At It’s Not Your Birthday But… we’re all about the power of connecting with others through letters, words and visual arts. Why wait for people's birthdays to communicate by post? If we let people know what they mean to us on the normal days, it can mean so much more.
We work in a range of community settings from care homes to schools, hospitals to hospices, prisons to wellbeing groups. We place artists in each setting to inspire others to share what’s important or helpful to them through letters, words and visual arts.
We aim to ensure everyone we work with is given a platform to be well and truly heard in the wider community. We join up different parts of a community who would not otherwise meet. We hope this leads to greater understanding, empathy and continued engagement between people or groups who may otherwise walk past each other on the street or assume they have nothing in common.
We give people space and support to engage with their own creativity, imaginations and words and share the results with others. Words that enable them to share what’s important or helpful to them, words that allow them to connect with others, words that build other, imaginary worlds and words that help them explore alternative pathways. In many settings we also share words as part of an artwork. We run stand-alone workshops as well as programmes of work in single or linked settings. It's important for our work that it is artist-led, as we believe that arts and creativity can be a liberating and enriching experience for everyone. We work with writers, poets, visual artists, designers and theatre practitioners who share, not just their work, but aspects of themselves and their lives to inspire others to do the same. We draw out what we have in common and highlight positive human connections.
At a time when human beings are tweeting, refreshing, scrolling, uploading and searching for connection and engagement through digital devices more than ever before, we celebrate the power of the handwritten word to truly connect people in meaningful and positive ways, open doors and challenge assumptions. Whatever we’re searching for on our devices (connection, acceptance, attention?) we don’t always find it. Some words, a letter, an artwork or a small act of kindness can sometimes be a much better way to understand others and connect with them.
Drawings by Erika Flowers
Portraits drawn by INYBB workshop participants at HMPYOI Feltham
Wendy founded INYBB in 2015 because of her love of letters and in response to seeing increasing social isolation and 'othering' of individuals and groups in society. Wendy hopes that INYBB can serve as an antidote to the many labels we put on people and let the individuals behind the labels be heard in a way that allows them to share what is useful and helpful to them through creativity. She is passionate about everyone having access to creative opportunities and this influences the types of projects she leads and champions. As well as leading INYBB, she works as a creative producer and fundraiser for a range of arts and heritage projects, organisations and artists. Previously Wendy worked in a range of production and fundraising roles at The Hub, the Barbican and Classic FM. She was a founding Trustee of the inspirational Ministry of Stories, a children’s writing charity in East London and is currently a Trustee of The R C Sherriff Trust. She’d love to receive a letter from Roald Dahl but given this is unlikely would settle for one from Matilda.
Erika is an exhibited artist and illustrator with lived experience of the Criminal Justice System. She has an extensive body of work including ‘Postcards from Prison’, a series of daily diary drawings that constitute a living record of her journey through incarceration. She has worked extensively with The Koestler Trust and exhibited frequently at their annual South Bank Exhibition. Erika is also an elected member of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance Steering Group and participates in the Prisoners Education Trust Alumni Advisory Group. Erika is passionate about encouraging people to explore their artistic side, even those who feel they don’t have one! She believes that the process of creating images can be not only therapeutic, but can help anyone with their self-esteem, confidence and communication. She has a love of Science, the universe and the natural environment and would love to receive a letter from David Attenborough and Brian Cox, appreciating that this collaboration may be difficult she would settle for a doodle from each!!
Nicole Cowan is a freelance Illustrator who enjoys documenting people around her. Within her illustration work she is interested in social commentary and experiments with the use of shape and limited colour palettes. She works with INYBB in Visual Arts workshops at HMPYOI Feltham and has also co-facilitated creative workshops with young care leavers and refugees. She believes that everybody should have a vehicle through which they can express creativity, gain confidence and be able to communicate and express themselves. Nicole also works as a graduate tutor at the University for the Creative Arts and won a D&AD New Blood Pencil in 2016. She’d love to receive a letter from Stacey Dooley!
Fiona is a playwright and screenwriter. Her passion is to tell stories that have not been heard in voices that are not usually listened to. Her latest feature film Acceptable Damage will be released by Evolutionary Films in 2019. You can watch the trailer here.
Her theatre plays have been written for a range of audiences and performed in a variety of venues.
These include Theatres, Site Specific Venues, A Bookshop, Cafe, Launderette, Care Home and many others. Her recent play Tinned Goods is published by Samuel French. She believes that everyone has a story to tell and a unique voice that needs to be heard. Working with INYBB gives her the opportunity to practise the mantra ‘writing can happen anywhere’. She would love to receive a letter from Maya Angelou, but that would be a miracle, she would settle for one from Bette Midler.
Alexandra is an artist and historian who has been enjoying rediscovering the challenges and rewards of creative writing since she started to work for INYBB in February 2018. She strongly believes in the positive impact that creativity can have, and in the power of imagination. Alex’s artworks are predominantly still lifes and close-ups of plants, and she has exhibited her work in the UK and in Greece. In the past she has worked in the art department of a primary school, and she also ran art classes for children at the Greek Council for Refugees in Athens. Currently she volunteers in the art room at The Connection, St Martin-in-the-Fields. Alex’s historical research is focussed on the Zoroastrian communities of Iran and India, and she has taught various courses at SOAS, University of London. She is now working on her first book, Zoroastrianism in India and Iran: Persians, Parsis and the Flowering of Political Identity. The person she would most like to receive a letter from is Malala Yousafzai.
Nathan Bryon is a writer and actor, who grew up eating as much Uxbridge Road Caribbean food as his bank balance would allow. He is best known to viewers for his role as regular character Jamie in Some Girls and as Benidorm’s sunniest holiday maker, Joey Ellis. Nathan’s TV writing credits include Rastamouse, Swashbuckle and Gigglebiz. Nathan has his first book LOOK UP released with Penguin Random House in June. He would love to receive a letter from Will Smith as he is full of positive vibes and has had the best career!