S.H.E.D: The Social Higher Education Depot


S.H.E.D was an old garden shed. Rich with detritus, moss, rust, it has aged and been preserved; until now. S.H.E.D is now the Social Higher Education Depot.  Designed to

  • promote social mobility and tackle inequality
  • invest in real issues and subject matters that people want to discuss
  • develop the relationship between H.E, Industry and Creative Cultural Organisations
  • has a strong collaborative approach
  • S.H.E.D is designed to be a co-creator with others, with partners, users, commissions, communities, public
  • is a long term project
  • Support artistic development and public mobility and cohesion
  • will be a diverse, accessible, and customised space
  • operating in line with the Cultural Strategy for Derby

Working with Industry and University professionals, S.H.E.D will be in the workshop in January 2019. The University of Derby Interior Design Students will be using S.H.E.D as a live project module to work on the blueprints. In July 2019 S.H.E.D will start to tour, visiting local neighborhoods, street corners, cultural venues and festivals, feed into the ambitions for the Cultural Strategy for Derby.


It will operate as both an arts commissioning space and as a public service provider. The programming bridges the gap and brings public and artist closer together as co-curators and co-creators of S.H.E.D.

S.H.E.D will be a

It will address the wider fabric of the city of Derby, the embedded narrative of a city and provide the public with the space to disagree with themselves, it’s not about giving someone a voice, people already have voices, it about putting the megaphone in front of someone so their voice can be heard. In this respect, S.H.E.D is a co-creator, working with community. S.H.E.D will be a cultural informer because it shifts between being a public service and an arts commissioning venue. S.H.E.D works with cultural trends to bridges the gap between civic and H.E and is a multidisciplinary space.

Industry experts, local residents, visitors to the city, local, national and international artists will take over S.H.E.D. All activities will co produced with a shared ambition to spark public dialogue about things that matter. Conversation will be, at times, controversial as pop up projects that inhabit S.H.E.D. are intended to raise awareness about key issues, from a wide range of topics. Some of these will be focused on: wellbeing, loneliness, ageing, youth, technology, among the public through inviting dialogue.

S.H.E.D asks these key questions.

  • To what extent can a space become a place?
  • How can an old garden shed inspire others and inhabit a cultural identity, in order to bring about change?
  • How does the transformation of a space into a place occur through the design of a participatory project?
  • How can a project bridge the gap between innovation and conversation in order to address issues of social cohesion?
  • How can S.H.E.D help transform the way we think about public services and artistic research through bringing the two together through creative programming?

S.H.E.D has a politically charged roof. It’s open structure, it is a stage, it is a intimate space. S.H.E.D is a deliberate act of resistance to the city.

Its structure has to be able to transform, and its program of activity will allow S.H.E.D to be socially, culturally and politically transformative. S.H.E.D is an object always under scrutiny.

It is an unfolding structure that is in discourse with the public. S.H.E.D is a space that allows others to reflect on the situation in socially, politically and culturally. People can exist in relation to S.H.E.D, the public are invited into the space, and they can also be a part of the process. S.H.E.D is a transparent organisation. S.H.E.D concretely engages with others. S.H.E.D is a learning space, a depot for sharing knowledge. As an artistic research project it embraces the experience of being open to the unknown, the new learning that can come from the relationships and shared experiences to come through the curatorial activities that will take place in S.H.E.D, and through the facilitation of conversation with different individuals in order to co-create and co-design socio-civic and political change.

S.H.E.D lives in its incompletion, and through its invitation to others to define its terms. It will unlock stories, using the artistry of conversation as a framework to support the activities that will take place. S.H.E.D is a `process that invites the unexpected, that works with identified need from the other in order to support the sharing development of knowledge. The garden shed, that was a hidden space for storage, has now become a visible place, open and re -designed for consumption.

A place for discourse, a depot unlimited in size, a space for SHEDDING preconceptions. It is a social, collaborative and generative space for sharing knowledge.

Welcome to S.H.E.D:  The Social Higher Education Depot.

What can S.H.E.D be for you?


S.H.E.D will be on tour summer 2019 making appearances at Derby Theatre, as part of Departure Lounge, and will host the next International Residency for InDialogue in November 2019.

S.H.E.D friends: InGoodCompany, Derby Theatre, University of Derby, Primary Studios Nottingham, InDialogue, Derby City Council.

If you would like to be a friend of S.H.E.D please contact S.H.E.D H.Q