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Introducing: For Solidarity Co-Investigators

Posted: 16 July 2020

We are pleased to announce our recently appointed group of Co-Investigators. They will work alongside members of The NewBridge Project to develop ideas in response to the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Co-Investigators have been selected to ‘report back’ on what they have observed or experienced during this time, the aim is to gather a rich and diverse collection of insights into the day-today lives of those most effected by the pandemic.

Their collective insights and responses will help inform our ongoing For Solidarity programme and allow us to be proactive in prioritising any immediate needs within our local communities.


For Solidarity

Over the past year The NewBridge Project and the Solidarity Economy Association have been collaborating to produce a digital map of the North East, giving a platform to the organisations, projects, initiatives and individuals in the region who are offering an alternative to the extractive and oppressive mainstream economic system. Working in solidarity will give us a chance to redress inequalities and exploitation and to build stronger partnerships for action.

With first-hand experience and stories gathered by the Co-Investigators, we can foster a creative dialogue and produce a programme that serves as a genuine community resource.


The Co-Investigators

Sofia Barton
Sofia Barton is a Multidisciplinary Artist from the North East. Experience includes working with Durham University, Edinburgh Fringe & GemArts. Residencies include Nasty Women UK. Past exhibitions include Spilt Milk Gallery in Edinburgh and For the Love of the North in Newcastle. Artist for Wild in Art: Brightside Elmer at Great North Elmer Parade 2020 and upcoming sculptures at the Lincoln Imp Art Trail in 2021. Sofia has appeared on BBC Newcastle & in the Evening Chronicle tackling issues about social enterprises, ethnic minorities and other issues facing female artists.

Kat Bevan
Kat Bevan is a visual artist working across Newcastle and Gateshead, and the founder and coordinator of the Artist Food Bank Network, which was established in October 2019. She completed a Master of Fine Arts degree from the BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art in 2018, receiving a distinction. In 2016, she obtained a First-Class Honours in a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and the award for the ‘Best Undergraduate in the Visual Arts Subject Area’ from Northumbria University.

With many artists in precarious work and a dramatic 89% increase in demand for food banks in The Trussell Trust’s network during the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, Kat is motivated to explore these intersections of art and society. Since graduating, she has moved away from a purely artistic practice involving critique and a practice-led multidisciplinary approach, to community-based action and research through the Artist Food Bank Network.

Mwenza Blell
Mwenza is a biosocial anthropologist. Her research draws from in-depth ethnography to examine intransigent and often invisible structures of injustice. She is interested in how subjective experience, socio-political structures and technologies, cultural meaning-making, and human biology interrelate to produce states of well-being and ill-being, with a view to understanding mechanisms underpinning both suffering and human flourishing.

Rachel Brook
Rachel Brook She/Her (MA Film Studies, BA Film and Sociology). As a visual artist and arts freelancer Rachel Brook produces abstract paintings, artist film and takes photographs. Rachel runs an “open-door studio” #PLACEHOLDER in Newcastle. Rachel’s artist film work presents a range of dream-like perspectives, often combining surrealism with art documentary. This can be viewed on her Vimeo page here.

Rachel has facilitated artist film workshops at Tynedale Hospice at Home, produced project ideas for Blue Sky Arts and has worked on creative events with Monkfish Productions CIO and Northern Creative Solutions. Rachel runs I Love Scarborough Road CIC, a community interest company that uses art to bring positive change to Byker Old Town.

Rue Collinge
Rue Collinge is a slam-winning spoken word artist. Raw and lyrical, she has performed on the radio and at festivals across the North-East. She works with people to help them find a voice in an increasingly noisy world.

Martine D’Ellard
Martine D’Ellard taught drama in schools for a while, then community arts beckoned.Over the past 30 years their projects have ranged from youth theatre, disability arts, mental health and more, to promoting community cabaret, comedy and spoken word. All the while Martine has drawn comic strips – mainly as a kind of doodle-diary but occasionally for friends or voluntary groups.

Before lockdown Martine was working with arts and health projects for disabled children and adults and supporting vulnerable people. During the pandemic it has provided Martine with an opportunity to draw more – and explore more – through this time Martine has also come to terms with her demons and developed a fondness for growing vegetables.

Keziah Keeler
Keziah Keeler is a freelance technician and gallery assistant based in Brighton, UK. Coming from a sociological background, she is passionate about developing skills in ethnography, using data to describe and challenge how the art world responds to or reflects on wider communities, especially those that are often overlooked. She is especially interested in the experience of social interaction through new technology, having worked on installs for the Brighton Digital Festival last year, and helped to develop an augmented reality app with the Portslade based art collective Blast Theory.

Marijn Nieuwenhuis
Marijn Nieuwenhuis is an Assistant Professor in Human Geography at Durham University. Their work focuses on philosophies and politics of air in gassing, breathing and other human relationships shared with things aerial.


Image courtesy of Michael Davidson, taken at our Deep Adaptation Springboard event in May 2018