Communities and Partners

MK Gallery works with local communities and partners to develop exciting and inclusive projects within our programme that celebrate creativity and diversity in Milton Keynes. Check out some of our recent and ongoing projects below.

Communities in Residence

Transitional Belonging

Transitional Belonging was a community in residence project between Grand Mentors, an enterprise that works with young people leaving care, and MK Gallery with artist, Ciara Callaghan exploring the meaning behind quilts as textiles objects which can offer us comfort, a sense of safety and a connection to home when that home does not exist or we have been displaced.

The project took influences from the Ingrid Pollard: Carbon Slowly Turning exhibition at MK Gallery which acted as a starting point into an exploration of the cultural and personal significance of the quilt. How it serves us in childhood as a transitional object, before serving us in later life often as a nostalgic link to our heritage and a documentation of the story of our families.

Callaghan worked specifically with care leavers and unaccompanied refugees from Grand Mentors whose connections with their birth families are often complicated or, in some cases, non-existent, to explore how the heirloom object starts with them and can be used to document their own stories. The participants worked with Callaghan over a number of Gallery visits, workshops and one-to-one sessions to design and make their own quilts which were showcased at MK Gallery in August 2022.

Eloisa Henderson-Figueroa X SOFEA

MK Gallery collaborated with SOFEA, an enterprise that provide support for young people to gain GCSEs and employability skills, to commission artist Eloisa Henderson-Figueroa to work with young people to help design and paint a mural at their site in Bletchley.

Henderson-Figueroa led workshops in mark making and collage with the young people to develop ideas and artworks that acted as inspiration for the final design. The final work, which was installed in the main reception, shared canteen and wellbeing room, was painted by 12 young people and staff over the course of the month and completely changed the feel of the space but adding vibrancy and colour. The involvement of the young people meant they were proud to show people the space and take ownership of the artwork. The group also made a visit to MK Gallery which many of them had not visited previously.


Amplify was a free programme of workshops, performances and events at MK Gallery developed for young people aged 16-25 which ran April-July 2022. The project focused on spoken and written word, poetry and text-based practice as a means of both creative expression and a way to give voice to concerns around current social and political issues.

Workshops and events included:

  • Poetry and Pizza with Nick Makoha
  • Body Arcana by Lesley Asare
  • Inner Monologues with De’Anne Crooks
  • Poetry with Malika Booker
  • Spoken Word with Rhiannan Ashley-Francis
  • Spoken Word Event by Solace Central
  • Hot Foil press with Dylan Fox
  • Zine Making with Zoe-Thompson

The Monologue Project

The Monologue Project (summer 2021) with Boni Adeliyi was a two-week intensive workshop that explored and highlighted narratives from Black History through theatre and spoken word.

The project addressed the lack of Black History within traditional educational settings, and aimed to give voice to black historical figures through the creation of original monologues written and performed by young people.

MK Open Market Shutter Project

Located at the heart of central Milton Keynes, the Open Market connects and supports communities both local to Milton Keynes and from further afield, with shoppers and traders from as far as London and the Midlands making regular journeys to its bustling lanes. In Spring 2022, MK Gallery and community-focussed design studio RESOLVE collective worked with Milton Keynes Development Partnership to commission 7 artists who were local to Milton Keynes. The artists worked collaboratively with market traders, creatively interpreting their stories, knowledge and global connections and visibility with original new designs for a series of stall shutters.

Artists: Bernicer Sekyere, Esther North, Saint Akua, Lisa Price, Rachael Presky, Robin Clements and Sâde Popoola


Portholes, 2022, by Francesca Cant

Portholes, by Francesca Cant, is a participatory artwork that encourages play and social interaction. The shape for Portholes was inspired by the MK Gallery building itself, in particular the window in the Sky Room.

Cant believes that touch is essential for understanding the world that we live in. Touch also promotes shared experiences prompting conversations between friends and strangers.

Over summer 2022, Audiences were invited to play, create and imagine new possibilities for the Porthole pieces by arranging, stacking and composing the pieces to create different patterns and structures.

Resource Room, 2022, Katie Fields

Hosted by artist Katie Fields, Resource Room opened in the Project Space every weekend throughout March 2022. Creatives, families and Milton Keynes residents were encouraged to visit and collect free resources and materials, create artwork in the communal space and learn a craft at free workshops.

Place of Good Abode, 2021, by Chez

Chez was commissioned to paint a Memphis inspired mural outside the Gallery entrance on Margaret Powell Square. The mural aimed to bring the essence of the Gallery’s Memphis exhibition outside for the public to interact with and to explore how the placement of shape, colour and pattern can create something unexpected and fun.

Place of Good Abode celebrated the innovative and unconventional design characteristics that have come to encompass the Memphis movement, using a vibrant 80s palette, abstract geometric shapes and clashing patterns to create an interactive playscape that allowed audiences to immerse themselves in Memphis design in an accessible way.

Street View, 2021, Olivia Thynne

This dance and film piece performed in the MK Gallery Event Space, questioned the role of art and the role that people play within the infrastructure of the city. It explored how the inhabitants transform cities from empty shells into living, breathing homes and bring an ebb and flow to the once empty architecture.

The installation consisted of an intimate experience combing film, recorded sound with intermittent live dance performance inspired by Milton Keynes and the people who live, work and play here.

Project Space

The Project Space at MK Gallery is a space dedicated to sharing artwork and cultural projects created for and by members of the local community. It aims to inspire, excite and challenge people to collaborate and explore different forms of creativity that contribute to the cultural growth of Milton Keynes.

As a key part of our programme, we seek to host projects that engage with or are culturally relevant to Milton Keynes, connecting with social history, celebrating diversity, exploring future ambitions, and more importantly, the needs and interests of our local communities.

We also encourage projects that look to utilise the space as a test-site, providing opportunities to develop and experiment with new creative work and ideas.