(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.
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.)
June 3, 2016 to July 9, 2016
Solo exhibition: In BODY/BUILDING, ‘Groviglio (Tangle)’ is a two-channel film that considers the city (in this case, Rome) as a kind of palimpsest and the layers of activity from millions of inhabitants that have been erased, rewritten, replaced and overbuilt. A series of photographs and a short looped film comprise ’Sketches for Build-Up’, the results of many hours Speed has spent working with acrobalancers exploring the body as a kind of building material. ‘Brick Parade’ is a playful performance, where two brick walls will divide, contain and disrupt visitors to the exhibition. Following the opening, these costumes will be available for visitors to wear.
I’ve been working on a project with Oriel Wrecsam and students/staff from Glyndwr University to make a portable, multi-functional space inspired by the ad-hoc, flexible structures of market stalls. Finally, on Wednesday 25th November, it will be leaving the University and is getting trundled down to the gallery by a group of students…. come and join us/see the work if you can. Starting at the art school at 1pm.
A zine with contributions by a number of brilliant folk will also be launched at the move so thanks go out to Andrew Gannon, Paul Heppell, Dave Jones, Paul Jones, Steffan Jones-Hughes, Josie Moore, Hugh Sanders, Rosalie Schweiker and Jilliene Sellner for their contributions.
The official bit: Built by Emily Speed and Paul Heppell, WORK / SPACE was commissioned by Oriel Wrecsam and will travel around the town and in particular the People’s Market, changing function as it goes. The work will be open for proposals to be used to exhibit work, hold performances, readings, discussion groups and intimate screenings for an audience of one.
Made from furniture bought at the People’s Market, the work was made in response to the gallery’s Space and Place strand – thinking about location and site while the gallery moves site to a new space. Taking the ad-hoc, mobile and adaptable structures found in indoor and outdoor markets, the work is designed to be comprised of seating, display, storage and perhaps other uses yet to be added..
Last 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’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.
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.
I left Rosendale over a week ago after a wonderful six weeks and Women’s Studio Workshop have written a great blog post about the work I made during my residency there. Here it is.
Next Friday I will be unveiling a new cake work at 38b in Peckham along with architectural-themed cocktails. There will be a discussion on Saturday afternoon, which will be broadcast live on Radio Anti. Details are as follows:
Emily Speed Model Village? Opening party Friday 19 June 6-9pm
Exhibition continues: Saturday 20 June 12-4pm & Sunday 21 June 12-6pm
Emily Speed’s interests lie in the connections between people and buildings, and the physical relationship of the body to architecture. For her exhibition at 38b, Emily considers the significance of bombastic large-scale city planning on a personal scale in the domestic. Constructing a unique architectural model entirely from cake, Emily invites visitors to indulge in shaping the model city to question the role of planners and inhabitants, of those that decide and those that occupy.
Model Village? Planners and inhabitants
Saturday 20 June 4.30pm
Join us for an afternoon of town planning over cake led by Emily Speed and Eva Rowson, to discuss the roles architects, planners, and inhabitants play in shaping our buildings and village-town-city-scapes.
Spaces are limited. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to bag your place.
A group exhibition, exploring the development of cities worldwide, and in particular the way that artists are responding to and documenting Cities in flux, and more; how artists impact on their environments and the regeneration of Cities. Presenting works of 6 UK and Japanese artists, curated by Anna Francis (UK) and Koh Yoshida (JP).
Still from ‘Groviglio/Tangle’, Emily Speed, 2015.
Indefinable Cities features the works of 6 artists – 3 from the UK – Emily Speed, Ben Cove and Rebecca Chesney and 3 from Japan –Ayaka Nishi, Hirofumi Suzuki and Daiki Murakami. The exhibition will open at AirSpace Gallery and then move to Japan, where the works will be exhibited at 6 venues across the country.
As it’s International Women’s Day it seems like a good time to mention that I shall be off to the states in May and June for six weeks to work on a Rosendale Cultural Crossroads Public Art Residency in New York State with Women’s Studio Workshop. I did one of my first ever residencies at WSW back in 2007 and made a limited edition artist’s book called ‘Unfolding Architecture’. I am thrilled to be going back! The picture below (a detail from Masaccio’s Saints Jerome and John the Baptist) is a tiny clue to what will be going on when I am looking at the relationship people in the town have with the architecture there.
I also have a group show coming up in April called Indefinable Cities but more about that soon…
Next week I will have some small works, some that date as far back as 2005, leaving the studio for the first time to be exhibited at Mrs Rick’s Cupboard (thanks for the invitation Craig Fisher):
P.V: 12 February 2015 (7 – 9pm)
13 February – 26 March 2015 Open Friday 12-4pm
Mrs Rick’s Cupboard is pleased to invite you to our next exhibition, ‘Unbuilt Library’ by Emily Speed.
Each model in the Unbuilt Library is a reading room designed for the reading of a specific book or text, with space for only one or very occasionally, two readers. Speed is interested in the relationship between the body and architecture and the book/spaces featured in this library all make this connection and have been particularly influential on Speed’s practice; literature is often a significant part of her research. The shape, materials and size of these intimate spaces are chosen according to the text itself, taking cues from the events, characters and tone. The models (or perhaps, unrealised sculptures) have been made over a long period of time, the earliest in 2007 and the most recent in 2015.
The architectural model itself is also of great interest to Speed as a medium that presents an ideal; existing as pure potential. Models are delicate, yet symbolic of power, because they can be held and even destroyed by human hands (the city, literally in your grasp) and they also provide an unusual situation, where one can be fully outside of a space and see the whole.