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Join us for a free tour of current exhibition, Karuppu by Osheen Siva, with BSL interpretation.

Alongside, discover more about Shahnawaz Hussain: My Nottinghamshire Perspectives in Watercolour and Peepshow: An Illusion Cut to the Measure of Desire in our extra gallery spaces.

Free, open to all

Book your free place now

This one day conference, held as part of Nottingham Refugee Week, will explore how creativity can be used to resist the ‘hostile environment’ promoted against refugee and asylum-seeking communities within the UK. 

The day will consist of:

Registration: 10 am
Conference: 10.30 am – 5.30 pm for free food and drinks from the Syrian Vegan Kitchen
Comedy gig: 6 – 7 pm (a more detailed schedule can be found at the end of this page)

As cited in the IPPR’s ‘Access Denied’ report (September 2020), over the past decade and beyond, the UK has witnessed the mushrooming of an aggressively hostile system that denies basic human need to those seeking sanctuary across numerous sociocultural sectors – from policing, welfare, housing, health and education to Home Office immigration systems themselves.

In response to this pervasive discourse, however, counter-narratives and counter-practices have seeded and grown with astonishing vigour across the breadth of the sociocultural sphere – from the high-profile and high-visibility (arts festivals such as Counterpoints’ ‘Refugee Week’; Charwei Tsai’s film projection ‘Hear Her Singing’ on the Southbank Centre, London; the emergence of the Cities of Sanctuary network) to altogether subtler negotiations and refusals of hostility (‘living maps’ projects whereby newly arrived sanctuary-seekers annotate maps identifying resources of use to new communities, for instance; or refugee-led wellbeing services such as Vanclaron, that operate within Serco-run hotels to nurture positive mental health). While presenting ‘life-sustaining practices’ of creative ‘uprising’ and ‘innovation’ (Espiritu et. al., 2022), this emergent nexus of narratives and practices is yet to be placed in dialogue, and thus mobilised as a site of connective critical agency.

It is the task of ‘Hostile Environment, Artful Living’ to generate a pioneering platform for such essential criticality. Blurring the boundaries between academic discourse and community-engaged activity, this 1-day event presents a series of discursive platforms designed to initiate dialogue between those working ‘artfully’ within and against the hostile environment, across and between the arts, humanities, and community-engaged sociocultural sphere.

The day is organised around three Roundtables: ‘Narratives’, exploring the mobilisation of literary, story-based, festival-based and community-based narratives that ‘artfully’ rewrite the narrative of hostility; ‘Environments’, exploring ‘artful’ negotiations of public spaces such as housing, healthcare and green space; and ‘Leading the Conversation’, presenting ‘artful’ projects developed by creatives of lived refugee experience.

Each panel consists of four ‘headline’ speakers drawn from diverse academic, cultural-creative and community locations, who will offer 10-minute presentations designed to spark debate among the wider roundtable audience. Confirmed speakers include Allan Njanji (also conference co-convenor), filmmaker of lived refugee experience, whose work explores ‘refugee voice’ in documentary journalism; blog developer Hira Aaftab, presenting refugee-led blog Our World Too; editors Rubina Bala and Alexandros Plasatis, presenting refugee-led literary journal The Other Side of Hope; and storytelling producer Naomi Wilds, discussing community-based storytelling with young communities of sanctuary-seekers. We are honoured to be hosting a Keynote (via live weblink) from Yến Lê Espiritu, Distinguished Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego, whose field-defining works on ‘critical refugee studies’ include the recent 2022 Departures and 2014 Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarised Refuge(es).

The day is bookended by performances from artists of lived refugee experience, opening with Florette Fetgo, spiritual artist of Cameroonian heritage, whose public actively contest police hostility in Nottingham; and closing with a gig from refugee-led comedy collective, No Direction Home.

We are proud to be serving complimentary food from the Nottingham-based refugee-led business, the Syrian Vegan Kitchen.

Throughout the day, our emphasis is on establishing collective, transdisciplinary dialogue on ‘hostile environment, artful living’, in the hope that our discussions will form the basis of an eventual edited collection of essays and interviews, and of an AHRC funding application.

Roundtable audience participants are invited from across every discipline and cultural sector, and are welcome to join for some or all of the day. Conference attendance includes complementary lunch courtesy of the refugee-led Syrian Vegan Kitchen, and entry to No Direction Home’s end-of-day comedy gig.

We also welcome posters, displays of projects and ‘cultural interventions’ that fit the theme of the event from participants.

The day’s events take place at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University city campus, which can be easily reached by tram or bus from Nottingham train station.

When I Dare to be Powerful International Conference explores the idea of voice as an agent for change and act of resistance.

Book your ticket

Click here to reserve your ticket for the free in person conference

When I Dare to be Powerful International Conference will bring filmmakers, artists, writers and activists together with conceptual thinkers and cultural theorists to answer pressing questions relating to voice as an agent of change.

Centred on voice as a lens through which we conceive of a social alterity that undermines current ideological dominance, we would like to invite proposals from academics, practitioners and activists interested in exploring coming to voice as an act of resistance. Has adequate progress been made in remedying the lived experience of minoritised people? How will social parity be achieved? Can dissent facilitate a space from which an alternative, socio-cultural narrative can thrive?

When I Dare To Be Powerful one-day conference offers a packed programme of events running up to and including the conference itself:

The conference period begins on 26th April and runs through to the one-day conference in June. Join us in the conversations relating to voice, around which our one-day conference is based.

The conference is free to attend and will take place in person on Wednesday 21st June 2023.

Visit our When I Dare To Be Powerful website to find our more about the conference timetable.

Join Ather Zia in conversation with with Amir Kaur Aujula-Jones and Trang Dang, as part of the When I Dare to be Powerful conference at Bonington Gallery.

Amir Kaur Aujla-Jones and Trang Dang are in conversation with Ather Zia about writing as a powerful tool to amplify the voices of women active in the Kashmir conflict. Their voices are often ignored in a dominant narrative that fails to give them agency and instead writes them as victims of the conflict.

This event is part of online talks series leading to the in-person conference When I Dare to be Powerful, on 21 June at Bonington Gallery. The international conference will bring filmmakers, artists, writers and activists, together with conceptual thinkers and cultural theorists in order to answer pressing questions relating to voice as an agent of change.


Ather Zia, Ph.D., is a political anthropologist, poet, short fiction writer, and columnist. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Gender Studies program at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley. Ather is the author of Resisting Disappearances: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir (June 2019) which won the 2020 Gloria Anzaldua Honorable Mention award, 2021 Public Anthropologist Award, and Advocate of the Year Award 2021. She has been featured in the Femilist 2021, a list of 100 women from the Global South working on critical issues. She is the co-editor of Can You Hear Kashmiri Women Speak (Women Unlimited 2020), Resisting Occupation in Kashmir (Upenn 2018) and A Desolation called Peace (Harper Collins, May 2019). She has published a poetry collection “The Frame” and another collection is forthcoming. Ather’s ethnographic poetry on Kashmir has won an award from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. She is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit and is the co-founder of Critical Kashmir Studies Collective, an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the Kashmir region. Ather is also a co-editor of Cultural Anthropology.

Amir Kaur Aujla-Jones (she/her) has a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Sussex, a MA in Education from the University of Nottingham and a PhD in Sociology from Nottingham Trent University. Dr Aujla-Jones’s research has focused on race and gender equality using an intersectional lens. Her PhD thesis examined the lived experience of Black, Asian, and Mixed-race girls in predominantly white English secondary schools. Dr Aujla-Jones is part of Conscience Collective, an international network based in the UK aiming to extend understanding of climate and social  justice. 

Trang Dang (she/her) is a PhD researcher in literary studies at Nottingham Trent University, funded by NTU Studentship Scheme, and previously graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a BA and an MA in English Literature. Her PhD project focuses on Jeff VanderMeer’s weird fiction, exploring narratives of co-existence between humans and nonhumans and the role of new weird novels in portraying the current climate crisis. Her main research interests are contemporary literature, cli/sci-fi, critical theory, and continental philosophy. She has published on the topics of animal studies, American culture and politics, and the Anthropocene.


Professor Gus John and poet Yolanda Lear join Jenni Ramone’s Black Writing in Britain students and Formations audiences for a special event on the history of New Beacon Books and its place in the history of Black British publishing, writing, and activism.

Gus John discusses publishing, decolonisation, and the contemporary university. Yolanda Lear reads and discusses her poetry, and both speakers engage in conversation with English and Creative Writing students at NTU.

FORMATIONS is a public events series which foregrounds under-represented artists, writers, thinkers, and activists, run by NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre and Bonington Gallery.

Book your ticket

Click here to reserve your spot at this free online event.



To coincide with Cedar Lewisohn’s solo exhibition earlier this year, Patois Banton, join us for a free online talk by Dr. Joseph T. Farquharson entitled Questioning Language and Knowledge: The Challenge to Creole-speaking Communities. This will be followed by a Q&A with Ramisha Rafique.

This event follows on from an in conversation with Cedar Lewisohn, Ioney Smallhorne and Honey Williams which can be watched here.

“That children learn best in their mother language, has been known for several decades. However, the application has been very slow in societies where the mother language of the majority is a Creole language. This is due to what I refer to as an epistemological blind spot emerging from what colonial and neo-colonial education determine to be (real) knowledge, and how those ideological systems designate the languages that are the vehicles of ‘real’ knowledge.

Given their historic low status, Creole languages like Jamaican, Haitian Creole, Barbadian, are therefore not seen as proper receptacles of knowledge. In an attempt to unpack the philosophy of language that drives this state of affairs, I explore the historical roots of these views, and the ways in which they undermine and stunt the production, dissemination, and development of indigenous forms of knowledge.” Dr. Joseph T. Farquharson, Coordinator, Jamaican Language Unit

FORMATIONS is a public events series which foregrounds under-represented artists, writers, thinkers, and activists, run by NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre and Bonington Gallery.

Book your ticket

Click here to reserve your spot at this free online event.


To coincide with Cedar Lewisohn’s solo exhibition, Patois Banton, join us for a free online in-conservation event between Lewisohn and performance poet, writer and educator Ioney Smallhorne, and artist, graphic designer and singer Honey Williams.

As a starting point the panel will discuss the subject of Jamaican Patois, the English-based creole language spoken primarily in Jamaica and among the Jamaican diaspora – exemplified by the poetry anthology Office Poems, published on the occasion of the exhibition and written in English by Lewisohn and translated into Patois by Joan Hutchinson.

Together, the speakers will talk about their own experience of patois and how it is linked more widely to subjects including identity, history, class, race and gender.


Cedar Lewisohn is an artist, writer and curator. He has worked on museum projects for institutions such as Tate Britain, Tate Modern and The British Council. He has published three books (Street Art, Tate 2008, Abstract Graffiti, Marrell, 2011, The Marduk Prophecy, Slimvolume, 2020) He has also edited and self-published numinous publications. Cedar curated the landmark Street Art exhibition at Tate Modern. He was the curator of the project “Outside The Cube” for HangarBicocca Foundation in Milan and in 2018 worked with Birmingham Museums on the project, Collecting Birmingham. He was curator of The Museum of London’s Dub London project and in 2020 was appointed as curator of Site Design for The Southbank Centre, London.

Honey Williams is a creative powerhouse, singer-songwriter, visual artist, designer, DJ, alt-choir director and educator. Honey’s art looks at decolonisation, identity, beauty, power, race and gender. The British Council invited Honey to be a Muralist in Kingston, Jamaica to honour the Windrush Generation. Honey won the Public Choice Award at the NAE Open 2019 for her piece ‘Big Black Truth’. Honey has created special commissions for the Bonington Gallery at the University of Nottingham. Honey has delivered many art and music-based workshops working with various organisations, in 2021, Streetwise Opera Nottingham asked Honey to produce a collaborative mural and weekly workshop for YMCA Nottingham with people who experience homelessness.

Honey’s recent work ‘Shrines’, a series of large-scale self-portraits and immersive afro-futuristic multimedia, live-art performance, and an autobiographical exploration of misogynoir and fatphobia. As a singer-songwriter, Honey has performed and collaborated with world-renowned recording artists, Klashnekoff, Roni Size, Natalie Duncan, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Jazz Jamaica. Honey was invited to perform at the 300th Anniversary of Karlsruhe, Germany. Honey is the Creative Director of an alt-soul choir called the Gang of Angels that has performed all over the UK. Honey is currently an Associate Artist at City Arts in, Nottingham, UK.

Ioney Smallhorne is a performance poet, writer, educator, with a MA in Creative Writing & Education, earned at Goldsmiths University. She’s a Hyson Green, Nottingham native. Her artistic practice is ignited by her Jamaican heritage, fuelled by the Black British experience, and smoulders with womanness.

Shortlisted for the Sky Arts/Royal Society of Literature fiction award 2021. Winner of the Writing East Midlands/Serendipity Black Ink Writing Competition 2021, longlisted for the Jerwood Fellowship 2017, short listed by Caribbean Small-Axe prize 2016.

As a Spoken Word Educator she works across the East Midlands encouraging people to harness the power of poetry and is the Co-lead facilitator for Gobs Poetry collective in Nottingham.

For 2022, Ioney was the New Art Exchange’s resident artist July-September, where she was developing her project, Jamaica and Her Daughters, a collection of poetry and prose. For 2023 she has received Arts Council funding to translate this project from page to performance, a work in progress sharing will be at New Art Exchange 23rd February. Her short story, First Flight, appears in the first Black British speculative fiction anthology, Glimpse, published by Peepal Tree Press and Ioney has recently been selected for the Apples & Snakes/Joseph Coelho/Otter Barry Books Diversifying Children’s Literature programme.