A journey of self-expression and community spirit through creativity with Project Art Works

One collective of neurodiverse artists and makers, Project Art Works celebrates different forms of art through collaborative practice with, for and by neurominorities. Shortlisted for the Turner Prize, members of the collective discuss their love for creativity.

Art by Claire Matthews

Film to sketches, exhibitions to utilising nature to create art, Project Art Works is a group of artists unlike any other.

With a studio in Hastings and a temporary studio created for off-site projects or workshops, the collective of neurodiverse artists and makers, alongside paid and unpaid caregivers, Project Art Works is a space where people can come to release their inner creativity and communicate through art.

MATERIALS

Creating striking pieces inspired by nature, Claire Matthews has been part of the collective for seven years, reaping the rewards of being in a creative environment. 

Annis, a lead facilitating artist at Project Art Works, works collaboratively with Claire, who enthuses: “Claire enjoys the experience of creating art, using different materials, sounds and textures in her work. Claire has a conversation with the materials that she uses.”

From creating paintings using flowers as a replacement for paintbrushes, creating objects to make music, and utilising bright purples and pink acrylic paints in her work, Claire – and the artwork of other members of the collective – is regularly shown in exhibitions.

Another member of the collective, Neville Jermyn, also takes what he loves and creates it into art. Animals and natural history, Neville’s style is very different to Claire preferring to create with line drawings before completing the surrounding image.

A member of Project Art Works since 2007, Neville has an impressive back catalogue. Most impressive of all, is the unique methods in which all artists create art.

EXHIBITIONS

Ellen Prebble, another member of the collective, thrives on having her artwork showcased during exhibitions.

Ellen Prebble

Choosing to paint on a small scale before developing pieces to larger formats, Ellen’s use of bright colours and depictions of cartoons have been well received. 

Ellen explains: “There was a lovely offer to buy some of my work; I have had offers on several of my paintings. 

“This makes me feel happy. I have painted the evolution of Charmander from Pokémon, I love everything about Pokémon. I usually use paint brushes, acrylic paints and canvases and I sometimes draw.”

Having done some art at college, joining the collective allowed Ellen the opportunity to connect with other likeminded people in a space that is welcoming and Ellen – like all the artists – feels appreciated.

“The space is perfect, there is enough room to move around and I have my own exhibition in one section of the room,” Ellen adds.

Connor Ashley

Ellen also enthuses on the brilliance of working alongside other artists, such as Connor Ashley who creates bright, bold abstract paintings. 

“There is no right way to be creative or an artist, if you just start there will be a domino effect,” Annis advises. 

Together, the quartet are just some of the fantastic artists working together independently and in a team within the collective – and their art is going to new heights. 

TURNER PRIZE

Not only do the artists feel recognised and represented in the collective, but Project Art Works have been highlighted and celebrated on a new level after being shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2021.

Recognising the practice within Project Art Works to further raises awareness of the dynamic and extraordinary contribution neurominorities make to society, art and culture.

This year marks the first time the Turner Prize jury has selected a shortlist consisting entirely of artist collectives. Shining a light on Project Art Works, being part of the shortlist further raises awareness of disabilities to tackle misconceptions or attitudes about what people can or cannot do. 

“Art is unique to each person’s expression,” Annis explains. 

“Everyone is creative, the mark of an individual is made through art. It may take a long time to find out how you want to work.”

For more information or to get involved with the collective, visit Project Art Works’ website here.