Apply Now Funded Open call



This is a mini feature on the Birdsong Projects as they develop, starting with some that have already begun which respond immediately to our original provocation, ‘Birdsong on the Planet of the Apes’, written in a period of early Covid19 uncertainty, and now as we adjust to ‘distancing’, we tentatively learn new customs, reassess our values along with the practical expressions of what is permissible and safe such as elbow bumps. Beyond these new social codes and customs, how are we feeling our way back into a sense of community?  How are we adjusting and coping with the cracks exposed when change occurs on a radical level ? How will the artists produce relevant new work ?

The artists featured here explore and enact how life is now, helping us on a journey to learn who we are now and what parts of our life we might be happier to leave behind. In asking deeper questions that have been highlighted by Covid19, they capture our condition through different artistic approaches and offering alternatives to how we function through adverse times.

Mikes Stubbs  (Creative Director)

Birdsong on The Planet of the Apes exhibition will appear in waves from June the 21st onwards culminating during the ArtBomb long weekend August 5-9th  (The curator of this show,  Sacha Gray,  gives context for the exhbition on our blog)

Natasha Clarke


Natasha Clarke is a Doncastrian Street artist and currently researching the site for her Birdsong Commission painting.

Together we rise.
I never thought I would get to paint for my hometown, Doncaster. I feel honoured to be contributing to the community.
Thank you everyone who helped with the project and the lovely feedback I’ve received over the past four days

Warren Draper
Unbound Arts 

Warren Draper is an artist whose practice has central social and environmental concerns. He writes of his Birdsong commission.

As an industry, the arts have been decimated by the Covid-19 crisis. Many of us are self-employed creatives who could not work and unable to practice that which is both our passion and our livelihood. 

Sarah Smith (Smizz)
Networks of Care  

Sarah Smith is an illustrative-mapper, qualified radiotherapist and is undertaking a practice-led PhD. views. She is better known as Smizz and writes of her approach to the commission.

Doncaster Free Press in an article on Smizz gives an update on her project:

‘Sarah Smizz decided to make holographic stickers with a powerful message whilst at the same time raising money for a food bank based at Bullcroft Memorial Hall in Carcroft.’

Sarah Villeneau

The Ground Beneath Our Feet - work with Asylum Seekers during lockdown 2020 - 2021

Working remotely with several asylum seeker families and individuals over the second lockdown, I delivered packs of clay and tools to their homes, with many a long chat on their doorsteps. They were given written and illustrated tips on how to work with clay, a couple of making videos to watch and we had a whatsapp group for any questions. Zoom sessions weren't possible as they did not all have internet access. I look back in astonishment now at how anxious I was about how they would respond. I really needn't have worried. They embraced the project with such enthusiasm that it became a much longer project than I had envisaged, and some are still making, six months down the line. Several are keen to learn more and one woman would like to become a potter - she's now been granted asylum, so I hope that, once she's settled in her new home she will be able to attend classes. None of them had ever worked with clay or done anything that they classed as art. And despite English not being their first language, the feedback they gave was so articulate and thoughtful. "We were thinking through our hands." "We learnt through our mistakes - we made over and over again and realised that 'Si tu veux, tu peux'" "It takes away stress - it makes you think of positive things - you think about what you're going to make and how, instead of thinking about the things you cannot change." "I'm having so many ideas - anything I see now, I think, how can I use the clay to make this?"

The 'stones' were made by me using a variety of different clays - some locally dug, some groggy, some not. They were squeezed in the hand by the participants to leave the imprint of their touch. They are a symbol, amongst other things, of the beauty in diversity. The project will be exhibited in Doncaster later in the year. Watch this space!

With thanks to Doncaster Creates 

Amelia Lonsdale

Residents of Bentley often say, “you could build a wall around it and you would have everything you need”. It’s high-street is filled with local eateries and shops, salons, a post office, chemists, multiple schools and churches

It does not seek to come to any significant social or politically motivated conclusions but, is simply a reflection of my interests in suburban landscaping and a way of integrating and communicating with my new space. Created during the Covid-19 pandemic, the project is a visual diary of my world. The small thoughts, simple pleasures and observations that now make-up the foundations of my day that have become increasingly significant to me during the COVID pandemic and lockdown.

Les Monaghan

The texts are being created by asking those in Doncaster who are rarely asked, and never heard, ‘where do we go from here?’ Those who are rarely asked for their views are young people, the disenfranchised, those living on the margins, those right now who are too busy keeping things together at home or at work. I have worked with some of the participants before in other creative projects that have also been about voice and it is really interesting to hear their individual and somewhat changing views as we move through the era of COVID. They are the Invisible Vox Populi. As I produce The Invisible Vox Populi, I’m thinking through ways that they can be presented to the public in a COVID safe way, I’m currently experimenting with the work being hung on school railings at school pick up time, pop up style and am continuing this with different schools over the next few weeks.

Sacha Gray

A part of The New Fringe art organisation and has directed the organisation toward a more varied membership in terms of art practices and age groups.

Sacha writes, With my Birdsong project, myself and a group of children explore ecological issues through making art with the intention of speaking loudly and playfully through the art we make, in response to the devastating funding cuts to the arts within the education system at a time where children need art to make sense of their world and future.

Mandy Keating

Her background is in Graphic Design and started her freelance career as a book and paper artist. She will concentrate on one very small area of Doncaster, known to her, it is a square in Kirk Sandall, with houses around its edge and a green in the centre. 

Commenting on the developement so far, Mandy says:

“While we’ve been in lockdown I’ve been concentrating on the visuals for the website that could also be standalone artworks....What this project has done to date for me personally is to find out a lot more about my own family - stuff I didn’t even know about. I’ve also had to learn more digital stuff, which has been brilliant for me.”


Rajnish Madaan

Is a local filmmaker and editor producing work for over ten years. Jodie Williams is an Equality, Inclusion and Diversity professional who has worked across various sectors with the aim of making businesses and services more accessible and inclusive. Jodie is also the Leeds Melanin Festival Director, a series of events celebrating communities of colour and Black history.

The Podcast is described as:

Welcome to White Privilege Drama. A series of short audio dramatizations reflecting on the real experience of what it is to be Black in Britain today.

The series was written by Jodie Williams and produced by Rajnish Madaan.

Seed funding came from Doncaster Creates and the series is created by South Yorkshire artists.


Vicky Morris

Vicky Morris is a writer and creative practitioner working across South Yorkshire. She’s the founder of Hive South Yorkshire and co-founded Doncaster Young Writers in 2010.

Novelist Arundhati Roy Brave New Words offers a series of creative writing workshop for younger people in Doncaster (in two age groups spanning 15-30), exploring Roy’s idea of stepping into a new way of seeing and being. 

These are some of the outcomes, as they come to the end of their commission. 

Breaking Beats Ltd Ian Byatt

Breaking Beats is a not for profit venture formed in 2014 working within the Community Arts environment
in the Doncaster area. The main aim is to fill the void that is currently left within sections of the community to engage with disenfranchised members of it, creating diversionary activities.

They have been working in the community of Denaby with the young people who reside there to record  radio shows. Check the shows out here.

James Lockey

A filmmaker and musician from Doncaster who has worked with many bands producing music videos, music documentaries and live visuals for tours including Lana del Rey, Editors and Mogwai.

Through the use of image manipulation software and traditional filming techniques his idea is to create a series of short hallucinatory vignettes featuring Doncasters architecture and people in everyday movements and actions.

Angela Robson

The Disappearance of Emily Pear.

Angela Robson (film-maker) is a Doncaster-based award-winning creative arts practitioner, journalist and film-maker with fifteen years experience working on creative projects in the UK and overseas.  

This short film tells the story of a teenage artist torn between submission to mental illness and a yearning for an alternate universe.

Ryan David Harston

URBAN conceptz theatre is a visual and physical theatre company set up by multi-award-winning* artist Ryan David Harston. His work as a theatre director consists of original storytelling, poetry, and spoken word.

He wants to create a thought-provoking, exciting, and immersive art exhibition in a derelict or unoccupied building in the center of Doncaster.


Natasha Clarke 
Warren Draper 

Sarah Smizz 

The stickers are holographic.

Sarah Villeneau

Sarah Villeneau -’hollow 'stones' 

Amelia Lonsdale

Les Monaghan

Sacha Gray making Karts.

Above one of Mandy Keating’s finished digital diorama style 2d images. She has 6 more of this style that document all the connections and historical info linked to people who live in ‘the square’ Kirk Sandal, Doncaster.

Rajnish Madaan podcast:

Breaking Beats Participant