The Poly

24 Church St, Falmouth : 01326 319461
The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society

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Talks // Coming up // Art! What is it Good For?
30 September

Art! What is it Good For?

Truth, social inclusion, the environment, mental health, migration, political engagement: all pressing issues and all areas where arts practitioners, organisations and campaigners are active. 

But do these creative efforts make a difference? And if so, how can we champion the importance of the arts and creativity in a world of cuts and competing crises? 

Join StreetDraw24 and Form Festival for a lively exploration of the role of art in disrupted times with a panel of commentators, experts, practitioners, and activists, and help us consider just what is art good for?

Profit from this discussion will go to support St Petrocs’ work with people facing homelessness in Cornwall.

The Speakers:

Gavan Goulder 

Fo over 20 years Gavan’s photographic work has highlighted environmental and social issues and inequalities. In 2018 he published Black Dog, centred on his struggles with mental health. In 2022 he collaborated with St Petrocs and StreetDraw24 on People. Project Cornwall challenging the stigma of homelessness.

Mandy Jandrell 

Mandy is an internationally exhibiting artist working with installation, photography and moving image who’s exhibited widely and who’s work has been published and reviewed by an impressive range of publications. In February she became Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Communication at Falmouth University and will be representing the university in our discussions.

Mercedes Kemp 

Mercedes is a founding artist at WildWorks and continues to work for ‘the UK’s leading landscape theatre company’. She was Senior lecturer in Fine Art at Falmouth University for thirty years. She is a writer and community director, who has collaborated far and wide including with communities that have experienced deep trauma. Mercedes is a believer in the power of stories to create meaningful social change.


As a queer visual artist, activist, producer SHARP’s interdisciplinary approach moves between experimental video, photography, sculpture, and sound installations and addresses issues of gender, sexuality, and social commentary. SHARP is leading development of an Inclusion and Diversity Action Plan with Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) for the cultural and creative sectors in Cornwall.

Dr Virginia Button

Ginny is freelance art historian, writer and educator. Formerly a curator at the Tate Gallery and senior curator at Tate Britain she was also Director of Falmouth School of Art until 2018. She is currently Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Poly and a Trustee of Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and a key player in Cornwall’s cultural sector.

Rob Higgs

Rob is a mechanical sculptor, automata maker, inventor and full-time environmental activist. In 2020 he co-founded Ocean Rebellion - “a grassroots international art collective who tackle Ocean degradation and biodiversity loss by conceiving playful, emotive and spectacular art interventions”. Many of these interventions have brought Rob directly into conflict with police and public. 

Helen Trevaskis – Panel Facilitator

Helen is the founder of StreetDraw24 CIC. Before returning to Cornwall in 2018 she worked on complex behaviour change challenges in low-income settings in developing countries collaborating with academia, business, governments and NGOs. Alongside her creative practice, Helen works with Wavelength, supporting the development of senior leaders from organisations as varied as The BBC, Eden and the London Stock Exchange.


Art! What is it Good For? 

Saturday 30th September 6pm

Tickets: £3/£5 Flexible ticketing*

A £1 Poly Fund payment is added to each ticket sold.

*Flexible ticketing: You choose the amount you wish to pay.


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© The Poly - The Poly is the trading name of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society Limited, a company limited by guarantee and incorporated in England and Wales with company registration number 03909555 and registered charity number 1081199, with its registered office at 24 Church Street, Falmouth TR11 3EG