We're thrilled to introduce our talented CAN Do Creatives to Greater Manchester's art organisations.
This is CAN’s second CAN Do Creatives course following on from our very successful 2019 – 2020 programme, which supported a range of artists working in different disciplines.
Funded by the European Social Fund, CAN Do Creatives empowers artists from diverse backgrounds to build, reignite or launch creative careers and businesses.
One of the primary challenges for emerging artists, or those new to the UK, is having small or limited networks.
“CAN Do Creatives has given me new connections and ideas on how to bring my plans and ideas to life. I want to keep my musical journey moving forward through hard work every day.”
CAN Do Creatives helped trainees to build the foundation of a freelance career from learning how to promote their work to understanding self-employment, to getting to grips with relevant legislation such as health and safety. We also helped trainees to navigate the funding system and to develop an understanding of what funders’ priorities are.
The course supported artists and creatives to understand how to develop a successful project step-by-step from an initial seed idea through to project evaluation and reporting.
One of the key benefits of the course is growing a trainee’s self-confidence.
“The CAN Do Creatives course has given me skills, tools and confidence to pursue my dream of a career in the arts. It’s helped me to take the skills I have to the next level as a professional artist including how to market myself, network, and to have a better understanding of how to plan prepare and organize projects.”
CAN Do Creatives Showcase
Meet our CAN Do Creatives
Reza is a portrait photographer (or as he says a human photographer). He was born in the rainiest city of Iran – Rasht – which has the sea to the north and mountains to the south.
“I met my best friend about twenty years ago – my camera. I had fallen in love with looking at the world through the glass heart of my camera.”
In 2010, he began his degree studying photography with leading photographers at Iran’s School of Television Art.
In 2013, Reza founded a photography studio and became a member of the World Photography Federation under the auspices of UNESCO.
From 2014 onwards, Reza taught photography at university. After taking hundreds of thousands of photos and holding dozens of exhibitions as well as printing books, he concluded that he wanted to teach students that photography is not just an art or a technique but that it is the skill of seeing and touching the spirit of the world.
Reza came to the UK in 2020 for personal reasons and was introduced to CAN by a friend.
“My purpose for participating in CAN Do Creatives is to find a way to translate my Iranian art and ideas for British audiences.”
“Getting to know new people, getting to know the art market, and how to introduce myself and my work to new networks have been some of the benefits of this course.”
“My future plans are to establish my own photography studio and collaborate with reputable art institutes in the field of personal and custom projects.”
“I believe music tells a story.”
Yalda is a Persian popular singer, guitarist, and actress.
She was born in Iran in 1987, studied Economics at Rasht Payam Noor University, and came to the UK in 2014.
Over the last few years, Yalda has released several songs as an independent artist which are available on online music platforms including Spotify.
As an actor, she has worked with the Odyssey Theatre Group which performed on Zoom throughout lockdown.
Yalda joined CAN DO Creatives to help build the skills to create a Persian music and art group and to become self-employed.
Spotify Yalda Farmehr
Haleh is a prize-winning professional actor and theatre-maker with over 25 years of experience. She studied Theatre at Tehran Art University and TV and Radio Media at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale.
She has worked internationally as a teacher and facilitator for stage theatre work with both universities and local communities. As a professional actor, Haleh acted in a long-running Iranian TV series Grandma’s Tales and a series that followed the fictional stories of young people in a local neighbourhood. Other acting work includes the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Education Department.
Haleh is the leader of Odyssey Theatre Group – a Manchester-based independent cross-cultural theatre collective. She specialises in discovering and developing talented emerging actors. Haleh has taught theatre and storytelling for 20 years.
She is a published poet and an experienced Sufi dancer. Haleh is also a portrait photographer and has worked as a festival judge in both theatre and photography.
Lisa is an imaginative and diverse mixed media visual artist based in Manchester. She creates original paintings, illustrations, and works to commission. Lisa works with an extensive variety of materials such as clay, resin, origami, and string and uses techniques including felting, pyrography, and graffiti art. Lisa particularly enjoys upcycling and reusing items that would normally be thrown away.
Much of Lisa’s work is vibrant and psychedelic, with kaleidoscopic use of colour. She takes inspiration from nature, folklore, tattoos, and alternative fashion, and uses elements of cultural celebrations and festivals from around the world. Her work often features fantasy landscapes and illustrations of fairy-tale style figures and creatures from mythology, intricate patterns, doodles, mandalas, and sacred symbology.
With a background in working with children in a variety of settings (including on hospital wards), creativity and using the arts for health and well-being have always played a large part in all areas of Lisa’s life.
Whilst working at St Mary’s & Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital as a Hospital Play Specialist, Lisa developed two large pieces of artwork with patients in collaboration with LIME Hospital Arts for public display.
In 2017, Lisa began to make art, at first as self-exploration, and then to develop a career in this area. She has since achieved a place in the finals for five months running in the POSCA Artist of the Year Competition 2021. Lisa’s work was also selected for Stockport Art Gallery’s 2021 Together Again exhibition.
Lisa is currently preparing to sell prints and original fine artwork online, as well as working on commissions and artistic collaborations. Plans include working on a larger scale: with paintings developing her graffiti work and delivering and collaborating on grass-roots projects and workshops, using the creativity to promote positive mental health.
Leo Macdonald Oulds
Leo graduated from the Royal Drawing School‘s postgraduate programme in 2021. His diaristic work uses drawing to record the experience of familiar people and places, which are further explored through the processes of painting and printmaking.
Molly is an artist, photographer and creative facilitator based in Manchester.
Having studied Fine Art at MMU, she uses an intuitive and multi-disciplined approach within her practice, allowing her the opportunity to navigate and respond within a diverse range of creative and community-based settings.
Molly is interested in the investigation of people, the places and spaces they occupy and observing everyday moments, and exploring themes of identity, nostalgia, childhood, play and belonging.
In early 2021 she began collaborating with the Stretford Street Art Club (SSAC) to document and develop lockdown ‘street gallery’ exhibitions. This inspired connection and creativity in the community, before evolving into design work and direct facilitation as restrictions began to ease.
Molly has since supported and facilitated workshops with SSAC as well as Connect Manchester and Stretford Public Hall. She has also been lucky enough to explore her passion for heritage buildings, creating an experimental children’s trail at Victoria Baths. The aim of which was to explore ideas of family engagement through elements of fantasy, storytelling, participation, and the activation of space.
Molly is eager to develop her practice further by learning through new disciplines, working collaboratively with others on projects that excite her and expanding on ideas of relational aesthetics and the use of creative intervention as a tool for connecting through shared experience.
Peyman is an Iranian film and TV series director now based in the UK.
After studying Persian Literature in Iran, he began making short films, documentary cinematography, and directing TV series. Over a decade, many of his short films won awards at film festivals initially in Iran, and then in Switzerland and Italy.
Despite these successes, Peyman was subsequently banned in Iran from making films or being employed by any government department, as his films focussed on human and women’s rights, and challenged the political regime.
Now settled in the UK, Peyman has many new creative ideas for short and feature-length films. He is looking for collaborators and producers to work with.
Aylin Nemati Salahi
Aylin has worked for many years as an assistant photographer and art director with her husband who is a professional photographer.
She used her creativity to develop a successful career as a freelance wedding designer in Iran.
In a country where a woman always works under the protection of her husband or a male relative, Aylin achieved personal and professional independence. She is determined to raise the profile of women.
Now located in the UK, Aylin wants to use her stage design skills to create a career. Her plan is to enrol in a stage design course and work in a theatre.
Now, as an independent artist in the UK, she looks forward to building a successful career here.
“I’m proud to be enrolled in the CAN DO Creatives course. This course helped me think about my creative skills and interests and what I want to do in the future.”
Aylin has a BA in Software from the University of Iran.
Mandy is an art tutor and workshop leader.
Having worked with the Manchester Adult Education Service for 20 years as an art tutor, workshop leader and within the Family Learning department, she has a wealth of experience in designing and facilitating creative programmes. Mandy is skilled at working in a variety of artistic mediums, from craft to print-making, landscape drawing to painting, and many of her programmes have wellbeing and health benefits built into their core aims.
Mandy is skilled at working with diverse groups of all ages, creating a supportive atmosphere that enables creativity, experimentation, and achievement for everyone taking part, whatever their level. Many of her previous courses are accredited, and she is a keen collaborator with museums, galleries and libraries, to bring the arts in their broadest sense to a wider audience. Mandy has a particular passion for Family Learning courses, seeing families develop and grow together through creative play and exploration.
As an artist in her own right, Mandy uses mixed media to portray landscapes and interiors and when not working, she likes to play the accordion and dance to French folk music.
After leaving school at the end of the 1970s, Paul briefly worked in advertising and as a musician before becoming a painter. He went on to a degree in Fine Art. With a group of fellow young artists, he developed two artists’ studios in empty mills in Ancoats.
Paul exhibited his work in Manchester spaces including Dry Bar and Cornerhouse He also as part of a group show in London which included works by Tracey Emin.
At first, working in acrylics, and eventually arriving at a post-modern figurative approach after many years of experimentation, Paul has recently made the move to digital painting using an iPad, following in the footsteps of David Hockney.
Although Paul’s improvised process of development remains the same, the difference in medium has helped to give rise to a whole new body of artworks that are, in some sense, direct continuations of his earlier paintings, but also represent a fresh approach to what an art image “should” be, since no longer constrained by the expectations of a traditional painting. Using the simple convention of art portraits combined with Pop Art influences, Paul has chosen to make diminutive art objects exist in the real physical world and not simply virtually, by printing the images directly onto aluminium. These objects occupy a space between paintings and collectable cards.
Gloria is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, who trained in multiple disciplines including textiles, sculpture, ceramics, painting, and interior design.
Having studied visual art at the Academy des Beaux-Arts Kinshasa in Democratic Republic Congo, Gloria ran her own studio, worked at Memling Art Gallery, and exhibited throughout the country.
After moving to the UK, she became an Associate Artist at Chuck Gallery and exhibited alongside other female artists at exhibitions including the Greater Manchester Police Headquarters, Pankhurst in the Park in Alexandra Park, HOME, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester International Festival, The Whitworth, Zellij Arts, Longsight Library and the Centre for International Women Artists (CIWA).
As an artist, Gloria is heavily influenced by her African origins, inspired by nature and society. She loves to learn new things and champions sustainability.
As a workshop leader, Gloria is part of the Travelling Heritage Bureau and Girlhood projects working with housing associations, Sure Start centres, Manchester Art Gallery and CIWA. She is a board member and studio artist with Global Arts Manchester, and a creative project worker with Creative City where she teaches women new skills in craft, arts, and soapmaking.
Gloria is currently finishing her training in violin string making with the lutist, George Stoppani.
Fariba is a writer, musician, composer, music education consultant specialising in Iranian music and Western classical music.
She graduated from Tehran Arts University with a MA in Music. Her thesis was about repetitive strain injuries sustained while playing musical instruments. She went on to publish a poster sharing special warm-up exercises for people who play the violin.
Fariba began teaching music to children in 1995 and published the book: Teaching Music by the Carl Orff Method in 2006.
Between 1995 – 2017, as a music teacher, Fariba created new teaching methodologies in Solfeggi (sight-singing) and playing musical strings instruments: piano, violin, and Tar.
She founded a variety of choirs for different ages and took part in many Iranian festival competitions. As a conductor for women’s choirs, Fariba won more than ten awards and was chosen as the Best Conductor for Women’s Choir in 1997 – 2010.
Between 2000 – 2004, Fariba was a Music Lecturer at Soore University where she taught singing. She was invited to be a judge at youth music festivals in Tehran and other Iranian cities.
Fariba plays Tar, an Iranian stringed instrument, violin and piano. She studied Tar with the renowned Iranian teacher, Dr Rena Lotfi, violin with Marjan Ghanbarimehr, and piano with Aghdas Pourtorab. Her singing teacher was the famous Iranian female soprano, Pari Zangane.
After coming to England in 2017, Fariba has played the violin with Wilmslow URC, Noisy Women bands, sang in the choirs: Big Sing and Lindow Sing. Fariba plays the Tanbour and sings with the internationally acclaimed Hamdel Ensemble which plays Sufi music.
Trainers and support team
Kofo Kego – Volunteer Project Manager
Kofo Kego is a social entrepreneur, community engagement and public policy consultant who is passionate about improving lives, through both individual mentoring and public service. He has dedicated his life’s work to enabling individuals and organisations to identify resources, maximise opportunities, make a positive impact and leave lasting legacies.
An advocate for youth empowerment, Kofo was acknowledged for his work as an Associate within the HEA’s (Higher Education Academy) £21million nationwide initiative to widen participation and access to Higher Education. Over the past decade, he has continued to enable young people to progress in life, relationships, education, and careers as a coach and mentor.
Kofo’s passion for maximising potential led to the establishment of REBOOT (previously called the Before You Go university seminar). REBOOT is a careers and networking platform that empowers and equips young people with accessible personal, mental, and professional development content.
REBOOT collaborates with employers to widen access to job opportunities and enlists industry experts at its events. This makes REBOOT unique in providing insight, resources and networks needed to succeed in university and a professional career. Beyond the seminars and workshops, REBOOT’s participants also have access to a wide network of professionals in various industries.
He has spoken alongside various industry experts and world leaders including the former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo and Nims Obunge MBE and the Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London. Earlier this year, he finished a tour of seven cities: reaching 40 schools and addressing 7000 students. He has appeared in the media including the Manchester Advertiser, North Manchester FM, Re-Africa Magazine and Vine juice.
Kofo empowers individuals to become better leaders, and individuals and organisations to engage better with society making positive impacts within their sphere of influence through leadership training, and one-to-one coaching.
Photos: Reza Amelipour, Shirlaine Forrest and Kooj Chuhan.
Video: Kooj Chuhan/Crossing Footprints.