First Art

Mansfield, England | April 2015

First Art is funded by Arts Council England through its innovative Creative People and Places initiative.

Flâneur Activities

May 09 2015

Photowalk and workshop with David Sern

On May 9th  2015, join acclaimed, local photographer David Severn for a FREE Photo Walk and Photography Workshop Session in Mansfield Town Centre.

The morning  included a guided tour of the First Art Portrait Exhibition, where David talked personally about the work he created for the Mansfield light-boxes. 

Starting at 11am- 1pm at the First Art Pop-Up Shop, 25 Mansfield Market Place.


- Introduction to First Art and David Severn

- Photo Walk around the Portrait exhibition, discussion about the project. Find out the stories behind individual images and experiences whilst making the work.

- Question and Answer session with David.

- Photography workshop based on the idea of "flaneur" (the idea behind the Procurarte light-boxes), which has a long associat


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Photowalk and workshop with David Sern

From April 25 2015 to May 13 2015

The exhibitions of Kajal Nisha Patel and David Severn

Portrait: People and Places of the First Art Area the first major commission of First Art, an innovative light-box exhibition system brought over by Flâneur - New Urban Narratives. It was installed in Mansfield Market Place between 25th April and 13th May 2015 and featured the work of rising stars of the UK photography world Kajal Nisha Patel and Mansfield born David Severn.

Kajal and David were asked to travel the First Art area and create an intimate picture of the local characters and landscape. They delivered a series of raw, emotional and valuable images which have been seen by hundreds (if not thousands) over the three week exhib


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The exhibitions of Kajal Nisha Patel and David Severn

David Severn

PORTRAIT: People and Places of the First Art Area

This series of photographs celebrates the cultural and working lives of people in the North Nottinghamshire and North East Derbyshire coalfields. Having grown up in the area myself, I have chosen to photograph subjects that resonate with my own memories and family background. The remnants of this area’s coal mining and manufacturing heritage are everywhere in both the built environment and the steadfast, stout-hearted working class culture. During this project, I have walked miles of former colliery railway lines flanked by rows of terraced houses, linking village to village with distinctive landscaped mounds once sculpted of coal spoil.

Along the way, I have encountered Rock n’ Roll fanatics and ballroom dancers, pigeon fanciers and greyhound racers, Bingo callers and brass band players among other characters and community groups. Local industry may have changed but the cultural spirit lives on and people, young and old, continue to be united by their passions; their musicality, artistry or sportsmanship.

The photographs also look at young people coming of age amidst a post-industrial landscape and reflect upon their hopes, prospects, vulnerabilities and strengths. I’ve discovered personal and collective stories of dedication, like the world championship kick boxer in Langwith, or the Mansfield Skate Plaza designed by local skateboarders, that are testament to their pluck and determination, a defining quality of the coalfields.

Kajal Nisha Patel


PORTRAIT: People and Places of the First Art Area

When I was asked to participate in this project, I was in the process of documenting the decline of textiles manufacturing in Leicester. My interest in textiles accompanies childhood memories of time spent in hosiery and garment factories, after school and during holidays whilst my mother worked as a sewing machinist. She was employed within Leicestershire’s burgeoning clothing industry during the 1970’s, up until the period of industrial decline when mass production was shifting to China and India. My mother was a skilled artisan, but classed as an immigrant or simple factory worker.

For this project, my mother’s experiences directed my curiosity towards the remnants of local textiles production, its related cottage industries along with other skilled craftspeople in the area. I have chiefly concentrated on the local skills based economy, particularly small enterprise artisans, working with natural materials. I am interested in people’s pride when they connect with the history of the land that they inhabit, and the dignity that comes from producing meaningful things. I have looked at the importance of creativity for individuals and the strength and collective identity this brings to communities.


Coming soon...


Who we are

First Art is a collective of four cultural and community organisations working within the former coalfields of NE Derbyshire and NE Nottinghamshire. Beginning in January 2015, we aim to bring inspiring cultural experiences within reach of everyone in Ashfield, Bolsover, Mansfield and NE Derbyshire over the next two years.

We want to do this because people who live here are less involved in the arts than people living in most other parts of the country – in some areas there is no engagement at all! Evidence shows that communities with culture, creativity and imagination are stronger and more resilient than those without, and we want people in these areas to benefit from this valuable relationship between a thriving community and the arts.

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