Dr Carmen Levick, Principal Investigator


Carmen Levick is a Senior Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Sheffield. Her main research interest is in representations of trauma and memory in Eastern and Central Europe. I am currently working on a monograph titled Taxonomies of Pain: Commemorating Trauma in Eastern Europe

As a teacher of theatre I am aware of the ways in which age and ageism have a determining and lasting impact on people involved in the creative industries. This negative impact has been enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the government’s response to it. Creative Lives was created as a platform and network to voice these issues, to learn more about and reward the good practice employed by artistic institutions, to engage with the challenges faced by the creative industries and to facilitate intergenerational collaborations in order to resist ageist prejudice.

For more information about Carmen’s work visit:

Dr Kirsty Surgey, Research Associate


Kirsty is a researcher and a teacher. She completed her White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities funded practice-as-research doctorate at the University of Sheffield in 2021: ‘Sharing Stories: A transtextual investigation of family history as performance hypertext’. The culmination of this project was Lines And Ladders – a storytelling board game focused on family history played in public spaces. She has exhibited and presented the work at TaPRA (2017, 2018 and 2019), Royal Holloway University London and the Universities of Kent, York, Leeds and the Memory Studies Association at the University of Copenhagen. She was the lead organiser of the White Rose Practice-as-Research Postgraduate Network (PaRNet) connecting postgraduates researching through creative practice across Yorkshire between 2016 and 2018.

Having returned to university as an older student, she is interested in the ways that arts and education organisations engage with artists and learners across different generations. She has joined Creative Lives to discover the good practice that is happening, to help to communicate this and to advocate for equity.

To learn more about Kirsty’s work visit these websites:


Omid Asadi, Artist

Portrait of artist at work

Omid Asadi was born in Iran in 1979. In Iran, he was raised, spent his adolescence and early adult years. Before pursuing art full-time, he was an engineer and a champion boxer in Iran. During the year 2007, he immigrated to the United Kingdom. Becoming an artist was the last thing he imagined for himself. However in 2012, when he was 33, he began studying art at a beginner’s level in college. Fast forward to 2018, when he gained an MA in Fine Art with Distinction from the Manchester School of Art. 

Contrast is the main focus in his work. It can be identified between mediums, materials, colours, textures, cultures, meanings, nature etc. Through contrast, he practises different disciplines to investigate issues regarding the current human condition, immigration, identity, Environment and childhood memories. His recent works are based on the Heterotopia idea by Michel Foucault. Currently, he lives and works in Manchester.

To learn more about Omid’s work visit these websites:

Maya Chowdhry, Multidisciplinary Artist

Example of the artist's work. A hand is connected to a tree using electrical wires.

Maya Chowdhry is a multidisciplinary artist. She currently works with live art and installation: utilising projection, interactive audio and sensors, to invite audiences to respond to and create their own journey through an artwork.

Recent artworks include What’s Eating Reality – a live art dining experience exploring food justice commissioned and presented at Lancaster Arts – and Galvanising Change – a live art installation examining climate anxiety presented atHulme Community Garden Centre and created as part of Net//work Residency with The British Council.

In 2021 she was Artist in Residence on Critical Poetics: Care Of… with Nottingham Trent University with a particular focus on inter-species Care.

Maya has enabled young people’s learning over the past 30 years; from 2016-19, she was digital artist with 42nd Street facilitating LGBTQI young people to create variety of artworks.

Her participatory projects include: Wyre Salters, in collaboration with artist Jessica Mautner and communities in Fleetwood, commissioned by ‘Left Coast’ as part of ‘Banquet’ – a celebration of food, communities and arts; and Sphere:dreamz – an installation, theatre piece and film co-created with Asian LBTQI artists and communities.

She is currently co-creating Walk with Us -a walking app exploring climate change, coastal erosion and resilience with The National Oceanography Centre.

Jessica El Mal, Artist and Curator


Jessica El Mal is an English-Moroccan artist and curator dedicated to valuing time, care and human connection in everything she works on. With a particular interest in ecology and migration, her work is both deeply personal and yet draws on the universality of the human experience through a balance of digital techniques, aesthetics and interaction. The work tends to address global structures of power through critical research, multidisciplinary projects, and speculative future imaginaries.

To learn more about Jessica’s work visit these websites:

Julia Griffin, Dance Artist and Video/Filmmaker

A back view of a woman wearing a white skirt and black vest top. On both sides of the woman there is ripped white paper with red splashed across it.

In a career spanning over 32 years, Julia Griffin has investigated, explored and experimented with dance, movement and film. This journey of ongoing collaborations between dance, choreographic practice and film/video medium in a contemporary context, challenges the symbiotic relationship that exists between dance, camera, body and site, performer and viewer. Cross art form collaborative projects, sited dance works, short video works, installation and multimedia events define her work as an artist working with movement. She is passionate about unlocking the potential to create new ways of moving through artistic collaborations, devising innovative methodologies for creating original and thought-provoking works that encourage participation and the cross-fertilization of art forms.

Julia’s creative practice is concerned with cross art form collaborations: the interplay of ‘live’ performance and the juxtaposition between ‘live action’ and ‘recorded action’. Namely, the translation which occurs between multiple layers of media informed by architectural and/or scenographic environments. Her practice involves immersive theatre, site specific/responsive work, body cartography, video installations, live and filmed dance events. She has a specific interest in dementia and the issue the disease raises for carers, as both her parents have suffered with vascular dementia over a 15-year period.

Recent projects include: ‘I used to be…’ an immersive installation selected for Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival in 2021-2022; an autobiographical live dance installation with ‘Stuck’ for Angel Fields Festival in 2020; ‘Dancing the Blues’ project that explored the therapeutic benefits of movement/dance on people suffering with depression and anxiety with ‘Getting out of your own way’, which was performed in Liverpool, Bedford, Manchester and in Riga, Latvia in 2019. This performance has accompanying published articles.

A long shot of a woman on her knees in an empty warehouse.

Julia’s creative practice has resulted in creating various short dance films and video dance installation works for vocational, further and higher education institutions, community groups and professional dance companies. For her, it is through hybrid practice within academic, community, and professional contexts, that dance/movement vocabulary is robustly tested. It is Julia’s contention that exploring dance through various creative contexts including multi-media installations, sited and re-sited spaces and filmed dance works, opens the boundaries of dance to critical cultural debates and helps to develop new aesthetics for the next generation of dance makers. Her work looks at developing new movement languages, allowing a different engagement with bodily practices and investigating how this affords the opportunity for audiences to experience movement in unconventional performance spaces.

Currently, Julia is one of the artists in residence at New Art Space Warrington.

Hannah Leighton-Boyce, Visual Artist

An example of the artist's work. 3 solid cylinders with pipes protruding from the end.

Hannah Leighton-Boyce is a visual artist who works in a variety of sculpture formats including drawing, sound, installation, and performance duration. In her work, Hannah often contemplates architectural elements from the places where she exhibits her work, incorporating them into her practice. Her work explores environmental and sensory relationships, and the politics of labour, through invisible processes such as energy transmission, the passage of time, cumulative and reductive forces. Liminality and the in-between are central positions from which she seeks a language to express ideas of presence and absence, the material and immaterial.

In June, she will be exhibiting work made during an ‘Art in Manufacturing’ residency at Darwen Terracotta, at the 2022 The National Festival of Making. Other recent exhibitions and residencies include Hospitalfield Interdisciplinary Residency (2021); The Position of the Sun in the Sky, White Columns online (2021), Personal Structures, PAPER Pavilion, Palazzo Mora, Venice Biennale (2019); Each Toward the Other, Bury Sculpture Centre (2019); Major Conversations, Platform A Gallery (2019) touring to the Turnpike Gallery (2019); Ruth Barker & Hannah Leighton-Boyce, Castlefield Gallery (2018) touring to Glasgow Women’s Library (2019). 

To learn more about Hannah’s work visit her website:

Bridget O’Gorman, Visual Artist


Bridget O’Gorman is a visual artist working with text, live events, video and sculptural installation.  Her enquiries move between mental, material and embodied perspectives; considering otherness with speculative and expanded corporeal experiences. She is currently researching a new departure in her work, reflecting on the disabled experience in relation to gender, creativity and access.  Her recent work is supported via PIVOT (Castlefield and Bluecoat Galleries), Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Ireland, and A-N (The Artists Information Company).

To learn more about Bridget’s work visit this website:

John Powell-Jones

Portrait of artist at work

The practice of John Powell-Jones deals with themes of perception, power structures and personal reality in an on going study into how the warped western view on progress and success acts to inform our perception of morality.

These ideas are explored through the use of speculative fiction played out through video, performance and installation, interweaving costume, dance and ritual, taking inspiration from European folklore, body horror and science fiction. My aim is to form a dialogue with our present and an imagined dystopian future in which the horror of capitalism and neoliberal ideology are presented as cyborgs and demons.

Recent exhibitions include: 

2022: ‘Art et al. X Cromwell Place: Season One’, Group Show, Cromwell House, London.

2021: ‘Cyberjunk’, Solo Show, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; ‘Cyberjunk –  Quantum Crash’, Solo Show, IMT Gallery, London; ‘Metabolic Market’, Group Show, Giant Gallery, Bournemouth; ‘This Is A Not Me’ 2020, Group Show, IMT Gallery, London/The Internet.

2020: ‘Other Transmissions’, Group Show, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; ‘Technotrash: The Fellowship of Technoid’, Solo performance, Holden Gallery, Manchester.

2019: ‘Here and How?’, Group Show, Motion Sickness Project Space, Cambridge; ‘Slime Of UR Life: Work Drinks’, Solo Show, Paradise Works, Salford; ‘Proforma Pavilion’, Group show and ten day residency, Corte Supernova, Venice; ‘Work Drinks’, Solo Installation, STOCK Gallery, Levenshulme; ‘Other Transmissions’, Group Show, an exhibition showcasing work made during the Conversations Series residency, TATE Liverpool, Artlink Hull.

Oct 2018 – Feb 2019: ‘Conversations Series II’, led by Venture Arts and in partnership with Castlefield Gallery and the Whitworth, was a collaborative residency that brought together three learning-disabled artists who are part of the Venture Arts supported studios, to work alongside the three visual artists. The group developed shared ideas, created new work, and reflected on the labels placed upon us by society.

2018: ‘INSANIA’, Group Show, Storm and Drunk Gallery, Madrid; ‘The Manchester Contemporary with Castlefield Gallery/Venture Arts’, Group Show; ‘SUBI 수비’, Group show, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; ‘Proforma’, Group show showcasing contemporary art from across the North West. The Dancehouse, Manchester; ‘Castlefield Gallery and A-N – Artists’ International Delegation′, Week Long Delegation of 10 Artists based in the Northwest to Budapest; ‘Tomb Machines’, Solo Exhibition, Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Space: Great Northern Tower, Manchester.

Andrea Small, Multidisciplinary Artist


Andrea Small is a multi-disciplinary artist from Sheffield who uses voice, art and poetry to understand, interpret and represent human existence within socio-political constraints. She is presently engaged in a long-term project rooted both in her mother’s experience of being given away as a baby and in the migration of her 19th century ancestors from the agricultural setting of a small Somerset village to the industrial city of Bristol. 

Andrea’s interest in age/memory/trauma is personal, professional and academic: she frequently encounters lack of understanding of her identity as an older woman who is a working artist, she sings regularly with people with dementia and has an MSc in Dementia Studies.

To learn more about Andrea’s work visit this website:

Steve Sutton, Artist


Steve Sutton is a Trafford based artist, graduate of Winchester School of Art and former Art Teacher. His work focuses on the relationship between humans and the natural environment with emphasis on climate crises. Themes of pressure, tension, and balance are constantly explored.

His practice ranges from exhibiting site-specifically in a natural location to indoor studio and exhibition contexts with a major emphasis on low carbon art making . He uses many sustainably sourced materials creating sculptures and 3D installations accompanied by an extensive range of related drawings.

Steve is a Castlefield Gallery Associate, having completed a bOlder talent development programme with the gallery in 2021.

Recent Exhibitions

2022: ‘Precarious Existence’, Current Solo Show, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery; ‘Ossuary’ and ‘The Environment’, Fronteer Gallery Sheffield; Manchester Open, Home, Manchester; ‘Space For Nine’, New Art Space Warrington.

 2021: ‘Slap Bang’, NAS, Warrington; ‘Memento Mori’, Air Gallery Altrincham; Three Counties Open, Arts Keele; ‘Reborn’, The Hive, Shrewsbury; Qube Arts Open, Oswestry.]

To learn more about Steve’s work, visit these websites:

Carran Waterfield, Theatre and Performance Maker


Carran is an independent theatre and performance maker. She is also a creative teacher and a published writer. Somehow, she says, she has become an elected local government councillor. She is sixty-five.

She founded and led the international touring company Triangle Theatre (UK) creating over 40 productions of physically driven theatre with accompanying educational and outreach programmes.

In 2009 she created a large-scale ensemble work on executions of women through history, The Last Women. It was Triangle’s last show.  She says, ‘it matters to me that I don’t disappear and end up on the scrap heap, but also I don’t mind if I do since recycling and trawling through trash is useful to me.’

In 2011 her work changed direction. She began to address and reflect on her creative journey through a healing thread that was unravelling as a result of her dad’s death and various other traumatic events that subsequently engulfed her. She has focused on finding a way to understand her ancestral story through the healing power of meditation, movement and awareness. She has been collaborating with movement therapist Sandra Reeve and is discovering a way of making work outside the conventions of an established subsidised sector. The journey has been both challenging and rewarding; in her words, she is learning a lot about attachment and breaking old habits.

Trawling back, she worked as a Drama/English teacher in Coventry for nine years, following a brief time working in Theatre-in-Education. The inception of the National Curriculum drove her away from teaching.  In 1989 she performed her first solo show, established a fledgling youth theatre, Bare Essentials and her own company Triangle. She received on-going voice and body training from a number of European based practitioners and teachers. Triangle became fairly well established and funded.

Between 1995 and 2000 Triangle was resident at the University of Warwick’s Institute of Education where she led projects training teachers in creativity.  Her practice remained physically driven with European and Asian influences. 

During the 2000s Triangle became resident company at The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery in Coventry. The work expanded training actors in interpretation and participatory techniques. Triangle installed small incidental exhibits in the museum’s foyer. They mounted large-scale immersive experiences involving groups of children and local communities. They founded and led The Little Herberts: a performance art group for children. 


In 2010 she moved from the West Midlands to the North West navigating a new region collaborating with the universities of Salford and Manchester, teaching movement at ALRA North, developing an extensive residency at Heron Corn Mill in Cumbria and working on a major research project on Performance and Poverty for the University of Manchester.  All this was supported by a renewed way of moving within the natural and built environment. 

Most recently she has finished a fully illustrated children’s chapter book Redhair and Daffodil Friend. Its roots were formed as part of her very first solo project back in 1989: ‘Life is cyclical and I have found history does repeat itself’.

You can read more about her work here:

A Poetics of Third Theatre -Performer  Training, Dramaturgy, Cultural Action. Jane Turner and Patrick Campbell. Routledge (2021)

She wants you to kiss her: Negotiating Risk in the Immersive Theatre Contract Richard Talbot.  Reframing Immersive Theatre James Frieze (ed.) Palgrave Macmillan (2016)

Performing Heritage – Research, Practice and Innovation in Museum Theatre and Live Interpretation. Anthony Jackson and Jenny Kidd (eds.) Manchester University Press (2012)

Quantum Theatre -Science and Contemporary Performance. Paul Johnson Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2012)

All at Sea: Tracing Jouissance in the Digital Archives of Triangle Theatre Patrick Campbell (2011)

Dugout! The Little Herberts Total Theatre Volume 15 Issue 3 Autumn Jessica Naish Total Theatre Magazine Print Archive (2003)

Identity – Even if it is a fantasy: the work of Carran Waterfield Jo Trowsdale  New Theatre Quarterly Volume 13 number 51 Cambridge University Press 1997

To learn more about Carran’s work visit these websites:

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