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.

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 & 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.

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.’

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
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
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.