Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself & your background
I am a multi-disciplinary artist and I specialize in site-specific work. My goal is to take arts and theatre outside of museums and theatre spaces, making arts in the streets, in public spaces, in parks, in church, crypts, museums, etc. And so I’m a writer, and designer, and storyteller, and I’m passionate about sharing stories and I have a love for traditional crafts. Most of my projects combine storytelling with craft and sound design.
Why did you apply for a Westway Trust Artist Commission?
So, this project is an amazing opportunity because it combines two things that I’m excited about. One is working in interesting spaces and the other one is collecting interesting stories. And so the commission was about working with people in North Kensington and exploring the space around the Westway. My project is going to combine both. I’m going to work with older adults from North Kensington to collect their stories and display them in a series of installations in all the hidden corners of the Westway estate.
Tell us about your commission and the inspiration for it
This project is going to be about love. Who doesn’t love projects about love? I would like to interview older residents from North Kensington about their perception of love. I think the media, and advertising, and films industries focus on young love and I really like the idea of collecting stories about what happens to love after 60: from love that lasts a lifetime to the absence of love, to looking for new relationships and so I would like to interview people from North Kensington to share their stories.I think the media, and advertising, and films industries focus on young love and I really like the idea of collecting stories about what happens to love after 60 Click To Tweet
I know that making the arts accessible is really important to you, what advice do you have?
I think there are a series of ways you can make the arts accessible. First of all is to take the arts out of places where people don’t necessarily feel that it’s for them. So I used to work in museums, I worked in theatre a lot. And when I speak to people who don’t go to a theatre or never go to galleries, they say, “Oh yeah, but that’s not for me. It’s “high” art or I’m not an arty person.” But when you suddenly put arts in the streets, where people may encounter it, they get really excited about it and it doesn’t feel like art because it’s there, it’s in the street, it’s part of the community. And so I think this is one way.I think there are a series of ways you can make the arts accessible. First of all is to take the arts out of places where people don't necessarily feel that it's for them Click To Tweet
Another one is pricing. When you find things in the streets and they’re free or very cheap, then suddenly people will feel that they can give it a try, even if they wouldn’t have necessarily thought about doing something like that. So, I did recently a project in libraries and it was an immersive theatre project. It was very interesting mix of people who came to the project because in some libraries the project was free, in other libraries it was just very cheap. And you would have the usual immersive theatre crowds who know their way around and they would be ready to pay 50 quid to go and see a Punchdrunk show. But we also had people, library users, or young people, or older people who just had no idea what that was, but it was there in the public space, in the library, and they had a shot. And people really, really liked it, the response was amazing.
And then I think it’s just about making projects that sound fun and something that just sounds beautiful, or exciting, or funny so that people don’t feel it’s art. You know, art is a very serious thing. While it can just be fun.
What are your artistic ambitions for the future?
I quite like what I do, and I’d like to keep doing that, but making it bigger and stranger. So, yeah, I’d love to create a theatre project in a hotel, in one of those dodgy hotels around Kings Cross where I live with a different show in every bedroom, or I’d love to create a project in a storage space.
What advice would you give to artists wanting to experiment with site-specific work?
It depends on what their background is. I work a lot with artists working in theatre and I think the main advice is really to walk away from everything you know about working in a theatre or working in a museum, and you will not have the same comforts of making a show in a theatre. You won’t have a team of people who understand what you do, who will offer you a wonderful dressing room, and lighting and supports and marketing.
You will work in a place that doesn’t have any of that most likely, but at the same time, you will work with a space that is very exciting and is very different. You don’t necessarily need to invest in set design because the venue is your set. You may not have the same marketing support, but you might have a venue where a lot of people are going every day and people who feel very warmly about that space. So it will probably be more uncomfortable, but I find those spaces extremely exciting and inspiring. So just go and get to know the space very well before you embark on that journey and create something really for that space, not try to make projects you have in your mind work for that space because we’ve done that before and it fails, pathetically.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
If you’re over 60 and you live in North Kensington, we are running interviews in the next couple of months, so if you want to share your stories about love, all kinds of love, please get in touch!If you’re over 60 and you live in North Kensington, we are running interviews in the next couple of months, so if you want to share your stories about love, all kinds of love, please get in touch! Click To Tweet
Discover more about A Love Letter, which will be showing Thu 12- Sun 14 March 2020, 12-6pm.
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