Somewhere and Babylon 3

Somewhere in Ely is a project in partnership with Babylon Arts inviting local residents to join a conversation about the kind of arts and activities they would like to see in the city.  Artists, makers and creators from across the country were invited to propose ideas for fun and unexpected things to happen in the city.  There were over 70 proposals offering performances, sculpture, installations, activities and events.  There were 3 commissions of £1,800 available, 2 of which were chosen by Ely residents through a public vote. 

The 3 commissions are:

1.  Community Clay installation with artist Louise Beale

Louise Beale is a ceramic artist based in Ely whose vision was to create an installation of hundreds of ceramic sculptures that represent our city.  Across the summer Louise gave out ‘clay making kits’ to local residents, schools, businesses, care homes and families.  Local people got to work making clay models inspired by Ely.  The final work was on display as part of a mass installation at the Babylon Gallery during the All Together Now exhibition from 16 October – 15 November.

2.  The Yesterday & Tomorrow Machine by artist Mike Hartley

Mike Hartley makes kinetic sculptures using recycled materials and his proposal for a new contraption to entertain people in Ely won the public vote.  Mike is busy working in a forge developing this fantastical contraption called the ‘The Yesterday and Tomorrow Machine.’  Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have been unable to present the work this year but we hope the Yesterday & Tomorrow Machine will make an appearance in Ely in Summer 2021.  You can see a video of the work in development here, and a clip of it on the move here.

3. Mike Hartley

3.  The Dance WE Made: Ely, with Casson & Friends

Casson & Friends are a record-breaking Dance Theatre Company, creating unique performances that are interactive and joyful. The team of dancers visited Ely on Sunday 25 October, and had just 2 hours to create a brand new dance. To do this, they gathered moves from Ely residents, and brought them together to create a new dance. You can now watch the dancers gathering their moves as well as the final performance here.


In Summer 2019 I started talking to Babylon Arts about the idea behind Somewhere in Ely.  With support and encouragement from Claire Somerville (Chief Executive of Babylon Arts) I put together a project plan and also made links with Ely Markets, Ely College and Isle of Ely Arts Festival.  In autumn 2019 I submitted a funding proposal to Arts Council England Project Grants and a small grant was awarded.

In 2020 I started talked to local residents, visited groups and discussed the project with students at Ely College.  The information gathered helped to inform a creative brief.  This is the document we used to invite artists and creatives to respond with proposals for new artwork in Ely.  Please click here for details about the artist open call (now closed).

We received over 70 submissions from a whole range of creative people, who wanted to make something fun and interesting happen in our City.  In May 2020 the project steering group shortlisted 5 proposals who would then pitch their ideas for local residents to choose.  Each of the 5 artists made a 2-minute film to explain their idea.  People who live and work in Ely were then be invited to look at the film pitches and vote for the two ideas they would most like to see happen. You can see the short videos here on the Babylon Arts YouTube channel.  (Please note public voting is now closed).

The two artist proposals with the highest votes have been awarded a £1800 commission to share their work in Ely in October 2020.  The winning two artists chosen by the public are Louise Beale and Mike Hartley.

Follow the project on Instagram here.

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch using the form:

This project is in partnership with Babylon Arts, Isle of Ely Arts Festival, Ely Markets and Ely College.  The project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

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