Launching TEDxExeter 2016

Last night TEDxExeter spent a night at the museum, as RAMM opened its doors for the launch of our 2016 event.

Our sponsors and other friends joined the team for an evening of hospitality, good conversation, a celebration of how far TEDxExeter has come over the past four years, and an introduction to the speakers and ideas we are looking forward to hearing at TEDxExeter 2016 in April.

Photos by Matt Round. More are available in the full set on Flickr. The images can be downloaded under Creative Commons, but they still require acknowledgement as © Matt Round/TEDxExeter. Projection was provided by Stage Engage.

Here is the list of speakers and performers for TEDxExeter 2016. There is more information about each, and a photo, in their biographies.

Abbie McGregor is a Exeter College student who, aged just 16, has wowed judges from TEDxExeter with her talk Remember to Dream. Alan Smith is data visualisation editor at the Financial Times. Alex Holmes is head of the anti-bullying campaign at The Diana Award. He was bullied himself at school and won a Diana Award for tackling bullying in his school. Anna Frost is an ultrarunner and an ambassador for SisuGirls. Cormac Russell is managing director of Nurture Development, the leading Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) organisation in Europe, and faculty member of the ABCD Institute in the US. He works with local communities, NGOs and governments in four continents. Danny Dorling is professor of geography at the University of Oxford. He was described in a Guardian editorial as “that rare university professor: expert, politically engaged and able to explain simply why his subject matters”. Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director, highlighting human rights, women’s voices and freedom of expression. Fi McNae is co-founder and CEO of Space Doctors, taking cultural and semiotic techniques into branding and corporate communications. Giles Duley lost both legs and his left arm after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan, and is an award-winning photographer of conflicts across the world. Lindsay Levin is founder of Leaders’ Quest and Leaders’ Quest Foundation working with corporate management and NGOs to bridge divides – between cultures, perspectives and opposing voices. Muhammad Manwar Ali is chief executive of Muslim educational charity JIMAS and one of the few scholars in the UK who has been directly involved in Jihad. Marcus Lyon is a renowned British artist with an international outlook and reputation. He is also a committed social entrepreneur. Matt Harvey was first official poet-in-residence at the Wimbledon Championships, has been widely commissioned and is a familiar voice on Radio 4. Pragna Patel is a founding member and director of the Southall Black Sisters advocacy and campaigning centre, and has written extensively on race, gender and religion. Usman Haque trained as an architect and has created responsive environments, interactive installations and dozens of mass-participation initiatives worldwide. He is founding partner of Umbrellium. Zia Nath practises the sacred dances of ancient Indian and esoteric Sufi temples, and has presented her dance show Sufi Splendour at many festivals and events.

At the launch event, our organiser Claire Kennedy celebrated our previous speakers and performers, and how TEDxExeter has widened its reach and made an impact on many lives.

Over the past four years we have had some superb speakers. In the photo below, there are postcards of most of them, overlooked by a painting of what must have been a TEDxExeter-style speaker a few centuries ago.

We heard from previous speakers Satish Kumar and Matthew Owen about what TED and TEDxExeter have meant to them and their work, and from sponsors Karime Hassan from Exeter City Council, Robert Camp from Stephens Scown and Roger Wilkinson from Wilkinson Grant & Co about why they are supporting us. It is only through them and our other sponsors that we can bring TEDxExeter to the people of Exeter and the world.

So here is a mosaic of photos of our speakers and performers on the red dot, and behind the scenes, to celebrate five years of TEDxExeter.

Photo mosaic by: tedxexeter @ Mosaically

Zia Nath biography

Zia Nath BW

Zia has practised the Sacred Dances of Ancient Indian and Esoteric Sufi Temples for more than two decades in pursuit of an inner calling.

In 2007, she established her dance company and show Sufi Splendour, which weaves a tapestry of lyrical Odissi Indian dances and Sufi whirling embossed with the poetry of Mevlana Rumi. Zia has presented Sufi Splendour at festivals and events in India, China and the United Arab Emirates.

Zia is of Indian origin and lives and works in Mumbai. She also teaches the Sufi and Gurdjieff Sacred Dances that originate from the ancient secret sufi temples of the Middle East. She has been a Craniosacral Therapist by profession since 1999.

Usman Haque biography

Usman Haque BWUsman Haque is founding partner of Umbrellium (formerly Haque Design and Research) and founder of Thingful, a search engine for the Internet of Things.

Trained as an architect, he has created responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and dozens of mass-participation initiatives throughout the world. His skills include the design and engineering of both physical spaces and the software and systems that bring them to life. He is currently teaching “Participatory systems for networked urban environments” at the Bartlett School of Architecture.

He received the 2008 Design of the Year Award (interactive) from the UK Design Museum, a World Technology Award (art) in 2009, the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence prize and the Asia Digital Art Award Grand Prize.

Pragna Patel biography

Pragna Patel BWPragna Patel is a founding member and director of the Southall Black Sisters advocacy and campaigning centre. She has over 30 years of experience in advocacy, policy and campaigning work with some of the most marginalised women in British society. She has been in the forefront of key case and campaigning milestones in the history of Southall Black Sisters and is also a founding member of Women Against Fundamentalism, which formed in the aftermath of the Rushdie Affair in 1989, to address the rise of religious fundamentalism in all religions and its specific control of women. Pragna has written extensively on race, gender and religion.

Marcus Lyon biography

Marcus Lyon BWMarcus Lyon is a British artist. He began his career with Amnesty International and The International Children’s Trust photographing street children in Latin America, Africa and Asia. He has an international reputation as a conceptual landscape and portraiture artist and has photographed notable public figures including the last four British Prime Ministers and Queen Elizabeth II. His most recent bodies of work on urban expansion, Brazilian national identity, mass migration and modern dance have been shown globally.

Marcus is also a committed social entrepreneur. He currently serves on the boards of Somerset House and Leader’s Quest, and is a founder ambassador for The Consortium for Street Children, Photovoice, BLESMA and Home Start.

Muhammad Manwar Ali biography

Manwar Ali BW

Manwar Ali (also known as Abu Muntasir) is one of the few scholars in the UK who has been directly involved in jihad. For around fifteen years he radicalised, recruited, fundraised and fought in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Burma. Now he draws on this experience in his work with the UK’s Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service.  

Ali is a Muslim scholar who teaches Islam to restore balance, enhance human values and address issues of extremism through education, social projects, charitable events and open discussion. He works to foster peaceful coexistence through mutual understanding, good-neighborliness and caring engagement.

Ali founded the UK Muslim educational charity JIMAS and pioneered Zakat distribution in the UK. For more than 30 years he has had extensive experience in teaching Islam. He has helped make British Islam relevant and important to life now, preparing many students for life and leading the way in practicing civic engagement as an Imam.

Ali holds a BSc (Hons) and MSc in Computer Science, an MA in Islamic Studies and a Diploma in Arabic.

Lindsay Levin biography

Lindsay Levin BWLindsay spent the first fifteen years of her career building entrepreneurial companies. In 2001 she founded Leaders’ Quest as her ‘last start-up’. She has since worked to connect leaders from all disciplines and sectors, to explore solutions to some of the big issues in the world today. Currently, much of her time is spent working with corporate CEOs and their leadership teams on the role and purpose of business, company values and culture change. She is passionate about bridging divides – between cultures, perspectives and opposing voices. She also works extensively with leaders from non-profit institutions and NGOs and in 2004 founded the Leaders’ Quest Foundation to build leadership capacity in grassroots communities.

Between 2008 and 2012 Lindsay was Chair of the International Steering Committee of OneVoice, working to amplify the voices of Israelis and Palestinians committed to peaceful coexistence. Her first book, “Invisible Giants: changing the world one step at a time”, was published in March 2013.

Fi McNae biography

Space Doctors, Brighton, East Sussex, UK. November/December 2015Fi McNae is the co-founder and CEO of Space Doctors, an international consultancy specialising in strategic cultural and semiotic insight for brands. She has had an important role in bringing academic semiotics into the commercial sphere, using cultural and semiotic techniques in brand strategy, new product development and communications.

Space Doctors is focused on making client teams both informed enough and brave enough to make a positive difference to culture and society through their activities, and to use their brands to this end in a more purposeful and imaginative fashion.

Fi also has a doctorate in molecular toxicology and an MBA specialising in marketing effectiveness and agency accountability.

Deeyah Khan biography

Deeyah Khan BWDeeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director. Her work highlights human rights, women’s voices and freedom of expression. Her skill as a multidisciplinary artist led her to music and film as the language for her social activism. Born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry, the experience of living between different cultures, both the challenges and the beauty, dominates her artistic vision.

Her 2012 multi-award winning documentary Banaz: A Love Story chronicles the life and death of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman killed in 2006 in London. This murder was a so-called honour killing by her family. Deeyah’s second film Jihad involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis.

Deeyah has also received several awards for her work supporting freedom of expression, human rights and peace, including the Ossietzky prize by Norwegian PEN and in 2015, the University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award.

Danny Dorling biography

Danny Dorling BWDanny Dorling is Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and grew up in Oxford. He went to Cheney School and then ‘up’ to the University in Newcastle upon Tyne. He has worked in Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield and down in New Zealand.

With a group of colleagues he helped create the website which shows who has most and least in the world. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education and poverty. Recent books include “Inequality and the 1%”, and in 2015 “Injustice: why social inequality still persists”. Much of his work is available on open access at