Our People

Ruth Oakley

Director

Arts & Gardens Team

Ruth Oakley combined two deep interests to found Arts and Gardens.

Cicadas, gum nuts and rock pools reigned during an outdoor childhood in Melbourne, Victoria, where Ruth managed a dance studio and produced theatre for Australian and South Asian touring before moving to the UK in 2003.

Ruth was Senior Festival Programmer for the Southbank Centre, London, where she was lead programmer for Imagine Children’s Festival and contributing programmer for Women of the World, Festival of Love, Alchemy and Africa Utopia.

For 8 years Ruth worked for City of London Festival. As Head of Outdoor Events and Participation she led a programme across the Square Mile’s iconic buildings, squares, gardens and the City’s open spaces including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest. Her achievements included reaching 3.5 million people through London’s Play Me, I’m Yours Street Pianos, which continue to be played at St Pancras International station today; creation of a 250-seat Bowler Hat pop-up theatre next to St Paul’s Cathedral; commissioning and producing new dance, performance and art for the outdoors.

Ruth is Chair of the Board for Outdoor Arts UK (formerly ISAN). She is also studying part-time for an MA Garden and Landscape History at University of London’s School of Advanced Study.  In 2016 she was awarded The Garden Trust’s national essay prize.

Marie Klimis

Creative Producer

Arts & Gardens Team

Marie Klimis is an arts programmer with a passion for creating original events in unusual spaces, from secret gardens to abandoned warehouses, stations or museum lifts.

For the past three years, she has been Programme Coordinator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens and has been in charge of redeveloping their events programme for adults, from museum lates to concerts, street arts, site-specific dance and installations in the gardens.

Before that, she was a Project Manager for Europalia International, one of the largest biennial festivals in Belgium: over the years, she created among others a Chinese tea house and a multi-arts Brazilian space in the centre of Brussels. Finally, she worked on several occasions for the City of London Festival: her latest project as part of the festival was to coordinate the installation of 50 public pianos in the streets of London, alongside a series of related public events.

Leigh Odimah

Events and Technical Producer

Arts & Gardens Team

Leigh Odimah is passionate about creating events that tell great stories and has always been inspired by London’s cultural melting pot.

From exploring Tudor orchards in Northamptonshire, to big tree-climbing at Alexandra Palace Park, Leigh has worked as Events and Technical Producer with Arts and Gardens in varied garden settings.

She has also worked across culture, fashion, film, television and music, for organisations including The British Fashion Council, London College of Fashion, Southbank Centre, Central Saint Martins Museum, Harris Elliott, NIKE, and MTV.

Her diverse professional background includes event production, marketing communications, diversity and inclusion practice, trends and fashion styling.

Board of Trustees

Nikki Manzoni

Corinne Bass

Alison Moller

Janet Marshall