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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)

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.

What does the future look like? Everything we know we’ve had to fight for. For me, I believe the present, and a future involves a better understanding of care: in all of its dimensions. forwards.

Sarah Villeneau 
The Ground Beneath our Feet 

Sarah Villeneau has been a ceramic artist for over 20 years, describes her work and the project and process she will be undertaking.

I’ve wanted to work with Asylum Seekers in Doncaster for some time, so when the Birdsong commissions came along it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

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.

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.

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.

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.

For their commission they will create a series of short audio plays from 2-3min in length. Each play will focus on one of the series of illustrations created by Jodie Williams and published by Boujie Media.

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. In 2019 she won the Sarah Nutly Award for Creativity and a BBC Creative Champion Award for her 22-year impact on young creatives in the region.

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.

for more info on the project click here

Brave New Words


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 propose to work in the community of Denaby with the young people who reside there to record several one hour radio shows which will be aired on DN1 live. 

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 

Sarah Villeneau

Sacha Gray

Les Monaghan

Amelia Lonsdale

Press Coverage - click to go to story.