There’s been some great and inspiring outbreaks of kindness all over the internet this week, demonstrating just how amazingly selfless and supportive the arts sector is. So many brilliant people and ideas, giving us a glimpse of how humans can shine in a crisis, how much better we are when we work together, and how this worrying time could actually sow the seeds of – or even prototype – a better world.Continue reading
Month: March 2020
Jazz Moreton reflects on her Nest Residency
Having graduated with First Class Honours in Fine Art from the University of Gloucestershire in 2017, I spent years finding my feet and doing little bits of (mainly unpaid) work in the arts. After moving back to Warwickshire, I began to network with artists in Coventry. When somebody mentioned the Nest residency in a meeting, I knew that I, as an artist with multiple disabilities, had to go for it!
My residency was jointly supported by Talking Birds, Coventry Artspace, Coventry Biennial, and Disability Arts Shropshire, and would lead to whatever my outcome might be being exhibited in Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019.
I proposed that I, as an artist who had never worked with or edited sound, would create a sound-based piece that showcased the abilities that people with disabilities have, in the face of a government, and a wider society, that discriminates against us in many ways (my bugbear since graduation was that people still often assumed that I was stupid due to my neurogenic stammer and dysarthric speech) and, after a nerve-wracking interview with a gatekeeper-esque panel of arts professionals (who, upon getting to know them throughout my residency, turned out to be some of the most delightful people I’ve had the chance to work with), I was thrilled to receive the news that I had been selected.
My piece, which I titled ‘Discursive Ability’ at the point when somebody asked me what it was called for an interim exhibition, was my first proper socially-engaged work. Making it involved me inviting people that I either knew personally or had found through networking to my studio or going to public venues, workplaces, and houses and recording one-to-one conversations about their experiences as people that have disabilities.
I have lived with multiple disabilities caused by a ‘massive’ stroke when I was thirteen, and I have faced a huge amount of discrimination in most situations. However, it was easy to feel saddened, shocked, appalled by the discrimination- and even abuse- that other people told me, during our recorded conversations, that they had suffered, and do suffer, week in, week out, in Coventry. It is absolutely vital to remember that the issue of Disability Discrimination, inequality, and abuse exists in every locality across the country if not the world, and the sample of Coventry people that I selected were mostly not connected (apart from in the respect that they all knew me). It’s a bit sad that it takes an artist to start to talk about this, rather than world leaders, but there we are.
After recording a long series of fascinating conversations, I had the huge task of editing them onto one soundtrack (which took about ten times longer than holding all the conversations). Thankfully, Derek of Talking Birds is a sound-editing pro (amongst his other talents), and he was able to offer really useful advice, such as switching to a different piece of software (it’s lucky I’m a fast learner)!
It was fantastic to have a studio space that I could use for up to eight hours a day (based on bus timetables) to edit in. At the time, I was living on a narrowboat and didn’t have facilities (or, in fact, electricity and broadband) to make any sort of digital work, so the Nest enabled me to work in a way that I otherwise would not have had the chance to.
I showed the final version of ‘Discursive Ability’ in Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, which was my first major exhibition. Having my audio work displayed in ‘the Row’ has led to other opportunities, and I am currently working on an engagement project for the Midlands Arts Centre, for which I was head-hunted after their curator heard the work that I made in residence during the exhibition.
I’ve also been working really hard on scoping out other opportunities, and I have one or two personal projects at quite a conceptual stage. All I can say is that I will be back!
Jazz Moreton (see Jazz’s AxisWeb profile here!)
‘How fragile time is…’ Chloe Allen reflects on her Nest Residency
I first learned about Talking Birds when my friend told me about her Nest Residency at Eaton House. I decided to look them up online and was pleased to discover that they aim to make residencies more accessible to people with disabilities and conditions like myself. I graduated from Coventry University in 2018 with an MA in Contemporary Arts Practice and, until my Nest Residency began, hadn’t had access to a space to be able to make work for a whole year – so I knew that this would be a perfect opportunity for me and was so pleased when my application was accepted. My residency began in December 2019 and finished in February 2020, during this time I was able to further explore the effects that Narcolepsy has on my life. In 2012 I was diagnosed with the chronic sleep condition Narcolepsy, this causes me to experience Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and so I can have a sleep attack at any time anywhere. Due to my constant fatigue I often don’t leave the house for weeks at a time and so to have a work space away from home was a great motivation for me to actually get out of bed because I knew I had the chance to actually make work again. During my residency I felt content in the knowledge that I could take naps and not be disturbed, I was safe inside the studio space, I wouldn’t be in anybody’s way, taking naps allowed me to gain just that little bit more energy to then continue to make work once I’d woken up.
This residency has allowed me to further explore my ideas in relation to time being wasted due to Narcolepsy. For the past 5 years or so I had often used raising awareness for Narcolepsy as the main idea for my work but once I had graduated this all came to a sudden halt. Being in a studio space has allowed me to spread my work out across the floor and experiment with different ideas, having this space gave me the motivation to push myself further with my work thus I created 366 clay circle ‘time tokens’, had I not had the studio space I wouldn’t have been able to do this because creating something like that isn’t too easy on a cramped bedroom floor!
To begin I started creating work in my comfort zone of acrylic on canvas, I’ve often used text art in my previous works and so knew that this would be something that I’d be pleased with aesthetically. I worked on canvas boards and the pieces were relatively small, after reflecting on this I decided that I wanted to make work on a larger scale especially since I’d got the space in the studio and so I got some plastic sheeting and bought some clay. The image of a circle was at the forefront of my mind, based on a clock. I began by creating rings from the clay with circle cutters, then cut segments from these circles based on how much time I’d wasted napping, I then used metal letter stamps to press words in to the segments, the words were the things I’d missed out on by napping e.g. family dinners, however, despite these turning out well I knew that I still wasn’t entirely achieving what I wanted. I researched into artists that created work based around time and came across Alyson Provax, her works in ‘Time Wasting Experiment’ really inspired me, she would state how many minutes were wasted and what the time was being wasted on. I could time every single nap I’d taken but because of my condition I don’t always get to choose when I nap and sometimes I don’t even know that I have napped – it’s sometimes hard for me to tell the difference between my dreams and reality because I nap do frequently. Narcolepsy affects me all day every day so I decided that I would make a circle for every day and instead of cutting out segments I would create segments on the circles with glitter. I created 366 (as 2020 is a leap year) circles, using different coloured glitter for each month. Each circle had ’24 HOURS’ printed on to them, each a token of time that we choose how to spend, the circles weren’t fired and so could very easily break, should they break this will only demonstrate how fragile time is.
The Nest Residency was so valuable to me, I was able to explore ideas, set myself bigger challenges and my importantly create work again. I also found it very useful to be at Eaton House and attend the First Thursday Drop-in, this gave me chance to network with other artists and instead of just explaining about my work as I had previously I also got to show people my studio space to that they could see the processes I was going through to create my work.