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Co-producing great art since 1983
Helix Arts logo
Co-producing great art since 1983

#HADADi - Helix Arts Digital Artists' Drop-in


After a completely packed evening, we’re only just catching our breath here! An incredible night jammed with such an array of inspiring speakers. What a way to kick off our time in the new venue! Huge thanks to our new host, Carol Davenport, Director of NUSTEM, who gave us such a warm welcome, and explained what Think Lab is all about – fostering creative approaches in STEM with young people, students, parents and teachers. Sounds like #HADADI will fit right in!


First up, we heard from Marialaura Ghindi, an Italian curator - based in Bangalore. Marialaura’s work explores the intersection between art, technology and society. Her interests focus on how technology impacts on artistic production. Marialaura shared previous projects, where she worked with artists who would not normally use the internet, looking at the relationship between online and offline spaces.


Next up, was Daniel Clarke, Creative Director of Libraries Unlimited, based in Devon. Libraries Unlimited is one of the 6 new library Arts Council England NPOs. They are rooted in the heritage of making expensive creative experiences affordable for everyone. Now they are doing this for technology though their programme Discover Create Explore. Using this as a model for partnerships, Libraries Unlimited are keen to work with organisations that would not normally access the south west. Interested in getting involved? Find more info at www.librariesunlimited.org.uk


Singer/songwriter and curator of ‘Stories of Sanctuary’, Sam Slatcher, has been working with communities to share their stories through song. This storytelling project brought together people who are refugees and others, to explore historical roots of sanctuary in Durham, links with Damascus, professional music production, and ultimately to tell their stories. More details about the project can be found at https://storiesofsanctuary.co.uk. Want to see this in person? Stories of Sanctuary perform on 19th October, at Durham Cathedral.

Dance artist Penella Styles, works with digital projection mapping and LED technology to produce stunning dance and circus performances. It’s definitely worth a watch of the clips on http://www.bee-enchanted.com, to get a flavour of her work. Penella and her team are based in Sunderland and Newcastle, providing bespoke choreography commissions and entertainment for events across the North East. Their work includes hoop dance, stilt walkers and fire breathers – what’s not to love?!

Sarah Younas, Digital Programmes Officer for TWAM, gave us a really interesting insight into how TWAM is approaching what digital means. Although there are over 1.1 million objects in TWAM’s collection, her approach to digital is not about developing online collections. The principles instead derive from experimentation, challenging thinking, and asking the questions not normally asked. Sarah is interested in challenging the concept of ‘museum’, to inspire curiosity in a new generation of makers and thinkers, and to disrupt perceptions of the past.

Artist, Louise MacKenzie, is interested in questioning our relationship to matter, with her work often involving found material and sound. Her fascinating work, ‘Pithos’ involved translating information from one form to another, in the context of microorganisms and DNA. Her central question is: ‘What happens if I take cultural information, and store it within a cell?’ More on this inspiring and intriguing work at www.loumackenzie.com and www.viralexperiments.co

Working with Gateshead Older People’s Assembly, filmmaker Marc Runkee, showcased a new animation, which raises awareness of social and economic inequalities for older people living in Gateshead. A great example of partnership work between art, tech, and social impact. You can see the film at http://www.gatesheadopa.org.uk, and you can check out more of Marc’s work at www.digitalsidekick.co.uk

Aidan Nichol gave a fascinating demonstration of how tech can be used to support traditional arts and crafts. Aidan works with Beamish Museum as a quilter, and also writes computer programmes that create digital imaging – what a skills combo! We heard the story of Joseph Hedley, ‘Joe the Quilter’, and how Aiden used a vector graphics programme to identify unrecognisable parts of a quilt pattern. He digitally reproduced the pattern and then spent 775 hours producing the quilt itself!

PhD student Liz Waugh McManus is based at The Glass Centre and University of Sunderland. She is interested in developing ‘an internet of glass things’. Building on research in other art forms, she introduces conductive traces through glass-forming techniques.


Congratulations, Alistair Macdonald, on your new role managing FabLab, Sunderland! For those not in the know, FabLab is a digital fabrication space that provides 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters and a CNC router. Want to use their kit? Find out more at www.fablabsunderland.org

Weiting Huang has developed ‘Busy Backpack’ – a UK-based online community platform that aims to help international students engage with the UK arts, culture, creative and business sectors. Find out more at www.busybackpack.co.uk

See you next time at #HADADi at Think Lab, Newcastle from 5pm.

2018/19 #HADADi dates for the diary are:

  • Tuesday 4 December 2018, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here
  • Tuesday 5 March 2019, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here

Keep an eye out on our twitter feed for further details.

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