The following artists have undertaken residencies with Skimstone Arts, supported by Arts Council England’s Elevate fund.
Young Artists residencies
Ten artists from Skimstone Arts Young Artist Collective (YAC) spent a week exploring the themes of freedom, connecting and disconnecting.
During their time, the artists discovered interesting ways to explore the themes through art forms such as photography, sound and music, creative writing and performance. A theme, Connecting:Disconnecting, was created by Skimstone Arts YAC and they were later commissioned by Juice to produce art for an event in October called Our Time (From the Freedom City Event), based around positive change since Martin Luther King’s Speech at Newcastle University in 1967. Taking all three themes into consideration, the artists worked collaboratively to make pieces of art exploring concepts such as family and relationships, the refugee crisis and even exploring gender and connecting with our past selves.
Michaela, an artist working in sound and spoken word, said: “For me the residency was a worthwhile experience, it was good to be able to get a chance to work together and I’m looking forward to pushing my abilities further with the collaborative piece we are working on as it has time signatures and other aspects I’m not used to so it will be a learning experience.”
Emma, working in creative writing and visual art, said: “I really enjoyed the residency, it was great to spend time with people who I hadn’t spent much time with. It was really useful to try something new with the mix of photography and text in the piece I’ve been working on and get some advice on how to take photos – especially using manual focus.”
Lydia Cottrell & Michael-Jon Mizra
Lydia and MJ are creating a work called Alter, exploring ways of creating a safe and sacred space that is open to all, a new ritualistic hang-out for a generation who have replaced the evening fires with a laptop screen. This a space for people to be, to reflect and to own, with a large emphasis on care and bringing people together. Inspired by the notion of artist as magician and the creation of something that has the power to change perceptions, the artists will create a soundscape based around the soleares flamenco rhythm – a traditional dance that contains a transformation and binaural sound, sounds that trigger an emotional response. Alter will invite people in to move and be moved; to have a moment of alteration and real world connection before returning to their daily lives.
Lydia Cottrell is a dancer, performer, artist, prepper, cosmonaut and apocaloptimist. She creates bold and brave multi-disciplinary performance that challenge institutional status quos and presents new ideas and questions to audiences in engaging and interesting ways. Her practice is informed by a background in dance, live art and performance.
Michael-Jon Mizra works with found sounds, digital audio workstations, electronic rhythms, acoustic instrumentation, cultural audio and visual samples and digital signal processing techniques. Mizra creates work for guitar and/or sampler, exploring the relationship between science and art within a certain framework that places emphasis on dance as function and expression.
Lydia Cottrell said: “The residency with Skimstone was a great success for us. The five days gave us ample time to discuss ideas for our project and finally make a start working though the many ideas that we had. Skimstone created a very productive and supportive environment to create in, we really enjoyed the open aspect of the studios and meeting all of the other artists that were in the building. During our time in Newcastle we developed a plan that that has the potential to turn into a full body of work, we now have a solid foundation in devising the best creative process for us as artists together and have managed to schedule in the first stage of the plans and set goals and timeframes for our work. The guidance and support offered by Claire and Peter was invaluable, they gave us the space to work uninterrupted whilst also being there as a sounding board throughout our creative process. The chance to engage with the young artists was a great experience for us, as it helped us both formulate ideas through discussion. The young artists were very engaged in the Skimstone process and it was inspiring to watch them work along Claire and Peter. This especially helped MJ with understanding the Arts Award process a lot more and was an unexpected but welcomed by product of learning over the week.”
Tezz Kamoen has been working on Sistercities during her residency at Skimstone Arts, about the twinned cities of Newcastle and Groningen.
The project evolves around the theme of relating to someone you don’t know and will result in a site specific installation at a street in an industrial area of Groningen, known as ‘Newcastleroad’.
During her time at Skimstone, Tezz has worked closely with members of Skimstone’s Young Artist Collective. Phillip Melody. a member of the Young Artist Collective, said: “Working with Tezz has been an exciting way to develop my camera skills and planning and organising skills. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the project and being given more responsibility.”
What if we could be together somewhere?
Olivia Furber is a theatre director and co-artistic director of ivo theatre. Her residency focuses on multi-media theatre performance Aviatrix in which three of the lead artists were unable to enter the UK in order to perform.
Working remotely with artists in Paris and Jerusalem, Olivia is exploring methods of remote collaboration to re-examine the script, sound and video in Aviatrix.
Aviatrix tells the story of an actor stuck in a UK airport detention centre who is himself trying to perform a show which is based on the story of Amy Johnson, a record breaking pilot who circumnavigated the globe alone in a small aircraft in the 1930s. The work uses Amy Johnson’s international, borderless adventures as the backdrop for stories of migration, exile and escape.
Olivia is collaborating with Paris-based Iranian artists Sara Bigdeli Shamloo and Nima Aghiani, who form experimental electronic music duo 9T Antiope; and actor and writer Ramzi Maqdisi in Jerusalem.
Olivia said: “I was thrilled to be selected to participate in the residency with Skimstone Arts and to exist within a community of open, engaged and supportive artists for a week. My time at Skimstone has allowed me to fully inhabit the world of my project, without distraction, and afforded me dedicated time to share ideas with my collaborators overseas. I’ve made huge progress with a second draft of the script for Aviatrix. For me, writing can sometimes feel isolating, but with the support of Skimstone and my co-creators in Paris & Jerusalem (over Skype!) I’ve found a way to approach writing as a more collaborative and joyous endeavour.”
Claire Webster Saaremets, Artistic Director of Skimstone Arts, said: “Olivia and I have been able to question and explore why we create work that references ethics of production, ownership of voicings and how we work with multimedia elements of sound and visuals equally with text and performance. Skyping our sharing of practice with Sara and Nima was a particularly interesting discussion… the laptop screen gave us connection.. no visa required!!”
What if we could hear ourselves as other hear us?
Experimental musician, sound artist and researcher James Wyness completed a week-long residency with Skimstone Arts during May, supported by Arts Council England’s Elevate fund.
During that week, James created a public engagement project which investigates the attitudes, perceptions and impressions of individuals listening back to the sound of their own voices.
A conversation is recorded and then played back to the participant, allowing them to focus on their own voice. The subsequent comments and observations are again recorded with the process revealing a range of complex issues around identity, self-esteem, self-awareness, belonging and our place in the wider world.
“James’s extensive knowledge about sound and the engagement of a range of people to really focus on and value the uniqueness of the human voice was an especially poignant project in today’s Brexit led environment,” said Claire Webster Saaremets of Skimstone Arts.
James also worked with members of the Skimstone Arts Young Artists Collective, using instruments as experimental sound making tools. “Our highlight today was working with James to create new sounds. We’re going to try and use these ideas to create an intro to a song for the band,” said Ben and Carlene from the Young Artists Collective.
James said: “The residency at Skimstone gave me time, space and support to realise a project that I couldn’t have achieved otherwise. I was delighted to have been selected for the residency because I couldn’t have tested and evaluated the work without Skimstone’s input, nor could I have found willing volunteers to participate in the recording sessions. I now know that the work is feasible, that I will have a good outcome to present to the public and that I can begin to replicate it in other locations with new people, new voices. The work I did alongside Claire and Peter with the young artists taught me several valuable lessons on the power and potential that the arts have with respect to channelling the considerable reserves of energy that young people possess, how guided artistic practice can unleash creative potential, bolstering self-esteem and offering possible futures that would have been otherwise impossible.”