Fishbowl Conversations

Your critical voice within Creative Hull

Fri 16 – Sun 18 July 2021

“An inclusive and experimental forum for critical creative thinking and debate, Critical Fish believes that art – and thinking meaningfully about art – is for everyone. A friendly artist-led project and collective of freelance artists, writers and researchers, they promote critical yet accessible writing about art and visual culture.

When we spend time with art, and take the time to think about it, we tend to appreciate and enjoy it so much more. So why not think a little deeper about the artwork you encounter across Creative Hull?

Through a series of workshops and guided questions, Critical Fish ask you to respond to the Creative Hull programme by firing off a quick tweet, emailing a creative response or writing a short essay.

Open to all, Fishbowl Conversations helps you to approach and critically think about the work in a way that is most meaningful for you and who knows, you might one day see your response in print!”

If you’re looking for Eventbrite links to book onto our workshops, keep scrolling down to find them listed!

Challenge yourself to think a lil’ deeper

Throughout the event, you’ll see our signage accompanying various works of art and performances – these are there to serve as prompts, questions which will help you think a little deeper about the work you’re experiencing.

The challenge is to think analytically about the work you encounter, and creatively share your thoughts as part of our ‘Fishbowl Conversations’.


What is a ‘Fishbowl Conversation’?

A ‘fishbowl conversation‘ is a format of participatory communication to help facilitate discussion within large groups. Lots of people can easily contribute to the conversation by asking questions, sharing ideas, offering opinions and listening to and acknowledging the perspectives of others.

This is what we invite you to do in response to Creative Hull!!

Join in with the conversation

When it comes to art, everyone’s experience of it is valid (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). You may have some interesting thoughts whilst spending time with the work / performers… and The Critical Fish, Absolutely Cultured / Creative Hull, all the participating artists and others in the community would love to hear your perspective.

What happens when you’re experiencing the work in front of you? What goes through your mind? What does it remind you of? Has it altered your perspective? Does it inspire you? Why?

Maybe you have one really profound thought or intense emotional reaction there and then in the moment. Amazing. Perhaps you encounter something that makes you think differently. You may learn something new about something. You might even feel inspired to create some artwork, write some poetry, devise a performance or even write a short critical or reflective essay later on when you get home. Epic.

Crucially, we want to listen to why you think or feel a certain way.

We want to hear all about these flashes of inspiration and knowledge, which is why we invite you to digitally share with us your creative responses to Creative Hull. Using words and images as our method of communication, let’s create a community-led Fishbowl Conversation.

Responses can take on many forms, and might come from you as an individual, or be created alongside your family or friends.

These creative responses will be collected and shared together as part of a special online gallery, and (funding willing) possibly even shared in print within our next journal!

We love images and words at The Critical Fish, so please send them our way!

How to send in your creative responses

You can share your creative responses with us in a number of ways, using one or more of the options below.

Tag us in on social media using the handle @thecriticalfish, and don’t forget to use both #HullFishbowl and #CreativeHull

Things you could send

  • Paintings
  • Drawings
  • Collages
  • Poetry
  • Short Stories
  • Essays



Directly tag us into your tweets or reply to our pinned tweet



Directly tag us into your posts



Share to our wall or leave a comment in our pinned post

Email us


Share your creative responses by sending them to us by email.

Submit via this website

Share your responses directly with us online by uploading your files to our Submissions page.

Did you know we’ll be offering some workshops too?

We’re very pleased to offer a series of three online workshops over the weekend. You can book yourself onto any of the following via Eventbrite. Places are limited, so book now!

Friday 16

11am – 1pm

Art as Critical History

photo of protesters gathered around a toppled statue of coulston

In recent years there have been many controversies, debates and mutually antagonistic accusations of ‘rewriting history’ through art, especially concerning memories of empire, colonialism and slavery. Toppled statues, anyone?

Join Fish Editor Dr Barnaby Haran in discussing the role art plays within socio-political conflict, and whether it can be (or should be) a form of critical history.

What and whose stories have been told, or should be told, by artists about Hull’s past?

Photo by Giulia Spadafora/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Saturday 17

3 – 5pm

“You call that art?!”

abstract expressionism painting

‘Is art sometimes a bit baffling? Overwhelming? Frustrating? Like a five year old could do it’?

We often proclaim ‘That’s not art!’ when we come up against a work that we find challenging. Does that help us affirm, what therefore, is?

Join artist Dom Heffer in addressing notions of pre-judging artworks, encouraging participants to stop, think and un-pack difficult artworks.

Artwork by Steve Johnson via Unsplash

Sunday 18

11am – 1pm

Fish n’ Crits >
A Nourishment Session

colourful mural of hands

Whether you consider yourself to be more ‘artist’ or ‘audience’ (or both!), join Fish Editor Michael Barnes-Wynters in a collaborative, friendly creative sharing event. Much like an ‘art school crit’, participants are invited to share work, ask questions and be inspired as we explore local creative practice in more depth.

Want to share your work? Details in event listing.

Photo by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Submission / Participation Guidance

  • Feel free to submit more than one response! You may wish to offer different responses to different works / performances / experiences, or create one thing with family or friends and then another by yourself… and that’s okay!
  • We anticipate that we’ll receive most of your responses over the Creative Hull weekend itself (16 – 18 July 2021). For those of you who wish to develop something more substantial, please get your responses to us by 11.59pm on Saturday 31 July.
  • Make sure that any images you share with us are clear, well lit and in a good resolution, and that you have permission to use and share this image.
  • Make sure that any text shared (typed or handwritten) is legible and is in your own words (i.e. not copied or plagiarised). We don’t mind bad spelling!
  • It’s important that submissions use accessible language (i.e. no fancy jargon, terms have plain English explanations) and – where appropriate (as this won’t realistically apply to everyone) – are critical in nature, as per our Editorial Policy. Not sure what is meant by ‘critical‘ or ‘accessible‘? No problem, we got you. Scroll down to the bottom of this page.
  • If you are writing a critical essay, or otherwise wish to reference something, please include links/references. You may wish to also use spell check and format your text using our Style Guide if it’s helpful.
  • Creative Hull is a family friendly event and will have a wide online presence, so please refrain from using adult language over social media. If you wish to use adult language within your response, please email us your response.
  • Full credit for submissions will be given where possible and appropriate. If you wish to remain anonymous, please email us directly and make it clear you wish to remain unnamed.

Other important information

  • We will be screenshotting responses shared with us over social media, so be aware that your name / social media handle will be published as part of this project. If you do not wish this to be shared, email your responses directly with us.
  • Copyright of the original text/images you share with us remains with you, the author. However, by sharing content with us, you agree to give us permission to use your submission on our website, elsewhere online and in print in full or in part.
  • The Critical Fish reserve the right to not include submissions within the subsequent online gallery or in print.

Definitions which may (or may not) help you

What is meant by ‘Critical’?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘Critical’ meansexpressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art.’

It doesn’t necessarily mean ‘criticism’, but is an intention to ask questions, challenge our automatic assumptions, make connections and look beneath the surface. It’s about stretching your understanding of art.

Criticality moves beyond purely descriptive writing, making and thinking (“That’s a painting”) and personal judgement (“Nah, don’t like that”) to something that weighs up different opinions or perspectives, evaluates evidence, or challenges arguments and conclusions. It’s therefore different than a ‘review’, which rates something based on ‘expectations’ or prior knowledge.

To be critical then, in this sense, means to be analytical.

You can read a Fish article about ‘Criticality’ on pages 8-12 in our first ever journal, titled Anchovy.

What is meant by ‘Accessible’?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘Accessible’ means ‘the quality of being able to be reached or entered’ or ‘the quality of being easy to obtain or use.’ It also refers to ‘the quality of being easily understood or appreciated.’

For us, accessibility means lots of things. In one sense, it means making all things ‘art’ more inclusive, and maintaining that art isn’t for the priviledged few, or for people who went to art school. Art really is for, and belongs to, everyone, so accessibility is about challenging gate-keepery attitudes and welcoming everyone – and their valid perspectives – to the table.

It’s also about demystifying art by using plain English, not assuming everyone knows what you’re talking about, and offering clear explanations when discussing complex ideas.

Accessibility also addresses the issues and associated barriers that can stand in the way of people participating with art (e.g. disabilities, class, education, confidence, discrimination).

To be accessible then, in this sense, means to be inclusive as possible in the way you do things.

You can read a Fish article about ‘Access and the Arts’ on pages 50-54 in our first ever journal, titled Anchovy.

If you have any more questions about Fishbowl Conversations, feel free to send us an email or use our contact form.

The Critical Fish is an independent, artist-led, not-for-profit organisation and collective. If you love what we’re about and what we do, why not get involved or consider supporting us?