Who are TAL Collective?

Rachael Allen, Eleanor Holmes, Tracey Tofield and Angela Kennedy

Taking a Leap is founded on the union of four instrumental women – artists, writers, somatic practitioners, teachers, researchers, health care professionals, activists, carers, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends – united through our specialist knowledge and interest in lived experiences of the body, mind, environment, community, health and wellbeing, and our commitment to sharing creative pathways that exercise multiple forms of embodiment and performativity. We defy definition as merely outreach and socially engaging; TAL is truly collaborative, experimental and radical in its approach to embedding visual, literary and somatic practices into communities of people who have equal license to creativity, imagination and experience. We cultivate sensorial, imaginative and narrative tools for people to shape, discover, explore and bear witness to personal and collective experiences within the safe space. Multi-voiced and multi-lingual, TAL are about empowering individuals to ‘take a leap’ towards knowing themselves better and making informed decisions with agency about their own body and minds, with the impact for change in raising embodied consciousness to promote improved lifelong mental and physical health.

TAL Collective Mission

Offering responsive and empathetic ways of experiencing the body and environment through embodied movement, writing and drawing

Aims of TAL Collective
  • To provide creative pathways into conscious body, mind and environment awareness using embodied and performative forms of movement, writing and drawing.
  • To promote deep learning about ones’ embodied experience that nurtures body awareness, autonomy and self-care that supports positive deep changes to mental and physical health.
  • To invite communities of individuals to ‘take a leap’ into their bodies and minds as a process of self-development in order to enable real insight and opportunities for change through experiential, creative and embodied approaches.
  • To invite communities of healthcare professionals to ‘take a leap’ into conscious reflection of their own bodies and minds, their professional role and the value of experiential learning, so as to embody new ways of thinking and to change the way they approach healthcare.
  • To promote TAL as a unique collective across radical participatory arts paradigms, renowned for its experimental and co-creative approach to experiential and embodied learning.
  • To engage with and develop a ‘community of interest’ amongst professionals working in areas of creative embodied practices, arts in health, healthcare and human sciences in the North East that will support the co-development of projects.

TAL Methodologies

Movement: Principles of Body mind centring, contact improvisation
Drawing and visual arts: multi-media drawing, image generation, RSVP cycles, Participatory Action Research methodologies (Donald Schon), Oxherding cycle
Writing: Creative writing, poetry, storytelling

The work of TAL comprises of two strands:

Creative Arts Pathways (public facing) are aimed at individuals in communities and are structured around sessional work.
Embodied Arts for Change (profession facing) are aimed at health care professionals and are structured around research and project based

TAL philosophies

Why the combination of movement, drawing and writing? Simply put, each of these creative practices calls upon the body to perform an action in response to cognitive stimuli. But what’s more unique about these methods is rather the reverse of this, where improvised movement and automatic drawing and writing utilises the intuitive body to express and communicate deep corporeal knowledge, memory and subconscious thought. The basic tenet of ‘being creative’ is that the body must have a central part to play in the process, and it is through movement, drawing and writing that it is granted centre stage. There is a growing field of study called Embodied Cognition that asserts this. Cognitive linguist George Lakoff argues that: “…all cognition is based on knowledge that comes from the body and that other domains are mapped onto our embodied knowledge using a combination of conceptual metaphor, image schema and prototypes.” TAL believe the opportunity to develop deep body intelligence can shine unique and creative perspectives on ones’ experience of health, which can respectively empower individuals to explore, develop and celebrate their bodies and directly tap into the amazing potential for change within their embodied selves. We see this process as having both cathartic and therapeutic effects, whilst avoiding any fixed delineation of the terms.

As a collective, TAL are political in their approach to the creative arts. Angela Kennedy is a founding member of Artists Union England, a new trade union for professional visual and applied artists, and we are committed to working with the union to challenge economic inequalities in the art world, negotiate fair pay and better working conditions for artists, and promote models for good practice. We are confident in our uniqueness as a collective of artists, writers, educators and practitioners, but also activist, that TAL’s attitude towards radical experimental, experiential and embodied learning in participatory arts is innovative and evolving, and at the same time gently and assertively challenges the variety of outdated approaches and methodologies across participatory arts/socially-engaged arts/community arts/arts in health.

Who do TAL work with?

Medical students/educators/physicians
Specialist clinicians and therapists
Womens groups
Learning Disabilities
Mental Health
Art therapist and Art psychotherapists

Areas of interest

Illness and carer narrative
Palliative and End of Life care
Oncology care
Paediatric and geriatric care
Pain experience, management and treatment
Social isolation and loneliness
Mental Health
Learning disabilities
Women’s rights
Children's creativity


Eleanor Holmes - writer, doctor and medical educator
Eleanor is a GP working in Newcastle’s city centre and GP tutor for Patient Centred Medicine (PCM) strand of the Newcastle MBBS Undergraduate medical curriculum. She set up and directs a staff-student group called MILAN (Medicine in Literature and the Arts at Newcastle) whose aim is to ‘explore health-based narratives through books and films and promote creativity and empathy in medical education.’ She is interested in exploring creative methodologies in medical education and research, most recently collaborating with Dr Iain Keenan in the Anatomy Department of Newcastle Medical School with a staff-student research project on creative writing and anatomical learning. She writes under the pen name Eliot North and was commended for the National Poetry Competition 2014 and has worked with artist and filmmaker Alastair Cook on the Filmpoem of her poem The Crab Man, which is toured UK poetry and Filmpoem festivals in 2015.

Tracey Tofield - multi-disciplinary artist, researcher and educator
Tracey has 25 years experience working across media boundaries including drawing, painting, installation, video, performance and event management. She has facilitated a variety of creativity workshops within educational, arts and health/arts contexts including working for the BBC as Life Drawing tutor ‘Trust me I’m a doctor’ (2015), Artist in residence at Queensway Dental Practice, Billingham. As a professional Arts worker directly with client groups within multi-disciplinary health/arts teams at Northumberland Mental Health Trust, North Tyneside Disability Forum and as artist-consultant at North Tyneside Recovery Partnership.
Drawing is central to her practice which is critical, analytical and process led, investigating the role, purpose and analysis of the creative process itself – specifically creative cycles and theories, embodied thinking, practice-based research and methodological structures – with a particular interest in space and form, entanglements between familiar dualities, self and other and the body–mind relationship.

Angela Kennedy - Visual and Performance Artist and Somatic Dance Practitioner
Angela is a multi-disciplinary artist and activist. Often working in performance installation, her practice includes movement, text, drawing, dance, poetry, choreography and painting, making work through a process of investigations using improvised movement scores arising from site specific spaces; she then translates these responses into installations and performances, often with a live audience. Since 2003, her work has investigated the different body systems through the experiential training of Body-Mind Centering or ’BMC’ in the USA and Germany, made possible through two grant awards in 2003 and 2005 for Professional Development, from Arts Council England. Angela has completed the following BMC courses: The Nervous System, Basic Neurological Patterns, The Reflexes, The Muscle System, Senses and Perception, Ontogenetic Development, Skeleton System and The Organ System. She has 29 years experience of working with the arts as a facilitator and lecturer in Education, Higher Education, women's groups and many diverse communities.

* "Body-Mind Centering® is an integrated and embodied approach to movement, the body and consciousness. Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, it is an experiential study based on the embodiment and application of anatomical, physiological, psychophysical and developmental principles, utilizing movement, touch, voice and mind. Its uniqueness lies in the specificity with which each of the body systems can be personally embodied and integrated, the fundamental groundwork of developmental re-patterning, and the utilization of a body-based language to describe movement and body-mind relationships."?