The Team


SARA DOWNHAM-LOTTO  founder & creative director. 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 non-executive director. 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.

SOPHY D’ANGELO non-executive director. 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.


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  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! Ness is now loving her time on the Art Foundation Course in Totnes.


FRANCESCA BEARDS studio assistant. Francesca, aged 23, is a recent History of Art graduate from Bristol University and is working with us before beginning her Masters in Curating at the University of West England. ‘After 3 years of academic study it’s nice to be back in a studio, engaging with the making element again. I hope to be inspired by the creativity and outreach initiatives at Arts Lab in order to inform my future research and practice in contemporary curation as part of my Masters placement at the Royal West Academy of Art, Bristol.’ 

ANNA DONALDSON studio assistant. Anna has been associated with Arts Lab, Dartington since it started in 2016. The last couple of years have seen such a transformation in her creative ability and confidence, that we celebrated her achievement with a solo exhibition at Dartington’s Green Table Cafe in the summer of 2018. ‘The sessions at Arts Lab’, says Anna, ‘have really boosted my confidence. Working in a big studio and learning from experienced artists in a place that I have always loved, has made me unafraid to try new things. Dartington itself has been a great place to be, always supportive of experimentation and with like-minded people.’ Arts Lab has been a valuable resource for Anna: helping to build her portfolio of work for art college entry (she got in!); providing work experience as workshop and social media assistant; enabling creative confidence through our programme of workshops and events. ‘Freeing and full of surprises’, says Anna.

KLARA FERM photographer. Klara, 21, is a Swedish undergraduate Photography student at Plymouth College of Art. Since 2016, she has made a significant contribution to Arts Lab’s photography archive. ’Excited to be part of the Arts Lab team, it has given 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. Jordan, 22, wants 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.’ He has been on the Arts Lab team for the last few months, developing ways to build bridges between the young creatives of Totnes and the opportunities that Arts Lab can offer. An outcome was his curation of the inaugural Green Table Cafe exhibtion, Driven, showcasing the work of 10 local young artists. Jordan has just started a degree in Drawing at the University of Falmouth, but is committed to staying in touch with the Lab.

MIA-VIOLET LEECH intergenerational making and sensory play. Mia, 21, has made the very most of Arts Lab  by taking up the opportunity of testing the ground for new audiences with a passion for inclusion through art. Last season, she ran 2 monthly, well attended sessions: sensory play for all the family; shared making day for local young creatives. She has just started her studies in Interaction Design Art at London College of Communication, but will be returning to Arts Lab in the Christmas to install a sensory exhibition. Mia’s 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 JOCCOAA film-maker. Tansy, 17, is currently studying Film, Photography and English at A level at Kennicott in Totnes. She has produced 5 fantastic films for/ with Arts Lab which can be seen on this website. She also showed her work in the successful Driven exhibition at Dartington in the Summer. Tansy’s love of film started several years ago when she began exploring cameras, filming and editing 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.’


JONATHAN MCCREE resident artist for Autumn Experiment 2018. 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.’ Jonathan has recently completed his second residency at Arts Lab – The Autumn Experiment – exploring and developing new, exciting ways of engaging the public interractively with visual art.

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.

CHRIS SARGENT co-facilitator on The Great Prison Art Exchange. 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.

JOSEPHINE BIRCH workshop delivery and collaborative projects. Josephine studied a B.A. in Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art and on the ‘Drawing Year’ scholarship at The Royal Drawing School, after which she obtained her M.A. in Children’s Book Illustration at CSA. She is passionate about drawing and has years of experience studying, teaching and leading workshops across London and Cambridge. Whether in schools, museums or at University level Josephine has pushed the concepts of drawing, mark making, movement and narrative, sharing its potential for expression, collaboration, and creativity for all. Recently resettled in Devon, she is a new, enthusiastic addition to the Arts Lab team.

NIGEL MOORES painter & ‘agony uncle’ for artists. Nigel has been involved in art all of his life, both as teacher and exhibiting artist and is passionate about its capacity to change lives. Recently moved from Hampshire, he works from his studio in South Devon. He is an abstract painter primarily concerned with the physical and expressive properties of paint.

LOUISE HENBY DIXON artist. Louise is a Wakefield-born artist, who grew up on a farm with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on her doorstep. Brought up associating art with the natural landscape, she studied Fine Art in Cardiff and has lived in and experienced the beauty of rural Devon for the past eighteen years. During this time, she has continued to make paintings and exhibited regularly.

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.

LOUISE SCHMID resident artist for Winter Experiment 2018. Louise is a Swiss-born visual artist, based in Glasgow since 1991. Her unique motifs have evolved over the years through exhibiting and working as artist in residence in Europe, New York and Tokyo. For over 25 years, her focus has been on facilitating visual arts engagement across diverse social groups (health care, forensic settings, primary and secondary schools, international summer art academies, heritage sector, etc.)

STUART VOADEN artist & 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.’

BETHAN WELBY workshop delivery. Bethan has a BA in Illustration from the University of Lincoln and is currently studying for an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. Drawing is the basis of all Bethan’s work and she welcomes the opportunity of sharing the joy of drawing, be it indoors, outdoors, from observation or the imagination.


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.’