Bedfordshire’s TestBeds programme welcomes new cohort of artists

Mon 26 February, 2018
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The University of Bedfordshire has welcomed its second cohort of artists to its TestBeds initiative.

After a successful first year, a new cohort has joined TestBeds, a professional development programme aimed at enhancing local artists’ capacity to live, work and thrive locally, as well as helping them become leaders in innovative, cross-disciplinary research as catalysts for social change.

Executive Dean of Academic Partnerships Prof Helen Bailey, who leads the initiative, said: “After the success of the first year of TestBeds, we are delighted to reveal the new cohort for 2018. We have built on the work of last year to engage with a new cohort with varied and exciting creative practices and goals.

"Each artist was chosen for the quality of their existing artistic work, their vision for their career and development and their potential as future placemakers, global citizens and catalysts for change locally, nationally and internationally.”

The 2018 TestBeds cohort are:

  • Caroline Wallace, a curator and artist working in photography and social engagement with artists and communities in Luton.
  • David Murphy, a conductor, composer and Musical Director of Luton-based Sinfonia Verdi.
  • Debra Knight, CEO of Nine Red Presents… (CIC), a spoken word and digital artist focused on social change.
  • Jamie Newell, a creative life and adventure photographer and videographer born and raised in Luton whose work focuses on the human condition and our relationship with the planet and each other.
  • Mary Hearne, a textile and mixed media artist, focusing on social commentary and satire as well as her own experiences living and working in Luton.
  • Moriam Grillo, an international artist and ceramicist with a focus on community engagement and wellbeing.
  • Nicola Moody, a Fine Art Textile artist who combines traditional textile methods with nature, movement and landscape.
  • Oz Azubuine, beatboxer and founder of Ozzlebox, which was founded as an Open-Mic platform for the promotion and inclusion of creative art-forms into wider society.
  • Shakira Francis & Shelana Azora, founding members of Gurls Du Filme, a production company aimed at promoting BAME women in film. Shakira Francis is an actress and writer and Shelana Azora is a writer and filmmaker.
  • Andy Abbott, an artist, writer and musician based in Bradford with a thesis on socially engaged art and self-organised culture.
  • Adam Gregory & Gillian Lees: Gillian is a performance practitioner. Adam is a visual artist. Together, their practice seeks to explore the notion of ‘the imagined ideal’ through collaborative tensions, subjective performance, documentation and observation.
  • Gayle Storey, a British fine artist whose paintings and prints evoke a sense of beauty. Gayle is expanding her practice into an interdisciplinary collaboration across fine art, music and movement.
  • Nicole Mollett, a visual artist whose practice includes drawing, painting, sculpture, and performance. Nicole is interested in public art and what happens when art is created outside of the gallery context.

About TestBeds:

TestBeds is an artists’ professional development programme, designed to support and develop the needs of Luton-based artists by developing their entrepreneurial skills and fostering new creative businesses.

  • It is part of £1.5m investment by Arts Council England to enhance the arts and cultural infrastructure of Luton through the Luton Investment Programme.
  • Four strands of funding have been developed to raise ambition, provide development opportunities and foster partnership working in Luton. The four different strands of activity are: A new Cultural Celebration (Watford Palace Theatre); A Public Realm Arts Plan (Luton Culture); A Professional Development Programme (University of Bedfordshire); A Ten Year Vision and Strategic Arts and Cultural Plan for Luton (Luton Borough Council).
  • TestBeds has been developed in partnership with Luton Culture and Royal Opera House Bridge.
  • The Luton Investment Programme has been developed in partnership with Luton Borough Council, Luton Culture and the University of Bedfordshire and involved consultation with a wide range of artists and organisations in Luton.
  • Luton is considering a bid for UK City of Culture 2025.
  • For more information about the TestBeds programme, please visit:


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