I have always wanted to do this Residency but it has just never worked out timing wise until last year. I have known Nicholas Bone the Artistic Director of Magnetic North for a long time and he has always been very kind and supportive to me over the years. Nick taught me through workshops about Viewpoints and I also took part in the Rough Mix Residency as a performer for Rip it Up at Tramway a number of years ago.
Nick is also one of the few people in my industry who has offered support on funding applications for a large complex project I have wanted to make forever, where I use music as my main element.
The Space | Time Residency couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me and I realise that was deliberate on my part in seeking it out.
Space and Time are really important elements to me as a maker and as a human. I have also recently made some very important realisations about how isolated I had become in my practice gradually over the last 10 years.
There are many reasons for the isolation. Being an experimental theatre maker and performer means securing funding for my work and the development of it is hugely challenging, so, slowly but surely over time I have retreated from asking for that support and have been self producing for years, taking on many roles just to get my work made.
I have also fallen completely in love with researching and practising the art form of one on one performance, my practice in this area is called human specific and most of my time over the years when creating work has been spent very intensely experimenting alone or with my one audience member at a time. I have also become a mother, been making work abroad, travelling and generally following my own nose.
The other major attraction for me to do Space | Time recently was, to meet new Artists and to try to begin thinking about how I can start again to open my practice back out. Collaboration was always something I loved to do as a younger artist (all those skills and endless possibilities in one room) and I spent the first ten years of my practice experimenting and heavily collaborating across artforms in the UK and abroad. I’m realising that I miss that buzz and am always very open and constantly looking to gather the right collaborators and skills around me.
I was also really excited by the question that there is facilitated discussion around during the Space | Time Residency; ‘How does an Artist keep developing’?
This question is very hot for me and I’ve often asked myself it over the years. I can truthfully say that I have consistantly invested 100% into my own development as an Artist over the years and often with little funds. I have self produced when I couldn’t secure funding and I have continually looked for the opportunities that would take me outside of my comfort zone to keep me growing, learning and to just keep making work. But me investing in myself and my practice alone is not sustainable in the very long term.
Initially by there being a lack of funds to support more experimental practice, I felt I had to try and become good at many things to save on budget and I did not always want to take on so much at first. And I have wondered and worried over the years if being able to do many things might dilute me. I now see it all as very unique and important parts of my practice.
The discussions during space | time were very interesting and doubly validating as the group of artists that I was there with (you might say are all on the more experimental side and multi skilled humans) feel a similar way with many of the same doubts and questions.
For the record - I don’t think being able to do many things takes anything away. Humans change and grow as do our interests. I trained classically in London 20 years ago and I am so very thankful for that training and learning but I couldn’t feel any further away from that classical training if I tried. But it is there deep at the core of me and what a wonderfully rich core to have and to have been able to use it to jump off and out from. I am a life learner and I want to constantly be developing and growing all the time. I believe that is where exciting work is made, when multiple skills, flows and vibes all come together…
My question right now is, ‘how much longer can I continue to sustain my practice with very tight funding”? I have 20+ years experience across artforms with my own work always being very well received in the UK and internationally so it would be really very welcome now for there to be a shift in mindset from the industry and funders to want to support and recognise more experimental work and practices.
I feel very close to changing my focus to wanting to support other Artists who are perhaps just starting out on their creative journeys, Artists who may need support and to provide support for people in my community who are desperate to find their voice and tell their stories and have their skills nurtured and identified.
But if that is the way I decide to go then that does mean that my voice might disappear and that really scares me…
The amazing Artists (who I cannot thank enough for their skills, openess and genrerosity) involved on the Space | Time Residency at Cove Park in October 2018 were;
The Residency was facilitated by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath - thanks also again to you both!