Next Sheffield speaker

Sharna Jackson AKA. Artistic Director at Site Gallery

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January 25, 8:30am • Site Gallery • part of a series on Surreal

We are back in January 2019, and what a superb start to kick off the season.

Sharna Jackson is the Artistic Director at Site Gallery, Sheffield’s international contemporary art space, specialising in moving image, new media and performance. She is also a children’s author, her debut novel High-rise Mystery will be released in April 2019. She is on the board of Sheffield Doc/Fest, Upswing Aerial Arts and New Writing North in addition to being a member of BAFTA’s Children’s and Learning and New Talent committees and the Children’s Media Conference advisory board.

We will be gathering at the stunning and recently expanded Site Gallery, Sheffield’s international contemporary art space, specialising in moving image, new media and performance.

‘After a period of closure for exciting expansion work, Site reopened in September 2018, promising to deliver a programme of even more excellent international contemporary art to even more people in Sheffield.

Exhibitions at Site are always thought-provoking and immersive, often fun and interactive, and they tend to keep us coming back time and again throughout their run. Its talks and events are a great way of getting even more stuck into the ideas explored by each exhibition, while its annual residency season offers the rare chance to nosey in on contemporary art in the making.’ – Our fave Places

As a bonus for all attendees, Site Gallery will open its exhibition space early for a private viewing after Sharna Jackson’s talk. It is the final weekend of the current show Liquid Crystal Display: ‘Historically associated with mystical healing, gazing and alchemical practices, crystals are now prevalent in technology including computers, mobile phones and state-of-the-art medical equipment. At the heart of a laser-beam is a vibrating crystal, touch-screen technologies, and the optical cables that keep us connected, are all enabled by this extraordinary material substance.’

Breakfast will be sponsored by Site Gallery and supplied by Kollective Coffee and Kitchen. Owners Hayley, Tom and Owen formerly of The Grind Café (Kelham Island), Thyme Café (Broomhill) and Home Sweet Home (NQ, Manchester) are proud to present their first independent venture, located at Site Gallery.

Locally sourced and globally inspired, with a focus on colour, excitement and sustainability.

See you there!

Sharna Jackson AKA. Artistic Director at Site Gallery

“Illustrators make worlds and tell stories, and they do it to their own rules. That’s something illustrators need to remember.”

Geo Law AKA Doodle Club has been drawing since childhood. Whilst his parents were busy running a restaurant, him and his sister would draw, inspired by cartoons, comics and video games. Instead of toys he had pens and paper and inspiration came from the world around him.

“I’m sure all of us miss being kids, where you could create and make your work without anyone asking you ‘what’s the point?’”

A childhood spent drawing led to a degree in Graphic Design and whilst at university, Geo found new interests and dipped into different worlds. Avant garde hip hop, screen printing and anime joined the growing list of influences. Another influence was good grades. Keen to impress his tutors, Geo was creating work he thought they wanted to see.

“I was chasing a grade and I didn’t realise I could create something more about me than the reaction I wanted.”

After graduation Geo shunned London for returning home to Sheffield where he worked three jobs and drew whenever he could. He worked with kids, helping them design and create their own t-shirts.

He marketed his artwork on MySpace, then Instagram, and some big brands got in touch. Disney, Facebook, Google are just some of the companies which have flown Geo across the world so he can doodle on their walls.

Geo’s doodles aren’t planned, and they’re rarely in colour. He doesn’t use colour because it ruins the flow of doodling.
He takes inspiration from the people he meets and the conversations he hears in the buildings he is doodling.

“Your work is your lifestyle and then your lifestyle allows you to meet some incredible people.”

In 2018 Geo set up Doodle Club in Sheffield and more than 100 people turned up at the first event to enjoy drinking and drawing. Doodle Club soon went international when Disney asked Geo to doodle the wall of their illustration studios. Despite 900 illustrators in the building, Disney couldn’t find anyone to draw a mural on the wall. As well as seeing some incredible pieces of Disney history, Geo hosted a Doodle Club for Disney’s illustrators.

When he’s not travelling to doodle murals for some of the world’s largest companies, Geo works with students at Sheffield Hallam University, and Doodle Club runs regularly. Now nine years into his career, he has a few words of wisdom for Sheffield’s creatives.

“My final bit of advice is just be you, if you try and create work that pleases a certain crowd you’ll get found out pretty quickly.”

Words by Molly McGreevy.

Geo Law AKA. Doodle Club

Geo Law is a freelance illustrator and doodler based in Sheffield and as jet-setter has worked on creative projects for the likes of Facebook, Kiehl’s, Microsoft, Google, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dunkin’ Donuts and Whole Foods to name a few. 

Geo’s blend of artwork ranges from doodling murals onto walls with Posca paint pens to creating vibrant colourful illustrations of characters and worlds using his iPad Pro all thanks to his love of comic books, cartoons, anime, video games and hip-hop.

As well as freelance work, Geo teaches part-time at Sheffield Hallam University instructing on creative modules for Graphic Design & Illustration as well as Digital Media Production. 

Geo also runs the Doodle Club, a monthly event held in Sheffield where he leads an after work hours drink and drawing evening where special guests are invited to run workshops and the guests take part with doodling on worksheets.

For October’s CreativeMornings Sheffield, the city’s creatives gathered for a sneak peek of a-ten, Neepsend’s new co-working and events space. Not a hub, not an incubator, just a beautiful space for people to work. There’s private offices, a shared space and a promise of a great playlist at all times.

Ahead of the space’s official opening, CreativeMornings has taken over for CM Honesty. To share her story and share some honest truths is Annalisa Toccara. Self-publisher,  social entrepreneur and founder of Our Mel, a leading social enterprise dedicated to exploring cultural identity, Black history and what it means to be a person of colour in Britain today.

“I’ve had to work hard to be the woman I am.”

Annalisa is honest about her battle with mental health issues. She self-published her first book, Lipstick: A Woman’s Best Form Of Defence, to help other women struggling with depression and self-esteem issues. Something Annalisa herself has strived to overcome herself.

As well as writing books to help other women, Annalisa organised Sheffield’s Black Lives Matter march in 2016. A march that stirred up a passion for art, social justice, and cohesion. Passions that soon became Our Mel.

“The motivation behind Our Mel is that representation matters, stories matter and history matters”

With name inspiration coming from melanin, a pigment found in everyone’s skin. And Yorkshire’s favourite term of endearment ‘our’. Our Mel is a social enterprise inspired by Annalisa’s and Gaby’s own journeys of self-love. Our Mel encourages honest conversations about race through events, workshops and one-on-one conversations.

“Some people don’t know how to talk about race, some people shy away from it but Our Mel creates a safe space where people can speak without judgement.”

In November 2016, Annalisa and the other half of Our Mel Gaby held the first Melanin Fest, a celebration of Black History Month which hosts events all year round to showcase talent, discover what it means to be Black and British, explore a rich and vibrant culture and start conversations about race and self-love.  

With Our Mel, Annalisa has appeared on the Naked Podcast, inspired events across the UK, and changed the way people talk about race.

Annalisa began her talk with the words: “I’m fat, I’m black and a woman. But there’s more to me than that.”

And she’s right, there is so much more, too much to mention in this newsletter. Check out @our__mel to discover more.

Words: Molly McGreevy.

Annalisa Toccara is a freelance journalist, marketer and digital strategist specialising in campaigns. Having graduated with honours from The University of Wales, she has a wide range of industry experience (B2B & B2C) in event management, marketing communications and brand identity.

In 2011, she wrote and self-published, her debut book Lipstick: A Woman’s Best Form of Defence and in 2016, she founded a leading social enterprise Our Mel link dedicated to exploring cultural identity, history and talent.

In 2017, she launched Sheffield’s first Black History Month Festival, an annual month-long arts and cultural celebration in October and she has hosted a number of community events. She also became Vice-Chair of the BAMER hub, Sheffield Equality Hub Network.

Annalisa was honoured to receive a Women’s Centenary Award for her services to the community by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 2018.

Outside of business, Annalisa is studying an MA International Public and Political Communication scholarship at The University of Sheffield as well as Chartered Marketer status.

She is passionate about equality, inclusion and representation and is fascinated with the link between creative mediums, social cohesion and social justice. When not aspiring to conquer her dreams, she can be found in bed, living her best life, drinking tea and watching Netflix.

This October edition you can find Annalisa at a-ten link the newly re-purposed industrial space at Kelham Island. A chance to drink coffee and hear her story

Annalisa Toccara AKA. Our Mel

October’s theme is HONESTYHonesty is the currency for connection. It’s a gift we give to each other that strengthens bonds and deepens relationships. Honesty is a practice where we start from the heart. Being honest isn’t always easy and being honest all of the time is impractical. Giving honest feedback or sharing our opinions requires sensitivity to the context and meeting others where they are—with kindness and empathy. Honesty is about providing the information that you would want if you were in a similar situation. Another way to look at honesty: it’s a flower born out of the soil of trust, connection, and conversations. The more we nurture conversations that breed trust and forge a connection, the more honesty becomes baked into the way we lead our lives. This month’s global exploration of Honesty was chosen by our Cardiff chapter, and illustrated by James Lewis. Thank you to Mailchimp, Adobe, and WordPress.com for empowering the global creative community.

Annalisa Toccara AKA. Our Mel

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