New Project Mother Trees Connect The Forest Launches
📣I am very happy to announce I have been awarded Arts Council England national lottery project grant funding and Counterpoints Arts grant support to launch a brand new participatory art-making project.
It has been a long journey to make it to this point, and I can’t wait to get started.
Mother Trees Connect The Forest will provide a nurturing opportunity for two community groups, made up of refugee and migrant women and children living in Dover and Thanet to connect through engaging in a bespoke participatory project. We will be celebrating migration and mothering, and exploring storytelling through painting, movement and poetry over seven workshops.
Open call for an English speaking Roma arts practitioner, ideally of Slovak or Czech background (not essential), to deliver two storytelling sessions in person as part of a forthcoming community outreach, participatory artmaking project in southeast Kent. Roma storytellers from all backgrounds, including performers, dancers, writers, poets and musicians who use storytelling in their practice, are welcome to apply. This is a paid opportunity.
About the Project
Mother Trees Connect The Forest
Mother Trees Connect the Forest will launch in February 2023 (Arts Council England grant funding depending). The participants will be Slovak and Czech Roma mums and their children who attend a community support group in Dover. Through conversation, story and paint, a series of artist-led artmaking workshops will provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on their own lived experiences. We will draw inspiration from Roma literature to explore telling our own stories Roma arts practitioner will join a workshop to deliver a storytelling session, working through their medium. The emphasis will be on promoting wellbeing and opening up a dialogue through spending time being creative together. We will share our discoveries with a public audience through a presentation, in conjunction with a further storytelling session for a community audience, at a public art gallery in Margate.
Mother Trees Connect the Forestis inspired by the work of ecologist, Suzanne Simard, whose work shows mother trees play a critical role in the survival of forests by channeling resources to seedlings. These trees are able to recognise and channel more resources to their own offspring when they are sick. Project outcomes will be shaped by the parallels that can be drawn between the life of the forest and the project’s themes, i.e. motherhood, collaboration between mother and child, harnessing talent, nurturing the creativity of the next generation, and exchanges of knowledge through art, writing and storytelling.
Increase representation of Roma voices in the arts
Celebrate the richness of Roma culture and specifically oral culture through storytelling and the portal of literature in translation
Challenge negative stereotypes and attitudes towards Roma in the UK
Highlight we are all citizens of the world and migration is central to human existence and life on Earth.
Spring/early summer of 2023 (dates to be confirmed). It is expected that the first session in Dover will take place on a Wednesday afternoon (4-6pm) in March and the second session, in Margate, will be in May or June.
Total Fee for each session: £192 (based on 3 hrs planning + 3hrs workshop delivery at £32 per hour) plus up to £100 contribution to travel expenses.
How To Apply
Interested applicants are invited to submit a 1 page CV (including a personal statement + links to websites/social media/ workshop recordings etc) and a statement of application (300 words max) by 10th February at the latest. Your statement should include your narrative strategy and show how your ideas for the sessions connect with the project’s themes. Your application should also demonstrate your ability to provide an empowering, engaging and inspiring experience and involve the active participation of the audience groups. If your application is successful, you will be working in collaboration with the lead artist in the project to develop your proposal, and plan and deliver the sessions. Please specify whether you have an enhanced DBS check certificate.
Email contact for submissions and enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
10/02/2023 11:59pm (UK time) Don’t wait until the deadline to apply!
It is part of a larger body of work called Birds Are The Opposite of Time – a project I developed whilst listening to Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps (Quartet for The End of Time) by Olivier Messiaen. The work was composed in a prisoner of war camp in 1940 and was inspired by the Apocalypse as it is described in the Book of Revelation. The title, Birds are the Opposite of Time, is taken from Messiaen’s notes on part III of the work – Abyss of the Birds: ‘The Abyss, which is Time, with its sadness and weariness. The birds are the opposite of Time: they represent our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows and for jubilant song.’ Messiaen was a passionate ornithologist and in the same way he saw music and birds as being the opposite of time as it marks out the finiteness of life, I see artmaking as being the opposite. Painting is an expression of my inner life, which feels infinite in its formless constancy to my sense of being. I am seeking to create a feeling of vitality and performance when I make a painting and I am driven by a sense of compulsion and necessity. Aspiring to develop new language I work in an exploratory way, learning as much from failures and mistakes as discoveries.
The title of this work is a quote from the writer Salena Godden whose mother always told her to go where the love is. By this she meant surround yourself with positivity and spend time with people who believe in you and what you are trying to do.
When I heard these words I took them into my heart – I thought these words can help me as I try to find my way as an artist and a painter.
I think the advice is particularly good because it is also saying in life there will be many moments when you might not be understood or valued and when this happens don’t waste time, move on and seek others who will help you to be your best self.
I have been listening to Der Abschied, the closing part of The Song of The Earth by Gustav Mahler. The songs in Song of The Earth, a composition for two voices and an orchestra, are based on several poems written by poets of the Tang dynasty.
This particular version was conducted in 1952 by his friend Bruno Walter. It is a moving piece made all the more powerful once you learn that Mahler didn’t live to hear the work performed.
Kathleen Ferrier’s contralto voice is incredible and sadly she was gravely ill with cancer when she performed it for this recording. She died the following year aged just 41.
Tragic, beautiful and addictive listening!
This piece continues my project responding to recordings of The Song of the Earth. For this work I listened to a version conducted by Long Yu which pairs Mahler’s symphonic song-cycle with contemporary compositions by Xiaogang Ye that draw on the texts in the original Mandarin.
The title ‘Everywhere the Lovely Earth Blossoms Forth’ is a line from Mahler’s version of The Song of the Earth. The songs talk of the beauty of the earth but the words today take on a new troubling poignancy as our awareness grows of the destruction the human race has unleashed on the natural world.
Man-made climate change threatens us all with developing countries and the poor currently facing the greatest threat. How can we work together to create a fairer and more sustainable future? Art can provide new and unexpected routes into reflective dialogue that brings the heart and soul into engagement with tackling climate change issues.
“There’s a guy I worked with in Canada who once told me important issues first go into your head and that’s interesting and fascinating. Then they go into your heart and that’s exciting, then into your gut, which is really worrying, and then into your soul.
“When it goes into your soul, you can’t get it out, no matter how much you try, and you have to do something about it.
“I think that’s what happened to me with climate change. First of all, I found it fascinating, then it was all very exciting to try and understand and see where it was happening, then it was really troubling. Now it’s in my soul and that’s what gets me out of bed every day.”
SAVAGE Journal have released their SAVAGE postcard exhibition! Posted is a set of 15 postcards featuring the work of UCL artists, spanning photography, painting, collage, sculpture, drawing and performance.
☀️Included in the set is my painting Sing To Me.☀️
What helped you get through the most recent lockdown?
I turned to music and had the radio on for most of the day, every day! I found music provided a much needed form of escapism.
In my current practice I am exploring the act of making art as a liberating gesture. The various positive sensations of pleasure, calm, elation and catharsis that listening to music gives me, as I paint and draw in my studio, collide and combine with all the other sensations I am experiencing at that moment and are translated directly into my painting. From music – to my body and mind’s response – to the painting, to the viewer experiencing the work, is a chain of sensations. These chains of sensations connect us to each other and help us make sense of our realities, as Haruki Murakami explains so eloquently here:
“Because memory and sensations are so uncertain, so biased, we always rely on a certain reality-call it an alternate reality-to prove the reality of events. To what extent facts we recognize as such really are as they seem, and to what extent these are facts merely because we label them as such, is an impossible distinction to draw. Therefore, in order to pin down reality as reality, we need another reality to relativize the first. Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. An endless chain is created within our consciousness, and it is the very maintenance of this chain that produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist.”
You can see a painting I made about this on the cover of the latest issue of Savage Journal, Issue #13 Sensation. Savage Journal is UCL’s Arts and Culture Journal – Read it online or pick up a copy for free from the UCL campus.
My children have just discovered The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I felt happy when I laughed myself into hysterics at a funny scene. Does that count?
I felt happy yesterday when I was on a train reading a magazine. I was reading that visitors to the artist Lala Rukh’s house were greeted by ‘two unmistakable seasonal smells: in winter, log-fire smoke and in summer, jasmine and lime wafting in from the garden.’* One sentence was enough to transport me there. The feeling of happiness that came with it was strong but momentary, does that count? In this strange and unsettling time, which has impacted on every aspect of our lives, I think it has to.
I think it is possible to equate positive emotional experiences – those little, everyday mood boosting moments that bring us joy – to happiness. Before the pandemic, perhaps happiness was something that shined with promise on the horizon; a state of being that could be obtained if we worked hard enough for it, but now when the future has become an unknown quantity and our focus has been pulled up short, it is our day-to-day experiences that we feel most acutely attuned to. With this has come a greater awareness of our moods and the fleetingness of them. Think of all the moods you can be in all in one day – an anxious mood, a sad mood, an angry mood, a calm mood, a dreamy mood and so on. Something positive that can come out of this imposed day-to-day existence could be the realisation that if we can let go of the pursuit of happiness as a panacea, we may become more open to acknowledging those nuggets of happiness we are already experiencing in our everyday lives.
So, even when we might feel sad, lonely, anxious or unhappy as we have probably all felt at some point during the pandemic, it is possible to experience happiness as part of these emotional experiences too.
More reading: Dr Daisy Fancourt and Research Fellow Alex Bradbury (UCL Epidemiology & Health) have tracked the everyday experiences of 70,000 people asking them each week how they are feeling.