Inspirations for Encounter

AegisToday we begin fundraising for an exciting new research and development project Encounter. We have a shared interest, originating in our combined arts and research practices, in exploring transitional spaces for adolescents, particularly for those who are vulnerable or marginalised in their social and school environments. We draw on our combined interests and passions for working with young people to begin this investigation with the working question:

How can we create transitional spaces by using the arts with vulnerable young people?

Our Starting Points

Alex McIntyre’s interest in transitional space is informed by her exploration of sculpture, exhibition curation and participatory arts practice. The production and viewing of sculpture in particular is seen as a process in which the subject is consciously embodied and so routed in present experience. Her current work as a practitioner with Art for Change, a creative learning project in collaboration with Watford Palace Theatre and three schools in Watford, demonstrates engagement with the use of creative processes to enable expression, conversation and transformation. The project uses the arts as a means to de-stigmatise mental health and to provoke discussion amongst young people across the schools. Her observation and reflection on conversations with young people and teachers regarding the challenges of discussing mental health has revealed ways in which the use of the arts might help us understand, re-imagine, and so change, responses to mental illness. Alex’s participatory practice has evolved through previous work producing sculptural installations and exhibitions, which aimed to engage the viewer in moments of interaction and response.   Visitors were invited to construct their journey within an exhibition space by reacting creatively to sculptures and written stimuli.

Martin Heaney is completing a PhD, which explores theatre in relation to ideas of transitional spaces of the male adolescent. He is particularly interested in exploring testing Donald Winnicott’s ideas of transitional space, that the event of inner transition is made possible only in relation to ‘the outside world of people, environments and events’ and exploring the arts in relation to Massumi’s ideas of ‘emergent’ transitional space where identities are played with and rehearsed.

Together, we wish to investigate how we can construct a dynamic transitional space for young people that has, in its construction, multiple dimensions of relational care, art-making, sensory engagement and productivity.

Brent Museum and archives lr2 Our Context

We are responding to the increasing presence of mental health issues for young people in Hertfordshire. One in ten children and young people aged 5 to 16 nationally have a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems[1]. Research data of the Hertfordshire Young People’s Manifesto 2014-2015 indicates that the overall majority of young people in Hertfordshire may not know how to keep themselves emotionally and mentally well. It also identifies a lack of funding for CAMHS in Hertfordshire, which means that many young people are waiting up to 6 months between an initial meeting and regular professional support.[2]

Our Objective

Through our research, we want to create a model of practice and research findings that we will share with other agencies. Through the exhibition, seminar and conference contributions we have planned, we aim to create a unique resource for Hertfordshire agencies to develop imaginative new pathways for young people to engage with the arts and increase their emotional wellbeing.

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[1] Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012, Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays

[2] Hertfordshire Young People’s Manifesto.


Conference: Cultural Skills Provision for 14-19 Year Olds in Hertfordshire, Feb 7 2014


Yart Consultation workshop with Young People lead by HertsCreation and Socani, Autumn 2013

Yart Consultation workshop with Young People lead by HertsCreation and Socani, Autumn 2013

On February 7th, HertsCreation will be sharing the results of research funded by Broxbourne Council and Royal Opera House Bridge into cultural skills provision for 14 – 19 year olds in Hertfordshire. Co-Director Martin Heaney will share first findings of the research in a seminar and workshop for an invited audience from the Hertfordshire arts and cultural sector in Broxbourne.

The focus of the research has been to identify gaps, needs and opportunities in cultural skills development. Particular areas of investigation have included engaging young people not in education and employment and education (NEETs) in pathways to Further Education and in progression routes from FE courses into the creative industries. The presentation will highlight areas of best practice and key perspectives on developing the sector from interviews with industry leaders.

Recent years have seen the erosion of networks and forums for professionals to develop joined-up, cross-sector approaches to education and the arts. Acknowledging this challenge, the seminar presentation will be followed by a workshop designed to encourage further discussion and map potential routes to build capacity. The workshop will also offer information on opportunities to find out more about further funding routes and partnership investment opportunities. A final research paper will be available from the end of February.

For more information on the event, please contact Martin Heaney:

HertsCreation Autumn Newsletter 2013


It’s been an exciting year so far for HertsCreation! We began life as a Community Interest Company in October 2012 with a busy period of funding applications and meetings across the county with organisations in the voluntary and local government sectors.

Although the funding climate remains challenging, one striking feature across the Herts landscape is the growing number of networks and hubs for arts and cultural activity, including the Hertfordshire Arts Partnership and support of Royal Opera House (ROH) Bridge.  We have been pleasantly surprised at the number of doors that were opened for us by different individuals and groups with a vision for the arts. We are fortunate that these conversations are now helping us build a strong programme of activity this autumn. So what are we up to?

June 20, YCA Launch Event, , Royal Opera House

Our Activities in 2013 Continue reading