Transforming Leadership

2020 - 23

In partnership with Shape Arts


We are working with artists to support them in developing their practice and creative careers


To continue our work on breaking down the barriers experienced by marginalised artists in the sector


A cohort of seven disabled, neurodiverse and barrier-facing artists

ABOUT THE project

Autograph are working with a cohort of seven artists over two years to support them in developing their practice and creative careers.

Our Transforming Leadership programme, in collaboration with Shape Arts, seeks to uncover and reflect the journey of what it is really like to build a creative career as disabled, neurodiverse and barrier-facing individuals – and what radical approaches, cultural ideas, business models and dynamic strategies can be employed in order to sustain a career and break through the barriers within the creative industries.

We've shared a selection of work by the artists on our blog, and will continue to share the latest project updates on this page.

the artists


Revell Dixon

Revell Dixon is a London-based freelance filmmaker and video producer, with a commitment to representing disabled people and disability issues through his work. Dixon is the content creator for Interactive Mobility, a channel dedicated to raising awareness of the barriers disabled people face in today’s society.

He has collaborated with fellow members of the UK’s Disability Arts Alliance and has been involved in the #WeShallNotBeRemoved campaign, documenting the movement’s advocacy for disabled artists as an emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He is the recipient of a Jack Petchey Award, and was named the Creative Apprentice of the Year in 2019. He has been featured on websites such as the Evening Standard, A New Direction and Shape Arts.

Visit Dixon’s website, follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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Thompson Hall

Thompson Hall is a London based artist. Primarily working with acrylic paint and pastel drawings, Hall’s often colourful palette takes inspiration from artists including Chris Ofili and Frank Auerbach. Through abstracted symbols and text, Hall’s work explores the inequalities of society and the world around him, in regards to politics, social change, marginalisation and, most recently, the impact that Covid-19 is having on our society.

Hall was awarded an Emerging Artist commission and a Micro Grant from Unlimited in 2017 and 2020 respectively. He has exhibited in group shows across the UK and has had solo exhibitions at Regency Town House in Hove, Brighton Dome, and Project Ability, Glasgow. Hall is a resident artist at ActionSpace’s Cockpit Arts Studio.

Find out more about the artist via ActionSpace’s website.

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Kin (Cultura Plasmic INC)

Kin (Cultura Plasmic INC) is a working-class new media artist and essayist from Newcastle upon Tyne and currently based in Glasgow. Working with sound, installation, moving image and digital technologies, she explores power dynamics within the digital landscape and the relationship between communication and surveillance technologies.

Her work engages in issues around mental health, critiques of social media and the monopolising forces of big tech, and potentials for asserting agency and refusal. In constructing a multi-pseudonymous practice that often presents as a collective, she plays with the radical potentialities of anonymity, an aesthetics of disappearance and counter-narratives that push back against a culture of status-seeking and the elevated individual.

Most recently, her work has featured in: Contested Spaces at The Foundry, London curated by Aidan Moesby and Model Village, London curated by Hotdesque. In 2021, she has been Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival’s Artist of the Month for July and one of Axisweb’s Five2Watch artists. She has released an album under the name Hurrian Cult Legacy, and premiered a new work with Cryptic, Glasgow.

Visit the artist’s website and follow her on Twitter.

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Maral Mamaghanizadeh

Maral Mamaghanizadeh combines her jewellery making practice utilising materials such as ceramic and human hair with elements of performance, film and sound art to explore the barriers she encounters in everyday life, being a Deaf Iranian woman, a Sign Language user and a refugee.

Following the release of her series of protest artwork The Politics of Voice: The Tale of Tresses which directly challenged patriarchal powers in Iran, Mamaghanizadeh became a political refugee. She now lives in Birmingham, where she completed an MA in jewellery and silversmithing at the City University.

Mamaghanizadeh has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally. She was artist in residence at Grand Union (2017-2018) and was awarded DYCP funding by Arts Council England in 2019. She has been commissioned by organisations including MENA Arts UK and ArtReach for Journeys Festival International. In 2021 her work was included in Shape Arts' The Future Is Loading exhibition. She is a current Artist in Residence at LEVEL, Derbyshire.

Visit the artist’s website and follow her on Instagram.

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Dexter McLean

Dexter McLean (born 1993, Kingston, Jamaica) moved to the UK when he was nine. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, McLean’s documentary and portrait photography is concerned with addressing fundamental flaws in the representations of the disabled community in mainstream media and elsewhere.

In 2021 he self-published his first monograph Tower Avenue revisiting the community around Olympic Gardens, Jamaica, where he spent his childhood. Inspired by a sense of togetherness and the importance of familial networks, this ongoing project features black and white photographic portraits of an intergenerational constituency of individuals living in the local area.

McLean was the first person in his family to attend university, graduating with a Masters degree in Photography from Middlesex University in 2020. His work was shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery 2016. He lives and works in London.

You can follow McLean on Instagram and see more of the artist's work on his website.

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Chris Miller

Chris Miller is a writer and a self-described outsider artist working in painting, pottery and drawing. Utilising the visual language of art from the past, Miller places his own body and identity at the centre of his work as a way of communicating with, and fitting into the wider world and in order to explore the changes he experienced as a result of becoming disabled.

Miller has exhibited in group shows at the Southbank Centre, Enclave Gallery Deptford and the Stratford Arts Centre. Millers’ recent solo exhibition, Me As Venus, was on display at Nomas Projects, Dundee (2021). Miller is based in Hornchurch, Essex, and is currently studying for a MA in Health Humanities at University College London.

See a selection of the artist’s work on Submit To Love Studios’ website.

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Conor Powell

Conor Powell is a London-based filmmaker and multi-media artist. Their work incorporates illustration, moving image and humour to challenge perspectives on disability, neurodiversity and mental health and takes a surreal genre-based approach.

In 2021 they released the short autobiographical animation Ink which premiered at South London Gallery's Convergence Community Film Festival and later featured on Million Youth Media’s YouTube Channel. They are currently working on a surreal horror web series.

Powell is a facilitator at the youth media organisation Mouth That Roars and has worked with institutions including BFI Film Academy, WorldSkills UK, Theatre 503, Mayor of London LDN Filmmakers, and Turtle Key Arts. They have written short form work that has been performed in Theatre 503/Royal Court and have had artwork commissioned by Emerging Minds.

You can follow Conor and his artistic journey on Instagram and via their website.

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Each artist on the programme has been paired with a mentor, to support their specific skills, interests and aspirations. The mentors are: Kate Adams, Ali Eisa, David Hevey, Dave Lewis, Livvy Murdoch, Mark Sealy, Cecilia Wee.



Workshop sessions provide focused opportunities to hear from experts in the field, to learn new skills and develop more knowledge, to support a creative career. Workshops to date have been provided by Tony Heaton, Livvy Murdoch, Joe Turnbull, Cecilia Wee and Trish Wheatley, and have focused on skills such as: funding and bid writing; developing access riders; website development; skill sharing.


Peer Network

As barrier-facing artists, its easy to feel marginalised and disconnected from 'the art world'. The programme has provided the artists with a peer network to draw on, to share skills and experiences, and support one another through the difficulties of lockdown and beyond.

Latest Updates


Announcing Autograph's new Artist-in-Residence, Thompson Hall

We are delighted to announce that Thompson Hall has been selected for an artist residency, to support the development of his creative practice. With support from ActionSpace, the residency will take place January — March 2022 in Autograph’s building in Hackney, London.

Find out more

New Online Image Gallery of Dexter McLean's work

Autograph is delighted to share photographs from Dexter McLean's series Tower Avenue.

See more


A Trip to Coventry

After more than a year of online meetings and sharing sessions, Autograph's Transforming Leadership cohort finally met in-person at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, to see the Turner Prize 2021 exhibition!

Read Chris Miller's blog about the trip here

what participants said

I feel like I’m now able to talk to anyone about anything.

Being able to talk in an open and exploratory way to work out where my artistic practice might lead next has been really valuable. It's incredibly useful to learn from such a knowledgeable mentor and our conversations have sparked numerous new ideas for me. Overall the programme has provided a great network of support - the care and attention to detail goes above and beyond!


7 Emerging Artists Working to Break Down Barriers in the Arts

Introducing the work of the 7 artists involved in our Transforming Leadership programme

Read more

Disability and Digital (im)mobilisation

What does stillness and mobility mean in a digitally hyperconnected society?

Watch, featuring Kin

Hospitals, Piers, Masks and Sneezing

Transforming Leadership artist, Chris Miller, reviews Sharif Persaud's exhibition at Autograph


A Call to Care

Watch our interview with Sheryll Catto & Thompson Hall, discussing how Covid-19 has impacted artists with learning disabilities


Representation, Disability and the Black Body

Dave Lewis reflects on Dexter McLean's commission for Autograph



Can you spare a few moments? Autograph is carrying out a survey to better understand who our digital audiences are. The survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Anything you tell us will be kept confidential, is anonymous and will only be used for research purposes.

The information you provide will be held by Autograph and The Audience Agency, who are running the survey on our behalf. In compliance with GDPR, your data will be stored securely and will only be used for the purposes it was given.

You can take the survey here. Thank you!

P R O J E c t   P a r t n e r

Part of Shape's Transforming Leadership programme, on which Autograph is proud to be a key partner.

Images on page: 1) Revell Dixon,  photo © and courtesy the artist 2) Thompson Hall, photo © and courtesy of ActionSpace 3) Kin (Cultura Plasmic Inc.), from Hold Me, 2018. © and courtesy the artist 4) Maral Mamaghanizadeh, image © and courtesy of the artist 5) Dexter McLean, © and courtesy William Gillinham-Sutton. 6) Chris Miller, Photo: Thomas SG Farnetti. Source: Wellcome Collection 7) Conor Powell, © and courtesy the artist. 8) Mark Sealy and Dexter McLean at the preview of Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other at Autograph, London. © and courtesy Dexter McLean.