Making of Us is a professional development programme supporting 15 mid-career socially engaged artists who live and work in Greater Manchester. Bringing together the cross-sector expertise of partners in the arts, social care and education sectors, Making of Us will initiate mutual learning opportunities and new ways of collaborating with a focus on artists engaging young people.

Funded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the programme is formed around a series of creative commissions across the Wigan, Stockport and Salford districts, delivered through partnerships with Wigan Targeted Youth Services and True Colours CIC and The Together Trust.

Each artist is supported with a programme of training, mentoring, peer-to-peer learning and will develop collaborative projects with our partners.


We have recently recruited the second cohort of nine artists and will be sharing updates on the programme as it develops here. 

The first six artists awarded a bursary for the 2020-2021 Making of Us programme were:

I’m Chris Alton, an artist based in Manchester. Whether deploying disco music in opposition to fascism, proposing art schools be built over golf courses, or imagining a currency whose value is derived from the health of the world’s oceans; my work addresses the interconnected nature of prevailing social, political, economic and environmental conditions.

My projects include; English Disco Lovers (EDL) (2012-15) an anti-facist, pro-disco group; Adam Speaks (With New Mouths)(2017), a neoclassical treehouse; and Seasonal Movement (Regular) (2019) a typeface based on the silhouettes of migratory birds. I am a lifelong Quaker and a skateboarder.

Exhibitions & commissions include; Throughout the Fragment of Infinity That We Have Come to Know, The NewBridge Project, Gateshead (2020); Link & Shift, Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2019); Survey, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; Bluecoat, Liverpool; g39, Cardiff; & Jerwood Space, London (2018-19); Adam Speaks, The National Trust, Croome, Worcestershire (2017); and Outdancing Formations, Edith-Russ-Haus, Oldenburg (2015). 

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Planting Flags for Breezes Free: The Fen

Sarah Atter is a Manchester-based musician with extensive experience of devising and delivering education and community projects, alongside student and teacher training, large-scale residencies and consultancy work. She works across a variety of fields including music in healthcare, music in the community, music in education, music in criminal justice and collaborative cross-art form projects. As the Creative Director of Tram Tracks - a creative composition project conceived by Sarah and delivered in partnership with the Bridgewater Hall - Sarah worked with a team of practitioners and musicians, as well as nearly 100 community and education groups across Greater Manchester to write a song for every stop on the tram network.


Sarah specialises in working with vulnerable, challenging and hard-to-reach groups, and works both as an independent practitioner and in partnership with organisations including Manchester International Festival, Manchester Camerata, Streetwise Opera, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Music in Prisons.


Sarah also lectures on the Participatory Music course at The University of Manchester and works at the RNCM as one of Creative Project mentors for students. She also designs and delivers artist development training for TiPP, Music in Hospitals and Care and Chetham's School of Music. 

Sarah is passionate about live music-making using instruments and voices, improvisation and composition, song-writing with groups and developing the musical skills of participants. As a flautist, Sarah works across the country in orchestras and chamber ensembles. She also inspires the next generation by teaching flute players of all ages across Greater Manchester.  

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My practice is influenced by the people I meet and the exchanges we share, not defined by artistic outcomes such as a body of work but experiences.


I see myself as an artistic host, creating supportive situations where everyone can step into the role of artist and redefine what that means. Looking for opportunities to collaborate, responding to people and using their interests as a starting point fuels my own practice. This results in work produced for a specific purpose - to start a conversation or provoke a response, placing value on a wider dialogue rather than a singular object.

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I'm an emerging and award-winning social photographer based in Bolton. My artistic practice predominantly focuses on exploring people, place and heritage through portrait and documentary photography. Drawing on my background in ethnographic research and inclusive practice, I share the authentic stories of my subjects; often giving a platform for voices in our communities that are not usually heard.  

I was commissioned by Museums Northumberland in 2020 to document the stories of 'hidden' keyworkers in the county through photography and depth interviews. The resulting portraits and stories were exhibited in 'Hidden Heroes: Meet Northumberland's Keyworkers.' 

In my personal project 'Front of House', I documented the impact of the pandemic on grassroots, professional musicians in the northwest, exposing the precarious individual stories of those working in the industry.  
And in 'Isolation', a six-year long project, I explore the challenges of being a 24/7 home carer of someone living with dementia.  

Alongside Museums Northumberland, my work has previously been exhibited at the Science Museum, London and at the Festival of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield. It has been published in various national and specialist media including The Guardian. I was shortlisted for Science Photographer of the Year in 2019.   
I am currently participating in the Open Eye Gallery Crossing Sectors learning and development programme for socially engaged photographers.  Alongside my creative projects, I also work as a music, events, family documentary and brand photographer.  

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Josie Hepplewhite

Josie is a mover, shaker, inquirer and maker whose process orientated, collaborative practice takes her into theatre, education, health and community settings. She studied MA Dance and Somatic Wellbeing from The University of Central Lancashire and received her BA in Contemporary Dance at TrinityLaban.  She now lives in Manchester and works across the North West engaging with organisations such as The Royal Exchange, Z-arts, The Bolton Octagon, Cheshire Dance, Artis and ICTheatre as a facilitator and educator.  
Recent theatre credits include;  Movement Director with The Suppliant Women (Actors Touring Company, The Royal Exchange Theatre) and The Snow Dragons (CAN Young Artists @ Home). Associate Director with Touch (The Royal Exchange Company of Elders) and We Were Told There Was Dancing (The Royal Exchange Young Company and Assistant Director with The Factory (The Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company)

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Rachel is a photographer who uses co-authored, collaborative approaches. She works on long term projects, using visual imagery as a tool for dialogue and engagement. The process is what drives the aesthetic of a given project and this process becomes a vital part of the final works produced.


She has a strong interest in cross disciplinary approaches between art and science, especially around how the body works and adapts.

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For more information about the Making of Us programme, please contact:
Emma Fry & Shelley Cater-Shipway, Project Coordinators

Delivered in partnership with

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