P.A.R.A.D.E.

Comissioned by R17 to commemorate 100 years since the Russian Revolution P.A.R.A.D.E. was co-created by artist Marc Rees and NDCW artistic director Caroline Finn. The ballet Parade was originally staged in 1917 by the Ballet Russes with music score by Satie and set and costumes by Picasso.

I was invited to create the scenography for the re-imagined ballet Parade, directed by Finn as well as the additional scenes created and directed by Rees staged in the foyers and plazas of the Wales Millenium Centre and Pontio Arts Centre.

Taking inspiration from the number of workers packing and shipping goods inside cardboard box emporia in 2017, most of the scenes were staged in cardboard. NDCW dancers employed various devices to revolt from assembly workers into a circus of players wearing costumes by Rhi Matthews.

The recording originally shown on the BBC is available at the Parade minisite.

Guardian review by Judith Mackrell.

Photos by Mark Douet

(proto) elips

‘I’ve gone way beyond whale sounds…I’ve been playing with my fingernails!’Peter, newly discovered musician, Chester

Commissioned by CALL Llandudno and curated by Marc Rees, (proto) elips was one of three residencies under an Arts Council of Wales ‘Lost Space’ scheme. The brief was for a ‘visioning’ exercise to explore how a listed building such as The Tabernacl could be re-imagined for a new cultural use.

(proto) elips made sounds and at times, music. It was played by people of all ages over the course of a month that included the Llawn 04 festival. During this time musicians were invited to experiment as a part of a soundLAB exploring the instrument/ installation’s potential.

It was shown on ITV Wales and on Y Lle and was kept open for an additional week at the request of local music teachers who relocated their lessons to the Tabernacl to explore the installation. Here is a short film about the project.

The prototyping was useful research into how this idea could be expanded into a touring event or permanent sculpture.

Photo 1,3,4,5,6,7,8 by Lindsey Colbourne, Photos 2 & 9 by Llawn04, Model photos and visualisations 10-15 by Jenny Hall

Hollow

An exhibition exploring construction and destruction. See Hollow for more details.

“Completed by human interaction, shoes-off, climbing and crawling, Hollow requires a wholly physical encounter. Only then can you experience its claustrophobia, its mystery, its magic, its majesty.”Ellen Bell, a-n reviews

“Through the imaginative playfulness of Hall’s installation, through its use of light and mirroring…The functionality of a brown box is transformed into something engaging…We are encouraged to impose our own meanings on the piece, just as we are encouraged to refashion its form.”Claire Pickard New Welsh Reader

Estuary Lab

The week-long Wales Lab led by Artist Jony Easterby, Walk the Plank director Liz Pugh and Jenny Hall explored physical, mythological and conceptual ideas for the inspiration of a new event.Blessed with writers, scientists and anthropologists among our collective of artists and makers we explored narratives and undertook practical experiments into space, performance, structure, architecture, archaeology and form in the intertidal zone of the estuary.

Out of the experiments and ideas generated at Wales Lab, Jony Easterby went on to produce the absolutely beautiful For the Birds, an immersive night time journey into a wild avian landscape at the Ynys Hir bird reserve.Jenny Hall went on to produce Urchins at the no. 6 festival with a collective of makers with whom she is currently devising an expanded Urchins journey to the Environmental Arts Festival Scotland 2015.

Photos by Jony Easterby

Urchins

“Crafted Space brought us an experimental idea, to expand our performance programme into the landscape of the estuary itself.
It was a pleasure to create a performance which responded to
Festival No.6’s unusual location.”Sophie Meadley, Commissioner

‘Urchins’ – A journey over land and water, a tribe of primordial life rafts drift, collect, connect, seek sanctuary to survive…

‘Urchins’ is a proposal that grows from an experimental seed project developed in collaboration with a collective of skilled artists, sailors, and makers based in the Dyfi Valley in Mid Wales. Each have been drawn on their own personal pilgrimages to the region, renowned for its future thinking and practical work at the Centre for Alternative Technology, and the transformative landscape of the valley’s river and estuary.

Initially conceived at ‘Estuary Lab’ in 2012, informal exploration of the Urchins took place in the estuary at Festival No.6 at Portmeirion in September. The landscape and architecture were a sublime context for exploring the ‘beyond now’ time of a pure liminal state of being that the Urchins engender. Selected as 1 of 3 new commissions for the Environmental Arts Festival Scotland 2015 we look forward to the evolving journey.

Photos by Giles W. Bennett

Sounding the river: Wood Lab

mac birmingham offered nine IdeasTap members the chance to conceive and create a site-specific artwork for Sounding the River, mac’s outdoor sound and light spectacle that took place in October 2012.

Sounding the River was a nocturnal exploration of nature through artworks curated by Jony Easterby and artists who have a reputation for transforming the outdoors into fascinating, playful places that enthral adults and children alike.

The four-day “wood lab” led by Craftedspace, explored urban dens and the themes of rhythm, movement, focus, arrival and departure. During the workshop the participants defined spaces using timber, natural materials and low voltage lighting. Hard skills included peeling wood, simple joinery, weaving willow and basic wiring of 12V circuits.

They had the opportunity to tour the production site and meet the artists at work as well as return to see the show and their own creations lit at night.

Photo 1 by Rosheen McNamee, 2, 3 & 4 by Jenny Hall, 5 & 7 by mac Birmingham, 6 by Tabitha Pope

Play, space and performance workshop

Dr Andrew Filmer and I discussed how the Woodland Pavilion’s aim to create playful space was limited by the perceived risk of its accessible, unsupervised location. We wanted to explore the idea of a loose fit theory of architecture, proposed in his Phd, that to make space for creativity we need to be able to manipulate our environment: to co-create it.Through a Reverse SIP grant we were able to develop a workshop using cardboard boxes designed to be strong enough to stand on, that could stack and connect together to create an environment for exploration.

We invited performers, actors and choreographers to place their bodies on, around, within and in relation to the boxes, playing with notions of manufacture (of the boxes themselves from flat pack), structure building, taking apart and moving as well as the qualities of the boxes as instruments, echo chambers and projectiles.We liked the boxes. They smelt nice, were comfortable to sit on and created great opportunities for play. There is a great potential for developing the box(es) as a theatre set, in the words of Brith Gof Director Mike Pearson as ‘an interpenetration of people and environment.’

Photos by Giles W. Bennett

Woodland Pavilion – Pafiliwn y Coed

“I love how it feels enough like a stage to perform, but not too much like a theatre space, so we can still ride bikes across it and get a big group of strangers to have a spontaneous dance off.”Mark Olver, Curator and Comedian

The first three years of the Comedy Festival grew behind closed doors in packed out venues across Machynlleth. Hosting award winning comedians in unusual venues, Little Wander Production Company were in a position in 2013 to offer accessible, family friendly shows outdoors for free. With Mark Olver at the helm, the Pavilion has hosted some of the ‘best in show’ spontaneous collaborations between acts and the public.This was made possible by the minimal infrastructure of the Woodland Pavilion which has sought to amplify the beauty of a little patch of under-used woodland.
Re-orienting the centre of the town away from the roads and cars, the Pavilion has placed the green fields of Y Plas Machynlleth at centre stage.The Pavilion consists of a stage with a suspended roof hanging from the trees by chains, raked seating, off grid lighting and a bicycle powered sound system. Over two summers it has hosted a huge range of events in the great outdoors. Funded by Sustainable Tourism Powys, Glasu and the Machynlleth Comedy Festival.

Photo 1 & 3 by Edward Moore, 2 by Jon Starbuck and 4, 5, 6 by Jenny Hall

Water Tables

“At night these mesmerising meeting places of well-ness reflect another world, an underworld, a world above of poetic loveliness.”Jane Lloyd-Francis, director and performer

Commissioned by Powys Arts Month, we were invited to create an installation piece that reflects the intimate and innovative nature of the Machynlleth Comedy Festival.

Sited along the Woodland Way between two prestigious historic buildings in Machynlleth, the piece seeks to amplify what already exists in this beautiful natural corridor.

At a distance the arrangement of salvaged tables and chairs is familiar: an intimate setting around which families and friends gather to relax, to share food, to see one another more clearly.

Up close it becomes apparent that there is more to the surface than meets the eye. The trees delicately up lit, cast a reflection on the still surface of the water that gives the illusion of great depth.

Poetic and playful, the public also made the tables their own: one was filled with flowers to create
an exquisite mandala and others hosted at times, tiny swimmers and boats as well as bottles of
chilling Prosecco!

Photos 1, 3, 5 & 7 by Giles W. Bennett and Photos 2, 4 & 6 by Keith Morris

Woodland design lab

“…an inspired group of designers constructed three awesome pieces of art cum architecture in just one and a half days – including the incredible wooden Skybowl you can see above”Inhabitat.com

Thanks to all the people who came along and made it such a wonderful experience.

We could have stayed a month exploring all the material possibilities and interpreting the site through visual and spatial means. However we had little more than 2 days and the outcomes are a testament to our belief that not providing a brief would allow space for genuine creativity to soar unbounded.

3 ideas made it through testing to final pieces. The skybowl and Piddle, paddle, plonk reside near our base camp. The third piece located deep in the woods was inspired by the idea that all life comes from death and had as its focus the root ball of a fallen oak tree. This became the starting point for the piece called Bioshroom, also known as Rhizome, now named Fungidome by the kids who are camping at Graig Wen who have come to love the sculptures and care for them in all their fragility and impermanence.

Ewan aged about 11 said that “Fungidome is a combination of wood, tools and a bit of imagination.”

And Charlotte aged 10 said that “Piddle, Paddle, Plonk is the best because it plays music a bit like a xylophone but in the water, although Skybowl is quite good when you lay in it at night watching the stars because there’s nobody there and its relaxing.”

Links to the event:

Tafline Laylin wrote a lovely article for Inhabitat as our embedded journalist for the event as well as another piece for Green Prophet.

You can find out more about Jenny & Tabitha’s experience running the design lab at Jenny’s blog and Tabitha’s account of the design lab here.

Check out footage of Piddle Paddle Plonk on You tube.

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