Spaces of HOPE: The Hidden History of Community Led Planning 2021-24

Spaces of Hope aims to produce the first sustained history of community-led planning in the UK documenting the diverse and previously hidden ways in which people have come together to care for the future of their local environments and exploring what their efforts mean for contemporary approaches to planning and participatory place-making.

The project will draw on a number of case studies including the campaigning in the London Docklands in the 1980s to achieve a development that would meet the needs of local people.

Project Team

Dr Sue Brownill, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Andy Inch, University of Sheffield

Professor Geraint Ellis, Queen’s University of Belfast

Dr Francesca Sartorio, Cardiff University

Dr Loraine Leeson, Middlesex University

Professor Glen Stewart O’Hara, Oxford Brookes University

The Art of Healing in Kashmir: how creative activities can support child wellbeing in areas of conflict 2021-22

Kashmir is the centre of both a geopolitical struggle between India and Pakistan and an indigenous independence movement, one of the most militarised areas in the world. Since 1989 more than 80,000 people have been killed and everyday life is marked by the presence of military, curfews, stone-pelting and demonstrations. Children are particularly vulnerable in militarised areas and healing trauma is central for sustainable peace.

Katkatha Puppet Trust and Vikramjeet Sinha are delivering arts-based activities and Arts Based Therapy (ABT), including drama, visual arts, and puppetry to children in Kashmir to help them manage anxiety, anger and PTSD. Evaluation of use of the arts to improve mental health is often lacking and research is being conducted with children attending the Dolphin School in Pulwama, Kashmir. This will evaluate the potential for the arts activities and arts-based therapy to support the mental health and wellbeing of children affected by conflict.

Art of Healing web site.

The project has also built a website for the school and children to exchange ideas on an ongoing basis. Kalakar Qasbah is a protected site where participants can freely post and develop their thoughts and creative work.

Research team

Michael Buser (UWE) – community resilience; arts-led research

Loraine Leeson (Middlesex) – socially engaged arts practice

Emma Brannlund (UWE) – gender, International relations, Kashmir

Nicola Holt (UWE) – mental health, conscious experience, Art Based Therapy evaluation.

Julie Mytton – (UWE) child public health, children’s participation in research, evaluation of public health interventions.

Sara Penrhyn Jones (Bath Spa) – film / film-making

Hydrocitizenship 2014 – 17

Hydrocitizenship was an AHRC-funded project which investigated and contributed to ways in which communities live with each other and their environment in relation to water in a range of UK neighbourhoods.

This 3 year project investigated and made creative contributions to the ways in which citizens and communities live with each other and their environment in relation to water in a range of UK neighbourhoods. The research asked a series of questions about what communities are, how they function, and the role of environmental (water) assets and issues in the coming together of communities, conflicts within and between communities, and progress to interconnected community and environmental resilience.

Active Energy: Three Mills formed part of the research in the Lee Valley.

Research Team

There were teams in Bristol, Lee Valley, Borth & Tal-y-bont (mid Wales) and Yorkshire, involving altogether eight universities.

Principal Investigator: Professor Owain Jones (Bath Spa University)

The Lee Valley Team was led by Professor Graeme Evans (Middlesex University)

Artist/consultants: Dr. Loraine Leeson and Simon Read (Middlesex University)

JAL! – a one-day seminar in Bristol, October 2018

Culmination of an AHRC funded arts-community network project between UK and India addressing water scarcity in rural Rajasthan

9:30 for 10am start – 4:00 pm
Friday 5th October 2018
M Shed
Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd
Bristol BS1 4RN

This one-day seminar will reflect on the potential and role of the arts and creative practice to address critical global challenges:

  • Where and how artists are engaging with social and environmental issues.
  • The challenges, opportunities and implications of accessing and engaging vulnerable individuals and communities through the arts.
  • How community-based arts can contribute to improvements in the welfare of those living in tenuous conditions.
  • Interdisciplinary challenges associated with bringing together science and arts perspectives in addressing critical social and environmental issues.

Presentations by Michael Buser, Loraine Leeson, MS Rathore, Nina Sabnani,
Anurupa Roy and Neelam Raina


FREE, but places are limited

For further information contact

JAL! Celebrating Cultures of Water in Rural Rajasthan 2017-18

An AHRC funded project in collaboration with social scientist Dr. Michael Buser at University of West of England and Dr. Manohar Singh Rathore, Director, Centre for Environment and Development Studies, Jaipur.

The project explores how participatory arts practice can contribute to increased understanding of, and present solutions to, water scarcity in Rajasthan, India’s driest state, where environmental scientists have been struggling to get across this information. Puppeteer Anurupa Roy of Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust and artist/storyteller Professor Nina Sabnani from the IDC School of Design Mumbai, worked with villagers in the desert regions. The aim was to retrieve and re-introduce into the villages local knowledge on water conservation that had been lost for a generation. Nina Sabnani engaged traditional painters from the Shekhavati region to produce a mural and a travelling scroll to re-tell its story of water harvesting and how this could be revived.

Anurupa Roy worked with children who liaised with grandparents to produce a shadow puppet show to take around schools to inform local communities.