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June 2021

Ink Experiments 1 - a short film by Greta Zabulyte
"Artists Abi Spendlove and Jakub Rokita experimenting with inks at the Hat Factory" (2020)

The truth is, many Luton artists never stopped making art, even in 2020. Back in July, having received a batch of inks from University of Bedfordshire School of Art & Design, Jakub (one of our Creative Pioneers) invited Abi Spendlove to make a collaborative body of work at the Hat Factory.

The idea was simple - after months spent in lockdown a impulse was needed to kick-start artists' creative engines. The (socially distanced) event was streamed live and filmed by the brilliant Greta Zabulyte who made this short video.

You can see it in the Factory Window for a limited time!

If you like this short film, you will be delighted to hear the artists are working on part 2 - filmed during the recent session.


Previous #FactoryWindow commissions

Sept 2020 - “A Chalk Circle Around Luton’s Cultural Quarter”

September 2020

“A Chalk Circle Around Luton’s Cultural Quarter”

by Simon Cleary and Stephen Whiting

What is the effect of a boundary?  Is this distinction theoretical or real?

The work “A Chalk Circle Around Luton’s Cultural Quarter” encouraged us to consider issues around the need for approval, acceptance, and permission.  The culture, in this case, happily ran the risk of being both inside and outside the line, at once accepted and admonished.  

We sought to inspire viewers by showing that the limits on fulfilling creative potential can dissipate after little more than a brief rain shower.  We can all simultaneously over-step the mark, and jump the line, on the way to spreading and broadening our expectations of creativity.  By physically establishing what was once a theoretical boundary, we sought to highlight its natural disappearance, bringing with it a re-assuring free-for-all on creative actions.

More about the artists:

Simon Cleary is an artist and writer born in Luton.  His writing and artworks examine the interactions between people and place, and therefore work best as performances. 

His best-known work is a piece called "Flat of Angles," performed by Benedict Cumberbatch. 

He studied at Goldsmiths College and has exhibited at Auto Italia, Bussey Building, and the Old Police Station.

Stephen Whiting is a visual artist and writer born in Luton.  Many of his written and printed works are grounded in the everyday, with more than a passing nod to his home town.

He has co-edited “Clod Magazine” since 1987.

He studied at Cheltenham School of Art and was shortlisted for Becks New Contemporaries in 1999.

Oct 2020 - Qualms, Clenches of the Heart & TRIPTYCH

October 2020

This film montage shown in the Factory Window is comprised of three projects Thomas and Julia have collaborated on since the beginning of 2020.

Qualms which was performed by ‘The Ensemble MA’ and filmed at the University of Bedfordshire deals with doubt and looking deep into the mirrored mire of our gut wrenching truth.

Clenches of the Heart is a movement piece inspired by palm meridians, waacking and qi gong to explore hands as windows to the body and heart. Performed at the V&A Museum as part of the Friday Late night event. 

TRIPTYCH by Jasmin Kent Rodgman in collaboration with House of Absolute is an immersive, promenade performance that tackles the idea of duality and human connection. Performed in Shoreditch Town Hall, the experience blends contemporary classical, electronics and sound art with enveloping dance. 

Thomas Young is a freelance filmmaker, working creatively to produce documentaries, social media content and promotional videos. He enjoys working both in his local community and on international projects. In 2019, Thomas was selected by The Culture Trust as one of the Creative Pioneers. 

Julia Cheng is a creative director, choreographer, dance artist specialising in self-produced cross-disciplinary works. She was appointed as Resident Choreographer 2020 for Royal Academy of Dance, she was a judge and mentor for BBC Young Dancer and mentor for the biggest UK Hip Hop Festival, Breakin’ Convention and recipient of runner-up prize for Hip Hop Dance Futures Award 2019. She is a commissioned artist for Dance Beds 2020-2021 for Bedford Creative Arts and University of Bedfordshire. 

Musical score has been specially composed by additional collaborator Jan Baranowski. 

Qualms - Filmed at the University of Bedfordshire (Dancers: Marta Beccatini-Pou, Elena Chrysostomou,  Margarita Cook, Chaoriya De, Iris Gaeda, Dongguo Huang, Sophie Kelk, Xing Liu, Sera Maehara, Xiaoxi Sun, Shuangshuang Xu, You Zhang)
Clenches of the Heart -  Filmed at the V&A Museum
TRIPTYCH - Filmed at Shoreditch Town Hall (Dancers: Faye Reader and Ffion-Campbell Davies)


Nov 2020 - Detailed Process

November 2020

Detailed Process - by Karl Brown

I wanted to capture the entire process of my process, I wanted to display a full show from start to finish. I did this by using the timelapse process which captures every little process of drawing and creating. 

I wanted it knowing it was going to be shown in the Hat District to show the pen dancing across the page and almost make it a little performance which clearly has been missed due to the Pandemic. I wanted the actual piece of Art to show the strength and small details that make up the overall vision of what the Hat District is now and will be in the future.

A little more about the artist:

My name is Karl Brown I am a 30 year old Illustrator and Comic Book Artist from Antrim in Northern Ireland. 

I have spent the last decade of my life in Luton after leaving University, since then I have been heavily involved and an advocate for the local creative movement in the Town and have worked with most local creative organizations.

In 2015 after 2 years of work I published my 1st Graphic Novel An Android Awakes and also worked with local trusts and companies on varied Illustrative and Creative projects in the years that have followed.

 I am known locally as the guy who Painted the Bear in the Bear Club! still one of my favourite pieces of work. At the moment I work on a range of illustrative comissions as well as producing Story Boards for Film and Advertisements.

I am still chasing my childhood dream of being a Published Artist for the British Pop Culture classic Comic 2000ad working on the flagship Character Judge Dredd. "




Dec 2020 - A River Runs Under Your Feet

December 2020

A River Runs Under Your Feet

Film by Abi Spendlove. 

Run time: 4m 7s.

Since moving to Luton in 2010 Abi Spendlove has been making work inspired by the River Lea. The Lea, which has its source in Leagrave Park in Luton, gradually grows in size and strength until it connects with the River Thames in London.  However, through Luton town centre the river is mostly culverted. This means that large sections of it run underground. In 2019, Abi Spendlove received a grant from the Luton Arts Fund to extend and develop her work about the River Lea by walking through the underground culverts. After months of planning and a specialist training course, in December 2019 Spendlove walked in the River Lea from New Bedford Road to the Vauxhall estate.  She brought three cameras with her- one handled, one attached to her helmet and one attached to a floating raft on the water. The resulting footage formed the base of her film, which seeks to uncover Luton's hidden river.



  • Film by Abi Spendlove
  • Camera: Abi Spendlove & Greta Zabulyte
  • Voices: Elisabeth Coughlin,  Rosalind Shaye,  Louise Brown
  • Special Thanks: Luton Borough Council, Semilong Services Ltd.
  • Funders: Arts Council England, Luton Culture, Luton Borough Council, The Mall, University of Bedfordshire


A little more about Abi Spendlove:

Abi Spendlove (b. Portsmouth, UK, 1985) is a visual artist based in Luton, UK. She studied Fine Art at Byam Shaw and Central Saint Martins in London and completed a Fine Art MA at the University of Hertfordshire in 2018. Her work has been exhibited internationally. Key solo and group exhibitions include Tributary at Storefront Gallery, A Minute Ago at Zabludowicz Collection and Accumulate at St Albans Museum + Gallery. She is currently the recipient of a year-long bursary to support the development of her practice and has a studio residency at The Hat Factory Arts Centre. Her work is included in collections including Zabludowicz, Franks Suss and Olivier von Schulthess. 

Jan 2021 - 'Ancestors, Protect me' 

January 2021

'Ancestors, Protect me.' (an animated anthology)

By Sophie Gresswell

Early in 2020 a thought occurred to artist Sophie Gresswell 'If I could find the masks of my ancestors, perhaps they would protect me' - this was a raw response to Covid-19 and the tragic death of George Floyd triggering subsequent global focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, which collided with her becoming aware of a huge unmarked burial site of 'Liberated African Slaves' on the British Overseas Territory of St Helena where her grandpa was born, making Sophie question her own heritage and history.

This thought now acts as the stimulus for an ongoing project, ‘Ancestors, protect me (an animated anthology)’ which includes a series of discussions with peers and the public around the impact of events in 2020 in order to document perspectives and revelations during these historic times. Sophie will then compile quotes and queries from these discussions to develop 6 new animations which will form a short anthology to be shown in public spaces around Luton and online in early 2021, including the original animation in the Hatfactory Window.


  • Animation by Sophie Gresswell
  • Funders: Arts Council England, Luton Culture, Revoluton Arts.


A little more about Sophie...

Sophie Gresswell is a multi-disciplinary artist exploring identity, belonging and what it means to be ‘other’. She has exhibited artworks internationally as well as creating community focused public artworks. Most recently Sophie has been exploring identity through spoken word, animation, painting and film. In 2019 she wrote, animated and starred in the short film ‘Where are you from?’ commissioned by BBC arts, and shown on BBC 4 in March 2020 which has since been featured in the Fringe of Colour arts festival.

Feb 2021 -

Feb 2021

Mar 2021 - Connections

March 2021


by Chalk Line Theatre in collaboration with David Angland

When locked in, we soon found a level of disconnect to our home town, finding ourselves stuck between four walls. Connections is a chance to take a step back, look at your home town and consider how it makes you feel and what it means to you. A short animation showcasing and celebrating both the places and people of Luton. Within the animation we interviewed ten 16-25 year olds, asking them, what does Luton mean to you? When watching the piece we hope to ask the audience the same question. As the public walk past the Hat Factory window and watch Connections, we hope that they will see a part of themselves within it.

A little about Chalk Line Theatre:

Chalk Line Theatre is a multi-award-winning company based in Luton. They are Associate Artists at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Next Generation Youth Theatre and a Graduate Emerging Company of The New Diorama.
The company is run by Co-Artistic Directors Sam Edmunds and Vikesh Godhwani. Chalk Line’s work is both thematically and visually ambitious, receiving great critical acclaim on their approach to contemporary theatre-making. As a company they look to experiment with form, by tackling socio- political subject matters in an innovative way that is ultimately challenging yet entertaining.

In 2018 Chalk Line were commissioned by The Watford Palace Theatre and Imagine Luton Festival to create Lost For Words which won the Love Luton Award 2018 and was supported by Arts Council England. Their debut play, Testament written by Sam Edmunds, played to great critical acclaim at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018, later transferring to The Hope Theatre

followed by a tour through Incoming Festival 2019. Testament received the EFDC Creativity Award 2018 and was supported by both A Younger Theatre and Arts Council England. Their second play The Nobodies written by Amy Guyler, played to great critical acclaim at The Vault Festival 2020 and is due to embark on a UK Tour in 2021 and international transfer to Spazju Kreattiv in Malta. It is also published by Salamander Street Publishing and was picked as one of Lyn Gardner's top shows of The Vault Festival 2020. Throughout 2020/21 Chalk Line have been developing a new docu-devised play 'Blue' written by Davinia Hamilton and Marta Vella, with support from Artsadmin and artsdepot. 

Beyond the stage Chalk Line provide free self-producing workshops to working class artists and help to mentor emerging directors and producers. They deliver workshops in schools and youth theatre groups, whilst also providing free or discounted theatre trips for young creatives to see their work, partnering with organisations such as Revoluton Arts, Rhubarb Speech and Drama and NGYT.

Apr 2021

April 2021

by Teakster

The residents of Luton may have different heritages, but we are adding our own stories to Luton’s history. This living mural celebrates that and the different cultures living in Luton. The mural will organically change, as each layer disappears. Every viewer will see a different version of it, as it is a fusion of different styles and techniques. The patterns are unified under the colours of the Luton Emblem.


A little more about Teakster

‘A Muslim artist should be a mirror for our Islamic heritage’ – Teakster

Teakster is a multi-award-winning artist, who pushes the boundaries of Islamic art in the 21st century. His work has been featured in publications and exhibitions across the USA, UAE, Europe, and the Far East for over a decade. He has exhibited his work to a diverse range of audience’s, including various world leaders and Middle Eastern royalty.

A true pioneer in his field, his ground breaking work is a fusion of Islamic artistic traditions and modern western design techniques inspired by his British upbringing. Weaving together traditions from different artistic spheres and cultures, Teakster is known for his symphonies of vibrant colours and designs. He uses his art to bridge different communities by promoting peace, unity and greater social tolerance. He has been continuously evolving his work across multiple disciplines from fine pieces of art to urban street murals.

The BBC has described him as “one of the rising stars in the Islamic art scene”. The UK Prime Minister has recognised his efforts as a mentor and role model. He has received multiple awards, including the Alhambra Award for Excellence in Arts, which recognises the best of Muslim contributions to British society.

By blending the past with the present, he aims to renew the appreciation and spirit of Islamic art and culture. His ultimate aim is to connect communities and cultures, and challenge the negative images and narrow perceptions of Muslims, through the serene universal language of art.

Instagram: Teakster_art

Mini Commission for #factorywindow

Introduction The Culture Trust, is a charitable trust and we manage museums,…

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