Rupi Dhillon


Rupi Dhillon is a British, Indian, (British Asian, Punjabi, and all things in between and beyond) multidisciplinary artist based in Birmingham, UK.

Dhillon explores the relationships and connections we have with one another and the land. Through her arts practice she investigates how multiplicity in culture is conducive to the concept of belonging and space. She is interested in facilitating discourse around race, gender and social class. Using playful techniques, her current work reimagines cultural experience through gestalt expression, participatory performance, shared practices, gifting and attachments in found objects.

She has both exhibited and completed residencies in the UK and has also been the recipient of the prestigious Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest as well as the AIS Award more recently. Dhillon has both a BA Hons and MA in Fine Art. Dhillon currently works with contemporary art gallery IKON in Birmingham.

She is also interested in establishing further research into Cultural Dysphoria as a Philosophy.




MA Fine Art

An Encyclopaedia of Cultural Dysphoria, 2020

A collection of artworks, writings, theories and philosophies, 2020

The term dysphoria (from Greek: δύσφορος (dysphoros), δυσ-, difficult, and φέρειν, to bear) is a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction. In a psychiatric context, dysphoria may accompany depression, anxiety, or agitation. The term is often used to refer to gender dysphoria, experienced by people whose gender identity does not align with their assigned sex. Common reactions to dysphoria include emotional distress; in some cases, even physical distress. The opposite state of mind is known as euphoria.
Cultural Dysphoria could therefore be understood as the dissonance between the social expectations for an individual’s broad cultural performance or identity and their desired embodiment of that culture, or uncertainty about where they fit into cultural categories. Currently the only research into Cultural Dysphoria is a brief outline of general dissatisfaction with modern culture and the blog post by Ayesha Sharma. My research began with my own utter disdain for the patriarchal culture that exists in Punjab and India as well as the deep rooted colonialism associated with being British. Whilst there is still so much beauty within the Indian culture, much of its traditions leave me feeling very unsettled personally, through life experience – I reflexively write about mannerisms, identity, politics and the simplicities and complexities of multiplicity. 
I designed the logo based on the lotus flower. One of the essays included in the book is “Lotus Flowers: University as Swamp, on becoming the Lotus”. I hope to expand this encyclopaedia with further volumes in the future hence the 2020 around the lotus this being the first issue written in the problematic year of 2020), borrowing the design aspect of leather and gold embossing from the Brittanica Encyclopaedias, the lotus floats on the cover as a reminder to always grow toward the light in all of life’s conditions, be it the institution, political system or through the systems of familial ties. 

Nangal Khera, 2020

Sapele, Pine, Hemp Twine, Cotton Cord, Nostalgic Discourse, 2020 – Ongoing

Nangal Khera takes its name from the small village in Phagwara, Punjab, India. It is the place where I spent many of my formative years. 

The piece consists of a Manjha, (which is also known as a Charpai translating into English as ‘four feet’) a traditional piece of furniture native to India. It is a woven bed, often constructed from wood, with most designs tending towards metal structures in contemporary society due to the cost of materials, the longevity and the time taken to manufacture. This particular Manjha was made during the spring/summer of 2020 during lockdown and later completed in August, 2020. It is constructed from timber found in a shed. The language of Utilitarianism is built into the very fabric of the object, it was made as both a reminder of home and as a space for people to share their memories and stories. The process of weaving the Manjha is a labour intensive one, the act itself is one of weaving histories, particularly in the face of the situation we have all endured this past year.

In the rural village communities in Punjab the Manjha is often a communal space, all important decisions are made around it, vegetables are dried on it, friends sit on it, and the tired sleep upon it. 

The piece has now expanded beyond its original context, it has become a piece that travels, an object of social engagement, a place where people can have conversations about their pasts, about their connections to place. 

It is a participatory object, it invites people to interact with it, to be comforted by it, to gift stories to one another, and to become an active listener through its passive facilitation. 

So far conversations and interactions with the piece have ranged from memories of grandparents building their own Manjhas as far back as 20 years ago in Africa, as well as conversations around materiality and nostalgia for place. The piece has the ability to elicit memories to transcend histories. 

Written with Frederick Hubble, whose shed gifted us the materials.

Cha Wali, 2019

Participatory Performance
Bike, artificial marigolds, statue of Guru Nanak, gold basket, hot drinks dispensers
Documentation – Digital prints, 2019

The concept of Cha Wali originates from typically male street vendors in India selling Cha (Indian tea) from bicycles. In seeing a lack of innovation in Subodh Gupta’s Three Cow’s, I felt compelled to embody in performance the role of a Cha Wala. The noun itself speaks for only males who take on this role. In the piece I wanted to not only subvert this role but to also activate spaces and conversations around cultural phenomena, specifically the act of sharing Cha with the public. The British made Pendleton bike combined with a DIY aesthetic, of silk marigolds, a statuette of Guru Nanak (ducked taped to the handle bars) is typical to the aesthetic of a Cha Wala on the streets of India, yet this performance also seeks to understand the concept of gifting as all cups of Cha were given for free. Documentation shows interactions with different demographics of the public, ranging from workers of the city, students from the art school, homeless, builders and some of which recognised and connected with the act.

The Anthropology of the Self, 2020

Single Channel HD Video, 2020
(Images below show, 3 channel potentiality)

The Anthropology of the Self is a bricolage/ assemblage (in the Deleuzian sense) of several performances and a collection of videos of various sites with prose to form one coherent piece of work. The title of the work emerged from an investigation into shame, politicising of the body and power structures, as my specific body – through the period of lockdown.

In times of societal precariousness, perhaps we can look back on these myths, in attempt to understand empathy, compassion and morality.

Rupi Dhillon – The Anthropology of the Self, 2020

For more artworks and information please see

Sam Edward

Multi-platform space where politics and art smash together, 2020

screenshot of online lecture, Lord Rees-Mogg,, 2020

thisisasoapbox is a multi-platform space that deciphers what it means to be politically engaged while making work. This work demonstrates that art has the unique capability to comment on and influence politics all while remaining art work. The work simutationally allows others artists to imagine their practices as actual political engagement, whilst creating an environment where politics becomes more accessible to the outside observer. This current iteration focuses on the barriers in political/politicised language through the lens of facades: personal, structural and institutional.

screenshot of online lecture, Lord Rees-Mogg,, 2020
screenshot of online lecture, the facade that is Dominic Cummings,, 2020


Sam Edward is a socially engaged public text artist whose practice revolves around the intersection between the political and the artistic. Using public spaces and text allows Edward to create work that inspires accessible conversation about political events and ongoing politicised conversations. Edward has a multi-disciplinary practice that is constantly searching for new ways of starting these conversations; anything in the public domain has potential to be aprotitated.



Arts and Education Practices

Kit Wright

Hi, I’m Kit Wright.

I’m an artist and educator with an enthusiasm for nature, art, storytelling, and living ecologically. Over the past two years, I have explored outdoor education, forest schooling, art-based environmental education, and indigenous eco philosophies. Viewing the human relation to nature in geosophical knowledge systems through the lens of creative activities has helped me explore my origin story, forge a connection to the natural world, and develop an ecological self. As a result, I created Chatter Projects art and nature workshops from which Cards For Ecology educational resources developed. Chatter Projects workshops and Cards For Ecology resources combine storytelling, art and play to encourage engagement with and reflection of the natural world, our relationship with nature, and our place within the delicate ecosystem which sustains us. 

Chatter Projects workshops allow the voices of the landscape and people to shape the creative process. Whilst prompting conversations about the relationship between art and nature; creativity and the various environments that we inhabit. 

Cards For Ecology are art and nature activity cards developed with original nature stories and retellings of ancient narratives to help children explore their relationship with the natural world. The foundational idea of the cards is that through the development of an empathetic relationship with nature, ecocentrism can be cultivated. 

Chatter Projects are cognisant of worries surrounding the climate crisis by creating sensitive resources with age-appropriate language and content. Focusing on creating interest in and appreciation of nature to tackle cognitive dissonance towards climate change, nature deficit disorder, deficiency in climate awareness, and depleting nature engagement. By presenting opportunities that engage people with the natural environment, forging a connection to nature through curious exploration and creative activities. The resources cultivate ecocentric values by reorienting people’s relationship to the natural world.

Chatter Projects Website:

Cards for Ecology are an educational tool kit to help children and adults reflect upon their current relationship to the natural world. The cards aim to generate opportunities to connect or reconnect with nature and actively involve participants to consider the climate.

I created Chatter Projects to make materials for parents, educators and children to start conversations about the environment. Our resources and workshops encourage creativity, discussion and imaginative engagement with the world around us.

Who are they for?

The card sets have been developed for teachers and parents to use with individuals, pairs, or groups of children. The cards work in a flexible way to suit your activity needs, in the sense that you could opt to just use workshop cards, or a mix of character cards and chatter cards. You could shuffle them all together or keep them within their specified categories. Each category has a purpose of its own and works separately or alongside another category.

How to use the cards

Each activity box kit has an accompanying information booklet which outlines the ways in which the cards can be used. Each card pack has a card which outlines the ways in which the cards can be used. Each card has a label on the left-hand corner which is visible when the deck is fanned out, the labels show what category the card falls into. The cards are developed to be intuitive and flexible in the sense that they can be shuffled up and picked at random, although there are suggested orders for workshop cards that can be found in the information booklets and followed if the user chooses to do so. 

Different card packs

  • 01 Shared Earth
  • 02 Insect Rescuer
  • 03 World Adventurer

01 Shared Earth

02 Insect Rescuer

03 World Adventurer

Check out my website to find out more – Kit Wright

Ella Oakley

The Arts and Project Management MA has allowed me to fully cultivate an understanding of the behind-the-scenes happenings of art organisations, cultural spaces, and visual arts projects.

My Final Major Project consists of a Research Paper and Project Plan. The research paper explores public art and memorial culture, accumulating qualitative and quantitative data to aid and enable a highly successful and competent project. Over the Rainbow is a project which aims to provide a memorial for those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.

The public art memorial comes at a pivotal time for the architecture of public spaces in Birmingham. The city centre has few contemporary art sculptures and memorials, therefore I aim to provide a place of remembrance and connect communities in the West Midlands.

The Over the Rainbow memorial is for the living, not for the dead. It is crucial to remember the dead but support and solidarity is needed for the people still alive today; the people who are left behind. The key areas and explorations of the project are explored through my Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes, which are explained in the image below:

Public art offers critical reflections on the past, our present and our understandings of daily life. “It is impossible to have a society that is civil and educated without public art, it lifts up humanity and challenges the individual who encounters it to think differently about the world” (Walker, D cited by Laneri, R 2009). Traditional public art memorials historically form a literal representation and are hard to interact with, they form a strict formal boundary between them and the viewer. The familiarity of these monuments provides a metaphorical list of instructions on how to act or feel.

People are more likely to become active participants with contemporary public memorials, as many have no boundaries. The public is invited to make their own mind up, use their own imagination and to sometimes form their own meaning and interpretation of the piece. They are able to morph their own experiences and opinions with the artists’ and each other. The design of the Over the Rainbow memorial is pivotal, will the sculpture hide in the comfort of the literal or can it conjoin the contemporary?

I decided during the duration of the planning stage that in order for this memorial to be successful, a strong design concept and depiction is essential. The Over the Rainbow memorial aims to be a ‘collective anchor point’, this concept is explored by Kevin Lynch: “Collective anchor-points construct deep integration with individuals and become part of their ‘mental map’ of the city”, (Lynch, K 1960). I completed a mood board of initial inspirations found on which can be seen in the screenshot below:

Please visit my blog where I articulate the progress of my Final Major Project paper. Outlined are my initial ideas and inspirations for the research paper and project; key areas of research; information and explanations regarding the questionnaire I conducted and why it was essential to my research; the project plan and vital exploration and lastly, my critical evaluation.

Artist Statement: I am a practising artist based in Birmingham and currently working as an Exhibitions Coordinator at the RBSA Gallery. I have a passion for operations, logistical and curatorial management within an arts environment. My artistic inspirations stem from the natural form, examining the relationship between the maternal bond and separation. I work predominately with fine-art-textile, producing sculptures that metaphorically represent this connection. I form hand-constructed woven or knitted textiles and combine other materials like plaster. These inspirations are emotive and explore the turbulent relationship between motherhood and feminism and also touch on the corporeal nature of the female human body with the abject.

Contact: email: instagram: ellaoakleyyyart blog:

References: Lynch, K (1960). The Image of the City, The M.I.T Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England. Available: http:// 1960_Kevin_Lynch_The_Image_of_The_City_book.pdf. Last accessed 14.8.20.

Walker, D cited by Laneri, R, (2009). Why We Love–And Need–Public Art. Available: https:// art.html#77bb29d342be. Last accessed 3.8.20.

Lilli Whitham


I am an artist and educational professional based in Birmingham. This past year, I have been involved with research exploring the role of public arts and developing ethical engagement strategies for arts organisations. My interest in socially engaged work stems from my working experiences and previous career path in arts education. I view the arts as a powerful political and social tool to express the emotions and struggles of shared human experience. It is important to break down cultural barriers and use the arts to open a channel of communication.



Arts and Project Management

How do arts organisations apply ethics in the public display of art, in order to reflect changes in cultural and social attitudes?

Report, 2020

Following from my research undertaken in Research in Practice and my interest in socially engaged work, I wanted to explore how ethical considerations are applied by organisations in the commissioning and supporting of artists’ work that is participative yet pushes boundaries. The findings from my Research in Practice resulted in the following areas of potential further research:

  1. To examine if ethics can be separated from aesthetics in participatory practice and the impact this has on arts organisations in terms of funding policies and commissioning new works.
  2. To explore the role of the artist in socially engaged practices – should artists be working for societal benefit as educators and facilitators or is the role of the artist to be antagonistic and divisive, to unsettle cultural and societal notions of economy and exchange?
  3. To examine how best is social change and justice realised – through education and representation or politicizing the public?

My current research is following on from this exploratory topic – Can ethics be separated from aesthetics? This question will inevitably have an impact on arts organisations’ decisions regarding curation and programming, funding policies and new commissioning available to artists.

Initially I was interested in how arts organisations considered ethics in commissioning transgressive work and the impact this has on artists producing transgressive work with participants. This proved to be difficult to gather primary research; the topic is sensitive, and participants were reluctant to engage with the research question. My research aims, on reflection, were too binary for this complex subject.

Following the interview with an NAE former creative producer, I became more focused on how arts organisations relate to audiences and the ethics of engagement in museum practices:

  • How does this affect curating decisions, programming and the public display of artwork?
  • How do arts organisations consider ethics when evaluating art for public display, in order to be accountable to their audiences/users?

This led to a re-development of my research aims and finalisation of the research title:

Most of this research has been informed by reading materials, desk research and critical analysis of case studies. More primary research could have been utilised, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic many arts organisations were closed with their staff on furlough. I received several apologetic replies from organisations unable to contribute to my primary research at this present time. A detailed evaluation of the research methodology is available in the appendix of this report. I have used Harvard referencing. Numbered footnotes are included.

How do arts organisations apply ethics in the public display of art, in order to reflect changes in cultural and social attitudes?

This report examines ethical considerations in the public display of art by arts organisations and museums. First, I have evaluated ethical philosophies and their applications to art, outlining the distinctions between ethics and morality. I have critically examined the ethical responsibilities of arts organisations to audiences as they respond to moral attitudinal shifts and how this can influence decisions on curation and context within temporary exhibitions. Further to this, the ethical duties of arts organisations to be accountable to audience’s social and cultural needs have been considered and how this is reflected through an ethics of engagement, representation and authentic authorship. I have addressed how arts organisations can respond to changes in cultural, social and moral attitudes to re-contextualise problematic biographies and histories of collections using progressive educational strategies of ethics.

 My research has developed an exploration of how four recommendations of progressive educational ethics could be applied within the arts organisation/ museum to respond to social and cultural shifts and contextualise historical art collections on public display (adapted from (Hein, 2010) (Dewey, 1916):

  1. Arts organisations (and practices in the public realm) should question and represent dualisms in order to address social inequalities. 
  2. The goal of education should be further education. Art should provide the resources for repeated and continued inquiry and alternative methods of enquiry; Arts organisations should be spaces for open ended questioning and interpretation.  
  3. Arts organisations (and practices in the public realm) need to reflect, challenge and examine their practices continually in order to respond to the needs of their audiences. This practice should enable opportunities for meaning making and feeling. 
  4. Connect educational work and exhibition programming to life and contemporary struggles in culture and society. Exhibition programming (and art practices in the public realm) should centre life experiences and connect to situations outside the arts organisation that reflect complexities in live human experience. 

Factors such as exhibition programming and audience demographics can influence the social and cultural ethical considerations in the display of contemporary artworks. As custodians of collections, arts organisations need to exercise a certain level of objectivity that enables them to evaluate a work’s contribution to knowledge and education. However, ethical responsibility in their display necessitates consideration of human social interaction. As society’s moral attitudes shift, the contextualisation of collections also needs to be responsive. This research is extremely relevant to the contemporary issues faced by museums, who are increasingly being required to address Britain’s colonial past. I have outlined how these progressive educational ethics can be deployed as a working strategy for a current solution to contextualising Britain’s historical public statues. Currently arts organisations respond to social and cultural changes using reactive practices, how could these four educational ethical principles be used instead to develop strategies of pro-active responsible action and influences social change – to develop activism? Tate is currently conducting a programme of research, ‘Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum’ (Tate, 2018), to consider new models for the conservation and management of contemporary works of art. Research on the development of collective memory ecologies, I feel is particularly relevant to the cultivation of activism within arts organisations. Could the four principles of progressive educational ethics be implemented as a framework for the continuous re-interpretation of our collections that proactively challenges historical collective memory, therefore developing and influencing memory ecologies and engaging publics with activism? This topic could be explored further in a PhD proposal.

Taiba Akhtar

The unprecedented has enabled a rise in personal and cryptic text, expressing the frustrations of re-shifting work practices and feelings. Consequently, the film and audio derive from the struggles Akhtar experienced during the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown.

The palimpsestic notions of application, erasure and regeneration integrate her making and its reconsideration, in relation to mark resist (50 x 70 cm), 80gsm copier paper with sumi ink, (21 x 29.7 cm) and etching (39 x 55 cm). The layering of words, physical actions, mediums and ideas accompanied by spontaneous encounters outlines the importance of memories and their inability to dissipate.

Before the national lockdown, the print room and its processes became a place of contentment. This recollection of the past simultaneously coincides, joyful and melancholic expressions between her inner soul and the activities undertaken.

Akhtar’s printing logs fused with the physicality of G.06 leads to an obscuring of time, journey and movement, heard via the nuances in erased characters and words in transit, reiterating the role of impermanence, caught between feelings and actions.  


Taiba Akhtar’s practice explores the organic nature of handmade marks inspired through religious and cultural entities, communicating a sense of language and mark making, adjoined to materials and processes. Notions of home, belief, permanence and impermanence integrate the visual and verbal, unfolding different motifs and hidden meanings.

Akhtar’s use of language becomes blurred and obscured with an emphasis on displacement and fluxity, juxtaposed within her interplay of symbols and scripts. Layering intensifies Akhtar’s journey of self, derived from the constant recitation of Quranic verses, of allusion to meditation and intuition. Similarly, forms of visibility and unintelligibility correlate to time and the passing of time, entangling thoughts, feelings and actions.

Akhtar’s narratives vary across the seen and heard reassembling what was there, what is there and what might be, centralising a palimpsest. Consequently, her manipulative gestures reinforce an array of emotions and expressions; rhizomatic with her experiences thus, an enhanced ritual understanding. Her abstraction of language becomes performative, through the guise of writing, reciting and rewriting.

Xueyi Wang

I use the combination of static collage and installation art to explore and express the influence on people in a high-density and fast-paced metropolis. People have anxiety and alienation in spirit, which express the limitations and weaknesses of human nature caused by social non-commonality, thus exploring the limitations of human nature.

“CAN” Installation art

In addition, between the works and the audience, I not only show the works statically, but also design a series of dynamic interactive forms. The audience can open cans with different patterns, and they will feel relieved and relaxed when they tear open the vacuum packaging. It is like saving and releasing people who are bound by social and work pressure. This interaction and experience can make them understand and feel the works more actively, and establish a kind of ideological blending, psychological dialogue and emotional exchange, including the emotional experience of exhibits.



MA Art and Design

Lucy Parris


Monoprint and relief print on mixed media, 2020

Edgelands, relief and woodblock print on mixed media


My work examines our relationship with place and space. Using walking as a methodology, my practice considers concepts of Edgelands, location and belonging. My ideas are embodied through a range of media including print works, shared walking, video and artists books.

I explore how walking can be used as a creative medium, most recently I organised a participatory socially distanced walk, bringing together a group of artists to walk simultaneously in separate, diverse locations, with the intention of sharing experiences of the renegotiation of boundaries brought about by the current pandemic situation.

Socially distanced, Covid Walking

Reaching a wider audience / outdoor gallery

Reflecting the importance of the phenomenological aspect of walking and acknowledging that the audience will exist beyond the gallery, my work is accessible via a QR code. Posted along routes I frequently walk, other walkers are able to scan the code to view past projects and invites for future participatory events. In order for this to have as little environmental impact as possible the codes are printed with edible ink on potato starch paper, which will, by design, dissolve in the next rain, allowing for repeat postings coinciding with new projects.

Walking as a part of creative process is well documented. I take inspiration from a well established tradition of artist walkers, writers and creatives. I compiled a selection of my own thoughts and reflections, alongside writing and ideas from an abundance of these into a series of artist books intended as to be read whilst on a walk.

Ciprian Grigorescu

Morning Exchange – Binaries

Series of 13 looped 15 second animations – variable formats 2020.

Morning Exchange is a collaboratively run project that organises research meetings, conversations, workshops and artist talks. One key rationale behind them is to better acquaint current students and staff with practitioners working beyond the walls of the SoA. An online record of the weekly meets is available online at, through which reading lists and notes gathered in the meets will be more broadly available.

The website acts both as an online platform archiving our previous meetings and collaborations and as a place to engage with resources, projects and reflexive practice; a news source for upcoming events and a home for a platform that is based around the previously mentioned core beliefs – organising meetings, research groups, collaborative projects and commissioned artworks.

The project Binaries stems from research conducted through the activity of Morning Exchange combined with personal investigation into foundational principles that sit at the core of organising collaborative structures. The binary notions function as building blocks for figuring out positions and points of reference, some appear to be in opposition, others in a state of complementarity; all presenting symbiotic relations that are considered through reflexive thought.

The looped 13 videos take inspiration from the idea of a deconstructed visual essay. They are designed to easily be disseminated online, adapting to different forms of representation – from screensavers to vertical video for mobile devices and even print formats. Freely available for download – their purpose is to be experienced independently on personal devices without the need for gallery / exhibition space access.

Binaries is a personal perspective, presented in a state of liminality – between an ambiguous generative viewing experience and investigative reflection – between artwork and online resource.

To view all 13 videos visit Morning Exchange here.
To download the videos click for horizontal or vertical.
To download A4 print files click here.


I define my practice as existing at the border of artistic gesture, design process and research.
It often stems from investigative research into subjects that puzzle and challenge my own perspective, adding to that ideas and conclusions derived from collaborative projects, conversations, workshops and interviews.
Roles such as organiser, mediator and producer take a foundational role in the direction projects take.
Between all of these, self referential traces can be found, distant connections and juxtapositions of ideas and visuals that act as generative content for a larger conversation.

Helen Flaherty


Short Film, 2020

“RE-WILDING EDUCATION” is a short film which didactic topic investigates the concept of rewilding education through eco-phenomenology, eco-psychology and structural design. Set within the natural landscape of forests, fields and abandoned spaces, you are given a complex multifaceted video piece which has the intended purpose of questioning the space which it presents.  Contemplation, reflection and a collage of ideas and spaces are pieced together this multi-layered film. Reflecting on St Peter’s Seminary a Roman Catholic place of study which went through many changes over its time, it was the perfect location to critically compare concepts of education with the history of the space. This conceptual piece is a manifestation of the future intended to extend our connection to nature and utilise the spaces we educate into their highest potential through psychological play and ecology. 


My body of research focuses predominantly on eco-phenomenology and eco-psychology, which I develop and use as an investigative tool to enhance educational spaces through design and psychology. I educate through the exploration of herbology, witchcraft and alternate religious practises. Specifically their aid in self care and the body. This can take the form of workshops, explorative film or immersive instillation.



Arts and Education Practices