Collaborative Commissions: WE ARE & The Art House

WE ARE is a partnership between Amy Lilley and Lucy Norton. We provide a platform for early career artists and young businesses through a variety of collaborative projects and events. We first started working together in 2013, when we met volunteering for Beam after both returning to Wakefield from University. In trying to obtain work in a creative industry in the area we found that there was a real lack of opportunities for young artists and professionals in Wakefield. We decided the best way to solve this was to create opportunities for ourselves, and we began to design and facilitate our own projects and events to address this. Since then we have worked on a variety of creative projects such as film nights, exhibitions, markets and residencies, all with the aim to help other young, emerging creatives who are in the same situation we were. We now also run a space in the city centre called Crux where we host events, gigs and share the space as studios with other creatives and musicians.

Amy-Lucy-WkfBExchng-2016-19 copy

During January we’re working on our WAP co-commission with The Art House, an arts development agency and accessible studio space in Wakefield. We wanted to use this opportunity to work on a project with an organisation who has a lot more experience than us! To be able to learn from each other and bring different experiences and knowledge to the table for this project seemed like a great idea.

Together we’re facilitating a two week residency with 3 artists and a collaborative duo, culminating in an exhibition at the Wakefield Artwalk on the 31st January. WE ARE and The Art House selected the artists for the residency with help and insight from Nicola Freeman from The Hepworth Wakefield’s curatorial team. I think a collaboration like this is important for these kinds of opportunities as the variety of organisations involved can each bring different opinions and knowledge to the table, which in turn brings more to offer to the artists taking part. 

Selected artists

Holly Rowan Hesson is planning on creating an installation which captures interesting sculptural forms which take inspiration from her walks through Wakefield. The work will focus on highlighting the things most people take for granted or don’t notice at all, such as old railings and shop shutters.

Holly Rowan Hesson

Image: Holly Rowan Hesson

Joseph Jackson will be taking his audience on holiday to Pugneys Country Park. He’s interested in the idea of holiday advertisements and how ‘fake’ or unattainable they are. He’s creating a large scale sculpture using images of Pugneys lake to break it down and give the illusion of a vacation at home.

 Yoke is artist duo Annie Nelson and Chris Woodward, they plan to construct test sculptures and maquettes which celebrate the historic importance of the Aire & Calder navigation to Wakefield, and those who use and enjoy it today. They’re using this opportunity to test out ideas which will feed into a larger future project.


Image: Yoke

Wakefield Artwalk

2018 marks 10 years since the Artwalk first started in Wakefield, and to celebrate the occasion we’re working towards making this year’s events extra special. We hope there’ll be lots of exciting projects coming up and we’re really looking forward to seeing more projects from the other WAP members’ commissions in March too.

The upcoming Artwalk is on 31st January 5pm – 9pm, our artists in residence will have their new work on display at The Art House during the evening and there’ll be more information on their practice to see too.

Other great exhibitions to see on the Artwalk include The Art House’s current artist in residence, Rich White, who will be exhibiting work created during his month long residency.

At Neon Workshops, Black Hole by Richard William Wheater is the third installment from the artist’s ongoing rooftop neon text series called ‘Things People Say’ and Unity Social Pop Up Cafe Bar will be presenting the work of local artists Dave Foley and Jamie Oldroyd. You can find out about all the events taking place this January here.

We hope to see you there!

Wakefield Arts Partnership Collaborative Commissions

Members of the Wakefield Arts Partnership (WAP) have teamed up to develop a series of exciting multidisciplinary collaborative projects to be showcased at Wakefield Artwalk events on 31 January, 28 March and 30 May.

The first commission, which will be shared at Artwalk on 31 January, is the result of a collaboration between The Art House and WE ARE which has seen the delivery of a programme of ‘micro’ residencies. Artists Holly Rowan Hesson, Joseph Jackson, Yoke (Annie Nelson and Chris Woodward) and Emma Papworth were each selected based on their proposals to create new work about or inspired by Wakefield.

Upcoming collaborations that will be shared in March include –

National Coal Mining Museum for England (NCMME) and Edgelands Arts

‘Above and Below the Surface’ – exploring the impact of Wakefield’s hidden geological coal seams on the visible landscape and the social lives of the people who live in the area.

HQ Arts and Wakefield Jazz

‘Tango Unchained’ – creating a short performance piece with older Wakefield residents that takes Tango and storytelling as its starting point.

Long Division & Skysail Studios/ various WAP partners

Creating a series of short films to reveal more about WAP partners and where they work.

One to One Development Trust and Axisweb

‘Surround’ will offer local artists and community members the opportunity to work in Virtual Reality to create playful new artwork for showcase in an online VR gallery.

Back in November 2017 The Good of Small Things and the Cluntergate Centre collaborated on a project entitled ‘What Makes Horbury?’ – a celebration of making, creating and doing by the Horbury community with artist Andy Abbott.

Image Credit - Andy Abbott - What Makes Horbury Event

Image Credit Andy Abbott - what makes Horbury event 3

Image credits: What Makes Horbury? event – Andy Abbott

All of the collaborations are being documented by Wakefield College students under the mentorship of experienced Wakefield based filmmaker Nick Singleton. Films created will be shared through the WAP website and twitter account over the coming months and will be showcased as part of a collaborative event during this year’s Long Division Festival on Sunday 3 June 2018.

The commissions are being managed by WAP coordinators, Beam, and build on the work of artist Andy Abbott who delivered the first artist commission, ‘Hidden Wakefield’, for Wakefield Arts Partnership in 2016. This project aimed to creatively engage Wakefield communities in a dialogue about place – stimulating and gathering information and stories that highlight local distinctiveness. As a focus for the project Andy set up the ‘Wakefield Centre for Dark Matter’, which took the form of a mysterious travelling pyramid that archived and exhibited the hidden, hard to find, strange and wonderful aspects of Wakefield that more people should know about. Andy’s work can be viewed online at –

WAP collaborative commissions are supported by Arts Council through its Grants for the Arts programme as part of Beam’s Arts In Place III project.

A Manifesto for a New Wakefield

Manifesto with Seed Fund

Long Division started back in 2011 because there was inordinately high amount of music being created for such a relatively small city. As crazy as it seems seven years later, PRS declared Wakefield the UKs third musical city, based upon the amount of people claiming royalties.


There were a high number of creatives but there were very few opportunities for those people to have their work heard. So we created a festival that was just too good a proposition for (most) people to turn down. That drew audiences to the city and gave these artists the platform they deserved.


Over the years we became more and more interested in the wider culture of Wakefield and in building on that idea of collectively offering something too good to miss.


Yet in many respects, the struggles for those artists trying to find their place, or find an audience for their work have remained, if not increased. The trouble can be knowing where to start or, in an increasingly risk averse arts world, finding someone who will take a punt on something unknown.


It’s something we want to help with. Our Arts Council funded project “A Manifesto For A New Wakefield” will set out our vision for a future Wakefield. And we want that to be formed by the city’s creatives.


One way that anyone can get involved in this is through our Seed Fund Programme. Artists can apply for up to £250 to fund a new idea that will then be debuted at the festival in June. We want the artists to the think about the concept of what a manifesto for the future of Wakefield might include. Beyond that, there are no limits. It can be fully realised, it can be an experiment, it can be music, poetry, film, photography and a hundred other things we aren’t going to waste your time by listing.


Aswell as the Seed Fund, we will be directly commissioning artists to create significant new works and will be handing over programming budgets to new Curators – and offering mentoring as required.


After the festival we will compile all the Seed Fund and other Commission work (and plenty of other things too) into a physical Manifesto which we will proudly wave in people’s faces.


Applications are open until February 19th. The full brief and the application form can be found on our website.