Magnetic North Blog
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Space/Time Artists' online residency
This week we're running our paid online residency for experienced artists. Space/Time is a creative retreat for artists from any art form that asks the question “How can you continue to thrive as an artist?”. Normally participants travel to a location in Scotland, but due to the pandemic, we're again running Space/Time online. The artists gathering together (remotely) are:
I'm an Aberdeen-based performer and choreographer. I have many years experience of devising and making community and professional work; both as an independent dance artist and as part of creative teams. My most recent project is Listening to Birds (working title) which explores representations of human experiences around the subjects of grief, loss and healing. The ideas for this came about as a result of my two deepest passions: dance, as a medium for exploring personal stories, and over 40 years of working in health care as a Nurse.
Recent collaborations have included working with Heather Fulton from Frozen Charlotte productions on two residencies to develop Our House: a project for young audiences. This was a new collaboration for both artists exploring children’s experiences of growing up. Earlier this year I was fortunate to join Navigating the Now (Workroom and Imaginate) on a series of online creative scores and small group conversations with guest artist presentations. During the spring I also joined an online project, A Return to Hope, Some Small Acts of Respair, through Hospitalfield and Tayside Health Arts Trust for people with long-term health conditions. These weekly sessions explored playing with words, drawings, poems and images. During Dancelive (Aberdeen, 2020) and Screen.Dance (2021), I participated in dance writing workshops and had works published as part of both festivals.
I’ve been working professionally as an actor since 2010. Since 2017 I have written two one-woman shows, both aiming to give a voice to overlooked female stories. My show Green Knight is a re-telling of the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from the point of view of a female character. I’ve performed this show several times over the past four years at Edinburgh and Buxton Fringes, and at York Theatre Royal. In 2019 I wrote and performed a second solo show, The Remarkable Deliverances of Alice Thornton, in a short, sell-out run for the Being Human Festival. This show was based on the writings of the seventeenth-century Yorkshire woman, Alice Thornton. I’ve also written and recorded four short monologues for the film: Three Voices, and, for the Scottish writers' web series, The End - You Don’t Own Me. Between 2017 and 2019 I was a creative director for Infinitesimals, a branch of the science-fiction collective, Shoreline of Infinity. I adapted short stories from Shoreline of Infinity’s magazine which were then performed live as rehearsed readings and also recorded for Shoreline’s podcast, Soundwave. I have worked in Edinburgh grass-roots theatre for companies such as Citadel Arts, Tightlaced Theatre and Black Dingo. I’ve been the announcing voice on Edinburgh’s buses and trams since 2011. As a writer, as well as my two solo shows, I’ve had poetry published online, and had short comedy sketches performed on stage and BBC Radio Scotland. In 2016, I was selected as one of the Edinburgh City of Literature’s Storyshop writers, reading my short story Billy’s War at the Edinburgh Book Festival. I’m currently working on a light-hearted children’s novel.
For over 30 years I've been working as an Artist and performer. I co-founded Glasgow interactive street theatre company Mischief la-bas in 1992 and have been Artistic Director for the past eight. Our work often appears to an unsuspecting public in streets and public places. It is usually accessible and free at point of contact. Our work is often slightly surreal and humorous. Usually character based, the public is always at the heart of and crucial to the performance. Before 2013, when I took over as Artistic Director, I also made my own work. From 2000 I began creating performances rooted in dance, I began incorporating Flamenco dance into street performance, before developing more live art / dance related works. I worked with other artists and dancers and continued dance and movement training. I began also to incorporate this into more Mischief work.
After the death of my husband and Mischief co-founder I began to create more serious Mischief works, focusing on death and mental health. In keeping with the Mischief ethos, they were slightly irreverent and humorous and aimed to encourage conversations around these (at that time) taboo subjects. We created 'Festival's of Death' with programmes of performance, art, exhibitions and workshops (2015/16) and an Outdoor 'Festival of Life and Death', working with community gardens and organisations.
In 2017 we premiered a large site-specific promenade show Nursery Crymes, receiving three Cats Awards. I had created the show over two years. In 2016 I was awarded a three-month winter residency in the North of Iceland. I brought character-based interactive performance, blurring the lines between performance and reality to a small town. I went on sabbatical from 2019-20, revisting Iceland and creating my own residency in Japan - travelling around rural towns and taking part in a dance festival commemorating death. I did quite a lot of workshops and travelling during this year, trying to find the right work/life/artist/time balance, as well as broaden my experience and make new and rekindle old connections. My last trip in Sri Lanka was cut short due to Covid, and I have been busy with Mischief ever since creating four new live performance projects and delivering five, amongst other online projects.
A creative and motivated musician and visual artist, I have been writing, playing, singing and making artwork for my band, Gulp, since 2012. I completed a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, Contemporary Media in 2004. I make mixed media prints that often accompany my music. Gulp is a musical collaboration with Guto Pryce (Super Furry Animals). Our music has been described as guitar-driven dream pop. We have released two albums to date; Season Sun (Sonic Cathedral Records 2014) and All Good Wishes (ELK Records / Republic of Music 2018) and we are currently working on our third. Gulp has toured extensively in the UK, Europe and USA and has appeared at international festivals including SXSW Austin Texas, The Green Man Festival and Howlin Fling Festival, Isle of Eigg. Our records have received regular plays on BBC Radio 6 Music.
Trained originally as an oil painter, my current work is in three dimensions. I use yarns, crocheting, clay, plaster, and found objects in my work. I have a first degree in Fine Art and a Masters degree in Textile Design. Before 2015, alongside my studio practice, I worked part-time for the Outlook Project for several years, a mental health project run by the City of Edinburgh Council. I ran drawing and painting courses, weekend workshops, and gallery tours for groups of students. My current three-dimensional work explores difficult autobiography and broader themes of mental health. The Covid-19 pandemic was the catalyst for big change in my life; my return to my studio, deciding to become a single parent, and creating art in a very different way from before.
My career has three key elements: lighting design, project work, and writing. I use a lighting language that is bold, beautiful and truthful. I'm interested in high-quality work with integrity, that is about what makes us human, and I select projects from that perspective.
Each of my three major projects have come from me seeing a specific need. In Love Letters to the Home Office, we made a book, a play and a number of peaceful interventions to celebrate the extraordinary love stories, and raise awareness of the families separated by the UK's family immigration rules. In Crew for Calais, having spent in the Calais Refugee Camp (known as The Jungle) it became clear to me that people from our industry are the perfect people to do aid work in a refugee camp: we tour well. To raise awareness and funds we did a week-long festival at the Arcola Theatre and then a three-week mini-festival as part of London’s VAULT Festival. I programmed both of these, including commissioning and curating work. In People Powered: a collective of 1,000 freelancers from across the entertainment and live event industries came together to help the NHS and other frontline services in 2020. People Powered began with writing an open letter to the NHS saying that our industry was standing by to lighten the load so that the frontline could focus on flattening the curve. It went viral within the medical community. Our biggest projects were building a new temporary wing on a hospital in Buckinghamshire, and providing walkie-talkie radios to ITUs across the UK.
Much of my writing has been linked in with the projects you’ve just read about. I wrote the play Love Letters to the Home Office (including lots of verbatim material from our book) and it was performed in London, Edinburgh and Leeds. I wrote Walk With Me as part of the Crew for Calais mini-festival at VAULT, and it went on to have further life at the Bloomsbury Festival later that year. My recent play Strangeways features the themes of structural racism.