The twenty first century has become an era defined by massification, measurement and statistics, from child to adulthood we are analysed, metricised and allocated personal algorithms to plot daily existence; So where do we find the time to ‘Play with Purpose’?

This question is especially important in the creative arts, where informal play support creativity and innovation. This conference seeks to develop an understanding of ‘play with purpose’ as an alternative to scoring creative performance.

‘Play with Purpose’ is located in a place where we imagine, explore, reflect then imagine more, where art, design and education use playful philosophies, encourage risk taking, follow intuition, and delight in practice to develop, create and innovate – a playground of ideas.

So How do Artists and Designers use play to Create, Innovate, Learn, Share.

“Our point of departure must be the conception of an almost childlike play-sense expressing itself in various play-forms, some serious, some playful, but all rooted in ritual and productive of culture by allowing the innate human need of rhythm, harmony, change, alternation, contrast and climax, etc., to unfold in full richness.”

Johan Huizinga 1938 Homo Ludens


  • To reveal connections between play and creativity, social and cultural production
  • To develop communities of creative players, makers, thinkers, and dreamers
  • To develop provenance in debate on ‘Play’ in art and design education – the creative industries
  • Contribute to cultural and economic development and well-being of communities through creative endeavour
  • To develop a space where ideas emerge that inform our daily lives through creative intelligent play, where anything is possible
  • To inspire the  future  through Play with Purpose  with  concepts that  enhance design thinking in education, business and commerce  using creative play activity,  to rejuvenate production
  • The conference will be supported by a  post conference book on Play and Creativity 

The programme includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, and a variety of workshops.


Ground Floor Postgraduate Centre

10 AM

10:30AM – 12:45PM
VC Introduction +
Keynotes speakers:

Chair Dr Janet Emmanuel

Gemma Harrison
Professor Rebecca Earley
Noel Douglas

+ Panel discussion

12:45PM – 1:45PM

2PM – 5PM
Breakout sessions:

Chair Professor Alexis Weedon / Dr Janet Emmanuel

Phil Holmes & Paresh Parmar
Catrin Val
Rebekah Tolley
John Whitney
Vicki Fong + David Thomas
Beverley Bothwell
Anna Stanton
Graciete Catarina Augusto Franklin
Nicolo Giudice

5:20PM – 6PM

Kathryn Pugh

6PM – 8PM
Private View
MA Exhibition

8PM – 10PM
Final drinks and chat at the Bear Club


Ground Floor Postgraduate Centre

10:30AM – 12:45PM
Keynotes speakers:

Alexis Harding
Dr Julie Huxely-Jones
Dr Sian-Kate Mooney

+ Panel discussion

12:45AM – 1:45PM Lunch

Break out sessions:

Chair Noel Douglas / Dr Janet Emmanuel

Alexis Weedon
Dr Anna Fairchild
Brad Benford
Ruth Jones
Gemma Marmalade
Gianlucca Alla
Nicola Johnson
Dawn Hesketh-Joslin
Viv Cherry
William Bishop Stephens

Additional Workshops + Installations

Brad Benford
Anna de Costa Lopez
Emma Banks/Barrow
Tamara Vyslouzilova
Derek Willmer
Ben Bradbury
Melissa Blaxhill

Taking place at the University of Bedfordshire’s postgraduate centre the event is located close to the Luton town centre and the cultural quarter.

This conference encourages submission from a broad range of practices in the creative industries, art, design and education, that impact community, culture and society.

This conferences double referees, all delegate submissions. ​

Full conference paper submissions after the event for final book publication 10th July 08, 2020

Various exhibitions will take place around the University campus as well as scheduled events in the Alexon House which is home to the School of Art + Design.

Located in the Cultural Quarter with the Art + Design School, Hat Factory studios and Storefront gallery lies the Bear Club a jazz and blues focused music venue where an evening of networking, fun and drinks.

The Bear Club


Postgraduate Centre

University Of Bedfordshire

University Square