Collective Dissent

Collective Dissent as activists with lived experience of mental health issues, we have used the arts for many years, to empower others and create action for positive social change. We employ creative resistance to address issues of inequality, social justice and environmental crisis. 

Dissent leads to resistance, uprising and revolution. It gives the individual strength to speak up and the community power to make a change. 

 ‘I have nothing to give either - accept this gesture, this thread thrown between your humanity and mine.’  Toni Morrison

Mrs.Fubb's Parlour at Strawberry Fair

Mrs Fubbs Parlour celebrating the deviant body at Strawberry Fair. They created a space for people to try on their collection and liberate themselves from the eternally perfect fashion body

Movement Against Racism Dr Zeenath Ul Islam Photographers for Humanity

Movement Against Racism

Five young black women created this Cambridge group.

‘We want to continue the fight against racism within our community. We will organise marches and protests, share information and educate. We will ensure that we are active in this fight for equality.’

 After the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 in the USA, there was a worldwide feeling of anger and disgust at the racism that was actively and blatantly happening in the USA. Nothing was changing.

There seemed little wider recognition in the UK that racism was prevalent both institutionally and personally. MAR wanted to keep the door wide open and remind us that the work is here in our neighbourhoods and in our cities, and doesn’t stop when the fires die down. We march and speak in Cambridge regularly every month.   

Banners Sew Angry keeping a tradition alive

Sew Angry 
We are a group of Feminist, Activist, Artists. Most of us use textiles in our work in some way or other. We have been commissioned over the last few years to make banners and flags for different groups.  

Knitters Revenge
Artists: Six Bells Knitting Group,
Hand knitted Wool and Yarn graffiti, Mobile phone footage,
Video: Cathy Dunbar, Helen Judge, 
Reality Checkpoint Cambridge 2017

After much knitting and chatting at the Six Bells we had created a mish mash of knitted Barbie doll frocks, Breasts, Bunting, wild knitted panels, Pompoms etc. Not wanting the public to miss out on this extravaganza of creativity we decided to hang it up on Reality Checkpoint in the centre of Parker's Piece Cambridge the night before the Big Day out, a yearly council run event. Under cover of darkness equipped with ladders, needles, threads and much laughter we put up our instillation. Knitters Revenge


Women Unity Strength Cambridge Museum

Lines of Communication Simone Chalkley

Trapped. She does not know how to get out. Escaping circumstances can be harder than you might think. Certain situations keep a woman in her place. Well, not her place. A place. Because it’s not necessarily one that she wants to be in. From the outside, it may seem dire or it may not, but from the inside, there are things that seem bigger than her. Forces beyond her control. Systems that work against her. Structures that keep her stuck. Societal structures, familial structures. Structures and systems that embed themselves into her mind, her every waking moment, until they feel like they’re a part of her. Unthinking, even in her dreams, they become internalised, ingrained, second nature until her body and her every movement reflects them back at the world. And it is here that communication with friends is vital. These telephone wires and cables represent this communication. Not only do these wires be the very things that bind her into this place that is not hers, in this position that keeps her down, phoning all those institutions, citing name, title, number, rank, date of birth, verify your place, they also represent the lifeline to friends. The connection that keeps us talking about these things, remembering that we must push back against these structures, these systems that keep us in suspended animation, stifle our very beings, leaving us stilted and worn out, instead of living our lives freely, authentically, as ourselves. Our friends remind us that there is a way out. An escape. But we can only make that escape when we know and feel we are ready. Ready to dismantle these ingrained ways masquerading as ourselves. The telephone wire and cables keep rubbing away, creating a sore but sweet spot, eroding these structures, making sure they can’t set down their full roots and consume us entirely. If that connection is broken, that bond between friends is severed and gone, it is harder to keep in touch with our true selves and our true realities. We might be able to find inner strength to do these things on our own, but we might doubt ourselves and our capabilities and it might take months or even years. Just knowing a good friend is there at the end of one of these lines waiting and ready to catch us when we feel brave enough to make the leap can make all the difference.

Peed the Bed Jane Hellings and Hazel Wood

Weaving Our Stories Cambridge Museum Cathy Dunbar, Jill Eastland, Jane Hellings. Photos Jai Monaghan

The Tree Banner: Strength in Numbers made by Sew Angry group and many friends, celebrating 100 years of some women getting the vote in 2018. 

It also serves as an educational quilt, remembering many women from history (some well-known others we had to search for) and the present who have fought for change some are still fighting, some have died in the process.

Art activism supporting the Community campaign to protect St Matthew's Piece

Projection on Home at St Mathew's Piece Cambridge


Tree Wrapping at St Mathew's Piece

Friends of St Matthew's Piece (FoSMP) spent a year of research, forensic interrogation of the Cambridge Local Plan, Meetings, Leafleting, Social Networking – in isolation and by Zoom – against a planning application to build a 6-storey building for student accommodation on St Matthew's Piece in Petersfield. Just before the planning meeting, we used the two trees threatened with felling as a Community bulletin board, first announcing the date of the planning meeting and second to announce our victory. The local community loved it.

Artist/ Activists: Jannie Brightman, Cathy Dunbar, Shane Batista, Helen Judge