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#HADADi — Helix Arts Digital Artists' Drop-in

Our digital artists drop-in is a warm and friendly social setting where you can share and compare digital arts sketches with other artists and techie entrepreneurs and find new collaborators to make your ideas happen and get inspired.

‘An exhilarating #HADADi…The North East has such a vibrant scene’ tweeted MC @DominicSmith as the evening closed.

We couldn’t agree more…

We are in awe at how much effort and goodwill our presenters and guests put in at these events as they continue to evolve and surprise us. Hopefully those feelings are reciprocated. Last night was no different, even though we were competing against everyone rushing home for pancakes!


Martin O’Leary @mewo2 has many hats, including exhibit design @scienceatlife and his self-described ‘weird internet stuff’ Mewo. This artist, creator and maker shared Brutal - showing the interaction between artistic and practical engineering approaches he goes through Martin gave an insight to his drawing machine and the processes. It ‘drew’ everyone in. Brutal.

He shared how the beauty, emotion and science of light, in it’s simplicity and also it’s complexity influenced this work. He demonstrated this using computer programming and raytracing @brutel_exe raytracers, with his Axi Draw V3 plotter to create wonderful line drawings!

He has produced some beautiful prints, but has no plans to exhibit just yet…why not take a peek over at Martin’s prints @mewo2sketches


Alice Smith @alicethetriplet and Rosie Stronach over at Hey Art, What’s Good? @heyartwhatsgood gave a chilled chat about their podcast which delves into all things North East art. They believe art should not be exclusive (darn right!).

Alice shared how their journey started after a move from studying in Leeds. Both artists in their own disciplines of photography, film, art and design, have made a firm return to the North East and are on a mission to share what’s good, right now, from the regional arts scene.

The duet’s charm shone through, as well as their commitment to ensuring EVERYONE should feel like they can step into these often scary art spaces for the first time. The podcast aims to break down that fear and shares highlights/reviews from the region for what art is good.

It gives folks a reason to dip their toe into cultural waters and encourages them to keep on doing it!

They truly want to make sure people don’t miss out on good art and thanks to @TLMultimedia they have a dedicated studio where they get to record all their episodes. So get your ears around their current episode ‘No Man’s Land’ over at Hey Art, What’s Good?.


John Challis @johndchallis is a poet, producer, editor, research associate and teaching fellow @UniofNewcastle. He made time to also be a creative writer for a Helix Arts programme in a North East prison recently. Helix Arts worked in partnership with @ageUKNT to place a number of writers in the prison to work with older male prisoners.

Due to restrictions in the setting, the challenge came in the form of how to make a film, without film?

John told us about his personal account and experience of working with filmmaker Alan Fentiman @alan_fentiman. As he introduced himself, John dropped in that he has been into two prisons lately and they surprised him, being quiet, sedate almost sleepy spaces…with goats on this occasion!

Approaching this work, he used writing letters as the mode to express the prisoners’ experiences, whether it be about regret, love or otherwise, the group used the concept of metaphor and objects as a focus. This provided the prisoners a vehicle to share personal narratives, those that might otherwise be stopped. He shared the sensitivity of this work and how with Joe at Age UK North Tyneside, they review work carefully.

A real treat included John performing Paul Batchelor’s poem ‘Brick’ which he used in workshops with prisoners to encourage discussion of poems and as an expression of freedom and a right to language.

He is now looking forward to the creative outputs from his collaboration with Alan. Watch this space. We hope to have an update at the next #HADADi. Keen for more? Check out John Challis.


Erin Dickson @archiglass brought another list of mighty accolades. Originally training in architecture she moved over to glass, racking up an MA and PHD at Sunderlnd Uni. She is also a specialist in digital technology, wow!!! What Dr Erin says: she is Geordie. We loved it.

Opening with a sea shanty film of a man singing ‘When the boat comes in’ - with a spin. Using dragon dictation, his Geordie version was translated and he sung the misinterpreted lyrics as a version too. Catch it on Erin’s website!

She shared her interest in decimation and the loss of 10% of something and her constantly being lost in translation due to her Geordie accent. Current work ‘Chinese Whispers’ Erin Dickson illustrates the variations of not being understood.

Whilst 3D scanning a Venetian Chandelier, an invigilator asked her not to photograph works. ‘I’m 3D scanning’…’Oh, OK, carry on’. Everything is up for grabs these days it seems. This led to Erin sharing her journey with a variety of international glass maestros leading to a series of intriguing glass artworks.

Each maestro would share 100 words about the work in their own language, which was then google translated. This was passed to the next maestro to interpret, they then created their own works and again produced 100 words describing their work. Again google translated and passed to the next and so forth. She is up to piece number 10, this will have journeyed from English (Geordie) to Italian to South Korean to Zulu to Spanish to Swedish to Cyrenian to Danish …..and be upl to number 15 when finally shown.


Dr Kathryn Cassidy @KathrynLCassidy researcher, political geographer @NUGeog and ethnographer @NorthumbriaUni offered a retrospect from a few years back when she commissioned Helix Arts ‘Where can I get free?’. Explaining the background to the work on everyday bordering of female migrants, she opens with a film where a women is telling us about the limits she is put under for the right to remain in the UK. This told a painful story of the everyday, enduring journey and struggles they face.

Kathryn and Helix Arts worked with a group of women at The Angelou Centre in Newcastle to explore what they had faced and continued to face with no immigration status. Kathryn’s intensity showed how much this work means to her, particularly around the constant control from the state, their families, husbands, how desperately seeking a way for their voices to be heard: Where could they get free?

The women appointed an artist to guide them to create a collaborative artwork, where they also discussed the challenges and channelled some of that into their final artwork. Overall this led to a range of health and wellbeing benefits as well as artistic skills. Not without challenges, this sensitive project led to a range of needle felted squares for an alternative game of Snakes and Ladders. This represented where their freedom was restricted or spatial violence was most prevalent.

All the women were supported with childcare and therapy during and afterwards. Elements of these works were digitised. Kathryn’s published research can be found Everyday Incarceration.


Danny Walker @walkerdanny. Engineer Danny showed how he used radiation and a Geiger counter to make a cVert midi controller. It uses radiation to create truly random patterns, unlike computers! This piece of tech was shown in situ to create random musical notes, singular or sequence when radioactive decay was detected. Hooked up to Ableton it could make all kinds of music. He made the kit himself, all open source or easily available – get making yours!

By the way, Danny’s day job involves engineering in theatres, a great one for any budding engineer/arty/tech/wannabees @artsawards. Creative careers are not linear or traditional. He also enjoys making tweet bots. A recent one being @everybrexit which uses random adjectives with Brexit, another highlights all the 1 star reviews from visits to World Heritage sites.

The tech was not responding on the night, but we can all find more about the midi controller cVert.


Alisdair MacDonald @alistair raring to share the great collaboration he had completed with performance artist Helen Collard @helencollardo. He shared the emoji face Helen had sent for not being able to join us at Hadadi. Amusing as ever!

We always look forward to Alistair’s ideas and happenings. This one was right up there. The Omerometer or is it Ohmerometer Alistair? Now showing @palaceGreenLib until 17th March 19.

He tells us about their magnificent creation, where people breathe into holes that create a sound and light response. A truly interactive experience, which had been enjoyed by preview party go-ers and school children alike.

As always he gave us a humorous account of the nuts and bolts journey ‘how’ it was produced and the technical and creative challenges they faced head on. It sounds like it is a ‘must do’ exhibition Catch your breath.


Catherine Scott @tiny_wee_lady did a shout out for best models of digital co-creation used in audience development. This forms part of her current MA in Digital marketing and she wasn’t talking about stats!

Catherine shared how this research goes hand in hand with her continued ambition to make sure Arts is for all. As a theatre maker, writer, director at Blowin’ a Hooley @hooleytheatre based in Meadow Well, North Shields, her interest lies in how to get participants who make the work to also be an audience member for that specific work? How can social media help do this right now?

Do DM Catherine on Twitter and influence this cross cutting research.

Even though we don’t theme this event, it often feels there is a connection between the talks. This one felt like it was the freedom to be included, which is a wonderful thing!

A big thank you to all and especially to our host Carol Davenport over at Think Lab, Northumbria University @nustem_uk and Dominic Smith for guiding us through the evening. Please come next time. Same place.

Are you an artist living or working in North Tyneside? Do check out our other events for arts and wellbeing North Tyneside Artists Hub.


The next #HADADi dates are:

Thursday 9 May 2019, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here

Tuesday 17 September 2019, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here

Tuesday 10 December 2019, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here

Thursday 6 February 2020, 5pm, Think Lab (Room E304), Ellison E Block, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST. Directions can be found here

We will also be back at Queen’s Hall, Hexham, later in the year. Dates will be posted soon.

Keep an eye out on our twitter feed for further details.

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