QUAD’s Year of Wellbeing goes digital with artist Leila Johnston


29 August 2018

QUAD’s Year of Wellbeing goes digital with artist Leila Johnston

QUAD launched its Digital Participatory Artist in Residence with artist Leila Johnston in July. Leila worked with local people who are experiencing acute mental health problems as part of her Artist Residency, which will take place in QUAD throughout 2018 and into 2019.

Leila, who is based in Sheffield, specialises in ‘the place where science and technology intersects with culture’. Her previous residencies include working with dancers at Rambert Contemporary Dance Company in London and she is the current Digital Art Curator Sheffield’s Site Gallery. For her residency at QUAD, Leila is exploring technology and dance with the service users at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. She will focus on dance and new technologies, including Kinect and thermal cameras.

The sessions with the Derbyshire Healthcare inpatients will a basis for new work Leila is creating as part of the Residency, which will be then displayed in QUAD Galleries in November 2018, alongside the work of digital art pioneer Rebecca Allen. 

Working with professional dancer Rosa Cisneros, the service users learnt about the processes of and engaged in creative activities. Leila and Rosa led a workshop with service users at the Hope and Resilience Hub in Derby where Rosa used movements originated by the inpatients and staff to create a dance sequence which she then performed. Leila used some of the technology, including a 360-degree camera, to film Rosa’s dance and shared the film within the workshop.

Leila said: “The participatory workshop was extremely rewarding. It was exciting to be able to share the tools of my trade with a group who were new to it all, and to see their ideas rapidly translated into wonderful movement by Rosa. They appreciated our efforts and we appreciated theirs. Afterwards, things progressed organically into a discussion about the power of creativity. Rosa and I felt we learned a lot from the participants, and it has been a privilege to spend time with them.”

Service users and staff said they found the workshop really rewarding and enriching. One service user said: “It was amazing, I could watch it all day. I thought I was in the theatre and it makes me really want to go and watch a ballet performance.” 

Another said: “It was inspiring, I would recommend it to anybody. I loved to see how she took the movements we came up with and expanded on them. How did Rosa remember them all?”

And a staff member commented: “QUAD has so much to offer, thank you for giving us a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes.”

For more information, please click here or visit  or contact QUAD Box Office on 01332 290606. 

QUAD is a registered charity.