for Arts
& Culture
Visual Arts/Museums | Hastings

Project Art Works

Based in Hastings, East Sussex, Project Art Works is a collective of neurodiverse artists and activists working with people who have complex needs, their families, carers and the systems and services that support them.

Activities promote deep and authentic relationships between people who, because of their disability, experience extreme social isolation, and artists, health and social care professionals and arts organisations. They support people with complex needs to explore their creative potential and abilities, making art that is of exceptional quality.

Project Art Works

Project Artworks Turner Prize

Project Art Works

Project Art Works

Target Beneficiaries

Project Art Works collaborates with children, young people and adults with complex support needs and their families and circles of support.

Alongside neurodiverse artists and makers, the collective includes paid and unpaid caregivers who help each other to navigate through the complexities of the health and social care systems.

Their practice and approach is rooted in the principle of seeing everyone as an individual who has value and a right to direct their own life.

Project Art Works’ activities explore human connection and what it reveals about identity and how we view each other. Their practice continues to respond to the functional and ethical structures of diligence and care, respecting self-determination and privacy whilst working towards greater visibility and understanding of neurodiversity in culture.


Project Art Works’ practice intersects art and care, responding to neurodivergence, its gifts and impacts. Challenging paradigms of inclusion, it spans direct practical and holistic support, film, events, projects and exhibitions.

Project Art Works facilitate personalised creative pathways for artists and makers. The studio spaces are without hierarchy where artists work together in purposeful collaboration using total communication. Gesture, sound, signing and empathy allow for more expansive and freeing forms of connection.

Programmes evolve through creative practice and radiate out to awareness raising in the cultural and care sectors – promoting more diverse representation of neurodiverse artists and makers, and those who care for them.

Project Art Works also runs an Art on Loan scheme, increasing awareness of the work made by neurodiverse artists and contributing to the sustainability of Project Art Works and their programmes.

The recent project EXPLORERS – Illuminating the Wilderness (2017-20) was a three year programme designed to bring a largely ignored aspect of the discourse on inclusion into the heart of mainstream visual arts programming. Supported by Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund and by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, it was a structured opportunity for a group of visual arts organisations to question and respond to the lack of neurodivergent artists, and the wider community of people with complex needs, in publicly funded, visual arts spaces.


Project Art Works was one of five art collectives nominated for the Turner Prize 2021.

From working within this field over the last 20+ years Project Art Works knows that creative practice has a wide-ranging and long-term impact in the lives of people with complex needs:

  • Reduction in behaviour described as challenging
  • Agency, personalisation and self-direction in their work and life
  • Calm, focus, engagement
  • Choice and decision-making
  • Contribution to cultural life
  • The person is seen as a valuable contributor to society

In 2017-18:




2017-20 Explorers project:

  • 12 public exhibitions of work by, with or about people with complex support needs.
  • 6 commissions
  • 40+ talks, seminars, showcases and other audience events
  • 150+ creative workshops involving more than 950 participants with complex needs.
  • 200+ support workers and family members took part
  • At least 47,900 people visited gallery spaces to see work made
  • At least 1,300 people participated in other EXPLORERS events
  • Between 1 January 2017 and 31 May 2020 2,984 unique website visitors
  • 70+ staff, volunteers, trustees and freelancers working from the partner arts organisations took part in awareness raising workshops run by Project Art Works
  • 600+ artists and other cultural sector professionals attended seminars, conferences and other events, increasing their and the sector’s understanding of neurodiversity
  • Project Art works created three new posts to deliver the programme and to meet the demand generated by it. Some partners also bought in additional staff or freelancers
  • At least four arts organisations enabled university students to learn from and or undertake research relating to EXPLORERS
  • At least 30 freelance artists and facilitators were employed and developed their professional practice as a result
  • Three artists completed 18 months of professional development with Project Art Works, starting as volunteers and going on to be regularly contracted, by Project Art Works, to work as artists
  • 16 teachers were trained in delivering accessible photography workshops
  • 12 artists and social care practitioners took part in a training/mentoring programme around accessible photography workshops
  • Eight Year 2 Fine Art students from Birmingham College of Art at Birmingham City University completed placements with Project Art Works at Tate Liverpool in 2019.
  • The partner organisations developed new relationships with at least 33 social care organisations


It has taken over 70 years for Albert to be given a label (artist) that he is proud of.... Taking part in mentoring studios has enabled Albert to have autonomy with his art that he has been unable to achieve in any other venue or area of his life.

Sian Duly, Support Worker for Albert Geere

I have never in my whole life - as a mother, as a teacher or as a worker in mental health - come across a team with such an awareness about the individual. It's very rare and cannot be compared to anything I've ever experienced in my personal life with my son, or in my own professional work.

Participant Parent, February 2017


Project Art Works is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, and is also supported by the Big Lottery Fund – Reaching Communities, BBC Children in Need, Rayne Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, East Sussex County Council and The Monument Trust (Sainsburys Family Charitable Trust).