Our Creative Associate Artists span a wide range of disciplines. These multi-talented individuals maintain the ethos of the Foundation and ensure the principles which Geraldine held are present in all our work. 

Khadijah Ibrahiim

Khadijah Ibrahiim was born in Leeds and is of Jamaican parentage. She is a literary activist, live artist, theatre maker, producer, and Artistic Director of Leeds Young Authors. Educated at the University of Leeds, she has a BA (Hons) in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies and an MA in Theatre Studies. Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by BBC Radio, she has appeared on many international stages. Her poetry collection, Another Crossing, was published by Peepal Tree Press and premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2014.

Claudio Kron Do Brazil

Bahia born musician Claudio Kron plays a variety of percussion instruments and has travelled the world extensively promoting his native Brazilian culture through his writing, teaching and directorial work. Claudio cites one of his career highlights as his visit to Ghana working alongside Geraldine Connor at Elmina Castle in 2007 to celebrate 200 years since the Abolition of the Slave Trade. A master percussionist, Claudio most recently contributed to the Creative Lab in 2016.

Photo of Claudio Kron do Brazil.

David Lascelles

David Lascelles is a BAFTA winning producer of drama for television and the cinema, including Inspector MorseMoll Flanders, and Shakespeare’s Richard III. In 2007 he was Executive Producer of Geraldine Connor’s legendary theatre show Carnival Messiah which ran for two weeks in a big top in the grounds of Harewood House, as part of the celebration of the bi-centenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. He was one of the founders of GCF and is a regular contributor to our creative projects. On the death of his father in July 2011, he became the 8th Earl of Harewood.

Christella Litras

Christella Litras is a songwriter, musician, composer, vocal arranger, record producer and founding member of Caution Collective. Christella has a strong interest in world music, is heavily interested in Caribbean music, and is known for her collaborations and tours with world musicians such as Ella Andall and Motown legends like Martha Reeves. A protégé of Geraldine Connor, she is heavily involved in the Foundation and contributes to many of our creative projects.

Zodwa Nyoni

Zodwa Nyoni is a playwright and poet based in Leeds. She started writing in 2005 with Leeds Young Authors and was part of the slam team that competed at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival in New York, 2006. As well as featuring in many international anthologies, taking several plays on tour and performing her work across the world, Zodwa also leads poetry workshops in schools, community centres and other groups across Yorkshire, Lancashire and East Anglia. Zodwa’s most recent work with the Geraldine Connor Foundation was as part of the Creative Lab in 2016.

Joe Williams

Joe Williams is an actor, writer and historian. Born in Leeds of Jamaican heritage, Joe specialises in theatre in education, community partnerships and historical performances. Joe is a co-founder of Leeds Diasporian Stories Research Group, Leeds Bi-Centenary Transformation Project, Kuffdem Theatre, RJC Dance and others. Following his MA in 2014 from the University of Leeds, Joe developed the Leeds Black History Walk and founded Heritage Corner, Leeds – generating diverse projects on African heritage in Yorkshire.

Nigel Wong

Nigel Wong is a Trinidadian born actor, singer, musical theatre director and close friend of Geraldine. An original Carnival Messiah cast member in 1999, Nigel has since performed in the West End, at the National Theatre and on the BBC. In 2014, Nigel was a leader on our summer masterclasses and in 2015 he curated ‘Tell Me What Yo’ Singin for’, in celebration of Trinidadian musical heritage and Geraldine’s father Edric Connor.

Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean is experienced in front of house and arts administration. During her career, she has held positions at The Yorkshire Museum, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and most recently at Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre. Kathy was a close personal friend of Geraldine Connor’s and worked as her P.A. for the duration of the Carnival Messiah project at Harewood House in 2007.

David Hamilton

David Hamilton is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and founding member of the Phoenix Dance Theatre, RJC Dance and Regeyeshun. David worked alongside Geraldine Connor as both a performer and choreographer for Carnival Messiah and has been heavily involved with the Foundation throughout many of our projects. David has worked in South Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad, France and Spain and specialises in Reggae Contemporary Dance.

Photo of David Hamilton

Sheila Howarth

Sheila Howarth is a teacher, community ambassador and costume maker for Leeds West Indian Carnival. Sheila was named Leeds Most Inspiring Teacher two years running (2015, 2016) for her ability to be a role model and reach out to young people. She has sat as a member of the board for the Leeds West Indian Carnival. In 2014 the Sea Dragon costume designed by Sheila and Raymond Wilkes won the Carnival Queen title, then in 2016, the pair also won the titles for Prince, Princess, King and Queen, the first time a designer has won all four titles. A long-time friend of Geraldine Connor, Sheila can often be seen showing her support at our workshops and events.

Ashley Karrell

Ashley Karrell is a filmmaker and photographer based in Leeds. He graduated from Northern Film School in 2005 and has since produced a broad spectrum of work that includes visual art, commercial and experimental video productions and mass participation pieces. Director of production company Panoptical, Ashley delivers large and small-scale productions at public exhibitions, events and festivals, and pursues work which explores ideas of community, is socially engaging, and internationally minded. His Carnival Messiah story began in 2002 when he captured a cast and crew of 250 using 124 track sound recording and 8 cameras. Ashley directed Carnival Messiah: The Film & Documentary which has its premiere screening at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in September 2017 and will also be shown as part of the LIFF in November 2017.

Photo of Ashley Karrell

Leroy Johnson

Leroy Johnson is a Leeds-based gospel musician and Mobo and Urban Music Awards nominee. A well-established musician and singer-songwriter, Leroy learned the trade in the church. He was born in Sheffield to Jamaican parents who were also musicians. His passion for music has taken him around the world to perform on a variety of stages, with a host of world renowned artists. Leroy often delivers music workshops with our project participants.

Photo of Leroy Johnson

Akeim Toussaint Buck

Akeim Toussaint Buck is a multifaceted performing artist, born in Jamaica and raised in England. Since graduating from Northern School of Contemporary Dance with a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts, Akeim has been involved in cross disciplinary projects working with a wide range of artists. His focus as a maker and collaborator is to combine expressive skills such as dance, writing and poetry, beat-box, singing and acting through performance and telling new stories that reach beyond existing dance audiences.

Photo of Akeim Toussaint Buck

Lladel Bryant

Lladel Bryant is Leeds based actor and entrepreneur. After graduating from drama school, he co-founder of theatre company, Chicken Shop Shakespeare, aiming to present Shakespeare in inclusive forms. In 2016, he was nominated for the BEAM Award for Male Actor of the Year.

Photo of Lladel Bryant

Dr. Geetha Upadyaya

Dr Geetha Upadyaya OBE is a freelance teacher, choreographer, performer and mentor. She co-founded the arts organisation, Kala Sangam, in 1993. Noting that South Asian communities rarely came together, Geetha set up Kala Sangam (meaning art and confluence in Sanskrit) to address this issue. She has dedicated her life to deliver outstanding South Asian and intercultural arts in contemporary Britain and beyond.

Photo of Dr. Geetha Upadyaya

Moji Kareem

Moji Kareem is a theatre director and workshop facilitator based in Leeds. She is founder of Utopia Theatre, a black led professional theatre company founded to produce and tour reinterpretations of classic plays, new writing and plays from and about the African diaspora. Moji was the recipient of the York Theatre Royal Graduate Prize for Directors 2011 and currently works as a freelance director in both the UK and Africa.

Photo of Moji Kareem

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is a professional photographer, writer and researcher based in Yorkshire. His involvement with long-term projects has resulted in dozens of exhibitions, books and varied collaborations with television, radio, theatre and new media producers. Although he has a wide portfolio of experience across the commercial and public sectors, Tim has a distinguished record of recording the social and cultural transitions of minority communities as they adjust to their new lives in Britain. He is a member of Panos Pictures, a photo agency specialising in global social issues.

Photo of Tim Smith

Donald Edwards

Donald is a professional dancer, teacher, choreographer and artistic producer based in Leeds. As a founder member of Phoenix Dance Theatre and RJC Dance, he has worked extensively with both companies; touring nationally and internationally, performing, teaching and choreographing.

Photo of Donald Edwards

Lara Rose

Lara is a Leeds based visual artist, sculptor, poet, author, singer and songwriter. She’s also an Arts and Culture rep (Leeds BME Hub) and facilitates BHM events, art exhibitions and performances. She was part of the Carnival Messiah cast. Much inspired by Geraldine Connor, Lara birthed the musical Nomad Woman. Lara completed her MA (Art & Design) with Distinction at Leeds Beckett University in September 2018 and is currently researching a PhD investigating the cosmopolitanization of Yoruba music and culture worldwide.

Nii Kwartey Owoo

Nii is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on traditional cultural practices found in West Africa and diaspora communities. Originally from Ghana, Nii’s music and contemporary choreography is strongly influenced by his Ga heritage, including spiritual beliefs, storytelling and symbolism. Nii has won commissions for his choreography from the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, Skimstone Arts, Newcastle and Alliance Francaise, Accra. He has vast teaching experience and currently teaches West African Dance at Yorkshire Dance in Leeds and West African Drumming in North Leeds. Nii’s current work explores West African Links to Caribbean Carnival and the role of radio in community development and youth engagement.

Sally Molineaux

Sally is a freelance filmmaker based in Leeds. With a passion for charities and the arts, she has predominately worked with Yorkshire based charities and arts organisations. Sally has worked with GCF over the past few years helping to document a range of projects and performances through film.

Photo of Sally Molineaux

Tyrone Huggins

Tyrone Huggins has over 40 years’ experience as actor and performer. He co-founded experimental visual company Impact Theatre Cooperative in Leeds in 1979 after studying Metallurgy at Leeds University. Tyrone has starred in over 70 stage productions and has many screen appearances to his credit including The Beatification of Area Boy for West Yorkshire Playhouse and Black Earth Rising for BBC/Netflix. His plays, Choo Choo Ch’BoogieThe Carver ChairSounds…In Session and The Honey Man, have had successful stage productions, whilst his radio play, Emigrating Home, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1994. Tyrone served on the board of Phoenix Dance Company for thirteen years from 1987, including a three-year term as Chair. In 2013, he delivered a workshop on Devising Technique for the GCF Summer School.

Photo of Tyrone Huggins

Ella Mesma

Ella is a dance artist, teacher and choreographer based in Leeds. She trained at Laban/LSCD, but her first loves were Salsa and Samba, and then Breaking (breakdance). Some highlights of her performance experiences include touring internationally with the Russell Maliphant Company (The Rodin Project), performing for Lea Anderson (Trying it On: The Chomondeleys) and the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

She is the director of Ella Mesma Company and her work has been commissioned for Sadler’s Wells (Wild Card) and performed at the Women in Dance Leadership Conference in New York and the ICA Festival in South Africa in 2018 and many more. She is inspired by the power of the mind and has created an empowerment programme for women under the name ‘Maya Gandaia‘ (which translates as ‘Illusion to Joy’). She also curates Roots of Rumba: a festival to showcase and celebrate artists who work with dances of the African Diaspora.

Emily Zobel Marshall

Emily is an academic, author and poet. She is of Martinican and British heritage and has lived in Leeds for twenty years. She is a Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at Leeds Beckett University and her research specialisms are Caribbean cultural resistance, Caribbean literature and Caribbean carnival cultures. She has published widely in these fields and her books, Anansi’s Journey: A Story of Jamaican Cultural Resistance (UWI Press, 2012) and American Trickster: Trauma Tradition and Brer Rabbit (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), focus on the role of the folkloric trickster in the cultures of the African Diaspora. Emily is currently leading a Caribbean Carnival Cultures artistic and academic research network.

Dermot Daly

Dermot Daly works across performance art forms as an award winning performer and creative with a particular focus on promoting inclusivity and participation. He had the privilege of working with Geraldine on the world premiere of the stage version of Perry Henzell's 'The Harder They Come'. 

Pauline Mayers

Pauline is a multidisciplinary writer and theatremaker. She began her training at the Weekend Arts College and continued with ballet and contemporary dance at the Rambert School, London. After a dance career spanning 15 years, Pauline diversified her practice to include writing and performance. Pauline’s critically acclaimed solo show 2017’s What If I Told You, written and performed by Pauline and directed by Chris Goode, toured the across the UK and was presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017 where it was a shortlisted nominee for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Pauline is an Associate Artist with Leeds Playhouse and Chris Goode and Company.

Sarah Sarhandi

Sarah Sarhandi is a composer and virtuoso violist with joint British and Pakistani heritage based in London. She studied viola as a performer at the Royal Academy of Music. Her music weaves together fluid sometimes fragmented melody, viola, voices including her own, sound and electronica. She is particularly interested in and recognised for her collaborative work. She has recorded and performed worldwide, written and recorded for film and TV. Recently she has begun to create her own videos as well as initiate projects driven by her music with film and video practitioners. Her most recent performance project Both Universe emerged following a residency in Pakistan in 2015 with the late Aamir Zaki, legendary Pakistani guitarist and was performed as a work in progress at Alchemy Festival Southbank and Kala Sangham Bradford in 2016. Sarhandi recently composed and recorded a score and soundscape for Elizabeth Kwant’s artists film “Am I Not a Woman and a Sister’ a four channel installation that showed between November and February 2019 at the International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool. Other collaborators past and present include Bjork, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Damien Hirst, Hanif Kureishi, Russell Maliphant, Lore Lixenberg, Paul Benney, Vincent Katz, Shelagh Wakely, Thomasin Gulgec & Estela Merlos, Suhaee Abro, Sophie Molins and Mark Sanders. 

Rheima Robinson

Rheima Robinson is a Poet and artistic programmer. She is also the founder and Creative Director of The Sunday Practise (TSP), a creative hub and open mic event based in Leeds. TSP has toured UK poets across Florida (USA), Europe and the has hosted prominent national and international artist. Rheima has worked as a teaching artist for ten years, facilitating Creative Writing workshops throughout Yorkshire and around the world. As a poet and speaker, Rheima has performed nationally and internationally including venues such as Chicago Theatre, The Nuyorican Cafe (NYC) and the UK House of Lords. Rheima features in the award-winning documentary 'We Are Poets and more recently on BBC Four in the mini-series 'Present Tense'. Her work has been heard across different media outlets including BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Humberside, and BBC1xtra amongst others.   

Asher Jael

Asher Jael is a writer, digital content maker and activist. His work focuses on the intersection between social injustice and community arts. He recently graduated from his MA in Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett where he specialised in the Black British experience in the 20th century. He enjoys taking long walks and mountain sports, which are a source of inspiration for his creativity. You can contact Asher through www.asherjael.co.uk.

Leah Francis

Leah Francis is a Co-founder of Speak Woman Speak theatre collective. The Company formed in February 2013, and seeks to highlight hidden voices of diverse women. Some of the work by the company: Loss, Unknown and Soledad & Betto funded by Arts Council England. Performed at Yorkshire Dance and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Slunglow’s The HUB in Leeds, at Fira B Theatre Festival in Palma De Mallorca Spain. Their current piece in development is White Walls, a piece about Mental Health and Black Spirituality. Leah is also a youth theatre practitioner at Freedom Studios. As an actor she has performed for companies such as Red Ladder, Heritage Corner and Chickenshop Shakespeare. She has experience in Directing for companies like Mind the Gap and Tribe Arts.

James Lascelles

James grew up in London and Yorkshire with music and musicians all around him. In the early 1970's, he formed his first band, Global Village Trucking Company, and 3 years established the band as one of the most sought-after UK acts. James moved into the world of session music in the late 1970's, playing various keyboards and recording and touring with the likes of Frank Zappa, Joan Armatrading and L. Shankar whilst all the time fronting his own bands. All this activity greatly influenced James' approach and understanding of the great power of music as an international language! He started to jam with West Indian musicians as well as learning Persian and Indian scales and rhythms and turned to his second love, drums and percussion. In the last few years, James has continued to record tribal/folk music from places like South India and Surinam and plays with a smorgasbord of line-ups. He is part of Cockney Rebel that tours with Steve Harley and he has also been house composer for the London International School of Film.

Mayowa Ogunnaike

Mayowa Ogunnaike is a British-Nigerian dancer and teacher based in Leeds. She graduated 1st class from Trinity Laban Conservatoire (2017) with an award for ‘outstanding achievement in choreological studies’. After graduating, she became an Apprentice Dancer with Phoenix Dance Theatre, performing and touring in the original cast of ‘Windrush: Movement of The People’ choreographed by Sharon Watson. Mayowa has led many dance workshops for young people and performed for companies including Uchenna, Ace dance and Music and Rosie Kay Dance Company where she is currently performing the role of ‘Juliet’ in the company’s latest production of Romeo and Juliet.

Mayowa Ogunnaike