Manchester Metropolitan University

In 2016 the charity has entered into an agreement with Manchester Metropolitan University School of Art with the objective of supporting newly graduated students ‘who has ambition to embark upon a professional career as an artist’, but is ‘disadvantaged to do so due to social, cultural or economic circumstances.’  

Olivia Sparrow became the first ABF Step Change Fellow for Manchester University. Olivia is an artist from Birmingham, England, whose work explores themes based around sexuality, dissociation, loneliness and the city. The work is predominantly drawing on interpretations of personal history based on self-mythologised memory and experience, all presented with a hint of black humour and a cold aesthetic. Olivia works within a variety of mediums, but most frequently within video, text and performance. Alongside a curatorial role, Olivia is also continuing ongoing art practice, with a goal of developing work. Reoccurring themes of loneliness and sexuality will be prevalent, as will the character 'Miss A' – a character which Olivia uses to explore a personal connection with work and performance art. This character was performed live to an audience at LADA and DASH's symposium at the Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham in March 2017. Olivia hopes to continue to make works in video and print and to expand on the use of live performance in practice.

Cardiff School of Art and Design

Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Cardiff School of Art and Design and the ABF are delighted to announce the second year of the Step Change Programme. Anna Rogers and Gweni Llwyd both graduated in 2017 from CSAD’s Fine Art programme. Both have now spent a year at CSAD to focus on launching their careers as practicing artists with support from the ABF and from CSAD.

With a substantial bursary from the ABF to pay their living costs, Anna and Gweni also had a studio space at CSAD, a budget for materials, a travel budget that enabled them to undertake research visits, an academic mentor who was able to advise them about their practice and an external mentor who supported them.