New Films Shine Spotlight on Four Different Creative Collaborations with the University of Exeter  

Top line (from left to right): Daksha Patel, Professor Clare Saunders, Dr Timothy Cooper, Dr Natalie Ohana and Tom Stockley © Steven Haywood. Bottom image: Tom Jackson-Greaves © Steve Tanner

The University of Exeter Arts and Culture team’s annual Arts Commission and Creative Fellowships are an integral part of their programme of collaborations. This series of newly released films offer insight into four fascinatingly rich and diverse collaborations between creative practitioners and researchers at the University of Exeter that took place across the 2022/2023 academic year. 

Rather than being a residency, the Arts and Culture Creative Fellowships are described as placements. The creative practitioner is a peer, opening up new approaches and conversations with the University hosts while developing and enriching their own creative practice. This scheme encourages mutually beneficial exchange, where both the host and the creative practitioner gain new insights and potential ways of working. Last academic year two of three Creative Fellowships were based at the Penryn campus, a first for the Arts and Culture team.

Professor Clare Saunders from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Cornwall worked with multidisciplinary artist Daksha Patel on exploring the different dimensions to environmental justice, a social movement which aspires to put justice for people, organisms and eco-systems at the heart of solutions to environmental problems. Together they co-created a series of online workshops with students in the UK, Sri Lanka and Tanzania, and in-person workshops at the Penryn campus bringing together different disciplines and lived experiences to explore what environmental justice means to different people. These workshops fed into a large-scale wall artwork called ‘Sticky Wicked’ created by Daksha in the Exchange Building at Penryn. 

Dr Timothy Cooper from the Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities at Penryn collaborated with Cornwall born poet and artist Ella Frears. Taking them from Falmouth to Venice, together the pair explored Tim’s research into maritime environmental history by exchanging practice through conversation, teaching and workshops. Rather than being output driven, the collaboration focused on the process of writing creatively with Ella offering prompts to encourage Tim to create poetry about his academic writing. 

At the Streatham campus in Exeter, Dr Natalie Ohana from Exeter Law School and multidisciplinary artist Tom Stockely explored the third-year undergraduate module ‘Law, Testimony and Trauma’. The module concentrates on traumatic events related to social oppression, such as racism, sexism, classism and xenophobia. Through conducting research projects as part of the module, the students examine the roles legal systems play in sustaining or changing the socio-political conditions that enable traumatic events to take place.

Tom joined the students in Natalie’s seminars, talking to them directly about their projects and using collaging techniques to reflect on the themes of law, testimony and trauma. The fellowship culminated in an exhibition of a large-scale collage called ‘A Violence Filled With Flowers’. Created by Tom it brought together poetry, case notes, legal guides and imagery to reflect on the fellowship and its themes. 

As well as working researchers and artists on the Creative Fellowship, the Arts and Culture team’s annual Arts Commission offers support for creative practitioners, working in any medium, to take inspiration from the University and develop new work. Last academic year the Arts Commission was based at the Penryn campus and led by Cornwall born theatre maker Tom Jackson-Greaves and a team of Cornwall based creatives.  

Drawing on the voices of researchers, students and staff from across the Penryn campus, along with local communities and industry professionals, Tom and his team devised ‘All That Glitters’. Cleverly interweaving his own personal story of growing up in Cornwall, this fiercely funny and engaging solo live performance piece explored the complex and nuanced world of critical minerals. The show was performed to sell-out audiences at the historic East Pool Mine, National Trust in July 2023 and again in October 2023 at the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) as part of Falmouth International Arts Festival.  

Associate Director fort Arts and Culture Sarah Campbell said: “We invest a lot of time and thought in building new connections between artists, academics and audiences, and ‘holding space’ for new ways of working. It is always thrilling to see an idea on the page transform into an imaginative collaboration and watch new working partnerships flourish.

“Our short films are a great way to peek behind-the-scenes and get a sense of the creative processes than ran over weeks and months. Each of the projects are so varied, hinting at the endless possibilities that come from bringing people together to explore ideas. The practitioners themselves say it better than we ever could, and we hope that watching these 10-minute slices of creativity will inspire others to try something new.” 

You can watch all of the films on the Arts and Culture website here.