who we are

Profile pic moleskine BNW 2015

Eleanor Shipman
Founder / Director / Artist



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Eleanor is a participatory artist living in Bristol and working in Bristol and London. She studied BA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art from 2008 – 11 writing her thesis on the role of temporary public art in urban regeneration and completed a research year in 2016 for SGSU through studying MSc Sustainable Development in Practice at the University of the West of England where she wrote her thesis ‘Swell, breach, absorb: How can participatory art use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities?’.

Debate around regeneration, sustainability and notions of community underpin her creative practice. Supported with a substantial body of ongoing research Eleanor’s work responds to and challenges public, urban and socio-political tensions through encouraging and engaging local people. This often results in public workshops, walks, discussions and events as artistic outcomes.

Eleanor gained third sector experience through working for a variety of charities including Cubitt Gallery, Age UK, Spare Tyre and Pembroke House Community Centre. Her art practice has engaged her in freelance creative projects for Pump House Gallery, Home Live Art and Southbank Centre amongst others. Alongside directing SGSU Eleanor works part time as Bristol’s Fun Palaces Ambassador hosted by the University of Bristol for the global Fun Palaces campaign to bring arts and science together through community-led events.

Eleanor’s art practice, research, background in the third sector and passion for working with people formed the foundations which led to establishing SGSU in January 2014.



something good, something useful: our collective

SGSU associates are experienced and passionate in their own fields, and bring this expertise to collaborative projects as part of the SGSU collective.

Katy Hawkins

Katy Hawkins
Urban Researcher

Katy is underwent research paper at UCL looking at participatory community projects in Peckham. Her background is in Art History, which she completed as an undergraduate degree at Goldsmiths University. In between her studies she spent two years in Berlin, writing for an art guide and several travel guides, and exploring!

Katy’s most recent project saw her move to Peterborough to coordinate Bretton Greens for Peterborough Presents, a large scale project using art, installation, poetry, walks and more to encourage greater use of Bretton’s green spaces.

George Lovesmith

George is an architect and lecturer at the University of the West of England. George has a focus on participatory architecture and playful urban spaces.

Ella Wiles
Environmental Policy and Social Engagement

Ella Wiles has a background in group facilitation and workshop design for community development. Ella has an MSc in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Karlskrona, Sweden, and a BA in Socio-Political Geography from Sussex University, Brighton. Ella has acquired several years experience in the design, implementation and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, recently applying this academic experience to a North American and European-wide study of urban agriculture practices and benefits for her masters’ thesis [copy on SGSU website].

Ella is passionate about the food system and has set up a pop-up restaurant with friends using local and home-grown ingredients where possible to celebrate food in all its glory – Popolo.

Ella now lives in Bristol. She was the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Children’s Scrapstore, a manufacturing reuse charity, and is a trustee for Bristol Reuse Network.

Alex Profile Shot bnw WEB sml

Alex Parkyn-Smith
Filmmaker and Visual Anthropologist

Alex studied Anthropology at Durham University and later an MA in Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths University where he studied and subsequently made a short film of the social lives of young people in Kenya around the bus transport system. He established his own film company Myriad Films with two peers in 2013.

Isobel Ward

Isobel Ward
Architecture and Anthropology

Isobel has worked within the architecture profession for the past 8 years. She has gained experience working on schools, including an award winning primary school for children with behavioural difficulties, private residences, art installations and currently a major London infrastructure development.

Following an urban research project in Dharavi Mumbai, where she developed skills in research and social engagement, she returned to London to undertake an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics. Here she concentrated on environmental issues and urban development, writing her thesis on London’s waterways community which explored how an alternative and constantly evolving sense of home is formed through movement.

She is also involved in an ongoing project with Shared Assets and Kingston University LandscapeIS institute to develop a methodology for engaging local people and creative industries in re-imagining difficult urban sites as a local asset while maintaining community control, focusing so far on the Limehouse Cut. See the blog post Isobel wrote about it here, and the project report here.

Isobel has a strong belief that an understanding of our environment, and the forces that shape it, can inform better design, and in turn have a positive effect on society. She strives to combine research and engagement with architectural practice to develop a more holistic approach to design, architecture and urban planning.

Georgina Perry

Georgina Perry
Human Geographer / Urban Planner

Georgina studied Human Geography at the University of Sheffield, where she developed her interest in the relationship between people and place, especially within cities. Her dissertation explored different meanings of ‘home’ in urban environments, and the way that they are represented in museums. She also studied mobilities, cultural constructions of identity, and theories in urban planning. Georgina is currently working on a Masters in Urban Planning at UWE and works as an urban planner.

Georgina’s approach is underpinned by a value of sustainability. In 2013 she took part in the Sheffield Colloquium, a weeklong conference held as part of the University of Sheffield’s ‘Discover and Understand’ program. This involved working in interdisciplinary teams to try to tackle the question ‘How do we build sustainable communities?’

Practical experience of collecting and analysing primary data is what has cemented Georgina’s belief in the importance of community engagement within regeneration projects. This has involved facilitating focus groups, conducting in-depth interviews and surveys.

Georgina is from Bristol, where she now lives. She volunteers at The Architecture Centre, which promotes awareness and enjoyment of the built environment through public engagement.

When not working, Georgina enjoys spending time with friends, seeing live music and exploring cities.

Tess Sieling
Social engagement designer

A Bristol based social engagement designer, Tess studied Graphic Design at UWE. Her work responds to social issues and aims for a positive outcome with the use of story, participation, sound, expression and publication design.

The Loud Library is her ongoing project: a mobile library in a bicycle trailer where you must tell a story in order to borrow a book. Through interrupting peoples’ routines and exchanging stories, The Loud Library encourages expression through the spoken and written word for the mental and physical health benefits.

Tess was also responsible for the update and redesign of the 2017 Toilet Map of Bedminster, a publication designed to reduce social isolation in old and disabled people. It shows which establishments in the community allow passers-by to use their toilet, making Bedminster the first age-friendly neighbourhood in Bristol.

our research

As a collective we believe in the power of sharing ideas and inspiration. Here are some of ours…

Please contact us for more information.

Regenerate, Disintegrate, Create

Regenerate, Disintegrate, Create: The Role of Temporary Public Art in Regeneration, Eleanor Shipman, 2011

Eleanor Shipman explores the challenges and successes of how creative interventions can connect people to place, suggesting what really makes ‘ideal public art’ in today’s urban environment.

Swell, breach, absorb: How can participatory art use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities? Eleanor Shipman, 2016

Eleanor Shipman explores ways in which participatory art can use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities through dissecting Bristol and London-based case studies and interviewing resilience and sustainability leaders and participatory artists.

Our core values:

• Creativity – Our unique creative approach throughout our process, engagement and outcomes
• Communication – The importance of clear, concise and effective communication across all audiences
• Honesty – Maintaining transparency and realism throughout our work
• Connection – Building bridges between decision makers and communities
• Engagement – Genuine engagement of communities

Our inspiration:

“We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.”
The X1Vth Dalai Lama