Category: Research

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….

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

(Dis)ordering the City

(Dis)ordering the City: Buildings, Bodies and Urban Space

Emily Speed in conversation with Duncan Light

As part of the Practising Place programme, In Certain Places is proud to present an evening with artist Emily Speed in conversation with human geographer Dr Duncan Light, hosted by the Bluecoat.

Panoply

The event will focus on the making and reshaping of urban space. In particular, it will explore the relationship between official urban planning processes and the subversion of city spaces by the people who use them. Drawing upon their own creative and academic research, Speed and Light

will examine the ways in which urban spaces are performed, and how certain practices – such as walking, urban exploration and the creation of ‘desire lines’ – might be viewed as tactics for ‘disordering’ the city.

Dr Duncan Light is senior lecturer in the Department of Tourism and Hospitality at Bournemouth University. A human geographer by background, he worked for 20 years in Liverpool before moving to Bournemouth. He has research interests in urban landscapes, particularly in Romania (a country he has visited regularly for more than 20 years). In particular, his research has explored the efforts to remake the ‘official public landscape’ created by Romania’s communist regime in the post-communist period. He has published papers on these issues in a range of journals and has also contributed chapters to a number of recent edited volumes about post-communist change.

Practising Place is a programme of public conversations, designed to examine the relationship between art practice and place. Each event is hosted at a different venue and explores a specific aspect of place by bringing artists together with people from different backgrounds, who share a common area of interest.

Practising Place forms part of the In Certain Places project, which is based in the School of Art, Design and Fashion at the University of Central Lancashire, and is funded by the Arts Council of England.

(Image: Detail from ‘Panoply’ by Emily Speed – a commissioned work, made for the Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool as part of the TOPOPHOBIA exhibition. Photo by Mark Reeves.)

Recent things..

Troy Town in-progressLast month I spent two weeks at Troy Town Art Pottery working on some new ceramic pieces as a collaboration with Ben Cove. Updates to follow when they have been taken out of the kiln (if they all survive..)

I was really pleased to show a drawing from my Body/Building series and some artists’ books with Day & Gluckman at Sluice Art Fair. The rest of the ‘Body/Building’ series are currently on display as part of Fabric Spaces as PIANOFABRIEK in Brussels, curated by Sevie Tsampalla.

I’ll be going quiet for a while to get into the studio, do some writing and to finish off a few new editions. I will be back on 5th February next year with a wearable sculpture work for an event at the Wellcome Collection.

 

The Boulder Project

Granite Boulder GloucesterTomorrow I shall be heading for Cape Ann, Massachusetts for a few weeks, to work on a short research project. At the invitation of Jane Deering, I shall be working in a small village there for a period of time that is intended to give artists some time and space to create new work.

At the property there is a huge granite boulder in the garden, which used to have this amazing pavilion/bandstand structure upon it. The whole area has a mass of large granite boulders left during the last ice age and I love the idea of these huge stubborn things left unmoved for centuries. An abandoned quarry town nearby, Dogtown, is now a natural park with the old roads acting as footpaths. Here, a philanthropist, Roger Babson hired stone cutters to inscribe boulders on the old common with words of inspiration during the Great Depression. I have no idea what will happen here but I shall let you know.

Map of the inscriptions Map of the inscriptions

Atelierhaus Salzamt, Linz

On Tuesday I am heading back to Austria to work for six weeks at Atelierhaus Salzamt in Linz. I was there for three months in 2009 as part of the Urban Interventions exchange with Liverpool Biennial so I’m thrilled to have been invited back. The City of Linz have purchased ‘Inhabitant’, the work I made during my last visit, for their collection, and it will also feature in a publication about their new collection in 2013. Here is a shot of the last visit with me performing Inhabitant and having some kind of encounter or stand off with the little yellow train and its occupants!

Photograph by Jens Sundheim, who was fantastic company last time, wish he was going to be around again. The first picture on his website is from Bellevue, the ‘Yellow house’ – one of the 2009 commissions in Linz, a great reminder of how strongly yellow featured in my last visit. I still haven’t gone through all the images he and Mehmet Dere took of that walk so it’s nice to look back through occasionally and find new ones.

Topophobia

After a great opening at Danielle Arnaud Gallery, the exhibition is open and the publication on sale. There are some fantastic essays in the book and it’s beautifully designed by Ken Kirton – great use of different paper stocks and embossed cover. The book will be available as an e-book on Amazon shortly. I will be talking about my work in Topophobia at the Symposium at Central St Martins on 10th February – more information on this, the publication, artists, exhibition etc HERE.