Announcing the NMG Development Programme Bursary Recipients
Announcing the NMG Development Programme Bursary Recipients



New Midland Group is delighted to announce 12 bursary recipients supported by NMG Development Programme, funded by Arts Council England. This opportunity will support a group of practitioners and creatives to broaden their understanding of artistic and interdisciplinary research and development, production and collaboration. 

NMG Development Programme R&D Bursaries:

Tom Harris (Nottingham)

Tom Harris’ practice is centred around experimental ways to creating sound and music, his methods are informed from a technical point of view through my work as a sound engineer, using analogue technologies and a tactile approach.

Tom will develop a research project that explores ‘deep listening practices’, challenging conventional methods of publishing recorded sound. Inviting sound artists from the midlands to contribute exclusive recordings to a ‘listening space’ event format, which would connect artists with audiences in physical spaces.

Seema Mattu (Birmingham)

Seema Mattu is a fluid Valmiki artist, whose practice is framed as a theme park – known as SEEMAWORLD.

Containing various experiences arranged within a unifying setting, SEEMAWORLD centres around LGBTQ+, non-specific and othered culture, where Seema builds vessels and portals – giving viewers access to the realms she constructs.

Through the welding of both 2D and 3D mixed-media, themes explored include: the system of caste, queer sorcery and gender taxonomy. Seema looks to centre her R&D project around the depths, history and society of Handsworth (Birmingham) – with the intent to use the area as a site to create gameified, world-built artwork around.

Sean Roy Parker (Derbyshire)

Sean Roy Parker’s practice studies the lifecycle of materials, complexities of civic responsibility, and collaboration as problem-solving. It centres around the concept of the ‘slow apocalypse’ – the cultural denial of the reality of the climate crisis – and a desperation to find alternative ways of living in it.

“I’m grateful to receive this bursary, and look forward to spending dedicated time researching traditional and contemporary medicinal and practical uses of abundant (non)native and invasive species of plant life in the grounds of DARP, where I’m currently living. My work is driven by low-tech and no-tech methodologies that support wider research on democratising art practices and finding new visual language in the chaos of late-stage capitalism.” – Sean Roy Parker.

NMG Development Programme Collaborative Project Bursaries, in partnership with Artcore:

Lisa Selby (@bluebaglife) & Dudley (Nottingham)

Lisa Selby and Dudley focus on representation and creative practice in changing public perceptions around addiction and incarceration, helping to connect people who are affected by these issues. They will use practice to care for themselves, to then help others to process, reflect and make – making trauma count in society.

Roo Dhissou & Sahjan Kooner (Birmingham & Wolverhampton)

Roo Dhissou explores the relationships and connections we have with one another as well as how we formulate a sense of self. Through her arts practice she investigates how multiplicity in culture is conducive to the concept of belonging and space. She is interested in facilitating discourse around race, gender and social class and the performability of these social structures. Using playful techniques, her current work reimagines cultural experience through gestalt expression, participatory performance, shared practices, gifting and attachments in found objects. Dhissou was the recipient of the prestigious Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest(2019), AIS Award (2020) and Tate Liverpool Artists Award (2020). She currently works with Ikon as a Research Assistant for Ikon in the 1990s funded by the Paul Mellon Centre and will later be embarking on a fully funded Phd with M4C UKRI. This year she will be showing with Coventry Biennial, Niru Ratnam and more recently has had work acquired for New Art Gallery Walsall.

“Hello [I’m Sahjan Kooner]! I make video installations which explore memory, race, identity and material violence in relationship to place. I have been increasingly exploring ideas around intergenerational memory and experience in the Indian diaspora, recent works have been constructing multifaceted narratives that explore migratory relationships.

I often use my own life and familial experience of migration as a point of departure. I am interested in how migration shifts, morphs and embodies subjective experiences in peoples and non-peoples. I see migration as a technology in itself, a technology that moves, disrupts and mutates breaking free of representational violence.

Using testimony from individuals and groups alongside research from diverse sources, I produce work which has an expansive approach. This approach draws distinct connections between disparate locations and ideas as a way to complicate the readings of power and time that govern us.”

Matt Woodham & Benjamin Shirley-Quirk (Nottingham)

Matt Woodham and Benjamin Shirley-Quirk work at the intersections of arts, craft, science, and engineering. They create immersive environments that synthesise the abstract and uncanny – making instruments and apparatus to shed a light on system dynamics – with the aim to ignite both an intuitive and intellectual understanding.

Together, they are developing an open source software and hardware platform for audio/visual/kinetic installations, a collaboration which began during the exhibition ‘Sensing Systems’ at Bonington Gallery in 2020.

NMG Development Programme Production Bursaries:

Gabriella Davis (Stoke-on-Trent)

Blue Italian is a project exploring Italian Migration to Stoke-on-Trent, the way the contours of this experience have shaped lives of first- and second-generation Italians who’ve grown up in the city, and how, as a migrant in the midlands, one goes about finding community when you can’t even find the right kind of tomatoes.

Illustrated with 8mm home video footage from the 60s, ripped from a VHS from the 2000s alongside audio recordings and clips from commercials, radio stations, video games and tv shows, Blue Italian centers around how concurrent, conflicting, romanticized yet soprano-fied notions of Italians have developed through dominant popular culture.

Charlie Dean (Nottingham)

Charlie Dean is a Nottingham-based creative and director at Gasleak Mountain, an art space located at One Thoresby Street. Charlie works with performance, sound, and video to explore the prescriptive body.

Supported by a NMG Production Bursary Charlie will create a film about restriction, human contradiction, disembodiment, anti-speciesism, and queerness. Central character Dame Lady of the Manner is a woman against all that is wild and unrestricted. Costuming, set design and choreography will be inspired by Medieval beliefs, theorising that human posture was a sign of being more like God than animal.

NMG Development Programme Production Bursary, in partnership with University of Lincoln:

Rebecca Jarman (Lincolnshire)

“My art works, and this project specifically, aim to address societal instances of misogyny and sexism, using art as a visual means of working against these issues and sparking conversations around them. My latest art piece ‘Alsexa’ explores the gendered stereotypes that supposedly sexless technologies can embody. Completing this work I felt that it was only the beginning of a productive conversation around these issues and in this project with NMG I’ll extend my feminist analysis of women and technology beyond virtual assistants.”

Image credit: Roo Dhissou, Pani, 2021-22, Still from film.