S.H.E.D – the Social Higher Education Depot

Welcome to S.H.E.D (Social Higher Education Depot), a flexible structure designed to engage, inspire, and cultivate ideas and dialogue.

Introducing S.H.E.D

S.H.E.D is a research and innovation space that engages with lifelong learning and teaching through creative industry and cultural practice.

S.H.E.D can adapt to multiple possible configurations, all co-designed - it can be what you want it to be. It is a space that invites action through socially, politically and culturally charged practice. Its flexibility supports diversity, designs for dialogues and untold stories, from multidisciplinary fields, from and for all people, especially from those that usually do not have a voice. It has been designed for the shedding of preconceptions of people and place.

We invite you to collaborate and co-create with S.H.E.D. We work with cultural venues and public providers to bridge the gap between the arts and higher education.

S.H.E.D is delivered by Designing Dialogue CiC (community interest company), the first spin-out company from the University of Derby.

Find out more at We Are S.H.E.D

S.H.E.D trailer

View S.H.E.D trailer video transcript

Video embed-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-pRPGoKw_M

S.H.E.D background

Dr Rhiannon Jones is an artist-researcher and thought leader in Social and Design innovation through Civic Practice based at University of Derby. In 2012, she co-founded the artistic research network InDialogue, an international artists' research network that has commissioned and curated four international symposia and artist residencies.

As founding CEO of Designing Dialogue CIC in 2019, Dr Jones co-created S.H.E.D, a unique public arts space co-designed with communities and providing a platform for emerging and established practitioners and artists. S.H.E.D is a collaborative initiative with a wide range of stakeholders that works strategically with large organisations such as the Football Association Charitable Trusts, local authorities, National Museums, Design Council, Arts Council England, Derby Opportunity Area, higher-education sector and creative industries to stimulate debate on regenerative place-making.

S.H.E.D stands for The Social Higher Education Depot, reflecting its position as a social and transient, yet expansive and dynamic space. It is a mobile shed that acts as a bridge between High Education and the public in a safe and inclusive way.

The concept for S.H.E.D was developed in 2019 in partnership with a core team of ‘shedders’, including Dr Victoria Barker, Sarah Webb, Simon Burrows and Barend Slabbert and a group of stakeholders. They have created 32 possible S.H.E.D configurations as an initiative to generate opportunities for people to talk. Sheds are safe, familiar, common spaces that can also spark curiosity.

S.H.E.D explores creative place-making as a methodology to address civic, societal and economic issues through the design of a unique site for public discourse. It does this by creating innovation projects that embed teaching and learning opportunities through research. This is manifested through co-designing bespoke S.H.E.D environments for performative, sporting, cultural and artistic engagement; and achieved in partnership with students, stakeholders, local authorities, policy makers, academics and the business sector.

Meet the stakeholders

Contact S.H.E.D

Rhiannon wearing a silver blazer, looking upwards.
Associate Professor (Civic Practice)

Dr Rhiannon Jones is a  thought leader in Social and Design innovation and Associate Professor (Civic). She leads the Civic Lab Research Group and is a member of Pedagogic Innovation Enhancement and Research (PIER) team within the Provost of Learning and Teaching. She is the CEO of S.H.E.D and chair of Cumulus: International Contemporary Working Art Group.

Barend Slabbert
Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader Interior Design

Barend Slabbert is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Interior Design Programme. He has taught both in Cape Town and London before joining the University of Derby in 2017. He specialises in exhibition and conference set-stage design, and is interested in the responsive adaptation of significant historical interiors to contemporary exhibition spaces.

You can contact the S.H.E.D team at hello@weareshed.co.uk.

You can follow S.H.E.D's work on social media:

Find out more about S.H.E.D projects

Dr Rhiannon Jones in SHED
Dr Rhiannon Jones in S.H.E.D

S.H.E.D research

The work of S.H.E.D has attended to building individual, organisational and community impact as the design continually adapts. Although always driven by artistic practice, the design responds to civic need - from individuals and communities - and is being informed by people and place.

Its core purpose is as a reconfigurable space, driven by the research question into how we design for dialogue through cultural and creative innovation in order to support communities, and our stakeholders' and collaborators' needs in order to understand the culture of a place. It is through that activity that we are able to present at policy level the impact of this way of working.

Driven by a clear focus, it uses culture as a driver for change on place-based local concerns through to Global issues of sustainable development, climate crisis, social, economic and political issues providing solutions, ideas and questions.

How S.H.E.D developed

Dr Rhiannon Jones discusses how S.H.E.D developed from her research.

Dr Rhiannon Jones discusses how S.H.E.D developed

View how S.H.E.D developed video transcript

Video embed-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-unNqD3ekA

S.H.E.D impact

We’ve developed opportunities for over 700 creatives and 500 young people, we’ve showcased over 50 new works, engaging over a dozen schools and reaching in excess of 20,000 members of the public.

S.H.E.D is touring nationally on average eight months of the year, with international research partners and international interest. It is a fantastic example of cultural innovation, grounded in academic knowledge exchange and anchored by a sense of civic responsibility. As Dr Rhiannon Jones describes it, it is "a labour of love, blood, sweat, tears and splinters".

Team S.H.E.D are social design innovators. We were invited by CHEAD (Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) to address a seminar on atypical leadership and we worked with them on their annual CHEAD conference, creating a virtual S.H.E.D for delegates to come to speak with us online during the conference during the peak of lockdown. We also spoke about Design for Emergency, during the pandemic, framing S.H.E.D as an open design challenge for UK-based designers and artists to test out some of the internationally proposed designs generated because of this research initiative.

S.H.E.D continues to work with researchers and stakeholders to galvanise on its civic and social responsibility, as a university spin out company, to provide a unique opportunity for people to talk about what matters to them. And the research activity unearthed the desire from the public to bring change on many urgent matters, not least climate change. We share a common purpose and that is echoed here in Derby, as a civic university in a UNESCO City of Lifelong Learning, who knows what configurations and conversations are yet to be co-designed!

A packed audience at a SHED performance
A packed audience at a S.H.E.D event

Shedders say ...

“It is a garden shed but it’s been transformed and, by being transformed, it can be transformative. It’s not just about the actual shed and the physical, practical side but the fact it’s a mobile arts space and it’s about the people and the community. S.H.E.D is a vehicle to bring people together. There’s 101 things that S.H.E.D will be and will do.” Ben Anderson, S.H.E.D Creative Producer

“This is a fascinating project because it’s going to enable local communities, in the strangest of places, to engage with artists in the strangest of ways. We’re going to find out a lot about those communities and those places in ways we’ve not anticipated.” Dr Nick Owen, CEO of The Mighty Creatives

"Inspiration Exchange needs a partner who understands the value and context of the work, and the S.H.E.D team definitely provide that. The S.H.E.D itself is a great context, physically. The Exchange needs a space that is definably its own, so participants feel contained but it also needs to be open, to be observable from a distance to entice a passing audience, to allow people to drop in. The Shed provides this public intimacy or privacy very well." Dr Alex Kelly, Reader at Leeds Beckett University and Third Angel Co-Artistic Director

"Derby Cathedral was delighted to host S.H.E.D and support DerbyVoice project. It’s so important that the voices of young people are heard and that they have a safe space to express their concerns, perceptions and dreams." The Very Revd Dr Peter Robinson, Dean of Derby

"Derby is my home, yet I’ve felt for a long time that I have never made many impactful contributions in my community as an artist until now. The S.H.E.D installation has given me an opportunity to display art to the public within my community that I believe can help change perspectives about some of the biggest issues in modern societies all around the world, such as Black Lives Matter and cultural interpretations of gender." Mthabisi Mlauzi, Youth Shed Artist

"The impact of this will run deeply as the students, staff and school community more widely will be challenged in a different way, raising curiosity and developing their sense of intrigue and wonder. I have no doubt that having the S.H.E.D project in school for a week will provide lasting memories and great, shared experiences for our school community to treasure." Debbie Gerring, Head Teacher at St Martins School in Derby

"The S.H.E.D provided an adaptable, familiar and informal context within which the young people could perform and have their voices and opinions heard in a public setting. The team created a bespoke version of the S.H.E.D which really supported the performance and the young people, who weren't experienced performers, to feel confident about performing in an outdoors setting to a large audience." The Paper Birds Theatre Company and Plus One

"We are thrilled to work with S.H.E.D. It is a fantastic platform for young people in our city to ensure their voices are heard. It links perfectly with the Inclusion Programme we are leading on which aims to support children and young people at risk of exclusion. Youth voice is a key part of this work and it’s critical that we understand and listen to the needs of all young people." Jo Wilkinson, Inclusion Manager, Derby County Community Trust

"The whole premise of the project is about creating a space for people to talk about things that need to be said. And also to have a space that could navigate different types of spaces whether that's streets, neighbourhoods, city centres, rural locations, being in a gallery as a physical sculpture or whether it's outside as a venue that would morph and change its structure to support what needs to be said." Dr Rhiannon Jones, S.H.E.D Creative Director

S.H.E.D partners

S.H.E.D's project partners are Derby Theatre, theatre development programme In Good Company, Derby County Community Trust, youth development organisation This Is Derby, Derby's Cultural Education Partnership's Cultural Campus, arts organisation Primary, In Dialogue, arts venue Nottingham Contemporary, the Expanded Studio Project and the East Midlands Contemporary Visual Arts Network.

Angela Bartram dogs and owners

Our Arts research

The Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre (DMARC) is the home to artistic research from the disciplines of Performing Arts, Music, Media, Art and Design within the School of Arts.

Find out more about DMARCFind out more about DMARC