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The Blast Creative Network (BCN) offers local artists a free, annual programme of talks, workshops, reading groups, discussions and social events and is a space for mutual support, learning and knowledge sharing. It’s a friendly place to meet other local artists and creatives based in Sandwell and the Black Country.

We offer five bursaries to local artists per year to create a small piece of work, to develop an existing project, or to undertake a period of research / experimentation, with the opportunity to share the work through a public talk and on our website.

If you’re an artist based locally, get in touch! Join the BCN mailing list to hear about events and opportunities directly and find out more about the programme.

Email to join.

Programme of Events

Fundraising Workshop

18 January, 6-8pm

A fundraising workshop specifically for people who are in the process of applying to Arts Council England’s Project Grants fund. Bring along your application and questions to gain support from the group and from Jenny, and advice on how to refine it, whichever stage you are at in the application process. You may have submitted it before, have a rough draft, or have yet to start writing!

This session is open to BCN members only.

Reading Group: Braiding Sweetgrass

2 March, 6-7.30pm

A reading group reading group exploring alternative relationships to our environment. In this session we will read together an extract from Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings – asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass – offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.


Artist Talk & Social

2 December, 6-8pm

We are thrilled to announce the first in-person meeting of the Blast! Creative Network since 2019, at Lodge Road Community Centre this December! Arrive at 6pm to get settled in, grab a drink and meet other local artists and creatives. The evening will include presentations by BCN Bursary recipients Perm Bhachu, Laura Chen, Atlanta Ellis, Scarlett Ford and Vijay Pall.

Dreaming the Black Country: A Psychogeographical Writing Workshop

21 June 2021, 1-3.30pm

For this workshop, writer Kerry Hadley-Pryce invites members of the Blast! Creative Network to undertake a psychogeographical exploration of your local area, which will inform a piece of creative writing that you will develop during the workshop. We’ll explore the atmosphere of the region, its humour, its myths and stories, and how its sights, smells and sounds make us feel.

BCN Porfolio Review

9 June, 4-6pm

This session gives BCN members the chance to book a 10 minute 1-to-1 session with the Multistory team to gain advice or feedback on your portfolio, CV, an ongoing application, work or project, including general career advice. This is an opportunity to reflect on your practice and consider new avenues with which to develop your work.

Talk: Rupi Dhillon

Supermarkets to Socially Engaged Practice

2 June 2021, 6-7pm

During this talk Rupi Dhillon will share her experience and journey, advising on how to begin and maintain a career as an artist alongside your day job or studies, including building up experience, fundraising and getting your work programmed.

Rupi Dhillon is a British, Indian, (British Asian, Punjabi, and all things in between and beyond) multidisciplinary artist based between Birmingham and The Black Country, UK. Rupi 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.

Talk: The Other Collective

14 April 2021, 6-7pm

In their talk, Joanne Coates, Kelly O’Brien and Kirsty Mackay of The Other photography collective will explore issues of meritocracy and examine the visual discourses of photography, in particular the middle-class gaze and poverty porn, to outline an ethical practice of conscious image making.

The Other is a photography collective working to raise awareness, using an intersectional approach, to class discrimination within photography in the UK. They champion photographers & photographic artists from poor & lower economic positions in society. We believe that class must be on the agenda throughout the efforts in creating positive change in the photography industry.

Talk: Liz Wewiora

14 March 2021, 6-7pm

Across her multiple roles, Elizabeth Wewiora actively seeks out to instigate collaborative projects that support and promote social change and wellbeing. Often her work takes place outside of the gallery, working on residency projects, across health, social housing, justice, learning, heritage and environmental settings. Between 2016-2018 they collaborated with Liz on a Masters by Research project exploring the role of photography as a socially engaged practice.

Crit: Exposure Festival

27 February 2021, 6-8pm

This collaborative event brings together emergent artists from the Blast! Creative Network (Sandwell and the Black Country, UK), and from Exposure Festival’s Emerging Photographers’ Show Case (Alberta, Canada) in a supportive peer review. This is an informal space where artists will have the opportunity to share from their practice in short presentations, and share ideas with an international network of potential collaborators. Bring along your portfolio, a new body of work or a project you are currently working on and gain advice and constructive feedback from the group.

Talk: Hannah Fletcher

10 February 2021, 6-7pm

Hannah Fletcher’s work intertwines organic matter such as soils, algae, mushrooms and roots into analogue photographic mediums and surfaces. Simultaneously, exploring environmentally and ecologically-focused issues. Working in an investigative, pseudo scientific and environmentally conscious manner, Hannah combines scientific techniques with photographic processes, creating a dialogue between the poetic and political. Recently, she has initiated and is running The Sustainable Darkroom Project; an artist run research, training and mutual learning programme to equip cultural practitioners with new skills and knowledge to develop a more environmentally friendly analogue photographic practice.

Workshop: Fundraising

4 February 2021, 5-7pm

Producer Jenny Moore will lead a workshop to help you with your application to Arts Council England’s Developing your Creative Practice fund, the deadline for which is coming up at 12pm (midday), 18 February 2021. Producer Jenny Moore will walk you through the important considerations when applying for this funding pot. Bring along any questions you may have about your application.

Jenny has 20 years experience of working within the creative sector managing creative projects and events. She was one of the founding directors of Capsule, an arts organisation in Birmingham responsible for Supersonic Festival and Home of Metal (2011), and has worked on several projects with Multistory including the very ambitious Blast! Festival in 2019.

Talk: Jagdish Patel and Benjamin Elliott

20 January 2021, 6-7pm

Jagdish Patel will talk about his research-based collaborative art practice with communities in the Midlands, including his work with issues around anti-racism and well-being. Over the past decade, he has been working as a socially engaged visual artist, educator and writer, and he is currently working on a research project examining the inter-relationship between anti-racism, socially engaged art and archives at Coventry University. He will be joined by Nottingham-based photographer Benjamin Elliott, who will give a short presentation about his journey through photography, and launching forums for disabled artists and comedians during lockdown. 

Talk: Denise Maxwell and Jemella Binns

9 December 2020, 6-7pm

Jemella Binns and Denise Maxwell from the UK Black Female Photographers Group will share from their individual careers and artistic practices and on the importance of building networks of solidarity within an industry that is often exclusionary. They will map out what led them to where they are now as established photographers, including taking a photography degree as well as an untraditional route and changing career paths in your 30s. They’ll also be focusing on tips for overcoming pitfalls, building networks and a client base when establishing a photography career.

Workshop: Fundraising

25 November 2020, 5-7pm

A fundraising workshop led by Producer Jenny Moore, specifically designed to help you with applying to the Arts Council England project grants fund. Jenny will share from her expertise in fundraising for large scale arts programmes as well as for independent projects, walking you through important considerations for when you are developing your idea, all the way through to writing your application.

Jenny has 20 years experience of working within the creative sector managing creative projects and events. She was one of the founding directors of Capsule, an arts organisation in Birmingham responsible for Supersonic Festival and Home of Metal (2011), and has worked on several projects with Multistory including the very ambitious Blast! Festival in 2019.

Talk: Danni Ebanks-Ingram

11 November 2020, 6-7pm

In this talk, Danni Ebanks-Ingram will be exploring the creative intersectionalities that run throughout various roles in the workplace: this will include navigating the freelance world and varied arts organisations and how to utilise your creative skills with the ever changing restrictions within this current COVID 19 world. Additionally, Danni will be giving an overview of their career and how they have implemented their creativity within varied spaces.

Talk: Approaches to Photography

Yas Lime, Kate Jackson & Paul Samuel White

27 October 2020, 6.30-8pm

This talk explores varied approaches to photography and is aimed at creatives based in Sandwell and the Black Country who would like to develop their career in the photographic industry. Artists and photographers Yas Lime, Kate Jackson and Paul Samuel White, will share from their practice, give insight into how they started out in their field of work, and tips for early career photographers.

Talk: Anneka French

4 January 2019, 6-7pm

Anneka French is an art writer, critic, editor and curator based in Birmingham, UK. She is one of the twelve creative practitioners involved in Living Memory, a project looking at photographs and life stories from across the Black Country. She is currently working with the Community and History Archive Service in Smethwick.


Talk: Stephen Burke

26 May 2019, 6-7pm

Stephen Burke is a photographer, artist and producer living and working in Birmingham, UK. His work explores the relationship between people and place, and how our social and physical environments can have a determining effect on who we are and how we live our lives. Conversation, chance, collaboration and celebration are key themes in his approach to creating work. He is the Project Producer for GRAIN Projects, an arts organisation based in Birmingham specialising in commissioning and delivering photography projects.

Covid Diaries

Blast Creative Network bursary recipient Vijay Pall shares his new short documentary, Covid Diaries. For his bursary, Vijay created a short documentary film based around interviews with people that explore how their mental health has been affected by the pandemic and how they’ve been coping, developing his ongoing work to raise awareness around mental health […]