Are you a Radical Reader?

We have got together with our partners, University of Lincoln’s Transported and West Lindsay District Council to release a new online publication, Radical Routes to commemorate 2020’s Mayflower anniversary. Originally planned as a newspaper, it has gone digital which means it’s interactive and we can share it more widely.

It features contributions from the lead projects responding to Mayflower 400 and are supported by funding from Arts Council England. We all have a shared interest in taking a close look at the Mayflower story, its truths and its myths as well as aspects that have been over-looked or need reinterpretation for our times.

Writing East Midlands has commissioned new writing to reflect on the theme of ‘Journeys’ in relation to the Pilgrims’ story and life today. Featured content includes a mixture of articles, interviews, photo-stories, food stories and recipes, and poems.

Mayflower 400 Officer at West Lindsey District Council, Anna Scott, challenges some of the myths around the history and considers how the story is still relevant today.

“Anniversaries are great opportunities for re-examining histories. They give us a chance to think about voices that have been forgotten and why we want to remember particular stories, like the Pilgrims, and how they’re relevant for us today,” Nottinghamshire artist Rachel Carter explores her own journey across the Atlantic in a container ship following the Pilgrims’ route.

The Few to the Many is in there too, as we look back to the beginning of our journey. Read on here.

Images by photographer Deividas Buivydas, interviewed by Henderson Mullins in Radical Routes, Spring 2020

Activity in a time of Corona

The creative team has been taking time to think about how we can deliver the project. Sophie, our producer of TILT films, is based in Spain, gives us a sense of the future opening up again and she has been able to continue some of her projects. Hetain, our lead artist has been using this time period to develop some ideas which he has often to postpone. See his wonderful animations on Instagram relating to his continuing fascination with Spiderman and Transformers, and ideas of how we see ourselves.

We (curators Kate & Jo) have been to talking to our partners to find out how the Pandemic has been affecting them and their networks and discussing how we can deliver the project as planned, a year later.

Welcome on board to Marie Davies, @Mad2Ann  #thefewtothemany
as Project Coordinator, who will be leading on social media work and keeping our ship on course. She has done lots of brilliant projects in the region, and is raring to go, as soon as we can.

With our arts partners in Lincolnshire and East Lindsay, and editor Henderson Mullins of Writing East Midlands, we have produced an online newsletter Radical Routes, looking at some of the Mayflower projects over the next year, as well as busting some myths. Coming soon.

We got funding!

Still from the film Don’t Look at The Finger, Hetain Patel, 2018

We had great news. Arts Council England are core funding this locally rooted proposal with a generous grant of £99K which will enable us to have local, regional and global reach. Workshops, rehearsals, linking in to the regional arts & learning networks, will all be part of a great commission for Bassetlaw, The Few to the Many, a short shareable film, which will explore how the few who set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 became a global community of 35 million descendants.

We are now proud to say we are working with our partners, Inspire Culture, Learning & Libraries, Nottinghamshire County Council & Bassetlaw District who are supporting a touring exhibition and the Premiere event in November 2021.

We are looking for people to join us on this next stage of the journey of a project with Hollywood production values, performance, music, costume, churches and the internet. Could you be one of our 50 non-professional performers from the region? Would you like to be involved in other ways? Get in touch with to register your interest or if you would like an invitation to the Premiere.

Hetain wins the prize

Don’t Look at the Finger, Hetain Patel & Tilt films 2018

Many congratulations to Hetain and his colleagues who have been recognised for films such as Don’t Look at the Finger and received the London Film Jarman award this week. The award of £10,000 will enable Hetain & Tilt Films, who are making the Mayflower short film to make a full length feature film in the future. There were other great shortlisted artists, but Hetain was the one! See the Guardian article for more information on his past work and influences.

What our partners think about the project so far…

Looking at public art in London, sculpture of John Betjeman by Martin Jennings, St Pancras International


“We viewed the video yesterday evening and I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the project and how our learners’ clearly meaningful involvement came through in the video…..I would go as far to say that I’ve yet to see a better example of enrichment than the experience and engagement of the learners in this video”. 
Simon Cook, Study Programme Manager – Inspire Learning

“it really does bring leaning, culture and heritage together to make an impact on the experiences, skills and aspiration of our young people” . Peter Gaw
Chief Executive Officer, Inspire : Culture, Learning and Libraries

“I also want to thank you to choosing our groups to work with you both on this project, it’s been so lovely to go through the process of exploring different forms of art & finally deciding who will be the person to go forward….. Our students have been able to experience things, meet new people,  use photographic equipment they’d probably wouldn’t have had. It’s opened up new interests & career options for them too, so thank you again” .
Michele Wallwin, Tutor, Inspire Learning: 16 -19 Study Programmes


Marking Mayflower 400

Misterton Youth Club young people with projection of William Brewster’s letter’s home. Photo made by young people with Jo Wheeler

An arts commission with an international artist and the people of Bassetlaw

Mayflower 400 – Why are we marking this anniversary?

Four hundred years ago in 1620 a group of ordinary Bassetlaw people, women, children and men, (many of them under 30) made an extraordinary journey. What happened when they reached their destination marked the beginnings of modern America. We are interested in the beginning of the story – of a group of ‘Separatists’ whose freedom of speech and right to worship in the way they chose was restricted by the King and law. They gathered together and organised in an area now part of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Ten years later, they landed in Massachusetts, the home of indigenous people and newly arrived European settlers, seeking a better life.

Plans to mark the story of the Mayflower pilgrims have been in progress since 2015, in the UK. Cities in the UK, as well as the US and Netherlands) Plymouth, Dartmouth, Southampton have all been gearing up to 2020. In Bassetlaw, the place where half the people on board the boat lived and worked, illuminations, processions and events have taken place every November to chime with Thanksgiving, under the Illuminate banner.

Marking Mayflower through a shared experience of art

Inspire students, Sky Space, James Turrell playing with mirrors, Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photo Jo Wheeler

Encouraged by local ambition and supported by Arts Council England, curators and producers Kate Stoddart and Jo Wheeler have been developing a proposal for a new major public arts commission in Bassetlaw for 2020 to share this story and reflect on its meaning today. Through the artwork, we will explore the timeless themes of the Mayflower story:  a journey into the unknown,  the pursuit of tolerance and freedom and the impact of a small group across the world – making links across the centuries to connect with journeys made by so many people today. We are ambitious – seeking to bring something exciting and memorable to Bassetlaw,  that captures the imagination and makes people stop and think and talk. What the artwork will be or what it will look like is still open; it could be a film, a structure, an event, a performance or a digital work. Whatever it becomes, it’s important that it connects with the people and places of Bassetlaw and that’s why the project has worked with a local group to help select the right artist.

Inspiring learners – our collaborators in the selection process

Inspire student and map projection. Photo made by young people with Jo Wheeler.

Jo Wheeler and Kate Stoddart have been working in Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, with a group of 10 young people and their tutors from the Inspire Learning Course 18/19. It’s been a journey of art and history, of new experiences – meeting artists and being part of a selection process for a significant arts commission in their area. To make an informed and confident decision and to see what could be possible, we visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Tate Modern & Derby Format International Photography Festival to see art in market places, underground stations and on the street.  

my-name-is-lettie-eggsyrub-Heather-Phillipson-2018/19. Gloucester Road underground station, London

To get to grips with the history we want to mark through this commission, we took a boat from Boston up the River Whitham out to sea, following the route of the pilgrims when they tried to leave these shores the first time to get to Holland. On board with us was historian Jane Keightley and artists Juneau Projects. We made drawings, played games and answered questions posed by the other artists.

Electric Egg

Steve Hatton of Electric Egg who filmed us throughout this stage of the project and shared the cameras with the group & got us all talking to camera and interviewing each other. The final film will be posted up soon.

Inspire and artists trip on the Boston Belle, from Boston to the Wash. Photo Jo Wheeler

Round the table & road trips – Autumn 2018 – Spring 2019

We have been talking to potential regional partners and colleagues: Inspire Culture, Youth & Libraries, Slumgothic, Mansions of the Future, Bassetlaw District Council, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage, Nottinghamshire County Council and The North Nottinghamshire BID.  This is in preparation to make a funding application this summer to launch the project in late autumn.  This project is part of a wider regional network Pilgrim Roots telling the start of the Mayflower story as part of the national commemorations. We are working together to share themes and audiences for the different  events in 2020.

Chosen artist

We are delighted to announce that as our Mayflower ‘Journeys’ first phase (research, and development with participation) draws to a close, artist Hetain Patel has been selected from a longlist of nine amazing artists. 

Three artists or artistic companies (Lone Twin, Juneau Projects and Hetain Patel) were shortlisted by the Inspire students and us from an initial longer list. The artists came up to Bassetlaw and visited Retford, Worksop, Scrooby and Babworth churches and other pilgrim sites, such as Worksop Priory and Gainsborough Old Hall. They met us and then went away to develop a proposal for the commission. In June they came back to present their ideas and be interviewed by the group.

All of the artists could have done a great job, all the proposals were exciting; it was Hetain who had dug the deepest into historical place and people and made the case for how how contemporary places and local people could be involved in an extraordinary project. We don’t want to spoil the surprise but we think it will be as brilliant experience for those involved as the audiences and there are lots of opportunities to get involved.

We can say it will involve music, costume, churches and the internet and at least 50 non professional artists and some professional artists. The idea of how the few pilgrims became many millions of citizens is a starting point and it touches on the broad themes of the Mayflower story, of journeys, of tolerance and transformation and of new societies.

About Hetain

Hetain got into art because he loved drawing and making something look real. This helped to get him onto an art degree at Nottingham Trent University where you could experiment and make work in different ways, through dance, video, performance and photography. His entertaining and performative TED talk is a great introduction to his work. I

Image to promote Ted Talk, 2013
The Jump, video (2015)

In the video The Jump he assembled members of his family who had lived in this family house. It starts out as a formal portrait, then turns into something else…

His most recent film Don’t Look at the Finger brings together unlikely worlds of signing, ceremony and martial arts.

“It is Patel’s skilled precision in realising an almost seamless harmony of his culturally and historically divergent source material that gives his (work) a distinctive resonance”


July 2019

August 2019

Lottery Project grant submitted to Arts Council England; some great offers of support from partners. Everything crossed for November. Here is a link to the wonderful film made of the last 6 months by Electric Egg.