress at a 2 day event for twenty disabled artists in the North East. I produced a piece of creative writing about the event which has been published on Disability Arts Online. The workshop was devised to be completely accessible and allow cross-artform collaboration. The performance was written especially for the cabaret, a twenty minute headline spot in character as the Crip Mistress which included spoken word. The Crip Mistress is available for future performances…
Recent & Upcoming Projects
Mainspring Arts – leading a writing course for neurodivergent participants in MG and YA
Borderlands – foundation work creating an invitation to the project
Blue Cabin – Associate Artist on the Creative Life Story Work team – working with care experience children and young people
New Writing North – delivering a CPD workshop on Ekphrastic writing on the Creative Writing for Teachers programme
ARC – creating a book and writing workshops with care experienced young people
NWN – reader for the Northern Writers Awards 2021
Durham Book Festival & New Writing North – protest writing workshop – see above
Arts Connect – guest speaker on inclusion and accessibility
New Writing North – Masterclass delivery for Inkubator programme on planning successful and engaging workshops
Disconsortia – Assistant Producer – see above
National Youth Theatre of Ireland – create a film provocation for their conference about inaccessibility online
MIMA – edit their Celebrating Age publications
MIMA – create and deliver CPD for the organisation
New Writing North – Lead Writer on 8 week schools poetry project
Kirkleatham Museum – Get Creative at Home – see above
Belonging – Poetry commission – see above
Puffin/Penguin/WriteNow – Author of middle grade novel THE WRECKLINGS – see above
Disability Arts Online – multiple commissions as writer and reviewer
Vital Exposure – Actor – see above
New Writing North – Social action speaker and workshop facilitator in schools – see above
Arts Council England – Mentor for Develop Your Creative Practice
Disconsortia/DAO/D4D – Writer-in-Residence, workshop facilitator and performer – see above
MIMA Celebrating Age – Lead workshop facilitator working on a two year project with older people living with dementia – see above
MIMA Cloth Club – one off writing workshop to create a group poem based on their freeform knitting project to go on tour
MIMA/Art Assembly – Co-Curator – see above
Crossing the Tees Book Festival – Writer-in-Residence – design and deliver a masterclass, 3 workshops, and workshops in 5 schools, attend events, create a poetry pamphlet
Dear Mrs Pennyman – Devise and deliver a writing workshop based on the Pennyman Letters
Little Shed of Forgotten Dreams – commissioned by Hartlepool Waterfront Festival – see above
MIMA – writer on Who Are We Project culminating in exhibition and words upon table tops
The Forge – Poet – design and deliver two day workshop and performance in schools
Evening With Lisette Auton – Host, curate and perform – see above
Let’s Discuss Disability – Artist and panel member
Disability Arts Online – Guest Editor – commission, edit and write articles to cover a 4 week take-over
BBC Bitesize – Guest artist on schools tour
DaDaFest – Panel member on the Future of Disability Arts
North Ormesby Hackathon – Writer-in-Residence and community writer
Full Circle Academy – writer and drama practitioner with learning disabled theatre academy
Occupation – Movement Facilitator for OCCUPATION with professional, disabled, and community cast
MIMA – Writer-in-residence – create schools programme
Qualifications, Training, Certification and Memberships
BA Hons in Theatre Acting: Devised Performance
MSc with Distinction in Community Development and Youth Work
JNC Professional Qualification in Youth Work
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
Greater Tees Practitioner Training Programme – strengthening skills and tools to effectively facilitate creative practice with socially excluded communities such as: young people including NEETs and PRU pupils, older people, disabled people, people experiencing homelessness, and refugees and asylum seekers
SPECAL Training with the Contented Dementia Trust
Introduction to Community Organising
Creative Leadership, delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs and funded by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Programme – 2 years
BSL Level 1 with MeSign Teesside
Relevant certification and memberships:
Current Enhanced Portable DBS
All relevant local Safeguarding Qualifications
Public Liability Insurance
Member of the Society of Authors
Member of the National Association of Writers in Education
For further information, or if you’re interested in how we could work together, please contact me.