Our Collective

Counterpoints Arts

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Áine O’Brien

Áine is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Counterpoints Arts, London and has worked across the arts, education and activism for over 25 years in the US, Ireland and the UK.  Áine set up the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice in 2005, a doctoral programme aligning migration research with the creative arts; and created FOMACS (Forum on Migration and Communications) in 2007, developing creative, arts and cross-sector public projects focusing on migration.

Her creative productions to date within the University sector, FOMACS and Counterpoints Arts (spanning across documentary film, print, exhibition and curation) explore global storylines linking migration with social justice and change. Including film productions: Silent Song  (2000) on Kurdish lyrical protest in Europe; Here to Stay (2006) on migrant activism; and Promise and Unrest (2010) on gendered migration and long-distance motherhood. She is co-editor of a combined book/DVD-ROM Projecting Migration: Transcultural Documentary Practice (Columbia University Press, 2007).   

Áine leads on Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab platform, developing national and international learning/creative production partnerships (with artists, cultural and community organisations, policymakers and academic institutions).

Áine is currently an Impact Research Fellow at the University of York.

Almir Koldzic

Almir is a Co-Founder and Co-Director of Counterpoints Arts. He has worked for over 12 years on developing creative strategies for engaging with refugee and migrant experiences, including leading on the development of a national strategy and identity for Refugee Week UK; developing the Platforma – networking project and curating and producing a wide range of events, exhibitions and commissions relating to displacement. 

He has studied English literature (BA), Anthropology (MA) and Creative Writing. Almir is currently a Clore 2017 Programme Fellow and ESRC Impact Acceleration Research Fellow at York University. 

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Justin O'Shaughnessy

Justin O’Shaughnessy is an Independent Producer.

His work encompasses performance, theatre, dance, visual art, site-specific, spectacles, festivals, governance, community-based work and pedagogy. 

Locations and organisations have been various but include ICA (1993-98), LB Newham (1998-2001), Rich Mix (2004-08), Serpentine Gallery (2005-12), Shoreditch Trust (2008-15), Frieze Projects (2014- ) and Counterpoints Arts (2012- ) amongst others.

In education, Justin is Professor of Socially Engaged Practice at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and VL on City University’s Creative Cultural Industries BA (2009-18), following a BA from Bristol (Drama), an MA from CUCR (Sociology) at Goldsmiths.

Governance includes Chair at Gayhurst Primary School, Hackney (20014-12), Non-Executive Director (Board Lead for Performing Arts) of The Learning Trust (2008-12), Chair of Crux Easton Wind Engine Conservation Trust (2006- ), Chair of Open School East (2013- ) and Member of Tate Britain Advisory Committee (2017- ).

Dijana Rakovic

Dijana is  a Project Manager at Counterpoints Arts, her role spanning the interconnected production, curation and participation strands, with an added area of special interest in climate change and environmental justice.

Dijana leads on the production on London events for Counterpoints Arts music programme and also Refugee Week UK artistic programme, in collaboration with flagship cultural institutions. Other productions Dijana worked on include Insomnia at Southbank’s Bargehouse, Counterpoint at Rochelle School, Dis/placed at Shoreditch Town Hall; Adopting Britain with Southbank Centre; Everyday on Canalside, a participatory project with residents on a local housing estate; the multi-platform and partnership programme Who Are We? at Tate Exchange. Currently she is supporting the organisation’s ‘cooperative commissioning’ strand, focusing on place-based art projects.

Dijana was a participant in the Creative Climate Leadership programme in October 2017, coordinated by Julie’s Bicycle and supported by Creative Europe.


Emily Churchill Zaraa

Emily is Refugee Week UK Coordinator at Counterpoints Arts and has a background in media, music and community work. Prior to joining Counterpoints Arts she coordinated My Journey, a multimedia storytelling project at Migrants Resource Centre. As volunteer artist on storytelling projects at You Press, she has worked with young ex-offenders in London and was part of an artist delegation to Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 2015. Emily has engaged in migrant and refugee solidarity work for over ten years and has lived and worked in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Damascus. She has a BA in Arabic and Development Studies and an NCTJ qualification in print journalism.

Tom Green

Tom is a Project Manager at Counterpoints Arts. He has managed the Platforma project since 2011 and produced the Platforma Festival in London (2011), Manchester (2013) and Leicester (2015).  He is currently working on the Platforma Arts Conference and Festival in Newcastle, happening at the end of October 2017.

Previously he has worked for organisations including the Refugee Council, the Writers’ Guild and Youthnet, primarily in editorial and online communications. Tom has written plays for theatre and BBC Radio 4. His latest theatre project is about boxing and migration.


Chiedza Mhondoro

Chiedza is Counterpoints Arts’ Office Manager. Her background is in Visual Art and she has previously worked in museums and arts centres on exhibitions, public programming and arts education.
Chiedza first worked with Counterpoints Arts on the curation of Adopting Britain: 70 Years of Migration and has worked on the development and delivery of several Refugee Week projects. Her interests are in celebrating and exploring shared human experiences through the arts.

Lizzy Willmington

Lizzy is a PhD candidate in the School of Law at Cardiff University. Her research focuses on the increasing trend of outsoursing border and immigration controls in the UK and EU. Her work also explores how grassroots and creative resistances can challenge and shift the negative dominant narrative.

Lizzy has worked in social justice issues since graduating, including community campaigning and engagement. Drawing on this Lizzy has written on human rights and inequality within the UK and global governance structures  global governance structures. She is also involved in creative activism that amplifies voices and perspectives of people who have crossed borders and disrupt set understandings of Britain’s colonial past.

She completed a MA in International and Comparative Legal Studies at SOAS, a BA in Art History at University of Leeds and an Art Foundation Year at Chelsea College of Art.

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Elena Marchevska

Elena is a practitioner, academic and researcher interested in new historical discontinuities that have emerged in post-capitalist and post-socialist transition. She is researching and writing extensively on the issues of belonging, the female body, the border and intergenerational trauma. Her artistic work explores borders and stories that emerge from living in transition. Ultimately, she is interested in creating and researching work that provides the means by which people can meet, human to human, in all their differences, in the most sensitive and sincere way possible.

Marchevska is a researcher in residence at Live Art Development Agency’s Study Room in Hackney Wick, London, exploring Live Art practices and methodologies in relation to the experiences of the displaced. This residency is part of the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP), a pan-European programme focusing on collaborative practices with the aim of engaging new participants and enhancing mobility and exchange for artists.

Elena is a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performance, at London South Bank University.

Chrissie Tiller

Chrissie Tiller is a passionate writer, thinker, teacher, and practitioner with a long history of working through collaborative and social practice: particularly in cross-cultural and trans-national contexts and with places and communities undergoing social, economic and political change. 

This has included initiating and leading major arts and cultural networks, focused on the wider role of the arts within society, across the EU, ex-Soviet countries, Central and South-East Europe and Japan.  For 12 years she was Director of the MA in Participatory and Community Arts at Goldsmiths alongside her role as expert advisor on arts, participation and social inclusion for the European Commission, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Goethe Instituut, European Cultural Foundation, ELIA and IETM and other EU funders and programmes.  

She has recently worked closely with a number of Creative People and Places programmes across the UK as associate, advisor and critical friend and heading up the Northern Faculty of Social Arts practice.  Recent think pieces and provocations include Power Up, a look at the role of privilege, cultural capital, politics, values and ethics in our work to bring about cultural democracy and social justice.

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Natasha Davis

Natasha Davis is a performance and visual artist and producer with collaborative projects in a range of media including live performance, installation, film and publication. She has managed portfolios and grants, and advised artists on the UK and international opportunities while at Arts Council England and British Council in the UK and Syria. She has managed large international projects, such as a long-term collaboration between the Japanese Ministry of Education Monbusho and universities in Leeds, Lancaster and Birmingham.

As an independent producer she fundraised, organised tours and marketing campaigns, initiated co-producing relationships and managed all aspects of production for artists such as Marisa Carnesky, Russell Barr, Helena Hunter, Julia Bardsley, Guy Dartnell, Bobby Baker and others. She led on the Chisenhale Dance Space strategic development through Dance and the Homemade programme, managed artist bursaries and curated several showcases of new performances. She was executive curator and producer of the cultural showcase for the International Federation for Theatre Research 2014, including small and large scale theatre, visual and media installations.

 Natasha’s own performances, visual art and films have been shown in the UK (National Theatre Studio, Tate Modern, Birmingham Rep, Rich Mix London, Barbican Plymouth, Playhouse Derry, Colchester Arts Centre and many others) and across five continents (at venues such as Power Station of Arts Shanghai, Project Arts Centre Dublin, Point Centre for Contemporary Art Nicosia, Theatre Works Melbourne etc).

 She holds a doctorate from Warwick University and delivers talks and workshops across the world, from Buffalo to Tokyo to Grenoble to New Delhi. She regularly writes for journals and publications about displacement and migration.

Silvia Baz

Silvia Baz is a graphic designer, art director and typographer who focuses on thoughtful and crafted, creative responses for the arts, culture and fashion sectors. Her creations are always bespoke, with a client and a purpose in mind and often involve specifically developed type treatments. Silvia designed the printed materials for Who Are We? project.

With a traditional approach to graphic design and design thinking, Silvia firmly believes that design is primarily a way of seeing and a way of thinking. Or in other words, a way of perceiving and approaching the world. 

Silvia holds an MA in Graphic Design from the London College of Communication and a BSc in Digital Media. She gained commercial experience in digital and editorial before setting out on her own in 2011. 

Since then, she has been commissioned by architectural studios, boutique branding agencies and individual artists and businesses to work on branding, environmental graphics and print. Along the way she has collaborated with photographers, illustrators, other designers and art directors.

Silvia aspires to produce work designed to function across all applications – digital, analogue and environmental.

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The Open University


Agnes Czajka

Agnes is a Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the Open University. Prior to joining the Open University Agnes taught politics at Sabanci University in Turkey, and sociology at the American University in Cairo and the University College Cork in Ireland.

Agnes’s research interests include contemporary social and political thought, continental political philosophy, democracy, citizenship, contentious politics, migrant and refugee politics, and European and Mediterranean politics. Her recent work includes Democracy and Justice: Reading Derrida in Istanbul (2016), Europe After Derrida: Crisis and Potentiality (2014), as well a number of articles on Turkish politics for Jadaliyya.

Agnes is currently working on two projects. The first, titled, A Europe of Refugees engages with the work of Agamben, Derrida and Nietzsche to explore the critical potential of figuring Europe as a ‘Europe of refugees’. The second explores contesting conceptions and practices of democracy in Turkey.

Umut Erel

Umut’s research focuses on migration, ethnicity, racism, gender and citizenship. She is interested in migrant families’ practices of belonging and participation, her work has also looked at research methods, bringing together creative and participatory approaches.

Umut’s recent projects have looked at participatory theatre and walking as research methods in the Participatory Arts and Social Action Research, see: http://fass.open.ac.uk/research/projects/pasar, She is also exploring how Migration is ‘Making People and Places’ and has explored how Migrant Mothers Creatively Intervene in Citizenship.

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Sara de Jong

Sara is co-lead of the ‘Justice, Borders, Rights’ research stream and Research Fellow of the Research Area Citizenship and Governance at the Open University. In September 2018, she will join the University of York’s Politics department. Her broader research interests include the role of brokers in colonial and contemporary unequal encounters, and the politics of NGOs in relation to migration, gender and development. Her monograph ‘Complicit Sisters: Gender and Women’s Issues across North-South Divides‘ was published by Oxford University Press in 2017 .

Sara  currently conducts research on the claims for protection, rights and settlement by Afghans and Iraqis who have worked for Western military forces and development organisations, as well as on the activities and strategies of their advocates (veterans, lawyers, civil society organisations). In November 2017, she was invited to give oral evidence to the UK Parliament Defence Select Committee on Afghan locally employed civilians. Watch the session here.   She has published widely on NGO politics, migration, development and feminism. This summer, the volume ‘Decolonization and Feminisms in Global Teaching and Learning‘, a resource for teachers and learners seeking to participate in the creation of radical and liberating spaces in the academy and beyond, which she has co-edited with Rosalba Icaza and Olivia Rutazibwa, will come out with Routledge.  She contributed to the 2017 ‘Who are We’ Tate Exchange, and edited a special feature for openDemocracy with Giota Alevizou ‘Who are ‘We’ in a Moving World‘ on arts, participation and exchange.

Inma Álvarez

Inma is a Senior Lecturer in Spanish at the Open University. She has published on language teaching and learning as well as on dance and performance documentation and reconstruction. She has researched on intercultural competence in language education in relation to teacher training and learners’ skills development, learning in the digital era as well as on expression in the performing arts. She is a member of the CLAP (Cultures, Languages and Performance) at the Open University. Her current research is on the links between the performance of language(s) and culture(s) and the arts in different contexts and practices.

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Carlos Montoro

Carlos is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Open University. He holds a Bachelor’s in English Philology from the University of Barcelona, a Master’s in Applied Linguistics from Lancaster University and a Doctorate in Education from the Open University. Previously, he has worked as a language teacher and researcher in Spain, France, the UK, Belize and Mexico. His Applied Linguistics background has served several studies and projects in Educational Technology and Organisational Learning. He has experience using sociocultural theory, activity theory and the Change Laboratory method to provide a systemic and developmental approach to change processes mainly in higher education.

Language Acts and Worldmaking website          @languageacts

Liz McFall

Liz‘s research is about how consumer markets are made, especially for dull, difficult or challenging products like life and health insurance and doorstep and payday loans. Her recent work explores how the convergences surrounding digital disruption and the current global wave of health care funding reforms are forging new roles for states, markets and marketing. In “Devising Consumption: cultural economies of insurance, credit and spending” (2014) she examines connections between insurance, credit, spending and public welfare, arguing that dynamic, adaptive techniques used to devise, market and sustain the consumption of dull products might usefully inform the design of public provision.

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Darren Umney

Darren is a Visiting Research Fellow at The Open University.

Darren works across a number of disciplines, including design, fine art, sociology and architecture. His main research interests bring together questions about how places are imagined, designed and built for people to live in and how people live then live in them. This includes the study of different kinds of places such as housing estates, holiday camps and railway towns alongside the infrastructures that are constructed to link them together. His most recent Arts Council funded project, Every Building on Langland Road, was exhibited at the Architectural Association London in 2018.

David Moats

David is a Post Doctoral Researcher at Linköpings University, Sweden.

David‘s work concerns the social and political implications of Big Data, algorithms and particularly data visualizations. In his PhD, he developed new data visualisations for studying science controversies on various online platforms (Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter) which are more exploratory and interpretive and raise questions about the way in which their data is gathered and formatted. Currently he is developing these techniques further through collaborations with programmers, visualization experts and various topic experts in health, politics and academia.

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Heidi McCafferty

Heidi is a Research and Development Consultant, and manages a range of projects for The Open University. As a former OU student and Research Manager in International Development, Heidi has been involved with the OU and Higher Education since 2009. Heidi is supporting the OU’s contribution to the Tate Exchange Programme, and managing the current crowdfunding campaign, designed to help more artists and practitioners, many from migrant and refugee backgrounds, to contribute to the debate through the week-long programme. Heidi’s background is in media as a former radio producer, and also worked in the NGO sector, supporting NGOs improve their financial strategies and management. Heidi is freelance podcast producer, a huge FutureLearn fan and a follower of the Effective Altruism movement.

Siobhan Campbell

Siobhan Campbell is a poet and academic on faculty at The Open University where she chairs the MA in Creative Writing. Siobhan creates writing interventions in post-conflict and recovering cultures, most recently working with women’s’ groups in Iraq and Lebanon, collaborating with UNDP and INMAA, Kirkuk. Siobhan’s poetry currently features in the ‘Peace and Beyond’ conference art event to mark twenty years since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwS-ZS-5Z0g&feature=youtu.be Her most recent books are Heat Signature and Cross Talk, both published by Seren Press. She is the recipient of the Templar Poetry Award and the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize. Recently visiting Professor of Poetry at UNC Charlotte, Siobhan gives readings at festivals including at Poetry Now, Dublin, Ottawa literary festival and the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts. She is the co-author of The Expressive Writing Handbook and currently works with military veterans as well as with patients and staff in palliative care environments. www.siobhancampbell.com



Stance Podcast

Stance Podcast - Photo by Grace Gelder

Chrystal Genesis and Heta Fell

Stance Podcast is an independent arts, culture and current affairs podcast exploring diverse, global perspectives. Presented as a transatlantic conversation between broadcasters, Chrystal Genesis in London and Heta Fell in San Francisco, Stance aims to inform, entertain and inspire action. A new episode is released on the 1st of every month. Heta and Chrystal were growing increasingly frustrated by the under-representation of many voices in society – large groups of people growing up having no value attached to their perspectives – so they decided to do something about it. They launched Stance Podcast on Trump’s Inauguration day with the aim of giving a larger array of people the same amount of space, creativity and intellectual weight as others. Stance presents fresh and knowledgeable views of people that the world doesn’t hear from enough, without being exclusive. They also speak to people using their voice to push society forwards, but more than anything else, Stance is interested in hearing new ideas shaping societies near and far.

Chrystal Genesis is a freelance producer and broadcast journalist. After working at the BBC for almost a decade – creating multi-platform content for Radio 4, 6 Music, BBC 1 and BBC World in London and Washington DC, she now works in artistic programming at Southbank Centre for contemporary music, performance and dance.

Heta Fell is a freelance producer and broadcast journalist. Her background is in brand partnerships. In her most formative role, she led arts and brand partnerships for Kids Company, a charity in the UK, which leveraged the power of the arts to transform the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. A highlight for her was a takeover of one of London’s most famous art institutions, the Royal Academy of Art in 2012.

Photo by Grace Gelder.

University of York


Maggie O'Neill

Maggie joined the Department of Sociology in April 2016 as Chair in Sociology/Criminology and have held  posts at Durham University (Professor in Criminology, Principal of Ustinov College, Co-Director of the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexuality and Council for Academics at Risk (CARA) Academic Champion) Loughborough University, Staffordshire University and Nottingham Trent University.

A former editor of Sociology the flagship Journal of the BSA and former Chair of the ESA Research Network on Biographical perspectives on European Societies, Maggie co- founded the Race Crime and Justice Network in the North East with Gary Craig and Bankole Cole and the Sex Work Research Hub (now based at York)with Rosie Campbell. She currently Chair the Sex Work Research Hub with Prof Teela Sanders and Rosie Campbell OBE.

Awarded a Beacon of Human Dignity award, Columbia University, Human Dignity and Humiliation Global Network December 2012.

Currently undertaking Leverhulme Trust Research fellowship October 2016-October 2017 Methods on the Move: experiencing and imagining borders, risk & belonging;  ESRC/NCRM research project Participatory Action Research (PAR): Participatory Theatre and Walking Methods’ Potential for Co-producing knowledge with Dr Umut Erel (PI) and Prof Tracey Reynolds (Co-I) on January 2016-September 2017; KTP/AHRC research project with Prof Nicole Westmarland (PI) and Open Clasp Theatre, Newcastle Policing Domestic Abuse: using theatre based methods to train police in aspects of coercion and control February 2015- September 2016.

Simon Parker

Before joining the Department of Politics at York in 1995 Simon was Junior Research Fellow in Sociology at Jesus College, Oxford where he was appointed in 1992 soon after completing his doctorate in the Social and Political Sciences faculty at the University of Cambridge.

In 1998-1999 he was Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Italian Studies at University College London. He became a Senior Lecturer in Politics at York in 2005 and from April to September 2007 Simon was Visiting Professor in Sociology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. In 2010 he was Hallsworth Visiting Professor in Political Economy at the University of Manchester and in 2014 Visiting Research Associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Simon is Co-Director with  Daryl Martin of the Centre for Urban Research (CURB) and Director of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of York.