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#HADADi — Helix Arts Digital Artists' Drop-in

Our digital artists drop-in is a warm and friendly social setting where you can share and compare digital arts sketches with other artists and techie entrepreneurs and find new collaborators to make your ideas happen and get inspired.

HADADI 17th September 2019, Think Lab, Northumbria University

Our evening began with the usual warm welcome from MC Dominic Smith and Cheryl Gavin. A brief reminder of how Hadadi runs and the usual challenge of remembering what it means, ha! So ‘Helix Arts Digital Arts Drop in’ commenced… we always line up a few interesting folks, but the floor is always open for anyone who sparks an idea during the night too.

First up, via Skype was John Whall, Digital Participation Curator at QUAD [email protected] He shared the wonderful and varied work https://derbyquad.co.uk undertake.

Quad are a charity based in Derby. “QUAD is an international centre for engagement in contemporary art and film, focussing on major exhibitions, professional practice for artists, independent film and the creative use of emergent digital technologies.”

He shared his interesting approaches to digital participation and an overview of the health and well-being work they are delivering. He took a focus on the virtual gallery innovations they are making with the wider community. Taking virtual reality galleries out to community settings.

We will work on some XR solution to that digital beverage sharing John!

Then we listened to visual artist and former structural engineer Tom Jordan and emerging producer Rachel Robson who enlightened us about the early development of their ‘Hinterland’ project. It developed as part of the Helix Arts’ ‘Make it Happen’ development programme. It offers the opportunity for artists and producers to collaborate on a participatory arts projects in their local neighbourhoods.

They explained how they will work with communities to explore climate change and create responsive artwork and narratives to focus on issues the groups are really bothered by. Tom shared his diverse artistic approaches to ensure their taster workshops so they can inform a longer term pilot. They are keen to hear about intriguing ways to digitise the participant process and to record the changes to the temporary artworks that will be placed within the settings.

Next up George Stoker, Visual artist and student in at Sunderland University explained his work with the North east Artists network to provide more opportunities for their work to reach artists in non conventional ways. He shared his augmented reality tech which offered the potential to link key imagery in the urban or rural environments to then layer over artists work and link to their work digitally.

He is continuing to inform this work, if you are an artist and interested in more people seeing your work via AR then he would love you to click on the augmented reality survey button below.

It will take about ten minutes to complete and you will be helping to develop this open access way of having your own art-works displayed as augmented reality. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/augmented_reality

Want more info, drop George a line: [email protected]

Iain Wheeldon made us all think about our cultural career paths and his ‘not the ladder’ philosophy rung true for many of us. He is a lecturer in the schools of Arts and Culture at Newcastle University. He was here to share about his Podcast, available across many platforms!!! https://culturalpeeps.wordpress.com

His interviews with sector professionals give a true and honest reflection of people’s journeys. This Podcast series is part of an ongoing project which explores different Career Pathways across the Museum, Gallery, Heritage and wider Cultural Sectors. They offer snapshots in people’s busy days and are very of the moment. Dominic’s will land soon so check it out.

Beth Ross, former teacher now visual artist then got the crowd really raring. She shared her background, and her previous work at Lumiere. Now onto her current work in progress around ‘colour, memory and remembering’. After some time at The NewBridge project, she is now based in GAS studios in North Shields.

She has had the chance to experiment further with painting to further develop her colour work. She is keen to explore how the authenticity of colour translates digitally, especially for her ambitions around creating some projection installations. Beth also debated with us ‘do colours have sounds.’ How are these captured?’ ‘What is their value?’ ‘What does red sound like then?’ Find her on Instagram @bethjross

Followed by wonderful artist Sophie Buxton from ArtHouses Whitley Bay http://arthouses.net/about.html. ArtHouses create ​visual ​arts events hosted by householders on a street in Whitley Bay. Homes, gardens and public spaces become the venue for contemporary visual arts. Sophie and her partner Rob Smith work with a wide range of artists to develop new situations for artists to present work and engage new audiences with contemporary arts practice. Sophie ran us through previous installations and amazed us with the unique ideas and open mindedness of Whitley Bay Householders and audiences.

We loved hearing about the unique crochet creations that were formed in response to a bird watching take on the community from a high window view! The artist upstairs shared the narrative with an artist downstairs to interpret what they say into new stitches in response to descriptions of passersby. So 2 runners or a 1 blue buggy were translated into new crochet stitches and formed whacky new textile artworks by community crocheters!

Our gathering was wrapped up by Cheryl Gavin, Senior Project Manager. Cheryl is part of the Extend leadership programme ran by Engage https://engage.org/happenings/extend. She is undertaking a national group enquiry around the increasing trend of non-employed status workers (freelancers, gig economy, volunteerism)…or how she puts it sometimes ‘the goodwill workforce.’

Cheryl is exploring the impact of this on young people and their choices to enter the profession.

If you are up for a chat or to offer any comments/thoughts to the above, she is really keen to hear about your experiences [email protected]


Our new Director, Scott Burrel starts 30 September 2019 [email protected]

We are developing a partnership with GAS Contemporary gallery and artist studios (the former Natwest building in North Shields’ Beacon shopping centre). We are excited to be part of a new local art space in the heart of the North Shields community. Get in touch with Dominc if you are interested in finding out more about GAS.

A big thank you to all and especially to our host Jonathan Sanderson over at Think Lab, Northumbria University @nustem_uk and Dominic Smith for guiding us through the evening.

Please come next time.


The next #HADADi dates are:

Tuesday 10 December 2019, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here

Thursday 6 February 2020, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here

Are you an artist living or working in North Tyneside? Do check out our other events for arts and wellbeing North Tyneside Artists Hub.

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

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