MEET Arts Advisor and photographer Laura Dicken
Laura Dicken is a photographer who works mainly in social documentary, and a Creative Producer. She mostly works with those who do not engage with, or are least likely to be involved with the arts for example, the homeless. She is also an Arts Advisor for Creative Black Country.
Laura already knew CBC through working on projects with organisations we have partnered with, however, 100 Masters was her first commission. 100 Masters was a project that celebrated contemporary experts and pioneers from the Black Country, inspiring and offering local people a fresh perspective about the strengths, skills, talent and expertise surfacing from their locality and community. In 2016, the public were asked to nominate someone from their area who is brilliant at what they do. At the end of 2017, a showcase of the ‘Masters’ took place in Wolverhampton. Laura was commissioned to respond to the 100 Masters shortlist. She concentrated on the makers on the list, taking photographic portraits of them in their workspaces.
Laura says: “The Black Country is often only promoted positively through nostalgia and can therefore seem stuck in the past. 100 Masters emphasised that not all of the brilliant things about the Black Country are nostalgic; there is so much creativity and ingenuity happening in the area right now.”
Laura had worked predominantly as a Creative Producer but had not had the confidence to expand her own arts practice. Since 100 Masters she has had three major Arts Council funded commissions and has a European project in the pipeline. She has also submitted her work for 100 Masters to Photo City, Copenhagen Photography Festival.
She has found the CBC team incredibly supportive:
“The opportunity given to me through Creative Black Country helped me gain confidence to do more and has massively affected my life. Since November 2017, the majority of my income has come from photography rather than Creative Producer roles. This is something I had always wanted.”
In 2018 Laura was invited to become an Arts Advisor for CBC and has been working with two groups: One Love in Walsall and Nehemiah Housing Association in Wolverhampton. She is helping One Love transform an empty shop space into a community hub with workshops and events and working with the young single mothers at Nehemiah to deliver creative workshops and a mural. She is enjoying her role:
“I love working with Creative Black Country, it’s all about uplifting people, bringing joy to people. Before Christmas I attended the panto in Wolverhampton as part of Creative Black Country’s Christmas Shindig with both of my groups. Current and former Creative Communities groups were invited to attend. Social documentary photography can often be about things that have gone wrong, Creative Black Country do positive things to counterbalance this to bring positive pockets to people’s lives.”
Laura likes that CBC deliver accessible arts across the area, creating positive opportunities for audiences and local artists. “The people I am working with would have never had access to the things we are introducing them to. The organisation acts as a vehicle for artists and audiences to connect and have much needed fun!”
About our Arts Advisors
As part of our Creative Communities strand work we have appointed Arts Advisors across the area to introduce groups who are not already engaged with the arts, or wish to be more engaged, to new creative experiences they may not have heard of or tried before. The Advisors are also someone the groups can talk to about funding, good practice, as well as give an insight into the creative sector locally and nationally.