who we are

element arts came about after a chance meeting on a park bench, a long friendship and many years of discussing, thinking and dreaming about setting up a small arts space in an “interesting” building, preferably by the sea.

It was this, and more recently, a host of happy coincidences, that led element arts to be able to set up such a space in the Wool House, Town quay, Southampton.

element arts is about bringing together and enabling artists from all art forms to be in their ‘element” to discover or re discover new depths to their talent and creativity, and to be inspired by one another and their surroundings; for emerging artists to also have a platform for their work and above all for their work to be shared with public audiences.

element arts is about ‘space’; space physically to evolve and create in, as well as philosophically to enable freedom, to make connections with one another and their environment and community to create new unexpected work.

element arts  is Sharon Lawless, Claudia Friend, Steph May, Rob Iliffe and Peter Hunter.


Sharon Lawless‘ career has always been in the theatre, firstly as an actor in Vienna and then over the past twenty years as a producer and arts a manager.  Some of her most exciting work for the Nuffield Theatre has been initiating a tour of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to Vanuatu and New Zealand with the British Council NZ and  producing the outdoor spectacular events in Southampton’s Guildhall Square and Mayflower Park as part of the Zepa partnership with Southampton City Council (including No fit State Circus, Carabosse’s Fire Garden and  Waterlitz by Generik Vapeur). These have been some of the most accessible and rewarding ways of engaging the local community in large-scale live street arts.

Claudia Friend is a freelance arts facilitator who has worked in and around Southampton over the last fifteen years with both adults and children at local schools, festivals and for various local arts organisations (for example, Southampton City Art Gallery, Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Berry Theatre). At present she works part-time as an arts facilitator at St Deny’s Day Services.

Steph May is a maker, local (interesting) historian, part-time support worker and mentor for students at Solent University; collector of beached shards and trinkets and cartes de visite by Victorian Southampton photographers; lover of trees, plants, comics, and sea urchins real, fossilized or imagined

pete webPeter Hunter is a visual artist and performance poet and works as South East Regional Programme Coordinator for national performance poetry organisation Apples and Snakes as well as digital support and administration for poetry development organisation Poetry Can. He has previously had several years experience as co-director of Centrespace Gallery in Bristol.

Rob Iliffe is currently drama development officer for The Point and The Berry Theatres in Eastleigh. He has previously been the programme co-ordinator for Hanger Farm Arts Centre, and has several years experience in community arts work, including storytelling, story sacks and youth theatre.
Rob has been a Master of Arts since 1995 and it is for this reason he arrived in Southampton from the big smoke, as a born again student (and because it was cheaper than Winchester!)