We’re please to announce the five artists selected for this year’s Blast Creative Network (BCN) Residency Programme. They are Sarah Byrne, Dale Hipkiss, Shannel James, Quennie Lim and Zara Masood.

The BCN Residency Programme is a funded artist residency held in partnership between Multistory and The Wolverhampton School of Art. The programme provides Sandwell and Black Country artists with focused time and support for; development, research, testing out ideas, making new work and sharing it with audiences. It provides artists with structured support from the Multistory team, 1-to-1 mentoring with Multistory’s Arts Council England’s Relationship Manager, focused time and financial resources to reflect on and develop their practices. The Wolverhampton School of Art provide studio and an exhibition space for the end of programme group show.

Residencies will take place in October and November 2023, and January, February and March 2024, culminating in a day of presentations and the launch of a group exhibition at The Wolverhampton School of Art on 11 April 2024.

Sarah Byrne

I am a West-Midlands based artist working with textile and print-based responses to family photography.  My current research positions traditional wool-craft within a contemporary art practice, and aligns the slow processes of craft-making with its historical connection to recovery and comfort.  I was taught to crochet in the months following the loss of my dad, and later, when I found myself entirely fixated on this new hobby, I slowly realised the connection between those two life events. 

Learning of craft’s rich history, and the many instances where its tactile comfort had formed a parallel to loss, felt particularly poignant after discovering this connection first hand. This research encouraged me to introduce textiles to my practice for the first time. Prior to this, my practice formed an autobiographical exploration of photographs from my childhood. Today I continue to be led by family snapshots, however with my practice now in dialogue with my father. As I learn and develop new skills in spinning, weaving, and dyeing, I position the resulting materials in response to my dad’s photographs, previously unseen and discovered posthumously. Dad’s photograph’s guide my process. Connections are created through colour, space for memory and narrative is carved out, and my connection to our relationship is maintained.

Website / Instagram

Dale Hipkiss

The Landrace Banquet © Dale Hipkiss

Dale Hipkiss grew up in Tipton. 

Wasn’t sure what to do with his life (understandable at 18) 

Worked on a farm when he was 19. Realised he hated how isolated he was. Went to Art school at 21, also worked on small holdings over the summer holidays. Arts education has combined with his need to study the environment first hand. Dale now works as one part of Hipkiss and Graney, based in south Birmingham, delivering art projects and events centred around community and ecology. 

His allotment allows him the space to explore a working connection to land. Dale grows wheat further afield and uses it as a method to reasearch the wider implications of farming. 

People from the Black country during its industrial past would take working holidays to hop farms over the summer with their families. He sees parallels with his own history and need to connect to land. The narratives around farming must shift dramatically if we are to have a resilient food network in the coming years, this will affect our identity and the stories we tell about the land.


Shannel James

Where do I belong? Installation shot, 2023 © Multistory

My creative practice combines sustainable craft, cultural fusion, and storytelling to explore the heritage of British vintage furniture and traditional African textiles. Through restoration and textiles, I breathe life into forgotten tales to explore contrasting cultures, identity, representation, difference, diversity, empathy and depth of human experience. Initially I had been exploring restoration, textiles and storytelling as separate disciplines, but since the start of 2023 I’ve been blending the three together creating unique pieces for a number of exhibitions. This has allowed me to develop the concept of a restoration/textile’s hybrid, used as a platform to convey stories through poetry in meaningful ways with integrity and compassion. I’m still at the early stages of developing my artistic practice, however I’ve found consciousness, connection and purpose within this new way of working and would love to develop it further with this opportunity and try to reach new audiences to continue these very important conversations around shared heritage and representation.

Quennie Lim 

Goldsmiths BA Media and Communication, Photography Final Year Graduation Show (2021) ‘Connecting the Knots’ © Quennie Lim

I was born in the Philippines. Moved to West Bromwich, England. Primary School in West Bromwich. Secondary School in Wednesbury. Sixth Form in Wednesbury. University in London. Love for the arts – out of the institution. For the most part. Starting University in London was the catalyst for me opening up to Art in its different capacities from going in and out of different spaces. I saw that the white walls can be filled to its very brim with so much colour but yet I question its capacity to reflect and champion the vastness that is held in real life. I chose to explore photography for the first time. I chose to understand the relationship between my body and movement for the first time. London was the city where I had experienced many of my firsts as an artist. Through listening, seeing, experiencing what is shown. I began to navigate my identity and the lens I have of my surroundings, their relation to each other and my relation to them in wider capacities. I thank the Global Majority Artists and Academics that have influenced my interest in exploring my identity, migration, and relationships.

Graduated. I’m back home. West Bromwich.


Zara Masood

Ikon workshop, August 2023 © Zara Masood

Zara Masood is a British-Pakistani artist and writer based in the West Midlands. Their practice draws from lived experience creating links between the personal as political. It explores the themes of identity, South Asian diaspora and second generation-ness. They draw on theories of hybridity and the ‘Third Space’ to investigate Otherness and belonging.

Zara’s works with writing, food and material to play with these themes and create space for introspective dialogue about identity.