Our team

Founder & Creative Director
Sara Downham-Lotto

Sara is an abstract painter with over 30 years’ experience working in studios, exhibiting and teaching in the UK and abroad. She trained in Fine Art and Art History in London, Manchester and Glasgow. Experience working across diverse communities - always painting - has taught her more than any formal education could hope to achieve. This has shaped her drive to encourage collaboration and creative thinking and making through learning, through life and through art. In 2018 Sara was awarded a Fellowship for the School for Social Entrepreneurs. Further info: see www.saradownhamlotto.net

Non-executive Director & Kids' Clubs
Sophy D’Angelo

Sophy is an artist educator with over 20 years experience of art practice in a range of media. She has been with Arts Lab since the autumn of 2017. A graduate in Art and Social Context from the University of the West of England, her passion is to facilitate visual arts engagement across broad-ranging groups as a tool for empowerment. Before now, she has worked for organisations such as Thames Festival, Kids Company, Tate Modern and Dulwich Picture Gallery. Sophy also currently teaches art and photography at the South Devon Steiner School.

Non-executive Director
Jonathan Blyth

Jon has spent time developing St Saviours and Plymouth Social Enterprise Network as community interest companies, alongside lecturing on degree programmes at Plymouth College of Art, University of Westminster and Falmouth University. As a non-executive director of Arts Lab, he helps to oversee the administrative responsibilities of the social enterprise as a registered company.

Advisor in Social Enterprise
Chloe Tingle

Chloe started her own social enterprise when she left university, which she grew and developed for five years, before deciding she wanted to use her skills in social enterprise development to support other local Devon enterprises and focus on mentoring, coaching and encouraging others to build their business skills. Chloe met Sara through a wonderful course at the School for Social Entrepreneurs, where she has since run programmes as a learning manager. Although not an artist herself, she is inspired by Sara’s passion to help anyone be artistic and express themselves and is particularly excited to support Arts Lab in reaching a number of disadvantaged and isolated communities.

Artist associate & mentor
Jonathan McCree

Jonathan McCree is a painter who lives and works in London. He has been developing his practice for 30 years and has exhibited internationally, with solo exhibitions in London, Dublin, the USA and Italy. He is represented in London by Sim Smith Gallery. Jonathan has a particular interest in painting as a form of collaborative activity and has worked with dancers, musicians, architects and designers. He is currently working towards solo shows in London including a new collaboration with dancers from New Movement Collective. Jonathan was an artist in residence at Arts Lab in 2018 and is a long-term supporter of their work. For further info, go to http://jonathanmccree.com/

Volunteer in curatorial practice
Francesca Beards

Francesca has recently completed her MA in Curating at the University of the West of England. Having volunteered with Arts Lab before, she has returned to develop her experience working in social arts engagement. As part of her Masters, she was on placement at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol where she curated the exhibition The Joy of Flowers: Nature’s Living Gems and programmed a mindfulness art workshop for HE students. ‘what has remained consistent, is my interest in the potential for well being through art. That’s something Arts Lab really consolidated for me and why I’m excited to return!’ Francesca hopes to contribute to the programming of Arts Lab, developing her interest into cultural organisations before pursuing a career in the museums sector.

Artist associate & assistant on Great Prison Art Exchange
Chris Sargent

A recent graduate of the Drawing, Painting and Printmaking honours course at Plymouth College of Art, Chris is currently working with Sara on The Great Prison Art Exchange project at Dartmoor Prison - ‘This is a fantastic project that I feel privileged to be a part of’. His original involvement with the project was through the PPD (professional practice development) programme at PCA. Chris has been supporting the project at Dartmoor since autumn 2018.

Artist associate
Cecilia Simonyi

Cecilia is a children’s book illustrator and artist educator from Hungary. Broadly educated, she has degrees in Philology and Anthropology and Printmaking (Hungary), Social Development (London) and an MA in Illustration for Publishing (Italy). Her passion is to use art as a tool in community work. Her experiences include rural planning with tribal women in India, therapeutic art with street children in Rwanda, and community storytelling with a village community in Brazil. She currently teaches illustration for adults and children in the UK and Hungary. Cecilia was to become Arts Lab’s spring artist experimenter but has realigned her commitment as associate artist and mentor in the Sharing the Light project. She is the designer of the Walkit sketching bags: www.cilithings.com Further info: www.ceciliasimonyi.com

Young artist associate volunteer
Sophia Thornton

Sophia is studying BA Geography at Exeter University and helps to organise Exeter Extinction Rebellion Universities. She is an activist who cares about using the power of art as a tool of communication, to connect people together and to fight social injustice. She joined Arts Lab as a volunteer in February 2020, ‘excited to learn about projects that encourage the art making process extend beyond individual engagement with the world, into open conversation and collaboration with a community of people.’ She says: ‘I look forward to developing an understanding of how artists create unique spaces for creativity involving for everyone.’

Young artist associate
Anya Rose

Anya Rose specialises in photography, focusing on ideas revolving around our initial impressions of others and our expectations of ourselves. She is currently preparing for her first collaborative photography exhibition - ‘Homeland’ - with Arts Lab before making the transition to London to study photography. Additionally, she is a contributing artist in the Lab’s latest Covid-19 response project 'Sharing the Light'. Her ultimate aim is to contribute to innovative change in the creative industry.

Artist associate & drawing tutor
Fhiona Mckie

Fhiona is a Bath-based artist and lecturer in art & design. She is passionate about drawing in its broadest sense as a way of exploring ideas and process that go beyond observation. Fhiona trained at Exeter College of Art, Dartington and Norwich School of Art & Design. For the last 20 years she has been a full time lecturer, working at Bath Spa University, Bath College and Norwich School of Art and Design. She has also delivered workshops in museums and galleries in the Bath and Bristol area. Fhiona has worked with art and design foundation students, undergraduates and professionals - teachers, art therapists, architects, artists, designers, and craft practitioners . She is a trustee of the GANE Trust in Bristol which aims to support and help finance through grants people involved with the arts, crafts and design and those engaged in welfare and social care.

Steering group
Michael Cadys

Michael went to art school in the late 1960s, the experience of which, he says, influenced everything he’s done since. ‘Arts Lab is a reconfirmation of my belief that being creative alongside other creative people can change your life. My career was mostly as an editor, largely managerial, in publishers including Dorling Kindersley and David & Charles. I also taught on a ground-breaking multimedia course at Plymouth University, and was a consultant to the publishing industry, among other things.’ Michael has been a valued steering group member since the Spring of 2017.

Steering group
Ali Roscoe

Ali has a background in education and has spent over 35 years working in schools and communities delivering her innovative projects. These projects have taken place in varied settings, involving participants of every age and ability. She has worked with a wide range of organisations across the arts, environmental and heritage sectors, offering consultation, mentoring and training. ‘Thank goodness my week now includes Making Mondays at Arts Lab. I always come away buzzing with new ideas and with my creativity topped up for another week.’ Ali has been a valued steering group member since the Spring of 2017.

Steering group
Ness Turner

Ness is ‘committed to supporting the project making a real difference to people’s lives as it has done mine’. Thanks to her involvement with the Lab – taking part in workshops, being an interim director and an invaluable member of the steering group since the Spring of 2017 – she took the mid-life decision to be an artist! Ness is now loving her time on the Art Foundation Course in Totnes.