Rocket Artists in Brighton Museum

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The Rocket Artists are a group of Arts Council funded learning-disabled artists based in Brighton. The Rocket Artists regularly work with University of Brighton students on the M.A. Inclusive Arts Practice.

For the past three years the Rocket Artists and MA IAP students have been able to work together in Brighton Museum, gathering ideas and creating artworks inspired by the collections. The museum provides the Rockets with the space to develop ways of working together over several weekly workshops. The diverse and accessible collections in the galleries provide a rich resource to gather inspiration.

The Rocket Artists have connected with the collections through printmaking, drawing and performance. MA IAP students and Rocket Artists are supported to work collaboratively, exploring shared working processes as well as their responses to the artefacts and histories on display.

They used flatpack cardboard stools as portable seating and as notebooks for capturing ideas from the museum collections. This idea connected them with project partners Cuig Artists, Cork and Kunstwerkplaats, Amsterdam and the stools were later shown in Amsterdam as part of the culmination of a two year project funded by Grundtvig Partnership, Lifelong Learning Programme.

They return to Brighton Museum this coming October. Before they do, we take a look at how they got on during their visit last year.

Some of the things that artists picked up on and found interesting were:

2.John Cull and Anna SavageIslamic tiles in the World Stories gallery – the interactive aspect of this display in the Museum inspired some of the movement in the performance devised for the Fashion and Style gallery.

Drawings of puppets from the Performance gallery were worked up into block and screen printed images back at the Rockets studio.

The collection of animal skulls in the Chilled to the Bone: Ice Age Sussex gallery inspired a collaborative journey of drawing, print and photography.

3.Kelvin Burke and felly Mistweave

4.Rocket Artists - costume handling









The costume handling session brought to us at the Rockets’ studio led to dressing up for drawn portraits and photographs. This session inspired conversation about how people looked and felt wearing the clothes, and gave us the opportunity to see the details of these artifacts more closely.


Some comments from the Rocket Artists about working in the Museum:

What was it like working in the museum?

  • It was good, we’ve been looking around the museum
  • Make friends to make stories together
  • Getting used to art and drawing together
  • It helped with making the book
  • It was enjoyable, I like the Paintings collection
  • I like it because it’s a nice space
  • Looking around, drawing together

What ideas did you get from the museum?

  • Costumes and their patterns
  • Nigerian costume (world gallery)
  • Olden day pictures. Bumper cars, motorbike, skateboard.
  • Taking photos and drawing
  • Very nice looking around the gallery at pictures
  • To make new projects together
  • Look at objects and draw them – photos, old motorbike, old trams
  • To decide what to look at
  • Nice place
  • Teamwork
  • A lot to look at

What did you like about the costume handling session?

  • Hat and coat – dressing up
  • It was cool working with the staff. I felt smart
  • Did drawing that session
  • Trying it on, we did drawing

How did it help your ideas?

  • Helped with the story that we wrote.
  • Helped with the drawings
  • (Gave us) more information

Some comments from the MA Inclusive Arts Practice students about working in the Museum:

What was it like working in the museum?

  • A large range of exhibitions and images to collect ideas from
  • Inspiring to have lots of resources around us
  • It was nice to look round, I enjoyed looking at old photos.

What ideas did you get from the museum?

  • Big spaces, small spaces, quiet spaces, looking at paintings
  • Looking at masks and puppets
  • Transport and photography
  • We collected ideas from a Nigerian costume
  • Sorting! Using a display cabinet
  • Costume, object, space
  • Thinking about different characters for the story


The Rocket Artists are currently working on a publication on inclusive arts practices, funded by Arts Council England. This book accompanies their recent exhibition and symposium titled Side by Side: learning disability, art and collaboration. This took place at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London in 2013. Here you can see a link to the Manifesto for Inclusive Arts film which was made as a result of the discussions and workshops at the Side by Side symposium.

The Rocket Artists are also involved in an international project funded by Grundtvig, Lifelong Learning Programme. This project is called ‘Artists on the Move’ and focuses on sharing and developing art practice through exchange visits and digital communication with two other groups of learning disabled artists: The Cuig Artists from Cork, Ireland and Kunstwerkplaats from Amsterdam, Holland.

Rocket Artist members were recently invited to exhibit their artwork and present some of their collaborative ways of working at the Creative Minds conference at the Dome, Brighton in March 2014.

You can read more about the Rocket Artists group or visit the webpage for more information about the MA Inclusive Arts Practice and certificate.




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