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The Team

DIRECTORS

SARA DOWNHAM-LOTTO  Founder, Creative Director and workshop delivery. Sara is an abstract painter with over 30 years’ experience working in studios and exhibiting in the UK, Poland and the United States. Trained in Fine Art and Art History in London, Manchester and Glasgow, her teaching has taken her to colleges around the UK and abroad. The whole gamut of education and learning through art is her drive, and how this can naturally embrace collaboration and inclusivity.

JONATHAN BLYTH Co-director and photographic projects. 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 director of Arts Lab,  he assists in supporting and extending its programme of experimental creative practice and educational work focusing on photographic projects.

SOPHY D’ANGELO Co-director and young persons programme. Sophy is an artist educator with over 20 years experience of art practice in a range of media. 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.

STEERING GROUP

ALI ROSCOE 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.”

MICHAEL CADYS 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.”

NESS TURNER  pre-children, had a career in Production and Event Management. Up until last year, she ran the Tangerine Tree café in Totnes with her husband which they decided to close in order to focus on more creative projects. 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 – she has recently taken the mid-life decision to be an artist!

YOUNG ARTIST VOLUNTEERS

ANNA DONALDSON social media. Anna has been working with and for Arts Lab since it started in March 2016. In part thanks to the Lab, she received a place to study illustration at Plymouth College of Art. “I really enjoyed building up work for my portfolio exploring different techniques and sketching in the beautiful grounds of the Dartington estate. Arts Lab helped me build my confidence and identity as an artist.”

KLARA FERM photographer. Klara is an undergraduate Photography student at Plymouth College of Art. Born and raised in the north of Sweden, so it is interesting to see all the differences between England and Sweden and how I can incorporate this in my work. I am interested in exploring combinations of the photographic with other art forms as a way to expand my oeuvre. Excited to join the Arts Lab team, it will give me the opportunity to explore even more where I want to go as an artist and how I can collaborate, help and support others.”

JORDAN REYNOLDS local young creatives co-ordinator and drawing projects. Jordan is a local young artist who loves to draw “whenever, wherever and whatever” he can. His aim in life is to use his art as a vehicle “to bring attention to, and raise up those less fortunate in life. In a nutshell, I want to create art for the aiding of others.” Jordan starts a degree in Drawing at the University of Falmouth in September. In the meantime, and hopefully ongoing, he is researching and developing ways to build bridges between the young creatives of Totnes and the opportunities that Arts Lab can offer.

MIA-VIOLET LEECH intergenerational making and sensory play. Mia, 20, completed her foundation art diploma at the Plymouth College of Art in June 2017 and will be going to London College of Communication in Septmber 2018 to study Interaction Design Art. Her goal is to become an Art Therapist – “to use what I know about creative mediums and my socially aware brain to benefit others and bring about positive social change with my current and future skill set.”

TANSY WEST film-maker. Tansy is currently studying Film, Photography, French and English at A level at Kennicott in Totnes. Her love of film started several years ago when she began exploring cameras, filming and editing on her own projects at home. “Aiding my dream of one day directing films, I’m keen to build my portfolio and work experience. Arts Lab has helped me with this since I joined the team in September 2017.”

ASSOCIATE ARTISTS

CLAUDIA SCHMID workshop delivery and Lab studio practice. Claudia is a Totnes based artist whose drawings and handmade strange creatures have found resonance locally and further afield. As well as exhibiting her work on a regular basis, she collaborates with writers (most recently Matt Harvey) on book projects and teaches art and craft workshops alongside her exhibitions at festivals and in primary schools. The workshops she runs at Arts Lab provide a great opportunity to approach drawing in a loose and playful way.

HELEN SNELL workshop delivery. Helen works primarily within the museum and education sectors and is currently a Trustee at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. She is passionate about supporting young people on their creative journeys at a time when mainstream education faces growing challenges. “The changing relationship between craft and fine art offers myriad ways to redefine and reinvent creative practices. My own work includes paper wall reliefs, metal sculpture, digitally printed fabrics, 3D printed costume and body sculpture.”

JONATHAN MCCREE workshop delivery and collaborative projects. Jonathan is a London based artist with 20 years’ experience exhibiting his work in the UK, Europe and the USA. Having worked with sound artists, composers, dance performers, film makers, architects and designers, collaboration is a big part of his practice. “I like to think of painting as a form of behaviour, something to be lived; a way of being in and relating to the world. I see these values embodied in the programme being developed at Arts Lab.”

STEPHEN PARK workshop delivery. Stephen was closely involved with the Dartmoor Arts Summer School since its inception in 2006 and throughout his career taught and delivered workshops at various places including The Royal College of Art. ‘Generally the artists who truly flourish are those who have gone through a process of profound change. I have witnessed this transformation a number of times and have some insights which could be useful to any creative person at any level of ambition. I also really enjoy the company of other creatives and meeting and talking with artists at Arts Lab.’

STACEY RIGHTON lab studio practice and site specific projects. Stacey has a Fine Art background and MA in Contemporary Visual Arts. Primarily interested in process, she responds to different sites, the environment, history and available materials. ‘I like working with stuff that has history or a story, stuff that relates to the context of the site where I work, stuff that’s been used, decayed or fallen apart and can be made into something else, has another life maybe…’ In addition, Stacey has 13 years’ experience of working as an Artist Educator with all ages and abilities, in schools, higher education, museums, community settings and hard to reach groups.

STUART VOADEN workshop delivery and collaborative projects. Totnes based, Stuart earns a living working in business. ‘Having come to art relatively late in life, I’ve found deeper meaning as an artist and in the wider exploration of art in general. For the past 15 years or so, I have been quietly working away on my own painting and sculpture practice. More recently, the existence of Arts Lab has been a great opportunity to meet other artists and folk who enjoy art, to show my work and to learn from seeing and practising with others.’

JOANNA BROWN  evening events organiser. Joanna is an artist, activist, mathematician and educator whose work encompasses photography, artists’ books, sculpture and printmaking, often incorporating a strong collaborative element. Her projects have been shown in the Royal Academy, National Trust, Dean Clough and at the Edinburgh Festival. She has also been an artist-in-residence with the National Trust, Fuse and the University of Leeds, and a member of the Contemporary Art Panel at RAMM for four years. About her involvement at Arts Lab, Joanna says: ‘I am excited by the opportunity to assist in creating a space for artists to meet, share, build creative connectivity and belong.’

OTHER VOLUNTEERS

KATIE WEBBER volunteer administrator. Katie is a singer and writer with a passion for colour and a love of stories. She is a Trustee of Prime Trust, a charity that supports underprivileged women and children in Pondicherry, India, where she works primarily with young girls at an amazing place called Janani Home. Katie has come to Arts Lab hoping to share her skills, to be inspired, to explore her own creativity and to learn about social enterprise, so that she can use her knowledge to further support Prime Trust in the future. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of creativity to affect positive change.

LU CHRISTIE volunteer administrator and creative assistant.

JAMES ROWDEN film tutor and facilitator. James has been with the project since it started in March 2016 and is a Video Content Producer, Cameraman and Editor. With over ten years’ experience creating online and broadcast film and video, he is ‘fascinated by combining the technical and the creative to tell engaging stories through film making. I love to share my knowledge and resource, and through Arts Lab hope to enable others to experiment with filmmaking and to encourage and facilitate other artists to use film as part of their work.’