Click through the photos to see more! Photography by Franklyn Rodgers.

At this time of year we would usually be preparing for The Beautiful Octopus Club Festival at Southbank Centre. This year we chose to celebrate Heart n Soul's 30th birthday where it all began and had our Big 30 Summer Takeover in Deptford instead.

However, you can see beautiful portraits of last year's Beautiful Octopus Club audience on the Archive page of The Big 30 website here. As far back as last September we were already capturing moments for The Big 30 Archive, which included photographer Franklyn Rodgers setting up a photo studio and taking photographs of our friends and supporters.

Click through some of the photos on the left and see even more on the Archive page of this website here.

The Beautiful Octopus Club Festival will be back next year, but until then find out what else is coming up as part of our Big 30 project.


Click on the photos to see more!

Last weekend our DJs took over the Riverside Terrace of the Southbank Centre! Julie, Anne and Dinesh, aka DJ Soul Sister, DJ Princess Anne and DJ Bubbles got the crowd dancing to their tunes all evening. And it's not over! The Big 30 Summer Takeover continues and you can catch more of our DJs the next two Sundays in August.

On Sunday 13 August, 5pm - 8pm, we'll have Joe, Alex, Paul and Tiarma on the decks and then on Sunday 20 August, 5pm - 8pm, you can check out Stewart, Pauline and one of our Allsorts DJ stars, Castro!

Find out what else is coming up here, as The Big 30 celebrations continue into Autumn...


SoundLab Play Rave

Click on the photos to see more! Photography by Christopher Andreou

We had an amazing time at SoundLab Play Rave, our last official Big 30 event in Deptford!

There was a lot going on. We tried out the latest music technology from companies including DADA machines, HackousticAmpify, Novation, Studio Amplify and Do It Kits.

Everyone also enjoyed performances in the garden (despite the weather!) on our music stage, kindly supported by Novation and Ampify. Performers included Heart n Soul artists K-Dog, Maurice, Electric Fire, guest artists Lynsey Dart (known as Electric Sister), Conrad Murray & BAC Beatbox Academy, plus anyone who wanted to create digital music on stage! We finished the night by dancing to the tunes of Heart n Soul's DJs.

You can see more photos of the evening online here!

Though the Play Rave was the last official event of our Big 30 Summer Takeover, there is still lots to look forward to. You can come along to one of our Heart n Soul DJ sets on the Riverside Terrace of Southbank Centre for the next two Sundays, see new art by our Do Your Own Thing participants at the Could be Good studio, AND part of The Big 30 installation will be on display at Lewisham Library in September. More details here!


Click on the photos to see more! Photography by Christopher Andreou

September 2016 was the actual 30th anniversary of Heart n Soul. We launched our Big 30 year with the biggest ever Beautiful Octopus Club at the Southbank Centre. 3,500 people came and experienced work from over 100 artists and participants across three floors and along the Riverside Terrace. Click through the photos on the left to see some of the many activities that took place.

We created a new performance space called the Unbelievable Stage, where Robyn Steward and the Hatonaughts made their debut performance. Heart n Soul artist and co-founder Pino Frumiento also shared his directorial film debut, ‘What is Love?’, which you can watch in the video to the left.

Since then we have been building on the momentum of the Big 30 launch and we decided to move our focus back to our local area this year for our Big 30 Summer Takeover. We have spread Heart n Soul performances and club nights out over the past month and have loved welcoming everyone, old and new, to experience Heart n Soul in our home of 30 years, Deptford.

The Beautiful Octopus Club will be back next year so keep an eye out for more information coming soon. For now, remember there are a number of Big 30 events still to come, including Heart n Soul DJ sets at the Southbank Centre. Find out more on the Big 30 Events page.


Illustrations by Ben Connors.

2015 was the year we decided to produce a new look, fun, accessible and innovative way to describe our plans for the next 3 years – The Strategic Plan! We worked with different groupings of artists, participants, freelancers, staff, associates and trustees to hear everybody’s ideas. We listened to what people were saying and worked with Big 30 interviewee Adele Jeffs and artist/illustrator Ben Connors to produce a Strategic Plan that looked like a newspaper broad sheet.

We found strong visual ways to share our ideas. We shared the Strategic Plan widely and produced something that was jargon free, accessible and owned by everyone at Heart n Soul. We learned that we were again breaking new ground by producing an engaging document that we felt sure would not spend it’s life sitting on a shelf gathering dust! We have shared it in many meetings and used the graphics to express our idea and our plans. There’s a great digital version of it here.

The Strategic Plan was a way of introducing the new ideas that we wanted to test out over the next few years; these included The Chat Up, Heart n Soul Radio, SoundLab and The Heart n Soul Choir. We also used visual diagrams to illustrate the method and the ways that we work and used the Dean Rodney Singers project as an example of a project that had a clear direction and purpose but ended up enabling lots of different relationships and new things that we could never have dreamt of in the beginning. 


Click on the image to see more!

Our Big 30 Summer Takeover of Deptford is coming to an end, but our young people from Do Your Own Thing are keeping it alive throughout the month of August.

The crew are spending Thursdays in August at the Could be Good studio making art that represents them, building on the artwork created for the spectacular Do Your Own Thing album and The Squidz Club in June.

Everyone can come down and see the artwork on Friday 25 August, when all the studios on Resolution Way are open. 

Remember this Friday you can see some of our young people performing at our last Big 30 Summer Takeover event, the SoundLab Play Rave. Come and make music using brand new technology from companies like Novation and Ampify, and see performances from Electric Fire, K-Dog Generation and others on a music stage in The Albany Garden. See you there! 

2014: SoundLab

SoundLab grew out of what we had discovered and learnt during the Dean Rodney Singers project. We wanted to continue to find out how different music making tech devices could be connected to each other and be more accessible to learning disabled participants and artists. We were successful in applying for the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts and worked with the Goldsmiths University EAVI Department and Public Domain Corp for 18 months to explore how this would work!

SoundLab was first tested at The Beautiful Octopus Club in 2013; it gave audiences the chance to take part in a live music jam using iPad’s and other music tech devices like the Alphasphere and the Moog Theremini.

As a result of having this opportunity we invented the Heart n Soul SoundLab Playspace (video on the left) and lay the ground work for the young digital band Electric Fire to start. We also created a brand new Make Your SoundLab website and the whole project was recognised when we won the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Resource Award - Music Teacher Awards For Excellence in 2016.

Experience SoundLab at our SoundLab Playrave event this Friday 28 July // 7pm - 11pm. More information here.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!

2013: mysterious universe party

Click the photo to see more, to see the full album click here.

Inspired by the Dean Rodney Singers Universe and a visit to the Do Your Own Thing (DYOT) sessions by Dean, the Mysterious Universe Party took a hold of the young people of Heart n Soul and for the next two years became the creative world that they used to express themselves and create dance moves, music, characters and comics.

‘The Mysterious Universe Party was a great opportunity for the young people at DYOT to create an entire body of work from live music, an album, a comic book, characters and live performances for the Squidz Clubs over an 18 month period.

It was the first time that all of the groups at DYOT worked together, collaborating on ideas to bring the characters stories and music to life. It was also the first time we worked with artist Ben Connors who is now a regular session leader at DYOT and at Heart n Soul in general. 

The character Bob Hercules (loosely based on Big 30 contributor Ned Smith) is still a favourite of everyone at DYOT and Pop the Balloon is still going strong as the band Electric Fire have a song about him!’ – Lizzie Moore, Project Manager

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!

2012: dean rodney singers and paralympics opening ceremony

2012 was the biggest year to date for Heart n Soul. We reached more people, travelled to more new countries and tried out more new things than any previous years.

We were delighted that Fish Police front man Dean Rodney was supported by the first Unlimited commission to realise his dream of bringing a global band of singers, dancers and musicians together from seven countries to create original music and dance videos using the internet. We visited Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Croatia, Japan and China, recruited 72 members of the Dean Rodney Singers band from across the world and created 23 brand new tracks to soundtrack the Dean Rodney Universe.

You can find out more about this incredible project here. Without a doubt, this project has changed Heart n Soul for the better and has meant that we have embraced digital art in a completely new and different way.

Lizzie Emeh and The Fish Police also got to play a part in the 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony in front of 80,000 people. As well as performing the Fish Police theme in the pre show, Matt and Dean got to perform with other members of the ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ cast and Lizzie Emeh performed ‘I Am What I Am’ with Beverly Knight as the closing number.

On the left you can see the performance with Lizzie Emeh and Beverly Knight at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!

Good Times: A Celebration of 30 Years

Photography: Tim Mitchell. Click on the photos to see more!

Last Thursday we celebrated our 30th birthday in true Heart n Soul fashion when our artists performed across two stages and brought the house down!

We had electric performances from artists including Lizzie Emeh, Pino Frumiento, The Fish Police, Too Hot for Candy and Tilley Milburn, and our newer artists including K-Dog Generation and Electric Fire.

Between performances the audience heard some of the captivating stories from The Big 30 Archive, as beautiful portraits were projected and interviews were played.

A big shout out to our excellent DJs who kept the dancefloor alive long after the performances finished!

You can click through photos from the night on the left, but we have lots more here. Watch a short video of the night soon on the left too, or visit our YouTube page here.

Go to our Events page to find out what's next up in our Big 30 Summer...

2011: Allsorts and Do Your Own Thing: The Taking Part revolution

Click the photo to see more!


2011 was the year Heart n Soul really opened up to more young people and adults who wanted to take part and explore new ways of expressing themselves.

Do your Own Thing was the successor to our Heart n Soul Youth project and moved from a music theatre session once a week to five sessions taking place monthly at Midi Music in Deptford. Midi Music is run by Big 30 interviewee Wozzy Brewster and was formerly known as the Lewisham Academy of Music (where pre-Heart n Soul members first got together in 1984).

Allsorts started because adults at Heart n Soul were asking for more opportunities to regularly take part. We wanted to find a way to offer people regular new ways to try things and grow the Heart n soul community. Both these projects are continuing and thriving today and are essential ways that participants can grow, develop and add their creative voices to what we do.

On the left is the original Allsorts promo and the Do Your Own Thing superhero’s film, which also illustrates how we were beginning to engage with more digital tools and filmmaking.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!


Heart n Soul Now was an event that we held to celebrate the award of an MBE to both Pino Frumiento and Mark Williams for services to Disability Arts. 10 artists chose their favourite Pino classic and then performed their own individual spin on the track.

The event was attended by various high profile speakers and politicians and was a powerful recognition and endorsement of the work of Heart n Soul.

2010 was also the second year that we took the Beautiful Octopus Club to the Paradise Gardens Festival in Victoria Park in Hackney where we ran the club over 2 days for the first time.

It was fantastic to see the BOC integrated into a mainstream festival on our own terms and amazing to offer loads of artists and performers the opportunity to perform to loads of new audiences – and The Fish Police got to play on the main stage too!

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!


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As part of our Big 30 Summer Takeover Heart n Soul Radio is live!

We’ll be broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the whole of July, featuring old and new Heart n Soul music, special live shows from Heart n Soul artists, participants and staff, PLUS recordings of Big 30 events like our epic concert, Good Times: A Celebration of 30 Years.

Tune in every day at 10pm for regular shows from Heart n Soul artists Dean Rodney and Tilley Milburn and find out which live shows are coming up each week on the Heart n Soul Radio webpage here

You can listen via the radio player on the homepage of our website – just hit play!


Click the photo to see more!

2009 was the launch of Heart n Soul artist Lizzie Emeh’s ‘Loud and Proud’ album at The Southbank Centre. Lizzie tells us about the year below.

“2009, it was ground-breaking for Heart n Soul and for me because I was the 1st solo artist with a learning disability to release an album in the UK and it went straight onto iTunes! I’m so proud that I did it because we didn’t do it for any other reason than to get people recognised, to get disability recognised, that’s the drive behind my music. Since 2009 a lot of things have changed, I don’t know why we didn’t have acceptance in the first place but we have a lot more now.

The reason why we have a lot more acceptance is because of prestigious companies like Heart n Soul”

Lizzie Emeh is also one of our Big 30 contributors, listen to her interview and see her portrait here.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!



Since January we have been updating you as we create The Big 30 Archive, a unique archive of learning disability culture to mark our 30th birthday. We have recorded interviews with 30 people and groups made up of Heart n Soul artists, staff, volunteers and participants with and without learning disabilities. 

We are thrilled to now be able to bring you clips of all The Big 30 interviews, alongside brand new portraits created by photographer Franklyn Rodgers. Explore the Archive page of this website and enjoy hearing stories from the last 30 years.

The 30th interview is with YOU, our audience, so once you have heard the interviews you can tell us what you thought on this online survey we have set up.

Remember, you can read all about how we created The Big 30 Archive on our News pages of this website.


Click the photo to see more!

This was the year The Fish Police band were born. The Fish Police are frontman Dean Rodney Jr., Matthew Howe on guitar and Charles Stuart on bass. They all met when Charles and Zoe Gilmour were running the Heart n Soul youth music and drama workshop with young people from Greenvale School in Lewisham.

Heart n Soul was going through a big transition and was moving away from only working with artists and participants in groups. Dean, Matt and Charles decided they were going to form a band together.

Here they are performing at Heart n Soul’s Squidz Club singing one of their most popular tracks ‘Chicken Nuggets For Me’.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News pages!


Click the photo to see more!

‘Look’ was a commission from the Liberty Festival, the biggest free disability arts festival in Europe, which in 2009 was still happening in Trafalgar Square. We devised a piece working with Big 30 interviewees Catherine Long and Danny Smith as well as choreographer Fiona Findlay which was all about the ’gaze’.

It was playing with the idea of people being stared at and we flipped things around with our dancers being dressed with small mirrors and having eyes in their hands so they were turning their gaze back on the audience. 60 dancers comprising artists and participants at Heart n Soul performed the piece on the steps outside the National Gallery and in front of Nelson’s column.

The Fish Police wrote a song for the piece called ‘Expandable’.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!


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We are thrilled that The Big 30 project has been featured in the media this week!

A big thanks to BBC London News for featuring us twice on BBC One on the day of our Big 30 launch. It was great to see Heart n Soul co-founder Mark Williams, Heart n Soul artist Tilley Milburn and The Fish Police frontman Dean Rodney talking about Heart n Soul and the importance of creative work from people with learning disabilities.

Mark and Tilley also did a great interview with Simon Lederman on BBC London Radio, which you can listen to here at 1 hour and 10 minutes into the show.

Plus, read about the project in the GuardianLondon News Online, Enable Magazine, Disability Arts Online and Time Out!


Click on the images to see more! Photography by Christopher Andreou and Getty Images.

The Big 30 Summer Takeover has begun! Heart n Soul art installations are now on display in seven different locations across Deptford.

You can see brand new portraits created by photographer Franklyn Rodgers and hear interviews from The Big 30 Archive in Deptford Lounge throughout the whole of July. Heart n Soul have also taken over The Albany cafe, Buster Mantis, a Deptford Market Yard window, the old HSBC building, Call & Response and the Could be Good studio. Find out more about what you can see at each of the installations here.

During your visit you can also listen to our special Big 30 highlights podcast, featuring interviews and music from The Big 30 Archive. Find out how to download the podcast to your phone or mobile device here.

At The Big 30 Installation you will have the chance to tell us your thoughts and become part of our 30th interview! So please come on down and be part of the celebrations!

See more photos of the Big 30 installations here.

Don't forget we have a fantastic programme of events you can attend too. More information is available on The Big 30 website.


Big 30 portraits by Franklyn Rodgers. Click on the photos to see more of our installation in progress!

The Big 30 Summer Takeover begins THIS Wednesday 5 July.

Our brilliant design team are building art installations in The AlbanyDeptford LoungeCould be Good, Call & Response and Deptford Market Yard, which will be available from Wednesday 5 July until Sunday 30 July.

See photos of the early stages of our main installation at Deptford Lounge, where you can see portraits and hear voices from The Big 30 Archive.

Find out more about our installations around Deptford here!