Inclusive culture-making…for Clore leadership

Yes, I know you have seen me striding confidently across the landscapes of the Sussex Coast, and yes when out in the open air everything falls away.. But like so many creatives & leaders, I’ve had many struggles in bringing my larger projects into the world, especially through covid and these societal and ecological crises we are in…Over the last few years I’ve had to overcome additional barriers – poor health, carer burnout & increasing challenges arising through my own neurospicyness. This part, mainly presenting as ADHD, has also been the source of my visioning, change-making and drive in generating the multi-dimensional projects and fostering my cultural activism, for years.

I’ve learnt a lot along the way, some of it painfully, some of it joyfully! and am proud to have also supported many other creatives to bring their incredible work and voices to this and previous projects, though always feeling there is so much more to be done to disrupt & lift the systemic barriers that keep our voices and visions for change from making the powerful impact I know they can.

I’ve been fortunate to have recently received support & the opportunity to pause, and I’ve become more aware of what’s now needed for me to continue my creative path, but also take care of myself better along the way.

One of the invites I’ve had is to join the brilliant Clore Leadership as a facilitator/coach on their ground-breaking Inclusive Cultures programme ‘a six-month disabled-led professional development programme designed for cultural leaders seeking to take steps towards systemic change in the area of inclusive culture making and disability justice. The programme draws on Inclusive Leadership theories and practice, and the lived experiences of D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people/communities, and uses coaching techniques to inform both thinking and action.’

It is leading edge work and I am thrilled to be able to both serve and learn… the deadline for the next programme is 9am April 29th, details here please do spread the word!

The Colour of Chalk – podcast

Ok so this is me on the beach, but not yet this year – until it’s warm enough! It was taken back in 2021 at Birling Gap on the Sussex Coast, with my furry zoom recorder, from inside my beloved beach tent , storytelling for episode 1 of my podcast The Colour of Chalk, an early fruit of my Seven Sisters residency and We See You Now writers project…it was sparked by this question…How has your relationship to this coastal landscape and the wider natural world been shaped by your upbringing, identity and sense of belonging?

Walks, talks and creative readings out along the sublime chalk landscapes of Cuckmere, Seaford and around the Seven Sisters together on warm Spring and Summer days followed in episodes 2-4 with fellow creatives Josephine Hall, Razia Aziz & Dulani Kulasinghe.

Listen/ re-listen to The Colour of Chalk podcast on all platforms – Spotify, Apple, Google, Apple via and you can also listen to our subsequent collection of We Hear You Now (WHYN) stories that now sit across this same landscape as an audio trail also hosted by South Downs National Park.

I  hope to be doing more podcasts outdoors this year, I loved it! Until then snuggle up, plug in & enjoy the last of the indoor weather… & if you are a walker & do go out on a chalky seaside adventure, take a notebook & pen & get inspired by our free creative writing prompts too, all on the Seven Sisters WHYN pages.

Thanks to Writing Our Legacy, Arts council England, SevenSisters Country Park, South Downs National Park and all partners and advocates along the way since..

We Hear You Now at the first International Black Speculative Fiction Festival this weekend!

Feb 2- 4pm We Hear You Now project is being featured as part of the online programme (Sunday 4th at 2.55- 3.55pm) at the first ever International Festival of Black Speculative Fiction at Goldsmiths University hosted by Sable Literary Mag/Inscribe and many other partners. Our session will include a screening of our new project film & live readings, panel discussion on the role speculative / eco-fiction can play in re-imagining, reclaiming & re-storying British rural landscapes.

Our online session will include readings by myself, Akila Richards Pauline Rutter and Georgina Parke. Supported by New Writing South.

We Hear You Now – Live

We Hear You Now, a new spoken word audio commission embedded on benches, signposts and gates across 6 km of the Seven Sisters and Sussex Heritage Coast landscape – and online. This collection,  which I have curated and co-written, together with Georgina Aboud, Jenny Arach, Razia Aziz, Joyoti Grech Cato, Oluwafemi Hughes, Dulani Kulasinghe, Georgina Parke Akila Richards, Pauline Rutter and Sheila Auguste, presents contemporary speculative fiction, poetry and new myths by Sussex-based writers of colour.

Watch a film made by Bip Mistry, of highlights of our work We Hear You Now grew out of my 2020-23 Writing Residency at Seven Sisters Country Park and across the Heritage Coast, commissioned by the South Downs National Park Authority which supported a two year programme of research, walking and creative writing,  called We See You Now. Both have been majority funded by Arts Council England. Explore our work online here.

For all events coming up see

Windows Of Wonder

Windows of Wonder brought together a group of diverse and established Lewes artists whose practices engage with the world of objects and collections, reimagined, refashioned and reframed. Using empty retail space on Lewes High St, East Sussex, they created individual window installations to make a trail, to stimulate questions on where we can encounter art and what art can be.

My window at Fitzroy House featured a selection of sculptures from my artist archive, some of my writing – and a curated shelf of books that have influenced or informed my recent literature projects set across the South Downs. All for this beautiful window of Lewes’ first public library (1862 – 1956).

All images taken by Catherine Benson

Sculptures in my window as follows:

The Instrument that Cannot be Played (2009-12).Materials: Santoor, computer mouse + lead, recycled velvet, organza, kilim wool and cotton. Note: Durational sculpture, begun in response to the green protest movement in Iran, Summer 2009. Finished in 2012.

Dare to be Free (2015) Materials: Typewriter, mixed cloth, extract from Free Woman to Free Man by Cicely Hamilton (from A Pageant of Great Women, 1909) Note: Sculpture for the 1897 Foundation of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society Banner for Parliament in the Making/ Magna Carta Anniversaries.

An Act (2015). Materials: scrolls made from recycled fabrics from countries connected to the UK through Empire, paper, text. Note: Sculpture for The 1965 Race Relations Act Banner for Parliament in the Making/ Magna Carta Anniversaries (2015)

Listen (2012) Materials: Roberts analog radio, earphones, textile + sari scraps, kilim wool, binding. Private Collection.

Secret Knowledge II, (2012). Materials: Inherited books, Persian rug scraps, flax.

Monument (2012). Materials: The artist’s defunct credit cards, chequebooks bound in kimono scraps, wool, wire.

The Book of Debts IV (2014). Performance relic: Jar of ashes from Burning the Books (2012-15) collective performance (Lewes, Foundry Gallery/Phoenix Estate, 2014)

Dance (from The Gifts 1-99, 2010) Materials: The artist’s mother’s shoes, recycled cloth, bias binding, Sufi poetry texts.

Voice and Presence (2011). Materials: Telephone, kilim wool, sari scraps, bias binding, wire, Sufi poetry texts

Bookshelf: books that have influenced or informed my Seven Sisters & Sussex Heritage Coast writer residency and We See You Now/ We Hear You Now projects.

Best British Short Stories Publication

My first fiction story, The Beard, was published in Glimpse, the first anthology of Black British speculative fiction published by Inscribe/Peepal Tree Press, edited by Leone Ross. Order here.  It has been republished as part of Best British Short Stories 2023 (Salt, ed Nicholas Royle).

After five years of writing, amazing support & belief from New Writing South &  a Chapter & Verse mentoring scholarship from Sable Lit/ TLC, I am just completing the manuscript of my artist memoir-plus, In the Skin of a Stranger.