Introducing The Leeds Creative Labs Partnerships

We’ve partnered with the University of Leeds’ Cultural Institute to produce this year’s Leeds Creative Labs, a programme that brings together creative professionals with researchers from the university.

On the 8 June, collaborators met up at the University of Leeds to share their experiences of where their projects took them together. You can find out more about the participants and their work below.

Leeds Creative Labs is a programme delivered by the Cultural Institute since 2012 to create collaborations that are based on exploration and open-endedness, without the pressure of delivering against targets.

Open-ended collaborations have the power to foster cross-disciplinary exchange and synergy, bringing together diverse perspectives, methodologies and approaches. Working in this way allows the exploration of new frontiers as the freedom encourages participants to take risks and explore uncharted territory.


Explorations in Experimental Film and Clinical Psychology with Webb-Ellis and Dr Tom Matthews.

Webb-Ellis (left), a duo of British/Canadian artist filmmakers, will be collaborating with Dr Tom Matthews (right) from the School of Medicine

Webb-Ellis’s multidisciplinary approach combines film, dance, music, and installation to create thought-provoking works that offer different ways to imaginatively access the political and philosophical through the lens of the subconscious and the body.

They are known for their involvement in Philosophy for Children, their recognition as recipients of the prestigious Jerwood Film and Video Umbrella Award in 2019, and their successful completion of an educational project and commissioned film supported by Cement Fields and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Dr Tom Matthews, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, brings his expertise in child and adolescent psychological well-being, trauma-informed care, systemic and third wave psychological approaches, and sexual and gender diversity to the collaboration. He is particularly interested in the experiences of looked-after and adopted young people, and their development in contexts beyond the birth family. This is alongside an interest in the impact of trauma, and how being located in a minoritised group impacts on life, development, and wellbeing.

The Art and Ethics of Data Extraction and Organisational Behaviour with Armelle Skatulski and Dr Kyle Griffith

Armelle Skatulski (left), artist and researcher with an interest in data economy and digital rights, will be collaborating with Dr Kyle Griffith (right) from the Leeds Business School.

Skatulski’s recent activities include completing an art residency at Convention House, East Street Arts (Leeds, UK), funded by the Weston Culture Fund, during which she developed “Two Repeated Measures Experiments” (2022-ongoing). Her work has been displayed in exhibitions, such as Accidentology (i), Hockney Gallery, RCA, London (2023), Intersectional Matter: Waste, Station Gallery, Frome (2023); RHA Annual Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy and Dublin (May-July 2022); Unruly Encounters.

Dr Kyle Griffith, Lecturer in Management at Leeds University Business School (LUBS), brings his expertise in organisational behaviour, talent management, diversity management, and the ethics of artificial management to the collaboration. Dr Griffith joined LUBS as a Research Fellow in Diversity and Inclusion in early 2017 before becoming a Lecturer. He has also served as a Policy Advisor in the Equality Policy Unit at the University of Leeds. One of his recent publications delves into the topic of ‘Embracing Artificial Intelligence ethically.’

Exploring alternative dance movement language and energy systems with Ella Tighe and Dr Sheridan Few.

Ella Tighe (left), independent dance artist based in Bradford, will be collaborating with Dr Sheridan Few (right), Lecturer in Urban Energy Systems from the School of Earth and Environment.

Tighe’s artistic work aims to celebrate and elevate underrepresented forms of dance by showcasing alternative movement languages and physicalities that go beyond traditional contemporary dance training. Her background includes training in disco freestyle dance, contemporary dance, improvisation, and somatic-based practices. She holds a BA in Dance, Making & Performance from Coventry University (UK) and an MA in Performance Practices from ArtEZ (NL). Her work has been supported by Kala Sangam, Bradford Producing Hub, Wainsgate Dances, Yorkshire Dance, Mind The Gap, and Arts Council England-Developing Your Creative Practice Fund.

Dr Sheridan Few has expertise in Urban Energy Systems, with a research focus on energy systems models, transport, energy access, and storage. He leads the energy module on the MSc Sustainable Cities program and teaches on energy access and climate change mitigation in undergraduate programs. He conducts research in the areas of energy, transport, decision making, and climate change mitigation, and co-leads the Energy and Climate Change Mitigation (ECCM) research group.

The Digital Realm and the Natural Space with Kexin Liu and Dr Evangelos Pournaras.

Kexin Liu (left), multidisciplinary artist, will be working with Dr Evangelos Pournaras (right), Associate Professor at Distributed Systems and Services group, at the School of Computing.

Kexin Liu, a Chinese multidisciplinary artist and researcher, interested in the creation of generative artworks using living autonomous systems. As a versatile artist, she draws upon extensive research and collaborates with individuals from diverse backgrounds to create simple yet captivating art narratives.

Through her artistic practice, Liu delves into the intricate relationships among humans, technology, and the natural world, offering a fresh perspective on their interconnectedness, which may seem disparate at first.

Dr Evangelos Pournaras, Associate Professor at the Distributed Systems and Services Group, School of Computing, is interested in distributed and intelligent social computing systems, with expertise in the interdisciplinary application domains of Smart Cities and Smart Grids. He is currently a research fellow in the blockchain industry and has received accolades such as the Augmented Democracy Prize, the 1st prize at ETH Policy Challenge, and multiple paper awards and honors. With over 50 peer-reviewed papers published, Dr Pournaras is also the founder of notable projects such as EPOS, DIAS, SFINA, and Smart Agora, featured at

Exploring Law, Reproductive Rights, and Artistic Representations with Herfa Martina Tompson and Zoe Tongue.

Herfa Martina Tompson (left), visual artist, will be collaborating with Zoe Tongue (right), lecturer from the School of Law.

Zoe Tongue, Law lecturer specializing in abortion, reproductive rights, and feminist legal theory, delves beyond traditional legal realms to explore the intersection of reproductive rights and science fiction. Her research interest looks at how feminist science fiction can help us to imagine a better world for women and pregnant people. Her recent publications in esteemed journals, such as Medical Law International, Law, Technology and Humans, and European Journal of Health Law, highlight her expertise in abortion justice and related legal issues.

Herfa Martina Thompson, an artist with a passion for drawing black bodies in various spaces, draws inspiration from her multicultural upbringing and global experiences. Water holds a special significance in her artwork, influencing her drawing style and thematic choices. Her unique work has been displayed in art galleries and museums, she was commissioned by the Tetley to produce ‘Synapses Under a Vast Sky’ exploring community and joy in connection after the pandemic lockdown. She was awarded a Leeds Arts University APP commission in 2022, ‘Songs My Mother Never Got to Sing to Me.’

Exploring Cultures and Heritage through Art and Architecture with Thahmina Begum and May Newisar.

Thahmina Begum (left), interdisciplinary artist, will be collaborating with Lecturer in Architecture from the School of Civil Engineering, May Newisar.

Thahmina Begum is an interdisciplinary and Trainee Art Psychotherapist based in Leeds, Yorkshire. She explores cultures, identities, and belonging through her work, which includes printmaking, collage, embroidery, painting, drawing, poetry, and creative conversations.

Begum’s socially informed practice explores themes of racial and intergenerational trauma. Her work has been exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally, and her recent work/commissions include collaborations with organisations such as the British Library, Leeds Art Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Tara Theatre/British Council/Britto Arts Trust, and more. She is the Creative Director of the ‘Creative Roots’ project and trustee at UP PROJECTS in London.

May Newisar, Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Leeds, has extensive experience in teaching and research in the field of architecture and urban design. With a PhD from the University of Manchester, her research focuses on the politics of technical decision-making in World Heritage sites. She has worked as a research associate for Mela Social Enterprise, leading a research team that won the Mentor’s Award for best research and business reports. She is also a researcher and co-secretary at the Association of Collaborative Design.

Newisar’s current research uses an interdisciplinary approach in the architecture and urban studies field to investigate the different perceptions and understanding of heritage values through community engagement and participation.

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