Thursday, 28 November 2013

Where do you want to be?

Stop, Collaborate and Listen: A dancer and a visual artist begin a journey in a library.

Simon Garfield's On the map provided a starting point for an exploratory day between dancer Sophie Tickle and I at Chester Lane Library in St Helens. Having never worked together before, the question 'Where do you want to be? provided a useful way to begin the collaboration. We started by talking a bit more about what each of us do, what tools of our trade each of us had brought with us and considering how to begin.

We started with a map of where we are now.

St Helens.
In a library.
Feeling a bit self conscious.
Not wanting to sit around talking all day.
Wanting to play.

Shelves of library books surrounded us, so to find out how each of us were interpreting the question, we searched the shelves for titles that sparked a connection. We both brought back books about journeys: I selected Thirty Nine Steps and Sophie selected The girl on the ferry boat and Let not the waves of the sea.

'Where do you want to be'
the importance of the journey to get there
a process
the trials of the journey

Which led us onto books that were barriers to getting to where we want to be: Crossing the line, Overcoming anxiety and Money money money featured here. Physical borders, mental barriers, financial obstacles. Some of these are self help books, linked into the idea of finding our own way through life, which linked into the next group of books: Letters from Skye, The woman who went to bed for a year, The inquisitor and Girl in the Mirror.

Sending a letter to yourself
Time to reflect
Asking questions

Where are we heading? That was represented by only one title: The wish list.

The things that spur us on through the journey.

Walking through the shelves caused us to start thinking in metaphors.
A journey through a library,
a place that can transport us to anywhere.
The aisles in the library as different paths in life.

We unfurled rolls of fabric that I had brought with me, imagining them as paths on our journey, or letters that we might write to ourselves. We wove them in and out of the books, passing them from one aisle to another thinking of them as the time along the journey when we reflect on where we have got to.

Playing in between the shelves we lay down on the floor thinking about the lows in life, and how the view looks different from down there, how we could glimpse each other's eyes through the gaps between the books, and climbed up onto chairs to see the view from on high. It all got a bit philosophical as we built barriers using the fabric and Sophie experimented with moving through those barriers, then pulling the fabric to create tension between the different paths that life could take, getting tangled in a web of our own advice and that of others, of life unravelling and paths becoming more difficult to walk along. While in the large print aisle we got our only question from a member of the public, who asked if Sophie was doing her exercises. We made a film of movements glimpsed between the books, and started to imagine how this could translate into a performance or an installation, or both.

We drew some diagrams, made some notes and thought about an audience. How would they experience this? As an installation to navigate through themselves, with barriers to duck under and stairs to ascend changing their viewpoint and causing them to move differently. Videos of eyes watching them from between the books. A viewing platform where they could take in the whole thing (the audience playing the part of hindsight). Shelves populated with books selected by the audience, the books obscuring the view from one path to another. Thelibrary as a performance space where dancers could tell the story of these multiple selves that we take on our journey. A movement score that uses verbs from our initial playful explorations:


And then, we realised that our initial collaboration, starting from nothing, had become an exciting potential project combining dance and visual art. So we're meeting again next month to play some more, only in a different library this time. Can't have the lady in the large print aisle thinking that there's a monthly exercise class there.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Four directions in two different places.

If you're in Scarborough or Stoke this weekend, you'll be able to see my work 'Watermark, an intervention in four directions'. It continues to be shown as part of Small Change at Airspace Gallery in Stoke on Trent and will also feature in a set of screenings by Axisweb as part of this weekend's Art Party Conference at the Spa in Scarborough. For more information on the Art Party Conference, click here.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Small Change, Airspace Gallery. Until 7 December 2013

AirSpace Gallery - 8th Nov - 7th Dec, 2013

CURATED by Sevie Tsampalla
ARTISTS - Jane Lawson, Noor Nuyten, Lauren O'Grady,
Claire Weetman
COLLECTIVES - Buddleia / public works, Network Nomadic Architecture, Plus-tôt Te laat, Quartier Midi, Spectacle

"small change focuses on change and placemaking in the city, seen both as a physical and imagined entity. The project comprises a group exhibition featuring existing and new work by four artists, a public intervention and a talk. Alongside artists, collectives from the UK and beyond contribute to the exhibition with audiovisual material that documents their engagement with the public realm. 

The exhibition is a response to the book Small Change by architect Nabeel Hamdi and its main idea that small-scale actions have the power to bring about positive change in urban communities. Acknowledging creative practice and collectivism as agents of change, the exhibition invites artists and collectives whose practice addresses issues of place and social change. The artists will realise new work, alongside showing existing sculptures, drawings and video’s. Audiovisual material from collectively-run projects that aim to making meaningful contributions to their environments, will open up the gallery space to various localities and concerns. "

I am exhibiting a number of works in this show, Watermark, an intervention in four directions is being shown on four monitors installed at floor level.  Using the paving stones of a pedestrianised square in Istanbul as a canvas, Watermark follows prominent lines of passage across the space, linking ferry, bus and taxi terminals at the edge of the Bosphorus with the Beşiktaş area of the city.

Chatham Road (Eventually everyone had moved) traces where displaced residents of a single street had relocated and has also been selected for this show along with a first public outing for my Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here collages, which can be found gently glowing in the darkened space to the rear of the gallery.

I'm creating a new intervention as part of this exhibition titled 'reversal of flow' which will take place in the city centre of Stoke on Trent during the exhibition and is inspired by recent re-organisation of bus routes and one way streets in the town centre.  Watch this space for documentation of the work once it has taken place.

There's a host of other great works in this show, including Jane Lawson's proposals for alternative economic systems, Lauren O'Grady's 'Other Possible Locations' sculptures and the beautifully poised works of Noor Nuyten.