We are always told that encountering nature and preserving the environment is important. But what if you experience access barriers and being out in nature is much harder for you to do? 


Biodivergent Sites and Sounds (BSS) is a play on the word Neurodivergent, and Site (site specific) to also mirror site as encountered through technology. BSS is an immersive and accessible experience for audiences and the Harlesden community to encounter nature and the preservation of environment through accessible and interactive experiences. This project will enhance the important work of Canal and River Trust and with other partners who nurture the artist’s voice, particularly when they are so often excluded. This project aims to lead by the Neurodivergent voice, encountering nature through prolific and colourful, magical, ritualistic and repetitive methods of making, layering, pattern-finding and autistic stimming. 


This project is funded by Arts Council England, alongside partners Canal and River Trust, The Free Space project and in-kind support from Cole’s Gallery. 



Lead artist and Sound artist - Elinor Rowlands 

Creative Technologist - Charles Matthews

Musicians - Jo-anne Cox, Dee Fry, Elinor Rowlands 

Interim Project Manager - Lucie Bickerdike (Feb - June 2023)

Project Manager - Nick Lawford (July 2023 - January 2024)

Access Support for working with a local Harlesden Primary School and Young Brent Foundation - Gemma Garwood

Marketing and Communication access support - Lucie Bickerdike

Events and communication access support - Nick Lawford 

Harlesden Primary School pupils (their class name will go here, with year) 

Canal and River Trust Volunteers

This has been taken from OPDC

Harlesden Canalside is having a clear up. Read more on OPDC website and Architect Journal. 

Response to Canalscape through an exhibition held at Cole's Gallery: 

Scatterings of Light


Find it here. 

Collaboration with the Creative Technologist 

14th March.   28th March

Click on the dates to find out our processes. 

The Project: 

Biodivergent Sites and Sounds 


A play on the word "neurodivergent" and site being the digital place for accessibility and engagement. 


Prolific autistic artist Elinor Rowlands will join forces with other neurodivergent artists and musicians to highlight the importance of connecting with, and preserving, nature.

They will collaborate to create accessible, sensory trails for audiences which illustrate deep poetic links with place and community.

Through a series of autistic-led sensory-making workshops with community partners, participants will examine ‘autistic stimming’ as an act of power, self-expression and creativity.

Elinor will develop a soundscape that can be listened to on site at the canal and audiences all over the world can engage and interact with an online interactive map of Harlesden Canal. Accessible public exhibitions at Cole's Gallery in Leeds, Garden Studios in Harlesden, and Kentish Town Health Centre will enhance the immersive experience for audiences, showcasing Elinor’s stimming responses to the project.

On the Canal with the Canal and River Trust Volunteers

Video and Sound art pieces

Access barriers and Access Support 



As an autistic researcher and artist, I experience communication and interaction barriers. 


I am excited to be leading autistic led workshops with primary school children to gather their stories and their engagement (through sound) with the canalside to add them to my soundscape of the canal. 


It is my hope that autistic and other neurodivergent children will have the possibility to engage with sound and site in ways of their choosing autonomously and feel better represented by an autistic lead artist as autistic artists are so often overlooked, or face barriers in engaging with community projects. 


None of this would be possible without the encouragement of my Director of Studies, the partnership with the River and Canal Trust and my access support workers. 


This project has been funded and made possible by Arts Council England and the River and Canal Trust. 


All the musicians and creative technologist I shall be collaborating with are neurodivergent. The research in my PhD is about autistic stimming through practice and this is how I create and attune to artistic practice. 


This project will also inform my PhD research. 

Soundscapes here