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In the spring term at Nottingham Trent University, students on NTU English module Black Writing in Britain were joined by poet and Caribbean literature and culture specialist Emily Zobel Marshall and novelist Jacqueline Crooks.

Emily Zobel Marshall

In March 2024, poet and Caribbean literature and culture specialist Emily Zobel Marshall visited NTU to read from and discuss her new poetry collection, Bath of Herbs.

Emily Zobel Marshall is a Reader at Leeds Beckett University, specialising in African and Caribbean folklore and literature of the African diaspora. Emily is also an expert in the role of trickster figures in the literatures and cultures of Africa and its Diaspora and has published widely in this area. Bath of Herbs is a vivid collection of poetry drawing on the poet’s life and history, including her childhood in rural Wales, mixed race identity, the British North, Martinique, illness, recovery, mourning, and family.

In this event held at NTU’s Clifton campus, Emily reads from and discusses her poetry, her literary inspiration from her grandfather, the writer Joseph Zobel, and answers questions from NTU English students on Jenni Ramone’s Black Writing in Britain module.

Jacqueline Crooks

In April 2024, students on NTU English module Black Writing in Britain were joined by novelist Jacqueline Crooks.

Jacqueline Crooks was born in Jamaica and moved to London as a child. Her short story collection, The Ice Migration, was longlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize in the Political Fiction category, and she has also been shortlisted for the Asham and Wasafiri New Writing awards. Her short story, ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2019. Her stories have appeared in Wasafiri, Virago, Granta and Mslexia. Fire Rush is her debut novel and it has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Jhalak Prize, and the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, and chosen as an Observer Best Debut Novel of the Year and a New Yorker best books of 2023. The narrative of Fire Rush takes place between late 1978 and early 1982. It is the story of Jamaican-British woman Yamaye, her friends, her search for her mother, and dub reggae.

In this event, Jacqueline Crooks reads from and discusses her novel in conversation with Jenni Ramone.

‘Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes new life, and new growth possible. It is that act of speech, of “talking back” that is no mere gesture of empty words, that is the expression of moving from object to subject, that is the liberated voice.’

– bell hooks, “Talking Back.” Discourse (1986), p. 128.

Talking Back interdisciplinary conference is an in-person conference that will be held in Nottingham, United Kingdom. It will form a prominent part of Transform, a city-wide collaborative and transformative endeavour involving major cultural organisations across Nottingham in summer 2024, led in partnership by New Art Exchange.

Reflecting on speech as a radical force against the systemic silencing of marginalised voices (hooks, 1989), we would like to invite proposals from writers, academics, creatives, and activists alike who are interested in exploring critical and creative approaches to decolonial activism, reclamations of culture and identity, and the transformative power of voice.

We invite contributions that explore marginalised voices, representations of dissent against western hegemony and rigid binaries, and resistance to silencing and structural oppression. We welcome critical and creative approaches to proposals from participants of all genders, racial groups, and faith groups.

The conference is free to attend and will take place at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, England on Tuesday 25th June 2024.

The conference will be followed by an open-mic poetry and networking event, centred on the theme of ‘talking back.’


Suggestions include and are not limited to:

This conference is made possible by generous funding and support provided by Bonington Gallery and the NTU’s Postcolonial and Global Studies Research Group.

For the third and final event from our Plants Beyond Empire series, Claire Reddleman and Sophie Fuggle will explore how plants have become aligned with human ideas about time, seasons and cycles.
Many plants have been co-opted into colonial and capitalist ways of understanding time. Reddleman and Fuggle will begin by taking up the case of the Ginkgo Biloba – often described as a ‘living fossil’ due to the fact it has remained unchanged for over 80 million years.

Drawing on Claire Reddleman’s research, and its arrival in Britain in the 18th Century, they will consider the ways in which the ginkgo has become an important presence in the British landscape. The speakers will then look at the castor bean, a very different plant, which has been used by humans for at least 24,000 years. In the late 19th century, the castor bean’s best-known product, castor oil, started to be used as a lubricant for car and aircraft engines. It enabled greater speed and fluidity, and joined fossil fuels in the service of capitalism’s quest for ever faster, ever more efficient movement. Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing and others call this era the ‘plantationocene‘, to identify how capitalism, colonialism and labour have, often destructively, shaped the natural world.

Free – open to everyone.

Book your ticket

Taking place online via YouTube.

Plants Beyond Empire is a new series of conversations starting in February 2024, as part of our Formations programme, in partnership with the Postcolonial and Global Studies Research Group. The events will explore a range of creative and community interventions aimed at understanding complex human-plant entanglements within postcolonial Britain and beyond.

Photo credit – dendrologista by Claire Reddleman. Map credit – 1725 Kaart van de provincie Utrecht, François Halma, collection of Universiteitsbibliotheek, Utrecht

Please note this is a rescheduled event that is now streaming online only.

Coinciding with The Art Schools of the East Midlands exhibition, join us for a free event that explores the role of British art schools in shaping fashion, music and club culture over the last 40-50 years.

We will be joined by esteemed writer and curator Paul Gorman, who will discuss his work’s engagement with the significant role played by art schools, their educators and attendees in the broader culture.

Join us as we explore this past and consider it against the wider influence of the notion of the ‘art school’ on other forms of cultural and creative production.

Photo of Paul Gorman by Toby Amies.

Re-sensitised Symposium re-visits, reflects and re-lives the last seven years of the Sensitive Skin festival.

It brings together a diverse group of artists, all of whom have been part of the festival since its inception in 2000, pondering on the question ‘How has Sensitive Skin evolved over the past seven years and how has Live Art and Performance practice developed during that period?’

Offering talks, presentations, lectures and an “artists in conversation’ panel throughout the day, the event will culminate in a celebration closing this year’s festival, including two performances from Rajni Shah and Harminder Singh Judge.


Angela Bartram

Robin Deacon

Sheila Ghelani

Manick Govinda


Jordan McKenzie        

Daniel Belasco Rogers

Sketches and doodles by art and design staff at Nottingham Trent University are to be shown as part of a major exhibition celebrating the practice of drawing.

Drawing Out will feature hundreds of illustrations by both academic and support staff, which will be combined to create a huge ‘drawing wall’ for the event from 21 April to 9 May.

Everybody from the Dean of the School of Art and Design, right through to academics and support staff are being invited to contribute to the exhibition, being staged in the university’s Bonington and 1851 Galleries.

The event will also feature a curated show of work by artists based in the School, which will attempt to look at drawing in its widest sense.This will range from working drawings for set and costume design, to illustrations that use new laser-cutting technology as a drawing tool; and a series of illustrations produced for publication in international newspapers, to photographic responses to archived drawings in the university’s international lace collection.

During the summer of 2008, ten disabled actors from Teesside University were asked to explore their own day-to-day movements: dancing, cycling, cleaning, walking, running and eating.  The resulting work, Motion Disabled, uses motion capture and 3D animation to create a kinetic connection with the human form – beautiful everyday, virtual movements highlighting all the intricacies and uniqueness of each person’s physicality.

Nottingham Trent University is proud to present this exciting installation by Simon McKeown, which enables the viewer to engage and explore ideas of normality and difference.

Wanderlust speaks of the places, real, imagined and metaphorical, that we travel to through our practice as artists, designers, thinkers and educators.  It invokes the desire to wander exploring the world as we find it, often straying from the path and discovering a new route.

This exhibition is a snapshot survey of experimental practice across the range of disciplines in the School of Art & Design. The works featured demonstrate the complex process of creation undertaken by practitioner / researchers within the School community including academic, technical and support staff.  Wanderlust is curated as a dialogic space, where varied and diverse practices are placed in proximity to each other, opening up possibilities of new discourses, collaborations and projects.  A series of events will tease and test out these possibilities starting with the private view on Wednesday 12 January 2011.

Audio/visual invites conversations about the significance and impact of visual communication (art, design, imagery, media, advertising, maps) and audio communication through music, but also the impact of language choice, and conversation. Events in this segment foreground meaning conveyed by music and art, and invite attention to global artists working in experimental ways with sound and the visual arts.

The Formations programme is an online series of free, public events led by the Postcolonial Studies Centre at Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with Bonington Gallery. The series foregrounds the work of underrepresented writers, academics, artists, intellectuals and activists worldwide who address inequalities of all kinds, often bringing people from different places and working practices together for important conversations.

Explore the craft of film making with Andrew Graves

Friday 6 May 2022, 7 – 8 pm

Ever wondered how you might increase your understanding of cinema? This one-off workshop will offer you the chance to examine films and their content more clearly, giving you the tools to analyse movies and their messages. Including plenty of clips, case studies, and discussion, we will deconstruct imagery, character and visual metaphor affording you the opportunity to appreciate Hollywood and beyond with a deeper understanding of the film making craft.

This workshop is online via Microsoft Teams, spaces are limited.

Listening with our feet… Kate McMillan in Conversation with Sophie Fuggle

Wednesday 11 May 2022, 7 – 8 pm

In this online event, artist Kate McMillan will be talking about various projects exploring the postcolonial legacies of former penal colonies, prison islands alongside the ongoing use of extraterritorial detention by countries such as Australia and the United States. We will be talking about of the notion of ‘listening with my feet’ – listening as a decolonial tool on contested ground, and the influence of indigenous thinking on McMillan growing up in Australia. We will also explore McMillan’s collaborative work with Cat Hope considering ways in which systemic silencing of those both displaced and detained as part of colonial and neocolonial modes of government might be listened to differently.

Watch this event on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

An evening of Sound and Conversation with The Venus Bushfires

Wednesday 15 June 2022, 7 – 8.30 pm

Join us for an evening of music with The Venus Bushfires, interluded with a conversation with Bethan Evans.

The Venus Bushfires is a creative collective of one and many, of which Helen Epega is the only constant member. The Nigerian-British singer-songwriter, composer and performance artist explores the ethereal sounds of the ‘hang’, the power of the talking drum and the quirks of children’s toys cross-fertilising multiple visual and musical styles.

This event will take place at Bonington Gallery.

Watch this event on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Reading: This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

Friday 24 June 2022, 7 – 8 pm

Join us to hear Leone Ross read from her latest novel, This One Sky Day, in discussion with Bethan Evans.

Leone Ross is a novelist, short story writer, editor/copy-editor, and reviewer of fiction. She was born in Coventry England, and when she was six years old migrated with her mother to Jamaica, where she was raised and educated. After graduating from the University of the West Indies in 1990, Ross returned to England to complete a Master’s degree in International Journalism at City University, in London, where she now lives. Ross’s writing is genre-bending and world-tilting, revelling in the magical realist and surrealist.

10 randomly selected people signed up to the event will receive a free copy of This One Sky Day. This event will be online via YouTube Live.

Watch this event on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Destiny Ekaragha once said that Black British filmmakers were not expected to make films about ordinary family stories and everyday things – like love. This segment foregrounds the transformative nature of the everyday feeling of love in art, writing, and research, while it also helps us to think about how the concept of love is defined, understood, and restricted, if love is understood and represented in limited ways. The free, online events in this segment consider the expression, meaning, contexts, and impact of love by exploring the work of artists, writers and thinkers, emphasising questions of gender, sexuality, race, and culture.

The segment begins with a conversation between Eve Makis and Young Adult fiction writer Nicola Garrard, whose novel about love and canal journeys 29 Locks was recently published by HopeRoad, one of the publishers that we work with very often at the Postcolonial Studies Centre. Later in the segment, we are very excited to welcome Ferdinand Dennis to NTU. His on-campus event with Black Writing in Britain students and book signing will be recorded for a special film event for Formations. Other events in the segment include Formations ‘visits’ to Becky Cullen’s WRAP (Writing, Reading and Pleasure) to join her event with writer Musa Okwonga. In addition, Tom Lockwood-Moran hosts a fascinating book reading and discussion event on the Power of Queer Caribbean Love with Indo-Trinidadian poet Shivanee Ramlochan.

The Formations programme is an online series of free, public events led by the Postcolonial Studies Centre at Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with Bonington Gallery. The series foregrounds the work of underrepresented writers, academics, artists, intellectuals and activists worldwide who address inequalities of all kinds, often bringing people from different places and working practices together for important conversations.

Young Adult fiction writer Nicola Garrard in conversation with Eve Makis

Tuesday 1 February 2022, 6.30  7.30 pm

This free event is a must for anyone who reads Young Adult fiction or has an interest in writing for young people. Nicola Garrard will be talking about her Young Adult novel, 29 Locks, an unflinching depiction of urban teen life in London. The book was shortlisted in the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize and the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition. She will be reading from the book and answering audience questions. Hosted by Eve Makis.

You can purchase Nicola Garrard’s newly published novel online.

Watch on Bonington Gallery’s YouTube channel.

Research Seminar: Jennifer Leetsch on Love and Space in Contemporary African Diasporic Women’s Writing

Wednesday 9 February 2022, 1 – 2 pm

Formations is joining NTU’s English Research Seminar series to welcome researcher Jennifer Leetsch who will talk about her recently published book, Love and Space in Contemporary African Diasporic Women’s Writing.

The book combines careful literary analyses with in-depth discussions of cultural and socio-historical contexts by considering the world-making powers of the old novel form in the third millennium as well as the formative effect of new digital media.

Email Jenni Ramone to reserve your free place. You’ll be sent a link to the Teams meeting and further instructions on how to join.

The Power of Queer Caribbean Love: A Reading and Discussion Event with Shivanee Ramlochan

Wednesday 16 February 2022, 6 – 7.30 pm

Bonington Gallery and NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre warmly invite all queer lovers, and allied others, to a belated valentine date: diving the depths with Indo-Trinidadian poet Shivanee Ramlochan. The evening will include readings from Ramlochan’s striking first collection, Everyone Knows I am a Haunting (2017), plus exclusive new writing, and a discussion contextualising queerness and literary Caribbeanness, with NTU literary researcher Thomas Lockwood-Moran (Midlands4Cities-funded doctoral candidate). This discussion seeks to invoke public engagement, which will be heartily welcomed, to empower an exploration of queer love —love of others and crucial self-love. Never avoiding the harsh global realities of oppression and its traumas experienced by queer persons, always multiplied for queer persons of colour, this event will consider the literary throb of Ramlochan’s queer heart as a stalwart shield against colonial oppressions past, present and into the future.

The first 20 Eventbrite sign-ups for this event will receive a free copy of Ramlochan’s stunning poetic spectre Everyone Knows I am a Haunting (2017).

All Eventbrite sign-ups will receive a 20% discount code for Ramlochan’s poetry collection via Pepal Tree Press.

Watch on Bonington Gallery’s YouTube channel.

Creative Writing Workshop: How do I write thee…? – A workshop on writing ‘Love’ with Nora Nadjarian. Led by Eve Makis

Wednesday 23 February 2022, 6.30 – 8 pm

Let us find the ways in which fresh perspectives can make love intimate or silly, surprising or sexy, romantic or sarcastic in our writing. In this generative workshop we will be looking at examples of contemporary poetry and flash fiction that will dispel any clichés and energise rehashed ideas you may have on the subject. You will be given prompts to write your unique pieces.

Open to all skill levels.

Creative Writing Workshop: How do I write thee…? (Part 2) – A workshop on writing ‘Love’ with Nora Nadjarian. Led by Eve Makis

Tuesday 5 April 2022, 6.30 – 8 pm

Back by popular demand, Nora Nadjarian will be leading a second workshop on how to write about ‘love’. As before, you will be encouraged to approach the subject in fresh and surprising ways, and given prompts to write your unique pieces. The generative workshop will give insight into contemporary poetry and short fiction and energise rehashed ideas you may have on the subject of “love”.

Open to all skill levels, and limited to 20 participants.

Empowerment Doll-making workshop with artist Rita Kappia

Saturday 19 March, 10:30 am – 12 noon

Following Rita’s hugely popular [online] doll-making workshop in 2021, we are very pleased to welcome Rita back to deliver an in person workshop. In this workshop, you can make your own Empowerment Doll using a range of common materials. Advance registration is required and all materials will be provided on the day. The workshop is open to all, and may be of particular interest to young people age 8-12; younger children supported by an adult; or adults and older children with an interest in dollmaking, textiles, fabrics, or art. All children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Places are limited to 20 participants.

Ferdinand Dennis on The Black and White Museum

Thursday 24 March 2022, 6 – 7.30 pm

In this free, livestreamed event, Formations audiences will be able to watch critically acclaimed author Ferdinand Dennis‘ visit to NTU English students from the ‘Black Writing in Britain’ module. Ferdinand will read from his newly published collection of short stories, The Black and White Museum, and discuss his work, life, and career.

From Ferdinand Dennis, the critically acclaimed author of the novel Duppy Conqueror, comes The Black and White Museum, a collection of both highly personal and universal short stories. These at their heart reveal the emotional drama of faded love, the loss of individual and shared memory and the wistful longing for home. His stories powerfully portray the black presence in post-Windrush London, with its hurtling gentrification and everyday racism. Ferdinand’s characters gain wisdom and maturity with age but become powerless, as they are less able to change the course of their lives. For some there is the temptation of a return “home” but home, like London, has also moved on and is not the paradise of their memories.

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

WRAP Live! with Musa Okwonga

Tuesday 29 March 2022, 7 – 8.30 pm

Musa Okwonga joins Dr Becky Cullen for a discussion about his path from an Eton scholarship, Oxford and the Law, to being a Berlin-based writer with a passion for football. Musa will also be talking about poetry, music, and his fabulous new novel In the End, It Was All About Love. Published by Rough Trade, the book is our WRAP spring title and February’s Notts TV Book Club choice. They’ll also be talking about Musa’s football blog and podcast Stadio and Striking Out, his book collaboration with Arsenal legend Ian Wright

Watch WRAP Live with Musa Okwonga on YouTube.