Dig Where You Stand Dig Where You Stand

Dig Where You Stand is an archival justice movement made up of artists, archivists, educators and local community members.

Read more about DWYS and its origins

Welcome to the Archive

Explore past and present stories, events, exhibitions, artists, and more involved with DWYS
biennial 20 Jul 2024

Biennial 2024

There has not been anything like this done in South Yorkshire before, not at this scale. The Biennial is more than an exhibition, it is a reclamation. An act of memory recovery and a rennarration of the region’s racial history. Dig Where You Stand is an archival justice movement that has partnered with Sheffield City Archives, The Centre for Equity & Inclusion and Peter & Paul.

news 05 Mar 2023

New Funding Award from The National Lottery Heritage

DWYS has been granted £112,100 by the National Lottery Heritage fund to develop a new comprehensive programme of activity. This will include: 14x new artist commissions, an archival training programme for women of colour, educational resources, various one-off events and a summer exhibition in 2024.

exhibition 31 Oct 2021

Dig Where You Stand 2021 Exhibition

Dig Where You Stand will be running its first ever exhibition from the 25th to 31st October 2021. Artwork produced by Désirée Reynolds and Otis Mensah will capture previously untold stories about people of colour found in local archives. This work emerges from Reynolds’ 6 month residency with Sheffield City Archives.

event 14 May 2024

Migration Matters Festival 2024

Sharing exciting new work by commissioned artists via Britain's largest festival about sanctuary and refugees.

news 19 Mar 2024

Travelling Ayahs Workshop

For International Women's Day we celebrated the extraordinary lives of travelling Ayahs in Britain

event 08 Mar 2024

Travelling Ayahs in Britain: ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances

Dig Where You Stand invites you to a special event for International Women's Day.

resource 05 Jan 2024

Resource Pack

We will soon be sharing a new DWYS resource pack. This will be free to download for community groups, schools and colleges to use when “digging” into the local history of their own communities. The resources here share stories found in Sheffield Archives but we want you, with the help of this pack, to go to your own archives. Digging starts with you.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Patricia Bugembe

Patty B is a self taught artist, Ugandan by heritage, born and raised in Ethiopia and now based in Sheffield, UK. Moving around a lot throughout her lifetime Patty B has found a sense of home by creating art that explores her roots. With a signature mixed media style she creates images that journey further into the history, the beauty and the power of the Black culture, discovering identities and making sense of her experiences. Since her debut exhibition "Her Story Remained Unfinished" at the Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield, Patty B has continued to display her artwork in exhibitions around the country, on billboard campaigns and has had a special features in NowThen's Magazine.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Seiko Kinoshita

Seiko is a Japanese artist who lives and works in Sheffield. Based in her studio at Persistence Works, Yorkshire Artspace, she creates large installations, sculptures, and films often using traditional textile and craft techniques. She also loves working on Public Realm projects that are socially engaged and focus on the hidden stories of local people and their heritage. In her practice, she is interested in how slow and dying craft techniques have a future and keep its cultural value within our ever-changing fast-paced society, and how those old traditional techniques can exist within the contemporary art arena. In recent years, she enjoys collaborating with other professionals such as scientists and sound engineers on challenging projects in new creative directions.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Eelyn Lee

Eelyn Lee is an award winning artist and filmmaker of Hong Kong-English heritage who has shown work at Barbican, Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Palais de Tokyo and at international film festivals. Her art practice combines collective research, performance and filmmaking to create frameworks for collaboration. With ‘organising’ a key aspect of her practice, Eelyn has convened a range of community building projects including the Social Art Summit [2018] - an artist-led review of socially engaged arts practice, and the ESEA Artists’ Futures Town Hall [2023] - a place to imagine new landscapes for East and Southeast Asian artists in the UK and beyond. Her ongoing body of work, Performing Identities is a collective reimagining of ESEA identities through the creation of new mythical characters and their cosmologies.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Kedisha Coakley

Kedisha Coakley is a London-born, Sheffield-based artist. Her practice spans sculpture, photography, and printmaking, predominantly casting in bronze, through which she interrogates Black histories and experiences. Investigating the overlooked, she remixes aesthetics, techniques, and cultural refences throughout her work. Process, hybridity, and materiality are important strands of her practice. Coakley’s work begins as a personal investigation of self, childhood memories and ritualistic practices in the lives of Black communities, and what they signify universally in the world. Making visible suppressed or express meaning by looking hard at what exists in the world of cultural objects, exploring the unconscious of culture, maintaining the integrity of their origins.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Najma Heybe

Najma Heybe is a creative artist from Sheffield. Her passion for writing and poetry is driven by a deep desire to express herself and connect with others through her writing.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Jacqui Hilson

Jacqui Hilson is a self-taught textile artist and speaker who has developed a machine -based technique using Mola (Reverse Applique). Jacqui's art explores motifs taken from nature that are found in many cultures. Her work draws inspiration from her Nigerian background and her Yorkshire surroundings. A strong interest in colour and the part it plays in evoking and depicting emotions is a large part of her craft, as is the texture and layers of fabric. The technique of Reverse Applique involves taking sharp scissors to to cut through layers of fabric revealing what is underneath. The technique is not dissimilar to the one employed by historians to unearth the stories that have been covered by layers of time.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Ellis Walker

Ellis Walker is an early career researcher specialising in black British literature. Her main interests centre around black authored speculative fiction, the British publishing industry and the intersections of race and space in black British literature. Her PhD entitled ‘The Reception and Representation of Black British Authors in Contemporary Britain’ from the University of Sheffield was completed in September 2023.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Rosa Cisneros

Rosamaria Cisneros is a dancer, choreographer, dance historian, critic, Roma scholar, sociologist, flamenco historian and peace activist who graduated from UW- Madison and went on to complete her MA in Dance History & Criticism from UNM-Albuquerque. Her PhD in Sociology focused on Roma women, intersectionality, dialogic feminism and communicative methodologies. At the moment based in the UK, she is an artist- researcher at Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research. She is also an independent artist, dancer, curator and teacher who has organised various festivals and exhibitions. Her dance films have screened in the UK, US, Colombia, Mexico, Greece, Cyprus and Germany and her latest documentary won best of the UK in 2016.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Dal Kular

Dal Kular is a Sheffield born and based writer, mentor and facilitator of creative writing, nature-allied and multi-media arts for healing and liberation. Leaving school at 16 years old with 3 O-levels and being told she could never be a writer, Dal returned to the power of words and writing in her late forties, gaining an MSc in Therapeutic Writing. Her debut poetry book (un)interrupted tongues is published by Fly on The Wall Press. Shortlisted for Wasafiri New Writing Prize and Class Action Nature writing prize, she’s been a recipient of an Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Grant and has contributed a chapter on nature and healing for the forthcoming anthology ‘Wild Service, to be published by Bloomsbury 2024. She loves making zines, botanical journals and roaming the Peak Ditrict in her tiny campervan.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Cole Morris

I am a 22-year-old multi-media artist, fine art student at Liverpool John Moore university and musician of Caribbean / British descent, living in Sheffield. I’m very much influenced by my family, our histories and my location. My interests are animation, film and soundscapes. My last shadow puppet film earned an innovation award from the British Animation Short Film Festival 2023, and currently making a new shadow puppet horror short film “Mortis”.

artist 01 Jan 2024

CJ Simon

CJ Simon is a writer and academic whose dynamic work finds a way to balance both the scholastic and poetic. As a playwright, spoken-word artist, essayist, videographer, and podcaster, CJ's work endeavors to use mulidisceplary approaches in creating politically engaging and challenging work. His writing has been performed across the UK from the Southwark Playhouse in London to the Birmingham Hippodrome and beyond, with work currently being developed at Sheffield Theatres' and Theatre Deli. CJ is taking his next steps as a freelance writer and creative with his new theatre company Fire and Folie Theatre pushing to produce research-led and impact-driven art, making this work with Dig Where You Stand well-timed and incredibly exciting.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Asma Kabadeh

Asma Kabadeh is a creative producer and programmer with an extensive background in collaborative arts initiatives. Working across arts, community development and research her work is primarily centred on facilitating diverse creative voices in multimedia forms with a strong focus on uncovering untold stories. Asma has produced 10 short films with local filmmakers, screened by Sheffield DocFest Exchange, and Migration Matters festival.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Otis Mensah

Otis Mensah (recipient of Jerwood Arts Live Work Fund & Arts Council England's Developing your Creative Practice) is a musician and multidisciplinary artist exploring the intersection of poetry and experimental music(s). Taking influence from the rhythmic and expressive freedom of Jazz, Otis’ work uses aesthetic language as an instrument to solo through themes of race, identity, gender and the body. Since being appointed Sheffield’s first Poet Laureate in 2018, Otis has sold-out their debut poetry collection Safe Metamorphosis published with Prototype in 2020, debuted at Glastonbury, & We Out Here Festival, as well as performing with the likes of Moor Mother, Nightmares On Wax, Benjamin Zephaniah and Little Simz.

artist 01 Jan 2024

Wemmy Ogunyankin

I am a visual anthropologist/ethnographer who specialises in photography, documentary and poetry. My work concerns a deep exploration of the lived experiences of minoritised and underrepresented groups. As a Black woman, I look to challenge the co-opting of storytelling, to uncover hidden stories, do grassroots work with local communities, decolonise the lens, and in turn contribute to intersectional feminist creative practice.

event 09 Jun 2023

Project launch Biennial 2024

We are very excited to have been granted £112,100 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop this work over the next two years. You are warmly invited to join our project launch at the Showroom Workstation to celebrate this award and find out more about the new DWYS programme.

resource 19 May 2023

Artist Commissions Brief 2023/24

We are commissioning 7x emerging / mid-career artists to expand this work. Selected artists will be invited to explore local archives and produce creative responses over a 6 month period. A public exhibition will be held in July 2024. Drawing from the socialist legacy of Dig Where You Stand, we are particularly interested in regional stories about working class people of colour. We also place an emphasis on stories from before 1945. This disrupts mainstream narratives about migration in Britain, which suggests that people of colour only came to these shores after World War II. However, we remain open to other areas of interest expressed by artists.

resource 15 May 2023

Artist micro commissions brief 2023/24

We are commissioning 3x new or emerging artists to expand this work. Selected artists will be invited to explore local archives and produce creative responses over a 6 month period. A public exhibition will be held in July 2024. Drawing from the socialist legacy of Dig Where You Stand, we are particularly interested in regional stories about working class people of colour. We also place an emphasis on stories from before 1945. This disrupts mainstream narratives about migration in Britain, which suggests that people of colour only came to these shores after World War II. However, we remain open to other areas of interest expressed by artists.

news 01 Apr 2023

Artist commissions 2023/24

As part of our newly funded programme, DWYS will be commissioning 14 artists to produce creative work for a summer exhibition in 2024

event 13 Nov 2022

Exhibition & Soundscape

We are very excited to once again host a Dig Where You Stand event at The Samuel Worth Chapel. This time with soundscapes by Otis Mensah and Désirée Reynolds. If you missed the exhibition earlier this year, don't miss out again! Join us Saturday 12th November and meet Désirée Reynolds, Cheryl Bailey and Otis Mensah who will welcome you to the exhibition and discuss their experience of discovering Black and marginalised voices in the archives. Dig Where You Stand is a movement, go discover your archives today.

story 25 Oct 2021

Thomas Pompey

In the parish Baptism Registers for Harthill, Rotherham, here is Thomas Pompey. “A youth of about 14 years of age, (native of Guinea in Africa) was bapt’zed November 7 1725, The Right Honourable Marques of Carmarthen (and) James Frymer Esq being Godfathers, Right Honourable Lady Carmarthen (and) Lady Pitt Godmothers...”

story 25 Oct 2021

Shirley Campbell

How do stories come to you? These lost and alone Black children of Sheffield have been finding me. So I must hang on to them as they are hanging onto me.

story 25 Oct 2021

Inventory of Goods

Imagine the inhumanity of people ownership and that trauma be multiplied by leaving people in your will. Coming across this fragment of suffering was a difficult and important find. We know that names are important and what that might do if you don’t get to keep yours.

story 25 Oct 2021

5000 Miles to Millsands

This is the earliest known photograph of a Chinese Family in Sheffield, taken 16th May 1914 in the Millsands area.

story 25 Oct 2021

The 33,575+

1799 diary of Thomas Staniforth (Staniforth Road). His name is listed with 79 definite voyages in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade database, most likely more.

story 25 Oct 2021

Malcolm X Sheffield

Malcolm X visits Sheffield Dec 1964. A headline predicts trouble, there wasn’t any.

story 25 Oct 2021

Pablo Fanque

Pablo was a fixture during Victorian Sheffield. The very first recorded Black circus owner, born Norwich African parents in 1810. Worth remembering that the trade in enslaved people was abolished in 1807. The ownership of people abolished 1833.

story 25 Oct 2021

Girl at the Atlas Gates

Found on one of Mitchell and Kenyon’s staged factory gate films 1901, Sheffield. This was John Brown and Co’s or Brown Atlas Works, who went on to be a part of Sheffield’s Forgemaster’s.

story 25 Oct 2021

The Nameless at Page Hall

A water colour of an ‘ayah’ or nanny and her charge Ada Hicks, painted by Margaret Scott Gatty, 1850’s/60’s.

story 24 Oct 2021

To all that lie awake

Dedicated to the artists, the excavators.

story 24 Oct 2021

Blue Fire

Blue Fire is a poem by Otis Mensah about Samuel Morgan Smith, a tragedian, specialising in depictions of ‘Othello’. Smith was born in Philadelphia on 20 June 1832. We think racism led him here, segregated theatres and performances in the US meant Samuel could not practice his art. He travelled the UK and performed extensively. He died in 1882 and is buried at the Sheffield General Cemetery.

artist 01 Oct 2021

Désirée Reynolds

Désirée Reynolds, (she/her) a South Londoner up North, was brought up in Clapham, London to Jamaican parents and now living in Sheffield. She told her Mum, at about 8 years old, that she was going to write a book and has been writing ever since. She started her writing career as a freelance journalist for the Jamaica Gleaner and the Village Voice. She has gone on to write film scripts, poetry, flash fiction and short stories.