Breaking Barriers, Empowering Artists

Art Bridge II 

The Symposium

We are pleased to announce that the Odyssey Symposium is now available to watch online: 

You can view the Catalogue of the exhibition here 

You can view images from the Project on our Facebook page here 

We still have a number of Symposium packs available which contain a data DVD (containing the catalogue, photos from the project, the information pack and a copy of the symposium film), postcards of artwork, a symposium sticker and other information from the day.

If you would like to request one of these packs or just a DVD please call the office on 01452 863855 or email 

    Odyssey Touring Exhibition

    Both our online students and studio participants have worked incredibly hard to produce some fantastic work on the theme of Odyssey. Their work is now touring Gloucestershire, visiting a number of great venues- we hope you can visit! 

    St Nicholas Church, Gloucester, 2nd - 6th October 2016
    Hardwick Gallery, Cheltenham, 8th - 24th November 2016
    The Roses, Tewkesbury, 20th December 2016 - 18th January 2017
    Wilson Gallery, Cheltenham, 20th January - 2nd March 2017 

    About the Course

    Art Shape has received generous funding from Arts Council England to run Art Bridge II: a program of creative development for artists who face disabling barriers and wish to develop or progress their artistic career. The course comprises of an online course, which includes content from the studio sessions as well as additional content.

    The online course will:

    • Give you support to develop your creative practice through access to a mentor
    • Provide you with online resources and discussion groups
    • Provide you with Webinars and filmed artist talks from the studio sessions
    • Help you to build your online presence
    • Give you the opportunity to produce work for a themed touring exhibition
    • Allow you access to other online courses for your professional development
    • Help you to extend your professional networks
    •  What do I need to do this course?
      • Access to a computer (Eliademy is not supported on Internet Explorer and works best with Google Chrome) 
      • A scanner and/or a smart phone/camera
      • A variety of Art materials (Specific materials will be listed in the session content)

      Accessing the Content

      When you start on the online course you will be invited by email and will receive updates every time some new information is added, for example when your fellow students contribute to the discussion with a comment or new content is added. That way you can keep up to date with anything happening on the course.

      If you are new to online learning, don't worry. It might take a bit of getting used to but your mentor and Art Shape staff will be regularly available to guide and support you. This course can be worked through at your own pace so there are no deadlines for completing tasks, however it is good to keep your momentum going once you start and we will help you by being in regular contact.

      You will be able to become actively involved in a private online group where you can reflect on your work and engage with other students to share ideas and expand on your knowledge. This is done through the discussion section on this website, sometimes the tutor will pose questions to you and the other students- so keep checking this section!

      We aim to make this course accessible to those facing barriers of any kind. If you need specific help, we will speak to you before beginning the course to identify how we can help you access the content and any other specific needs you may have.


      To apply and for further information contact Harriet or Amy on:

      T: 01452 863855


    Art Bridge I

    “A way forward for talented and emerging artists facing disabling barriers.”

    Our work and research identified a gap in support available to promising, emerging and potentially professional artists who face disabling barriers to progress. In response to this, we designed an innovative pilot project, Art Bridge, which we delivered between autumn 2012 and spring 2015.

    Art Bridge offered 30 emerging and promising artists with disabling barriers to mainstream arts education 24 months of artistic and professional development and exhibitions in mainstream arts venues. 15 artists engaged with the programme based in Gloucester and 15 more engaged with an online programme. The online provision was developed through our research into innovative and enabling technology which is on-going and has allowed us to develop other online courses such as Leading Creativity in Social Care and Inclusive Arts Leadership.

    Exhibition at The Wilson Gallery

    Art bridge aimed to deal with issues which may limit participation in mainstream arts training by offering flexibility in terms of time, fully accessible facilities (physical and virtual) and low financial costs supported by an access fund. The programme developed critical discourse and good practice; supported artists working together; assisted networking and building of new connections and relationships and offered new opportunities for professional development and creative engagement.


    Work by Zoe Partington

    During the programme, Art Bridge participants were offered the opportunity to work on a commission for the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind). The RNIB Pear’s centre in Coventry (specialist centre for children with complex needs and visual impairments) wrote a project brief for the commission of work to be shown in their centre. This opportunity afforded valuable experience for the participants to learn how to fulfil a professional commission, they were supported through the process by artist Zoe Partington.

    Student work for the RNIB

    "We were delighted with the results! The artwork is accessible to children who rely on senses other than vision as they are multi-sensory. Children and young people living with us love exploring and interacting with the artwork"

    The Art Bridge programme included:

    • Training and guidance from professional artists and exhibitors
    • Supported information, advice and guidance in face-to-face sessions and on-line
    • Professional practice advice, including on exhibition curating and marketing
    • Workshop opportunities and studio space
    • Peer support through networking and on-line communication
    • Collaborative working with established artists, including a residency from an established disabled artist and establishment of an exhibition apprentice post who has also faced barriers to inclusion
    • Opportunities to showcase and help sell artists work

    Work by Bekki Hand

     Work produced by participants and supporting artists toured throughout the county from November 2014 until February 2015, The Traces Exhibition.

    The emerging artists held a number of Meet and Greet days during their tour where they could share their unique and personal journeys by giving visitors an insight into their practice. They welcome you to come and view their work by viewing their online gallery on this website or by downloading their brochure below. At the culmination of the programme, the artists were supported to form their own artist collective, they continue to make work and show together, operating from a studio space in Cheltenham.

    video brochure.pdf

    Traces exhibition: Visitor feedback


    “A great deal of talent is clearly visible within these works.”

    “Congratulations to all those who have exhibited here. Very impressed by the variety of the work. Obviously all participants have gained a great deal from the course and the work reflects this.”

    “Inspiring, thought provoking and original. Great work, looking forward to the next exhibition!”

    “Congratulations on a very successful display of very talented artists. Very enjoyable.”

    “Such an amazing, wide ranging exhibition from a talented group of artists, who have invested so much in these exhibits. Most rewarding.”

    “Wonderful and inspiring. Very diverse and some raw and brave work.”

    “A great project, long live creativity!”

    “I can feel the passion within all this work and sense of a group”

    Exhibition at The Lansdown Gallery

    Participant Feedback:

    "I've been really grateful for this opportunity. Art is an amazing thing for people to do - it distracts you from your illness and gives you something positive to focus on. It's changed my whole life"

    "The course came at a time in my life where I needed structure and support to develop my creativity. I was able to learn new skills and techniques, with the added support and nurturing that, I believe would not be present in a usual foundation course."

    "It has shown me that I can do more than I realised and encouraged me to experiment with different mediums."

    "The group concept, encouraging each other was incredible and has given me the confidence. I still need to work on my confidence, but so much strength has come from the group."

    "They (Art Shape) opened up new ways of working and helped us loosen up rigid approaches. Their approach was gentle and not overt and they helped us to gain clearer ways of looking at things. Their communication about technique was amazing; the developed our confidence and started us thinking about a variety of thought processes about our work"

    Work by Joanne Benson

    With thanks to all of the Art Bridge Project advisors, partners and participating artists:

  • Zoe Partington (Lead artist with lived experience of disability and inclusion expert)
  • Paul McKee (The Wilson Gallery and Arts officer for Cheltenham Borough Council)
  • Sue Billington (Manager and Curator at Deep Space Studios, Cheltenham)
  • Lucy Sharp (Managing Director - Art Shape)
  • Caroline Tate (Project Manager Art Shape and disabled artist)
  • Stephanie Wills (Art Shape Intern)
  • Helen Rimmer (Project Manager Prema)
  • Harriet West (Art Shape Project Manager)
  • Joanne Callaghan (Disabled artist)
  • Jo Leahy (Stroud Valleys Art Space)
  • David Richmond (Director of Art & Power Bristol)
  • Nina Kirkwood (AS tutor and artist)
  • Pippa Tideman (Artist and fine art lecturer on the foundation course at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College)
  • Sue Austin (Artistic Director of Freewheeling)
  • Dominic Thomas (Freelance artist and community arts co-ordinator)
  • Kirsty Limburn (Art Shape Project Manager)
  • Alison Smith (Workshop leader)
  • Mike Carter (Workshop leader)
  • Simon Aeppli (Workshop leader)
  • Amanda Eady (Workshop leader)
  • Mark Unsworth (Workshop leader)
  • Steve Smith (Workshop leader)
  • Art and Power
  • Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • Gdance
  • National Star College and University of Gloucestershire
  • New Brewery Arts
  • Taurus Crafts
  • The Wilson Gallery
  • The Lansdown Gallery
  • The Churches Conservation Trust
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind
  • Adult Education Gloucestershire
  • Coaching for Creatives
  • The Learning Curve
  • Work by Mike Carter

    And with thanks to all of our volunteers:

  • Neil Cocks
  • Mary Brazil
  • Angeline Cobie
  • Milan Carney
  • Lorna Wilcox
  • Courtenay Warren
  • Claudia Walters
  • Georgina Sumner
  • Katie Stephens
  • Leanne Burnham-Richards
  • Lizzie Minchener