In April and May this year I was lucky enough to once more be one of Blast Theory’s artists in residence.  I of course have been one before and this is because I tend to stay for short periods of time every now and again as opposed to being one of their longer stay resident artists.  This rhythm is perfect for me as it fits in around other work (allowing me to continue to earn a living) yet shakes up my routine and encourages me to really focus in on whatever I’m working on at the time in an uncluttered way.  I find I can look at problems / ideas with a new perspective or from a new angle and whenever I leave after a week or two in Portslade I always feel really pleased (and a tiny bit smug) as I know I’ve been really productive!

In April I used the space to get ready for presenting new work – Rings Loops and Doublebacks – at Shoreham based festival Undercurrent. Undercurrent is just down the road from Blast Theory so the residency space was perfectly placed for me to stay at, plus it also made sense to pair the two organisations up again as in Autumn 2013 I was Undercurrent’s inaugural artist in residence and finished that period of time by sharing a work in progress version of Rings Loops and Doublebacks at Blast Theory Studios for feedback (which was really useful). I’m pleased to report that the piece – part of my Rambles with Nature series – went really well and you can see photos and some writing about it on my blog. The piece involved working with Shoreham based musician Scott Smith, Artist/Gardener Chris Platt and the St Mary de Haura Handbell Ringers (to name a few of my many collaborators and contributors).

In May, I returned to Blast Theory for a totally different reason, to take part in Brighton Festival’s Collidescope and represent myself with my producer Sally Rose at the Caravan Marketplace.

Collidescope was an opportunity offered by Brighton Festival which allowed a diverse group of mid-career artists to see and discuss much of the festival.  The experience was pretty incredible. I met a fantastic group of people and saw work everyday – sometimes 2 to 3 pieces!  It became reallly clear immediately how differently we each felt about different works and was consequently really illuminating.  Personally I began to wonder about scale and how I could perhaps push myself to think about filling larger spaces with larger audiences….who knows where that thought will end up! In the second week of the festival I was also part of the Caravan Marketplace – a really useful opportunity in which you’re able to put faces to names in the International programming world for new performance and begin conversations about work.

If that wasn’t enough I also used did a few bits of work towards an upcoming exhibition I have at Tate Liverpool of work co-created with project participants at Mersey Care’s Broadoak Unit.

And of course (warning I’m about to sound like an info-mercial or Miss World) none of this would have been possible without the residency space at Blast Theory and their ongoing and continuing support of me and my practice…  Thankyou Blast Theory!  You are my heroes.

Written by Sheila Ghelani


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