2025 Festival Dates: 5 & 6 July

Graduate Micro Commissions Revealed

14th October 2020

National Festival of Making reveals three graduate artists, Ellie Barrett, Daniel Nelson and Christian Bell, have been commissioned to make new work responding to the festival’s 8 core making themes.


An Open Call was the basis of an invitation for 2020 graduates of creative, cultural industry and art degree programmes based in Lancashire, to consider what they would like to create as part of the festival’s adapted programme of work delivered in the autumn of 2020 & Spring 2021

From the variety of strong applicants, artists Daniel Nelson of UCLan (BA Illustration), Ellie Barrett of Lancaster University (PhD),  and Christian Bell of Blackburn College (BA Fine Art) were successful in gaining the opportunities. The variety and strength of applications we received is testimony to the high quality arts education in Lancashire and the dedication of each individual artist.

The Festival, set to take place in June 2020, was cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the rapid changes, the Festival team established that under the circumstances we would develop a new programme of work that presented opportunities to the creative sector and created positive and meaningful making experiences within the conditions. The aim of this commissioning programme is to ensure that 2020 graduates have the opportunity to make new and exciting work during this period of significant global change.

We are looking forward to working with, and mentoring, these graduate artists in order to develop their project ideas and final outcomes, which will be realised in Spring next year.

Read about each artist below.

Daniel Nelson – Graduate of UCLan BA Illustration

Daniel is an illustrator originating from Greater Manchester with a passion for history and folklore. New to being a professional Illustrator, and graduating just a few months ago, he developed his strong style in the final year of his degree, using garish colours, patterns and empty space to tell stories. Daniel was the Winner of D&Ad ‘One to Watch’ at the 2020 New Blood Festival through his development of a campaign to market Audible in cities. He currently works from his bedroom and looks forward to the day he has a studio to work in.

I longingly think of the day I can have a studio to work in, but my corner desk, which is usually cluttered with all manner of junk, will work for now.”

Artwork: ‘Tug Boat’ and ‘Killerton Dragon’ by Daniel Nelson

Ellie Barrett: PhD researcher at Lancaster University Graduating 2020

Ellie is a sculptor and researcher exploring how using different materials creatively can help us understand ourselves and the world we share. She is constantly drawn to materials we are all familiar with. Bin-bags, cling-film, bubble-wrap and kitchen towels are just some of the things she’s used and she believes innovating with accessible materials is a way of engaging audiences and opening up new ways of thinking. Ellie’s current body of work is made from salt dough (a mix of flour, salt and water): she recreates objects such as food, body parts, commercial goods and art motifs with a homemade and comic aesthetic. They draw comparisons between art making and other forms of production and consumption.

Ellie lives and works in Lancaster, where she also runs GRAFT, an arts organisation which champions artists at the beginning of their professional career and brings exciting contemporary art to wider audiences. This ethos is at the crux of everything she does, both in her curatorial and artistic practices.

Champion[ing] artists at the beginning of their professional career and bring[ing] exciting contemporary art to wider audiences… is at the crux of everything I do”

Artwork: ‘Messy Drama’ and ‘Explain Things to Me’ by Ellie Barrett Photography : Ellie Barrett and Natalia-Gonzalez-Martin

Christian Bell – Graduate of Fine Art at Blackburn University Centre

Christian is a research-led multi-disciplinary artist and recent graduate of the BA Fine Art (hons) course at Blackburn University Centre. Through his own personal interrogation of socially engaged and place-based research, Christian has developed a collaborative approach to delivering interventionist contemporary artworks. Christian’s most recent work explores and critiques the notion of Placemaking through the methodological process of working with communities on site-specific projects and collaboratively excavating and reimagining collective memories of place, youth, and cultural reference.

I am interested in the methodological process of socially engaged practice and strive to achieve a level of robust and meaningful engagement with those I work with.”

Artwork: Peepers Photography: Lee Smillie

We’re excited to share with you more of these artists’ journeys in the coming months.





2019 Trusts & Foundations

The National Festival Of Making Delivery Team

National Festival of Making is supported by the Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Brian Mercer Trust and Foundations and Partners. This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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