Be Part Find Shelter Join In Love Play

Typically when towns and cities create visual skyline banners they include the places most popular with tourists.  While this can be good for getting people to visit it does not always include those places that hold important meaning to the often diverse and disparate local communities. Banners, web headers and posters of York are no different, presenting the usual suspects of the York Minister, Cliffords Tower, the city walls and its various gates and bars.   However, for the York’s local communities there are other places of much more personal and collective meaning. These are many and include a range of hidden place based gems, as is featured in this piece.

People of York were asked; What is community? What does it mean to you? What does York’s Community Skyline look like? What community places and spaces are important to you? From this several places were suggested and linocuts made of each;

These included;

St Luke’s Church on Burton Stone Lane, nominated for the community café and various groups they put on, with also a reference to York FC floodlights as many people also highlighted the importance of sports and fitness clubs as important ‘communities’.

Priory Street Centre, as a hub of voluntary sector activity, and including the hosting of many diverse organisations.

The Reading Café at Rowntree Park, to represent the many Explore libraries as well as Parks of York.

The Central Methodist Church on St Saviourgate, not with specific reference to the church, but rather organisations such as Kyra Womens Project and Carecent, a breakfast centre for all homeless, unemployed or otherwise socially excluded members of our community

Folk Hall and New Earswick for its strong community, including Nelli (New Earswick Less Loneliness Initiative), CAN (Community Action for Nature) and NEST (New Earswick Sharing Together).

York Mosque at Bull Lane to reflect the range of faiths celebrated in York 

St Nicks Nature Reserve, appreciating the many great outdoor community spaces in York.   

Using the linocuts two pop art style ‘group prints’ were facilitated. One at St Luke’s Church with people attending the Friday activities, and a second at Priory Street, at a People Helping People event.

Group Print, St Luke’s Church 2018.

During the ‘group prints’ people were encouraged to add key words about what community meant to them using a letter print stamp set made from handwriting samples collected visitors of York Explore Library. This font highlights the unique shapes people express when making marks, and the wonderfully distinct style of when they come together.

Be Part Find Shelter Join In Love Play is a collective piece that reflects on the subjective meanings of ‘community’. This can relate to identity, but also to interest. It can be about where you are, but also where you want to go. And we are not just part of one, but rather we connect and move between many communities through our shared ideas, experiences and preferences.

– by Stephen Lee Hodgkins, for Live Well York, July 2018.

Group Print

Group print is a fast paced low tech participatory method that can help capture the experiences and perspectives of a place based community. The approach values and emphasises the importance of everyone’s involvement, and combines place based icons with emotive key words from participants, in response to questions like what is community? Or what does the library mean to you? Group print creates co-produced art pieces that capture everyday diversity as well as highlighting the social interconnectedness of people and place.  The above images show the process and end results from previous group prints I have been part of.

Remembering Lynn Jeffries

Made as part of York Disability Pride 2017 celebrations, this short film remembers Lynn Jeffries who played a key role in setting up York Independent Living Network ( Lynn Jeffries was a disability rights campaigner in York. She made a significant contribution to equality and inclusion work in the city. Lynn passed away aged 58 in August 2014. This film includes some memories from people who knew and worked with her. Continue reading “Remembering Lynn Jeffries”

Libraries Gave Us Power

Thick black lined doodled image of Explore York Central library surrounded by colourful key words captured at the 90th celebration event on 23/09/17.

I’m currently working with Explore York  as part of their celebrations to mark their 90th year.  At the anniversary event on 23/09/17 I  asked people to give me 90 words for the 90th year of this wonderful library. More specifically, on a large sheet with a doodle of the building in the middle of it I asked; 

‘What does Explore mean to You?’ Continue reading “Libraries Gave Us Power”

Once Seen Theatre, York.

If you have a few moments, watch this and please vote for Once Seen Theatre Company York to support their bid to the Aviva Community Fund.  They are an amazing group of actors with learning difficulties who want to tell their stories of power and suvival – being told no, being given no chances or choices, living in institutional care for 38 years and more. But they are not bitter, they just want a chance to give it a go. As they say, ‘they want people to come and see what they can do, not what they cant!’  Vote here –…/project/view/17-4234 until 21st November 2017.

My Shape by Barbara Stewart (1956-2016)



My Shape is an audio visual performance piece presenting the poetry of the late, great Barbara Stewart (1956-2016). Barbara’s poetry draws on her lived experience as a proud disabled person.  Articulating her very personal experiences of, the medical profession, everyday discrimination, difference and empowerment, Barbara’s work is at the same time shockingly honest, funny and positive.  Barbara worked as a welfare benefits advisor and supported thousands of disabled people to access the support they needed.  As a poet she often would speak and read her poetry at community events to which she received a great response from people.  My Shape is a poetry book Barbara finished shortly before she died and available as a PDF ebook here – My-Shape-Book-single-pages.




Bodeelanwigch explores the representation of dyslexia and related learning difficulties that challenge language and literacy norms. Presented as an audio visual poem, the original text written by the disability activist and artist Simon Brisenden (published in ‘Poems for Perfect People’ in 1987) this piece reconsiders the themes in relation to notions of dyslexia and associated learning difficulties. Drawing on personal experience, Bodeelanwigch alludes to Craig Collinson’s (2012) concept of ‘lexism’, which relocates the problem of dyslexia as not individually owned, but rather the consequence of expressing diverse reading, writing, speaking and hearing in relation to ‘literacy norms’. Continue reading “Bodeelanwigch”

‘…so I do the hand thing…’

' I do the hand thing...' - shown at the Shape Open Exhibition 2014/15.
‘…so I do the hand thing…’ – shown at the Shape Open Exhibition 2014/15.

I managed to capture my lovely late great friend Barbara Stewart (1956-2016) saying ‘…so I do the hand thing…’ on an audio recording during an interview I carried out for my PhD research. There were several people present at this focus group type interview, including Barbara. The purpose of the research was to explore representation and identity issues about disability, from people with direct lived experience of it. An abridged version of my PhD was published as a chapter in an academic text in 2009, titled ‘Disabilities: Insights From Across Fields and Around the World’. The transcript of the extract read as follows; Continue reading “‘…so I do the hand thing…’”

Just a line



This animated clip was inspired by a family collection of censored postcards from World War I sent from the trenches by my Great Great Uncle John Edward Kirby, also known as Jack to his brother, between 1915 to 1918. Drawing on the words Jack wrote whilst in the trenches, this clip presents a summary version of the postcards. The full collection of the postcards is available here. Previously shown at the Together, disability film festival 2014 see here.