My work as an artist within schools and colleges is to question, challenge how we see space. I look for the spaces in schools and buildings that are ignored or not considered learning spaces, and use projection, lighting and sound with found or used objects to encourage audiences to see things differently. Lately I have been encouraging students to use their handheld devices as light and projection sources, finding impact with shadows and textures. The most successful projects for me are when we give the young people a voice. My work enables them to communicate their message and their voice visually. I always push people to see how to display work differently, whether projecting onto bodies, the ceiling, unusual surfaces or through their senses other than just sight. My work as Creative Director for Make Space Create has allowed me to work on large scale projects that enhance outdoor spaces for cultural events as well as small intimate story telling moments through immersive theatre approaches.
Studio Morison, Heather Peak and Ivan Morison have been commissioned to develop the design of a new public artwork in St Helens.
Plans for a skatepark have been submitted with partners from across Merseyside and Studio Morison who are leaders in public art and public space, have been researching with St Helens skateboarders and skateboard experts since the spring.
As part of the research 40 skateboarders from St Helens travelled with Studio Morison to Stoke Plaza Skate Park and Projekts in Manchester for inspiration.
The project is being led by a committee that includes Heart of Glass, Merseyside Police, St Helens Council, 51st Skate and the skateboarding community.
Studio Morison are developing workshops with the committee and the skateboarders to ensure the design will be suitable.
The project successfully gained funding from POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act) and Heart of Glass through their Art Council England Creative People and Places fund and CAPP (A Creative Europe funded programme) investments.
Patrick Fox director of Heart of Glass said:
“The popularity of the trip to Stoke with Studio Morison and local skateboarders really showed us the appetite for this project.
“The passion of Heather and Ivan is matched by the skateboarding community and I think this is a brilliant opportunity to create something special for St Helens.
“It has been a long time coming for the skateboarders of St Helens to have an area to develop and showcase their skills – as well as a unique and beautiful space.
More news to follow soon…..
idle women offers a place for all women and girls to belong.
Founded by co-caretakers Cis O’Boyle and Rachel Anderson in 2015, idle women is an artist led organisation that initiates and creates contemporary art with and by women.
idle women is responding to the devastation caused by austerity cuts to women’s services and the systematic erasure of women’s contributions to public life. They believe in creating opportunities, networking and other connections with women across the UK and beyond, and nurturing long term partnerships with specialist women’s providers.
In October 2017 the idle women institute was opened on Haydock Street, the venue was given a make over allowing it to be a safe, accessible and welcoming place for women to visit. A series of workshops and open days have taken place including car mechanics and boot camps for surviving and thriving.
Simon Mckeown is an award winning internationally exhibiting artist renowned for his work which touches on and considers disability as well as our digital futures.
He is leading a new art project celebrating St Helens as a location for invention and innovation. This energy is still present today, taking form through artistic and cultural experiments, making St Helens a fertile ground for community and collaborative based arts practices.
To cement this status, Ignite St Helens, a new commission led by Artist Simon Mckeown, will work with the local community and in particular, disabled artists, to create a series of works which will not only reflect on 150 years of the town’s history but also project into the future, exploring St Helens and its people as a creative force.
Mckeown will develop, through a co-production programme, a number of events leading up to a mass outdoor video projection.
Working throughout 2017, and culminating in 2018, this bombastic artistic endeavour; including massive video projection, will temporarily manipulate the townscape, blurring reality and space and presenting new and alternative realities for our consideration.
As an artist Sheila makes work in a range of media – performance, installation, participatory event and moving image. She works both as a solo and collaborative artist, and originally trained in contemporary dance.
She is interested in the relationship between art and science with particular focus on hybridity, crossings, carefully controlled experiments, the practice of medicine and care, colour, genetics and love. She is an artist who champions making work for the passer-by. She is currently working on and touring Common Salt with artist Sue Palmer as part of her ongoing Rambles with Nature series, and developing her latest project Elemental.
She has shown work at venues and festivals across Europe including Belluard Bollwerk International in Switzerland, Fierce Festival in Birmingham, NRLA in Glasgow, Trouble Festival in Brussels, Performance Space in Sydney and the Wellcome Collection in London.
As a collaborative artist she is a long-standing Associate Artist of Blast Theory and has toured and performed nationally and internationally for them and many other companies . She also teaches in Academic contexts and regularly mentors artists and students and gives public talks.
Sheila is an Associate Artist for Clod Ensemble’s Performing Medicine Project, regularly working with medical students across London and is currently an Associate Research Fellow in the School of Arts at Birkbeck.
In addition, universities she has taught at include, Queen Mary University (London), University of Salford, University of Hull (Scarborough), University of Birmingham (School of Education) and King’s College London.
Across summer 2017, residents at two St Helens housing schemes shared gestures of goodwill and got to know each other as part of Getting To Know You, a project by artist Sheila Ghelani
This summer artist Sheila Ghelani worked with the residents of Helena Partnership scheme, Parr Mount Court and Heald Farm Court.
Each week participants were invited to take part in events and activities which included sound craft and photography (to name but a few of the things they got up to) all with one purpose in mind – to reach out to residents who weren’t present and generate new bonds and conversation between those present. Together neighbours explored the thresholds and boundaries that exist in their communities.
Ghelani is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, installation, participatory event and moving image. She has been helping the participants create extraordinary gestures, that reach out to their community of neighbours and beyond to the residents of the other housing scheme, and invites others to step over their thresholds within the scheme.
They have assembled and then given out bunches of flowers and bracelets, created a set of performative photographs and finally 260 bespoke tea cups.
Sheila Ghelani, explained back in September 2017:
“The project is nearly at an end. The final artistic outcomes, our photographs and the tea cups, are both in production and all that remains is for me to deliver them to participants when they’re ready, in a kind of mass gifting event. I say mass gifting as one of the outcomes be is a fine bone china teacup which every resident in each housing scheme will receive to keep.
There have been lots of highlights throughout the project. A particularly enjoyable moment was conducting some home visits – so taking the art to residents in their own homes, those who weren’t able to attend the weekly sessions in the main common room of each scheme.
Another highlight was bringing some of the residents of the two housing schemes together in a final mid-morning party. They really enjoyed meeting each other! I’m also hoping the final artworks will be a highlight too.”
I also loved the assembling and delivering of flowers in the very first session. It caused an exciting stir in both scheme. I also had a great research visit to the St Helens archives, let’s just say there were lots of highlights.
The final artistic outcomes of the project are a teacup with a pattern on it designed by myself/residents and a set of 3 posters featuring photos of the residents revealing a small piece of info about themselves in front of what can only be described as a kitsch backdrop.
Each scheme will get a framed set of the images to hang somewhere. Of course, there were lots of other outcomes from week to week – deep conversation over different types of making, gestures of good will and invites sent out to those not present, music, cake, gifts etc.”
Sophie Mahon Sophie Mahon is a socially engaged Artist, who combines film, sculpture and digital experimentation to create installations and public artworks. Her works are often interactive, participatory and shown in the public realm.
Currently based in Manchester, Sophie has worked across the UK with various groups and communities as well as with organisations including the Whitworth, Tate Modern and Grundy Art Gallery.
She currently leading a project called ‘The Next Term’, working with teachers, young people and researchers across the UK to highlight challenges faced by schools. This year-long, collaborative project will culminate in an immersive art installation-come-festival which will explore the future of education, taking place in an abandoned primary school in Manchester in March 2018.
Other recent projects include an Artist residency with The Heart of Glass, collaborations with Take Back Theatre and a permanent bronze sculpture created with communities from South Manchester.
Find out more about Sophie’s work with Heart of Glass here
St Helens was one of only three sites chosen by Verity Standen for her new work – Refrain.
Each of the sites has a particular connection to the story of conscientious objection. During the First World War, scores of men who refused to fight were court-martialled, imprisoned and ostracised.
The St Helens school teacher was Ernest Everett, although what part of town he both lived and taught is currently unknown. When the Conscription Military Service Act became law in 1916, he was arrested and appeared before a tribunal in Liverpool, as a conscientious objector. He was a member of the Union of Democratic Control, which campaigned to raise awareness of the atrocities committed by Belgium in the Congo and was suspicious of the motives of the great powers in starting a war.
In Spring 2017 Verity worked with producers Situations to create Refrain – a unique choral work, devised with groups of volunteer male singers at three remarkable sites, each with a a unique history.
Refrain was inspired by stories of conscientious objectors in the First World War. And each of these sites has a particular connection to those stories – they are places where men who refused to fight lived, were imprisoned or faced court martial.
Singers drawn from St Helens worked with Verity and her team of collaborators to fill these spaces with sound, from rousing choruses to intimate duets. Across three weekends, audiences were invited to ‘follow the song’ and weave their own journey through these spaces of historic significance.
idle women in partnership with St Helens Heart of Glass and Dublin based ANU Productions is to receive £487,500 of funding following a successful Ambition for Excellence application to Arts Council England.
The award is part of a nationwide programme aimed at stimulating and supporting ambition, talent and excellence across the arts sector.
The funding, which was awarded following a highly competitive application round, will see a new contemporary collaborative arts project produced with culturally diverse communities of women from across the borough of St Helens and beyond.
ANU is devoted to an interdisciplinary approach to performance / installation that cross-pollinates visual art, dance and theatre in an intensely collaborative way. We create works of art that continually push the boundaries and conventions of performance and installation. We aim to present unconventional work, concentrating on creating innovative exchanges with audiences.
You can follow the project here: Helen
Laurence Clark came to St Helens and entertainment a packed Citadel Theatre with his critically-acclaimed comedy show, Independence in February 2017.
Everybody seems to want their independence right now – but be very careful what you wish for! Laurence spins his tales of adolescence, love and Harry Potter, discovering he doesn’t have to be Superman and do everything. But life sometimes throws up the unexpected when you depend on someone else to fasten your jeans for you.
Heart of Glass chatted to Laurence about his comedy and the new show.
I’m a stand-up comedian who happens to have cerebral palsy. My comedy thrives on breaking taboos. Disability still seems to be considered a taboo which is why you get so many comics doing material about it.
But because I’m disabled I think sometimes there’s a preconception that my act is going to be worthy in some way and not particularly funny.
Sometimes people say to me “you don’t do comedy about disability do you?” as if they think it’s going to be really depressing. However, no one would dream of telling a Chris Rock to not do material about being Black.
All stand-up comics use aspects of themselves and their experiences to create material and I don’t see why disabled comics should be any different. So I tend to use uncomfortable, socially awkward past experiences as inspiration – it’s very cathartic! Oh yes, and funny! Very, very funny!
I really wanted to write comedy for a long time and was sending off scripts to the BBC and getting nowhere. I loved stand-up comedy and really wanted to give it a go but couldn’t see how someone like me could pull it off. Then I saw a show the comedian Dave Gorman use PowerPoint slides and was completely blown away. He made me realise that stand-up doesn’t have to be just one person standing on a stage talking to an audience for an hour. All my life I’d had stuff to say and a dark sense of humour which I’d inflict on those around me. Suddenly this gave me an outlet, an entry point into the mainstream. My wife was also glad as now she wasn’t the only one expected to laugh at my jokes!
Tell us about the show?
This show is about how I live my day-to-day life as someone with cerebral palsy who has to rely on other people to help me with things like dressing and shaving. I talk about what it means to me to live independently. However, along the way it covers my 8 week stint in Scottish physical dance theatre (not an obvious career choice for a wheelchair user!), being impersonated by Daniel Radcliffe and what to do when 500 incontinence pads get mistakenly left on your doorstep!
For a long time now I’ve really wanted to make a show about what it’s like to go through life relying on others to do personal tasks for you. Oops, as I typed that last sentence and read it back I realised how dodgy it sounds!
I mean the kind of things I can’t do for myself. When I came up with the title ‘Independence’ a year ago I had no idea just how topical it would be after Brexit! There is a bit of politics in the show, but mostly I think this show is very personal to me. I’m probably the only comedian who could deliver this material.