Blind Ditch are a small group of artists that have been making live performance, travelling art objects and cultural events since 2001. Embedded in the South West of England as artist advocates for the rural and experimental, we take our name from the hidden landscape feature and micro ecology that can be found across the Devon countryside.
Much of our work is site specific, or strongly based in local contexts. We also contribute to national programmes of arts and cultural activity through workshops, residencies, talks and consultancies. Taking inspiration from beyond the region we curate and host visiting artists, and make new work with national and international partners.
We work collectively and non-hierarchically, in different constellations and taking on different roles, depending on the project. We collaborate with associate artists, publics, and experts from different fields to make our work happen.
Our varied expertise as makers, educators, cultural producers and academics makes us ideal research partners, critical friends, consultants and advisers for a broad range projects. You can read more about how our practice has developed here, and find out more about our workshops and advisory projects here. Please get in touch if you have an idea we might contribute to.
Partners and commissioners include: Exeter Culture, intoBodmin, University of Exeter, In-Situ Arts, Harwes Farm CIC, Rural Recreation, University of Cumbria Insitute for the Arts and the National Forestry School, Arts and Culture at University of Exeter and Stagecoach, Furtherfield, Royal Geographical Society with IBG, All Change Arts, Exeter Phoenix, Libraries Unlimited and FabLab Devon, Exeter CVS, Exeter Scrapstore, SpaceX, St Sidwell’s Community Centre, Music In Devon Initiative, The Media Workshop, TOPOS Exeter, Art Work Exeter, Phonic.FM, DAISI (Devon’s Arts Education Organisation), Teign Housing, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, I-DAT at University of Plymouth, Exeter College, Princesshay, Guildhall Exeter, Beaford Arts, Upstage Cyberformance Platform, The Basement, Chapter Arts Centre, Creative Torbay, Teignbridge District Council, Coombeshead College, D+C Film, BBC South West, tEXt Festival, Broadhempston Community Woodland, Devon Integrated Support Services, Bovey Youth Action funded by the Heritage Lottery, The Children’s Society and Take Part Torbay, Plymouth Music Zone with Zest Health Arts and Devonport Regeneration Community Partnership, Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, Dartington College of Art, Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm.
Our projects have been funded by: Arts Council England, EPSRC-AHRC New Immersive Environments Fund, REACT and the AHRC, Economic and Social Research Council, Exeter City Council, Islington Council, The Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation, South West Bridge Challenge Fund, Teignbridge District Council, DEFRA Leader +, EEAFG of the EU, University of Exeter, Groundworks, The Terrance Higgins Trust, First Light, Plymouth city Council, South West Screen, UK Film Council, The Helen Foundation, Mediabox funded by the Department for Education and Skills, HEFCE Business Fellow at Dartington College of Arts, South Hams District Council.
Image: Lizzy Humber, Katie Villa and Jane Mason performing in This City’s Centre 3. Here, Now, 2013. Photograph by Benjamin J. Borley.
- 2001 - Present
- Member - director, writer, producer, performer and faciliator
Originally trained in dance, Paula has been making live events as a co-devisor, director and dramaturg with performers, visual artists and technologists in the UK and internationally since 1996. A founder member of Blind Ditch, she has been a co-visioner, director, workshop facilitator, producer and occasional performer with the group. She has an MA in Devised Theatre from Dartington College of Arts where she was an Associate Lecturer in Theatre 2001-10. As a cultural geographer, Paula was awarded a doctorate in Human Geography from the University of Exeter in 2019, with an art geography research project investigating relationships between data, trade, place and values. She is currently an ESRC funded Research Fellow, extending this research into publication, and working with the JUST AI network at the Ada Lovelace institute.
Image: Paula working on This City’s Centre, empty office space in Princesshay, Exeter 2013. Photograph by Benjamin J. Borley.
John Levack Drever
- 2001 - Present
- Member - Sound artist and sound designer
- 2002 - Present
- Member - visual artist, scenography, videographer, performer and workshop faciliatator
Formally trained in Arts Education at Stuttgart State Academy of Arts and Design, Volkhardt works across media as a maker of objects, installations, print and video work, and as collaborator on performance and educational projects. As a member of Blind Ditch since 2002 he has worked collaboratively as a designer/ conceptual artist for theatre & performance as well as key facilitator on the award winning VANLAND project. His affinity with site and context specific approaches coincides with a long-standing interest in how landscapes are created and proliferated. Since moving to Britain this broad interest has increasingly focused on the ways rural and urban concepts are interconnected; how notions of landscape contribute to the construction of cultural identity and the enshrinement of societal status quo. Volkhardt runs the artist-led space TOPOS in central Exeter.
Image: Volkhardt as the dancing robot in ‘Funkenstein’ 2007. Photograph by Tim Dollimore.
- 2001 - Present
- Member - devisor, performer, producer, project manager and workshop facilitator
- Member - devisor, writer, performer
Graduating in Performance Writing from Dartington College of Arts, Heiko was a founder member of Blind Ditch and thought up the company name, which is a common landscape feature in Devon. He is currently Produktmanager at Franckh-Kosmos Verlag.
Image: Heiko (centre) with Cat and Henning, getting ready to perform Land Marked at Mousonturm, Frankfurt, 2001. Photography by Paula Crutchlow.
- Member - devisor, performer
Henning has been working as an artist, performer, and director since 1997 in New York and Europe. As a founder member of Blind Ditch, he co-devised and performed work for theatre and gallery spaces. His directorial work ranges from re-imagining classics to collaborating with playwrights on new work, from devised theatre to opera. He has appeared on television and films as a performer as well as on stages in the US, UK and Europe including a featured role in UNDERSTUDIES, a mockumentary web series written by Elisabeth Grey and Daniel Zimbler and directed by Daniel Zimbler, where he plays the Broadway director Knut Balke. Henning has an MFA in directing from Columbia University where he trained under the tutelage of Anne Bogart and Brian Kulick. He holds an MA in devised theatre from Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England, and a BA in theatre from Middlebury College in Vermont. He is an Artistic Director and a Founder of Scandinavian American Theater Company (www.satcnyc.org) in NYC.
Image: Henning performing in Wishes for a Better Future, 2002.
- Member - media developer, designer, workshop facilitator
A graduate of i-DAT in Plymouth, Dan joined us to develop VANLAND in 2004. He contributed design, animation and coding expertise to our collaborations, devising work with us that began to engage artistically with the possibilities of digital networks. He is currently Experience Strategy Director at CX Partners.
Image: Dan working on VANLAND project Framing the Forest, 2006.