I’m Liz: a participatory artist, creative facilitator and permaculture designer based north of Manchester. I am curious and inquisitive, and I love to learn so throughout my life I have continually diversified my skills seeking new ways to develop and grow. I have particular interest in the way that an open, creative approach can help to build regenerative cultures in a wide range of settings. From imaginative adventures with the youngest children to artistic discovery with older people living with dementia at the end of life – I have a wide range of experience developing and delivering projects in theatres and creative spaces, but also in hospitals, schools, gardens, blocks of flats… Anywhere that the spark of imagination is given space to ignite endless possibilities.
I love stories so it will come as no surprise that I began my working life as a theatre director. From the primary school nativity through numerous school plays, followed by many happy years in youth theatre, I went on to undertake professional training at Contact Theatre through their Young Directors’ programme, and at Middlesex University, RESAD Madrid, and GITIS Moscow. From this starting point I began a creative journey which has now lasted for more than twenty years.
Now my professional life is a mixture of running my own creative business, Small Things Creative Projects, and working on a range of projects for many different organisations and partners in a freelance capacity. At the foundation of everything that I do is an exploration of stories – the ones we tell, the ones we would like to tell, and the ones that we haven’t even imagined yet.
I am a fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the RSA, a member of the British Permaculture Association, and an accredited Relational Dynamics Coach. I am also co-ordinator for a local community group working to maintain and improve 120 acres of meadows and woodland at the point where the River Roch and River Irwell converge in Bury, North Manchester.
My work bridges and unites a range of different disciplines:
- I design, curate and manage creative public engagement events, activities and projects. Recent work includes a community woodland event for Love Springwater Park, a celebration event in a supported housing scheme in Manchester as part of the launch of Manchester International Festival in 2017, and a six month creative residency in Hull working to put people living with dementia at the heart of UK City of Culture 2017.
- I am trained as a Permaculture designer, undertaking my Permaculture Design Course with Angus Soutar, and I have completed a Diploma Applied in Permaculture Design. I am passionate about the way Permaculture Design can be used as a tool for social change and as a way to develop regenerative cultures.
- I run The Storybox Project – a ground breaking creative project which uses stories and imagination as a starting point to engage, enliven and empower people living with a dementia.
- I write publications and develop training – primarily focusing upon Ageing and Creativity. I have also been in a number of different international research programmes on the same theme. This has included work with / for Keele University, Making Space, National Football Museum, Manchester City of Trees and the Hereford Courtyard. I am currently editing a Treasury For Participatory Arts and Older People for The Baring Foundation.
- I direct and create performances. I have created work for a huge range of organisations including: Manchester City Council, Contact, Manchester International Festival, London College of Fashion / University of The Arts, The Royal Academy, LeftCoast, ALRA and The Library Theatre Company.
- I am an accredited coach and a member of the Association for Coaching. As a coach I love supporting individuals and organisations to identify what is really important to them, and how to make it happen.
- I am Director of Small Things Creative Projects – a social enterprise that uses creative approaches in contexts of learning, change and development.
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