Skip to content

Hopeful Disruption: Art and Social Work Conference
Tues 12, 9.45am-4pm & Wed 13 Mar 2024, 9.45am-5pm
Past event

People in a room stick paper up in a wall as part of an activity.

Image: LBBD + Jimmy Lee 2023

Hopeful Disruption: Art and Social Work is a two day conference co-curated by New Town Culture and the Supersmashers project at South London Gallery. The conference will examine the role of creative practice in social work, and the relationship between art and social work.   

This event is aimed at artists and cultural practitioners, social work professionals or anyone with an interest in the relationship between art and public/social services and the role art can play in public life more widely. 

Over the two days, hear from a wide range of perspectives in artist-led talks, presentations and practical breakout sessions with the aim to: 

  • Set the scene for people that are new to the social work sector, sharing local and international perspectives of the current landscape. 
  • Define what creative work is and can be in social care practice. 
  • Activate discussion about the role of art in social care and vice versa, and the role of cultural organisations in supporting creative practice in social care. 
  • Share experiences around obstacles, risks and possibilities of a more connected art and social care practice sphere while also building networks of support & developing toolkits. 
  • Imagine art practice through the lens of different sectors and services. 
  • Explore the notion of alliance between cultural organisations, artists and social care services. 


Speakers and sessions include:

  • Seth Pimlott (Chisenhale Gallery) Leanne Turvey & Alice Walton (Tate) India Harvey, (South London Gallery, Supersmashers) and Nephertiti Schandorf (Peckham Platform) explore the role ‘risk’ has played in their work with artists in the spaces of social care, education, youth justice and mental health services.
  • Rachel Anderson (Idle Women) and artists Gayle Chong Kwan, Helen Cammock, and Andrea Franke discuss how alliances between art and care might impact on the meaning and function of art. What is lost and what is gained?
  • Professor Claudia Bernard (Goldsmiths Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies) presents a picture of UK social work in 2024 and asks what role vulnerability plays in the work. She shares what she sees as the radical possibilities for art and social work.
  • Siddhesh Mukerji and Danielle Jatlow explore the international situation for social work with a focus on the power of ‘not knowing’ as a strategy linking social work with art practice.
  • Youth Justice and Social Work practitioners Lonnie Robinson, Gemma James discuss the role trauma plays in their work both from within and outside of social work systems.
  • Hear about Relational Activism – a movement led by parents with lived experience of social work systems
  • Artist Albert Potrony talks about the notions of Hopeful Disruption and Radical Hospitality in their practice.
  • Artist Amy Leung shares with us the role of care and needs in her art practice.
  • Artist Hannah Kemp Welch shares sound-based practices in youth justice services.

The full conference schedule is coming soon.


£40 for two days / £20 per day 

Lunch and refreshments included in ticket cost, with a drinks reception at the end of the second day.  

Please include any information about dietary requirements when purchasing your ticket online. 


New Town Culture is curated by the Culture and Heritage Service in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, to develop artistic practice within the services and systems of public life. Since being awarded a Cultural Impact Award as part of London Borough of Culture in 2018 New Town Culture has explored how artistic and cultural experience can reframe social work systems through research, projects, training and knowledge exchange. 

South London Gallery is one of the capital’s leading contemporary visual art institutions. The SLG has an established reputation for its ground-breaking programme of contemporary art exhibitions, events and education projects for children, young people and adults. 

Supersmashers is an art and play project for care-experienced children, their carers and social workers that has been running at SLG since 2012.  

Both projects have a shared impetus to understand the role art can play in lived experience in social care and in public life more widely. 


The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, launched London Borough of Culture in 2017, to bring Londoners together and put culture at the heart of local communities, where it belongs. The aim has been to shine a light on the character and diversity of London’s boroughs and bring culture to everyone, so that all Londoners have the chance to be part of something extraordinary.


We are committed to making this conference accessible to all, and we are offering 20 free bursary places (for both days) + £150 attendance fee to individuals for whom the ticket fee would be a barrier or are impacted by the loss of paid labour.

Applications for bursaries are now closed.


  • Event is seated.
  • Participants are welcome to take breaks before and after presentations.
  • Room may be dark at times to show presentations.
  • Wheelchair access and disabled toilets are available at this site.
  • Please inform us of any additional access needs you have by emailing 
  • We have a budget to support access to this conference programme. Please let us know on the Eventbrite booking form if you have any access needs, and If you’d like to discuss this further or in advance of booking please contact:  


New Town Culture Logo

Supported by
Mayor of London logo