8gate art

8gate is a partnership of two North West based artists, Rhona Brown and Vicky Carroll. We are exploring transformation through visual art, animation, and other media. We seek interaction with environments and people, and to achieve visual or physical representation of interactions of space, self, body and feeling; dialogical portraiture.

We recognise and honour journeys people take to reach points in physical or emotional space and are interested in mapping paths and routes, noticing what is changed or transformed.  Through public and participative work we aim to enable others as they traverse their own journeys of change and growth.

At 8gate we are on a journey of discovery together building a physical space for our art practice, now at AWOL Studios, Hope Mill, Manchester.  Owning this jointly, we support and balance one another through our own daily transformations.  We are pushing ourselves to develop technique and approach, recognising that the pure act of being creative is a positive energy, a salutogenic resource

Working Alongside

In our non art professions, we have both worked supporting communities and individuals, Rhona in the health sector and Vicky leading community engagement programmes. We are deeply committed to working alongside groups and communities, enabling engagement in creative practice.

We believe participation in forms of creativity to be immensely helpful in improving well being.  Translation and exploration of ideas through artistic media can offer groups and communities rich ways of developing healthy resources and connections.  We like to explore and develop prosocial spaces and processes through our work.

To date we have run three art participation projects:


For #BeeVocalCreative we created a large scale depiction of the first public performance of Manchester’s Bee Vocal choir at the Manchester Together With One Voice event in May 2018.  The concert was organised by Manchester City Council to mark the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing.  The monochrome panel captured memories and moments from the day.  We invited choir members to come together to colour, embellish and complete this piece in August 2018.  The finished artwork was divided into smaller pieces to share amongst those who contributed.


#Joeloween was a playful project set in the premises of Joel  Francois Hair in Chorlton, Manchester, in October 2018.  A large image along a ‘Hammer Horror’ theme was created, featuring the salon hairdressers.  We then joined customers and staff as they coloured and completed a finished piece over the Halloween week.


#Portr8gate was designed as a participative community art event run as part of Chorlton Arts Festival 2019.  This too was based at Joel Francois Hair over two days in September 2019.  We co-created self-portraits with both adults and children engaging in the event through a combination of portrait photography and digital image manipulation.  Participants then worked on the pieces using materials we provided, producing a gallery of over 50 original art pieces on display for the duration of the festival.

Some feedback from #Portr8gate participants:

“Today was lovely, very soothing, good fun, immersive….Sat down for 3 hours colouring in whilst talking. Hats off to you and Vicky for the concept.  Sounded so simple but in fact must have taken lots of graft and imagination.  Thankyou.  My fear of picking up a paintbrush has diminished and I felt lighter on departure.”

“Had a fabulous time.  Had time out of our day to be creative as a family and around new people.  I think the whole thing was a great idea, will keep eyes peeled for any similar workshops.”

“Very relaxing.  Completely uncritical. Took me out of myself and raised my mood.”

To see a gallery of images from the #Portr8gate event, click on this link.

If you would like to explore working with us  on a participative project for your team, group, or community, contact us at create@8gate.co.uk

Art With a Warm Heart

A good friend Sue’s sixtieth birthday in March 2022 brought me together with her and our friend Judi, along with watercolours and paper. It was a cold afternoon and we set a fire to keep us warm as we reminisced about old days and events over the years that had passed since meeting in 1982. Sometimes you might not really feel in the mood to make art, but there’s a small opportunity, and without intention you create something that captures a moment. We dabbled with the paints as we spoke, and shared what emerged as small artefacts of that weekend gathering. I held on to a quick rendering of the flames in Sue’s cast iron fireplace. Over the time that’s elapsed since, it’s helped me hold on to the warmth generated by being together in the midst of this connection and mutual care.

Having framed this small piece of art and kept it close to my own fire at home, it is what came to mind as precarity and hardship caused by (un)affordability of both food and energy rocketed in the winter of 2022. We can all feel powerless in the context of a trickle-down of systemic neglect, or hostile attack of one sort or another. It’s easy to feel there’s nothing we can do if we’re struggling to survive ourselves. And sometimes the only way to make real change in ensuring the basics are available to all is to take a look at the big picture and act collectively. This Red Pepper article on Britain’s Broken Food System is a good read if you want to think about food (and fuel) precarity and ways to work towards food solidarity.

But in the meantime, contributing to efforts to offset food poverty in our local neighbourhoods is another way to do a little with what we can provide. I had forty giclee prints made of my small fireplace painting, at a kindly reduced printing rate at Framing Manchester. After Portraitgate, Vicky and I had some frames left over in the studio too.

In a small and organic way I let family and friends know about the prints and how they could have one if they wanted and would consider making a donation to their local food bank or the Trussell Trust. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but just over a year on, about twenty-five copies have made it out to new homes across the UK. I believe that over £500 has been raised so far, through donations to a number of projects supporting people who need some help towards heating and eating.

But perhaps more importantly, these small offerings of wood pulp and pigment might serve as talking points to help keep conversations and connections going about how we, as a society, take care of each other through whatever means we can. As the Manchester International Festival’s Economics The Blockbuster: It’s Not Business As Usual exhibition reminded us, art has a place in disrupting economic conventions, asking “how might artists inspire us to practice our economic life more equitably, radically and sustainably?”.

On the first Saturday of December, as the temperatures dropped sharply, my local Manchester South Central Food Bank raffled a framed copy of the print at the Carlton Club‘s last Rummage in the Range of 2023. Contact me if you’re interested in one of the remaining copies.

Janet fundraising for Manchester South Central Foodbank at a very chilly Rummage in the Range at the Carlton Club, Whalley Range, in December 2023


Holding on to what’s behind us can be an obstacle to moving forward or transforming, physically or emotionally. The original concept of 8gate is already behind us and we are looking ahead to what is in the process of emerging.

We welcome contact and collaboration with others who want to explore the idea of change and transformation.

Contact us at create@8gate.co.uk

Contact 8gate

If you’d like to get in touch with us at 8gate, contact us by email at create@8gate.co.uk