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Nominally Sovereign
Wednesday 26 July 10am-4.30pm
Baltic, Level 1

Free, booking essential

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A day-long event aimed at artists who might not know they’re neurodivergent, and neurodivergent people who might not know they're artists.

Nominally Sovereign

nominally = in name only; officially though perhaps not in reality

sovereign = possessing supreme or ultimate power

How does the language we learn to use to describe ourselves influence our experience of the world?

Nominally Sovereign will explore how diagnosis around neurodivergence (whether ‘official’ or self-identified) helps and/or complicates the process of self-actualisation, thinking what the word ‘sovereignty’ might offer us in contemplating this. Organised by local artist Grace Denton, the day is intended as an accessible forum to share our experiences, knowledge and frustrations.

The day includes a screening of Grace’s film All Facing in the Same Direction, created in collaboration with neurodivergent artists; a session with artists Sofia Barton, Sarah Li and Lady Kitt representing kin collective; a talk by Martin Swan and Tim Corrigan from Project Art Works, a collective of neurodiverse artists and activists; and a discussion facilitated and led by Ciara Lenihan, an artist in printmaking, sculptural installation, video and performance.

This event forms part of a wider project that Grace is working on, which states the case for a community of neurodiverse artists in the North East. As such, the event is aimed at artists who might not know they’re neurodivergent, and neurodivergent people who might not know they’re artists.

We are using the word neurodivergent to refer to anyone who falls outside of the expectation of ‘neurotypical’. This could include, but is not limited to, those who identify with Autism, ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Tourettes. Any participants with a curiosity or kinship with the themes of the event are, of course, welcome.

This work has been made possible by an Arts Council England Project Grant, additional support from Baltic and the BxNU Institute, and is delivered with production and curation support from Frances Stacey and Bryony Rae Taylor.

There will be four sessions in the day:

10.00 – 10.30: tea, coffee, settling in

10.30 – 11.30: Grace Denton will welcome everyone and give an introduction. She will then share her new film All Facing in the Same Direction, made in collaboration with neurodivergent participants interested in its themes around self-governance, diagnosis and language.

11.30 – 11.45: comfort break

11.45 – 12.45: Project Art Works will speak about their work as a neurodivergent artist and activist led collective

12.45 – 13.30: lunch will be provided

13.30 – 15.00: kin collective will lead an active session using large pieces of paper to create an obstacle course, using this to think about how we navigate barriers within society

15.00 – 15.15: comfort break (tea and coffee provided)

15.15 – 16.30: A discussion led by artist Ciara Lenihan, in order to process thoughts about the event.

What to Expect

The event will be taking place on Level 1 of Baltic, which is quite a large space. There'll be lots of seating options around including bean bags, chairs, and/or soft flooring so people can make themselves at home and move around as they wish.

The event will include five pink and blue bean bags created by Jenny Alderson and Rachael Eden for the occasion, and six yellow beanbags which were made for Sonic Signals (2023) - a project by Abbas Zahedi, Chandos Primary School and Eastside Projects.

A showreel of films by neurodivergent artists Ashokkumar Mistry, Beth Malcolm, Byron Vincent, chelsea hare, Eva Marschan-Hayes, Karl Birrane, Laurie Coldwell, Liza Liebling, Rose Robbins and Sandra Twine will be playing in the cinema space on the same floor.

There will be a zine-making and craft table in the space led by artist and small press publisher Cherry Styles. Anyone who would like to make paper-based work in response to the day can do so at any time here, with the option to put your work forward to be included in a zine that documents the event.

Saya Naruse will be present on the day to sensitively capture some photos of the event. There will be the option to let us know at the welcome desk if you would prefer not to be photographed.

Accessibility Information

  • The event will be live streamed on Zoom and online audience members will have the chance to ask questions either on camera or in the chat.
  • Live captions will be available online and in person.
  • BSL interpretation will be available in the room.
  • There will be a quiet space you can go to at any time for a rest or a break.
  • You can feel comfortable to move around and make any noises you need to.
  • There will be a variety of ways to contribute - asking questions verbally on the mic; crafting while you listen at the zine table; responding in written or drawn form on printed prompt sheets; your written responses can be read aloud by a friend or volunteer at any time.
  • There will be large format versions of the printed programme and prompt sheet.
  • There will be a welcome desk where we will provide name badges and masks for anyone who wants to wear them.
  • Please let us know if you would like to bring your child or baby to the event. We are happy to make the space as child-friendly as possible but note the event may contain sensitive subject matter and strong language.

Before the event

  • We will provide a short video of how to get to the space and what to expect on the day.
  • We will send a sketch of how the space will be set up, and photos if possible.
  • We will send details of all the refreshments and food that will be provided.
  • We will ask that you please take a rapid Covid 19 test in the 24 hours before the event, and not attend if you feel unwell on the day.
  • When you book a ticket, you can let us know your dietary information, and any additional access requirements that you’d like us to keep in mind.
  • Please email us if you have any further questions or need a conversation about this:

Click here for Baltic’s accessibility information


Grace Denton
is an artist and writer who has lived and worked in the North East for seven years, and received an ADHD diagnosis in 2019. She took a long route into the art world, and into understanding her own neurodiversity. You can find out more about her work on her website. This event intersects with her PhD research currently being undertaken at Northumbria University, currently titled The nominally sovereign body: A practice-based exploration of the language of self-governance through the prism of ADHD.

Her new film All Facing in the Same Direction includes self-filmed video contributions from Lucy Barker, Romy Danielewicz, Jennifer Doveton, Victoria Louise Doyle, Nick Fitzgerald, Sal Harris, J Neve Harrington, Evan Ifekoya, Andre-Alex Kamienski, Johanna Koen, Ant Lightfoot, Emma Plover, Maisie Pritchard and Geraldine Snell. It has also been made with technical support from Saya Naruse, Craig Pollard and Christian Wright.

Project Art Works are a collective based in Hastings. They collaborate with people with complex support needs, families and circles of support. Their practice intersects art and care, responding to neurodivergence, its gifts and impacts. Challenging paradigms of inclusion, it spans direct practical and holistic support, film, events, projects and exhibitions. They recently announced a major new collaboration and exhibition with Baltic as part of their EXPLORERS programme. Martin Swan is their Off-Site Programme Manager and an electronic musician, and Tim Corrigan is their Creative Director and an artist filmmaker.

kin collective are a group of artists in the North East of England. They are ignited and galvanised by making the world a fairer, more accessible and less climate disastrous place through collaboration, creativity, protest and parties. Sofia Barton is a cultural activist and multidisciplinary artist who creates contemporary artwork inspired by nature and her Punjabi heritage, Sarah Li is a Queer interdisciplinary artist and musician and a founding member of the DGA Collective, and Lady Kitt is a disabled artist and drag king, describing their work as “Mess Making as Social Glue”.

Ciara Lenihan is an artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne working with printmaking, sculptural installation, video and performance. “My mouth finds many tongues which are fit for different purposes; activism, story telling, transformation and trauma. The tongues in my mouth are Irish, English and Body. My mouth simultaneously spits out these tongues and gobbles them up.”

Cherry Styles, Zine Making Facilitator

Cherry is an artist, writer and gardener based in Huddersfield. She started The Chapess zine and Synchronise Witches Press, and her current practice spans art projects and educational activities within community settings.

Victoria Louise Doyle, Online Facilitator

Vicki is an artist and creative learning designer based between Newcastle upon Tyne and London. She is a member of Revolv Collective, an organisation that seeks to champion emerging artists through alternative teaching, collective working and collaboration in photography.

Frances Stacey, Producer

Fran is a producer and curator who works with artists to make films, videos, exhibitions and events. Her practice often involves open-ended research and collaborative processes. She is currently Director (maternity cover) at The Newbridge Project.

Bryony Rae Taylor, Producer

Bryony is a researcher, producer and arts journalist based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. She is currently working on her PhD on “Manifestations of Systemic Trauma” in British theatre.

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