Category: Performance

Façades/Fronts

 

On Saturday, the live version of Façades/Fronts was performed twice in Aberdeen as part of Look Again Festival. Although it probably seemed like the main deal from the outside, the project has been in development since last October, so it was in fact, a lovely end to a really incredible journey. Building on recent works, including Body Builders, commissioned by Fort Worth Contemporary Arts in Texas and Rooms Designed For a Woman, commissioned by Yorkshire Sculpture Park last year, Façades/Fronts also takes the relationship between Women and Architecture as a starting point. In this work though, it is young women in particular who are the focus and their bodies contrast starkly with the imposing granite of the Civic and University architecture here.

Friendship between girls and the familiar gestures that brings; a hand on an arm, a head resting upon a shoulder, plaiting hair, straightening clothes, hand-holding, play-fighting, twinned dance moves, the group identity in a subtly different but still-marked uniform. Remembering what it felt like to be getting ready for a night out in someone’s bedroom and just being ridiculous together. I wanted all of these things to feed into the work and to allow a group of young women to have a space within the city where they felt powerful and could go wherever and do whatever they needed to, together. The simple act of putting these young women into places that have very traditionally been occupied, built and controlled by men seemed to be enough.

Sally Reaper at Look Again Festival very shrewdly set up a situation where I was able to invite a choreographer to work on this  (she was definitely paying attention to where the work wanted to go) and City Moves Dance Agency suggested a few names, including Jack Webb. In March, Jack and I met and discovered we had a lot of shared interests. We spent an intense weekend discussing the project and exploring the possibilities for movement. He has done a beautiful job of translating the ideas into moving bodies, and watching his choreographic process with the dancers was a total joy and privilege. The film of our first workshop with the dancers in April this year is currently showing as part of the International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia in The Happenstance, the Scotland + Venice collateral project.

To the dancers, who formed the most amazing community in the shortest period of time – Katie Taylor, Kirsty Tewnion, Melissa Haywood, Katie McFarlane, Neila Stephens, Xenoa Campbell-Ledgister, Ella Skinner, Isla Reid, Kirsten Walker, Carly Campbell, Bethany Ransom (sadly not here this weekend, but an important piece of the journey nonetheless) and Iseabail Duncan -You are all totally incredible and I really hope we cross paths again.

Thank you to Duncan Nicoll for the beautiful film work and to Jo Muir for her additional support. As always, thanks go to Ruth Eaton for her help with the costumes and use of sewing machines. But most of all, thank you to Look Again Festival – especially Sally Reaper, Claire Bruce, Hilary Nicoll, Laura Reilly and all the volunteers who work on the festival – for the belief in my work, demonstrated by the free reign given on the project – the best way to support artists and allow them to move their work on. Also to City Moves Dance Agency who jointly commissioned the work and also gave us the beautiful Dissection Room to work in. Also to the University of Aberdeen for access to the Debater and other spaces. Now to let it all sink in….

Innards

Innards Innards_2 Innards_3 Innards_4A Woman’s Place at Knole has just opened and my work, Innards, is one of the six new commissions, curated by Day & Gluckman.

I was especially interested in three women connected to Knole: Victoria Sackville-West, Josefa Durán known as Pepita (her mother and infamous flamenco-dancer), and Vita Sackville-West (her daughter). A working fountain, Innards borrows the form of a dressing table and makes public a space usually reserved for private ritual. Water, architecture, gardening and intimacy are brought together to reference important elements of these women’s lives. The title refers to the guts of the women and the divide between the refined exterior of life at Knole and the more hidden daily workings and relationships that existed.

The fountain echoes Victoria’s incredible energy and the installation of running water, electricity and telephone which she oversaw at Knole. The planting of Heliotrope nods to Vita’s later career as a gardener. It was also the base note of Victoria’s favourite scent. The work alludes to the difficulties and complexities of these mother–daughter relationships, and of finding moments for tenderness, care and sensuality against the backdrop of public display and the performance of being a ‘lady’ of Knole.

I am creating a bespoke calling card as a nod to Victoria’s passion for stationery. Register here to receive this printed work this summer.

Performing the Toilette, a performance, will take place as part of the work on Tuesday 7th August.

 

A Parade of Architectural Commas

I have been a tad lax on updates recently! A few exhibitions have gone up (and come down) in the meantime including

(Re)learning to Read, a group show curated by TORQUE at the Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool
Transparency, an Arts Council collection show at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
[Re]construct at the Chapel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

parade

as part of the last exhibition, YSP commissioned a new piece of work (well, strictly speaking two, as the film in the exhibition is also newly commissioned by them). Last weekend a group of performers took a walk around the ground as part of A Parade of Architectural Commas. It’s always strange testing out a new piece in such a public way and there was lots to think ab

 

out and changes to make for the next outing as part of their 40th birthday celebrations on July 16th. The title comes from Capability Brown’s writing on the construction of a garden landscape and refers to the follies that traditionally inhabit a Georgian Garden.

parade

Here there are five archetypes: the grotto, the chapel, the ruin, the obelisk and the pyramid. I have been thinking a lot about the tease and reveal of this kind of landscape, with it’s carefully crafted views, but I am realising that erotic sensibility is all but impossible when a comedic pair of legs are introduced to a sculptural costume. Perhaps a photo shoot with the follies (commas) in July will better reveal their seductive side… watch this space.parade

Basic Principles for Building Construction

This will be a new work commissioned by Wewiora Projects for Northern Art Car Booty and two performances of the piece will take place on Sunday 30th August 2015.

Expanding on a costume piece made the previous year – a hybrid of clothing and architectural shapes – the work has been developed since as the first official collaboration between my twin sister Ruth Eaton and I (although she has been sewing various things behind the scenes for me over the last few years). Ruth is interested in workwear and the functionality of clothing.

Using three performers and more complex forms, ‘Basic Principles for Building Construction’ will depend on the tension between the three bodies to build and maintain a space; dress becomes wall, body becomes support and the walls finally collapse to become soft wrappings once more. Images are from Ruth’s recent ‘Strategy’ and ‘Utility’ collections.

Ruth Eaton, Strategy Collection 2015 (detail) Ruth Eaton, Utility Collection (detail), 2014

Littoral Zone

Littoral ZoneThis new installation work is a commission from Plymouth Arts Centre and it opens tonight! The exhibition is on until 25th May so do pop in if you’re in the area.

“In thinking about proxemics and repetitive behaviour Speed began this piece of work by visiting the south Devon coastline. Observing beaches as a site of constant change and regeneration, she related this back to human efforts at building and creating territory; forming an idea for a filmed performance at South Milton Sands (also known as Thurlestone Sands).

Now edited, looped and integrated within the installation, multiple projections hint at the attempt, by a locally recruited group of volunteers, to build a temporary suburb. Battered by the wind and fighting with the customised and awkward windbreaks they hammer away in a Keaton-esque fashion to create a space of their own making. Equally impermanent, Speed has designed a structure comprised of a series of dividing walls for the gallery, creating liminal spaces that mirror those we see in the films. These walls never allow the viewer to be inside or outside, but always in-between.”

A massive thank you to Gillespie Yunnie Architects for their sponsorship.

 

I LIKE THE WAY YOU MOVE

The Transmitters by Serena Korda, HD video still, courtesy of the artist. The Transmitters by Serena Korda, HD video still, courtesy of the artist.

 

Yes I do. And if you’re in Edinburgh this Wednesday 7th August, you should come along to a film club night Elizabeth Murphy and I have put together for Edinburgh Art Festival at New Media Scotland. I did a commission for the festival last year (Human Castle) so I am really pleased to be a tiny bit involved again

‘I Like The Way You Move’ is an evening of film and performance featuring – Romany Dear, Andrew Gannon, Candice Jacobs, Serena Korda, Jen Liu, Lucy Pawlak and Catherine Payton. They are all BRILLIANT.

Murphy and Speed have selected the programme after ongoing conversations about their shared excitement when melodrama, slapstick, dance, hysteria and glamour are integrated into contemporary practice.

EAF Film Club is supported by New Media Scotland and The National Lottery through Creative Scotland. TICKETS HERE

Build-Up: A Practice

On Sunday 7th April, four acrobats will perform for around one hour in Castlefield Gallery, as an extension or further exploration of the film work in the exhibition. The exercises they perform will be a repetition of certain structures, because they cannot hold the shape for long, it will have to be built over and over again.

Build-Up (detail)

Visitors are welcome to drop in and out of the performance – expect weary acrobats by the end! More information about the event/location etc HERE

The exhibition with Hayley Newman has been reviewed in the April edition of Art Monthly by Martin Herbert.

Castlefield dates

The exhibition with Hayley Newman is open and will be in until 7th April. There’s a couple of events coming up at Castlefield Gallery…

23rd March at 3.30pm – A panel discussion with Hayley Newman, curator Bridget Crone and moi.

7th March – Build-Up: A practice at 3.30pm. Four acrobats will perform a series of construction exercises inside the gallery.

Tracey Warr has written a really wonderful essay to accompany the exhibition: PDF Here.