Spring life through art

Getting through the winter months can sometimes be challenging. The NIA team have embraced this period with force and determination to path their way into a positive, if thoughtful spring, heading towards a vibrant summer.

Gareth has a busy couple of months in May and June working with Theatr Ffynnon, Elaine Paton and devising a new Clarks performance for festivals in Wales. The last few months have been equally busy as Gareth has toured his solo show (F.E.A.R.) and directed Jonny Cotsen’s autobiographical performance Louder Is Not Always Clearer.

The new Clarks show has been commissioned by Wales Outdoor Art Consortium and is entitled ‘Electioneering’. The premise is a sideways look at the body language and media trained responses of politicians in the limelight. Little did the Clarks know that Mrs May was calling a snap General Election so the show has something of a timely feel. Electioneering will be at Dance Days in Swansea, Big Splash in Newport, National Eisteddfod in Anglesey, Festival No.6 in Portmerion and Llawn in Llandudno. There are other planned performances popping up across Wales with a sneak preview at Machynlleth Comedy festival and The Blue Lagoon.

In August Gareth is taking (F.E.A.R.) to the Edinburgh Fringe and will be performing from 4 – 28 August. It’s a busy and productive time. 

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Marega, ‘a natural born ScriBBler’, can only describe her latest event as the equivalent of having Soul Food. In ‘Draw To Perform’ at the Fabrica Gallery, Brighton.

She describes the event as ‘The appreciation for sharing practice in this type of event is enriching for all involved’. For this years event she chose to return to her starting point of combining drawing / markmaking with movement. ‘I first explored this idea in 2009 and the voice telling me to return to the starting point eight years later with a body that is eight years older felt like an important choice to make.’ 

The drawing theme has continued to thread its way through the year so far, with the invitation to facilitate drawing workshops with teachers ( from secondary and primary schools ) in South Wales and in North Wales – which will take place later in the year.

The underlying aim is to re-kindle the urge to make a mark  and to encourage different ways of seeing using different approaches to drawing.

Finally on the drawing theme, Inviting The Neighbours Around To Paint will be part of the TROUBLEMAKERS festival in Swansea, 15 & 16th July.

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Photo credit –Manja Williams

Jo is currently exhibiting some of the photos from her Home in Maindee, photographic project, has transformed part of Maindee Library into a Living Room space.

I’ve sat in quite a few living rooms over the past months, listening and sharing stories with such great people, about why they’ve chosen to make Maindee their home. says Jo.  “The living room is the heart of any home and it’s the room where most people have been comfortable enough and inspired to talk to me.  It’s been so great to see visitors coming in to sit in the space and get a real sense of what this project has been about, and what it has meant to me.”

 The project has been an honest account of the people featured, with each one sharing their own personal and historical links to Maindee. Some of the stories are funny anecdotes, some are sad too, but all reflect a genuine and loyal connection to the area.

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   This is the third project NIA members have supported Finding Maindee with, all through the ‘Ideas: People, Places’ larger Welsh regeneration project.

In March, Jo photographed the International Women’s Day event at The Riverfront and went on to march with the international Million Women Rise peaceful protest held in London. These recent assignments are part her creative archive she continues to add to, of her previous photographic work raising awareness of domestic abuse.

While Stephanie is preparing to spending time in the studio working on her first major solo mosaic art and sculptural exhibition funded by the Arts Council of Wales this coming autunm. She has spent an intensive period of time working on the research of this project, formulating a visual process she has created to aid her language and communication, as a predominately visual-spatial thinker or person with dyslexia.

Although this period has had its challenges, two notable events of integration with her mosaic artist community have provided support and a sense of well-being to her new direction of thought. In March Stephanie was invited by mosaic activist Carrie Reichardt to aid her in the completion of her iconic mosaic house in Chiswick, London. Isidora Paz Lopez, director of The 1st International Mosaic Intervention, Chile, and many other international mosaic artists who met in Chile in 2014 where reunitied. This brought 13 artists together once more, plus the addition of many more from The Treatment Rooms Art Collective based in London to collectively bring their artistic energy togther to finish the house.

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Inspiring City article

In addition, Detroit, this notable ‘surviving’ city, was the location of this years SAMA Conference for the Society of American Mosaic Artists. As Carrie and Isidora were talking at the event and UK’s Tamara Froud, and friend, was winner of the Site-Specific Award, I volunteered to help at the event as my work was being featured in the conference. Rubbing shoulders, litteraly, with one of the Maestro’s of the mosaic world, Verdiano Marzi was not only an inspiration, but an incredible opportunity to share techniques, materials, process and laughter, and a lot of it too, with many of the notable international mosaic artists of this time.

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Behind the scenes with NIA artists

imageIt was certainly a year of creative projects flung far and wide. But we did manage a quiet day or two in late December to catch up for chat and plan some NIA exploration for 2017. Keep watching this space! For now we thought we’d share a little bit of what’s been happening lately…

A busy few months now sees Gareth touring Wales with his first solo show (F.E.A.R.) – a one-man show about constructed fear.

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The show examines the pressure society, religion, media and family place onto young shoulders. In this life story, that encapsulates early childhood memories and public information films, a clear and ever more fevered narrative unearths the fears of a middle-aged man plagued with the news of Islamic State attacks, the revelations of Edward Snowden, the rise of UKIP and of a growing concern of physical decay. Described as ‘a powerful blast of theatre’ (F.E.A.R.) allows the audience to witness the vulnerability of a solo male performer in full confessional mode.

Gareth is excited that this is showing across Wales in February and March, with an additional show at AMATA Falmouth. (F.E.A.R.) will be at The Riverfront from 22 – 24 March and if you remember his performance in NIA’s Beneath The Surface you will know that it’s going to be a compelling performance.

Time and Place created an opportunity for NIA’s Mosaic Artist, Stephanie Roberts to support local residents in re-connecting with a local environment through making observations of urban textures.

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These mosaic art studies created visual records of textures and patterns relating to the architecture and environmental status of their time of creation and place of origin. These mosaic artworks will contribute to the archive of Maindee’s regeneration project through a community developed project which gave opportunities to groups to form and study through creative arts the contemporary landscape of their local environment through investigation and discovery.
 

The project focused on collecting images gathered from the buildings, pavements and roof tops to draw on the individual attachment that connects us to an environment, therefore the story and subsequent emotion. Photographic images of detailed landscapes were translated into mosaic using the andamento, the movement of the tile, to re create the landscape and develop each individual character mosaic. A process of abstraction through repeating each design brought a unity of aesthetic to each piece and therefore creating, if you like, intellectual pattern or a ‘swatch’ of fabric design which relates to the original inspiration for the project at Cazer’s Menswear that hosts a multitude of mosaic art at its door.

Marega’s 2017 has started off by diving straight into a creative melting pot, with a collaboration between HiJinX Theatre and Frantic Assembly. Working with students, teaching physical theatre skills and devising techniques.

photo-1Along with her getting the marketing side of Mr and Mrs Clark’s (F.E.A.R.) tour under way, future projects in the pipeline include a further exploration into linking the world of drawing and dance. A meeting with the Riverfront in Newport, is planned to start a dialogue about how to put these ideas into practise, which will result in a performance later in the year. She’s hoping to work with Maja Palser  ( yes, they are related! ) who composes music and sound composition.

Marega has also been invited to perform at a performance-based art event in Brighton which takes place at the beginning of March. This comes as a result of taking part in the Draw To Perform festival in London last year- a wonderful event if you like crossing art forms and getting messy.

Jo is on a journey with her documentary photo project about why people are Finding a Home in Maindee. It’s been a journey of sharing stories, many of these stories are hers as well as theirs, while she takes a look at why and how people came to live there.

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Carol talks about why she needs to downsize the family home. Her home in Maindee was where her children used to hold discos in the living room when they were young. Jhons and Francy’s home gave them back their health and a new life with the communities they’re now part of. Jo is planning an exhibition of the work in late spring.
She’s also been focussing on her editorial work, mainly through documenting children and families, and has had a few features along with a front cover in JUNO, a natural parenting magazine. With a new project in the planning stage about relationships – working with children to find out who inspires them in their day-to-day lives and why.

Regeneration and the Arts

It’s been a busy week. NIA artist Marega Palser took her Inviting ‘The Neighbours Around To Paint’ project to Maindee, a ward in Newport. The project is an open invitation to participate in the creation of an ever-growing art piece across three large free-standing boards. There are no rules. Marega invited artists to ‘host’ each of the five days and the results are an extraordinary montage of paint, print, collage and sculpture.

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This project is part of Maindee Unlimited’s Finding Maindee, an ongoing exploration of the identity of the ward that has been sponsored by Arts Council Wales, National Lottery and Wales Assembly Government under the auspices of Ideas, People, Places (IPP). IPP is an arts led regeneration scheme that has furnished a number of groups across Wales with some hefty funding to… well, regenerate the respective areas each group represents.

Maindee have commissioned a few local artists to contribute projects through their New Pathways programme. Comparatively small bursaries are offered to artists for projects to work within the community and NIA artists have been involved and I’m sure they will share their experiences at some point. However it has forced me to consider what arts led regeneration really is or can be?

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What strikes me as a key consideration is that most regeneration projects seem to start with building. New property seems to be the blanket local authority response to reviving a sagging economy, strongly supported by government policy. The creation of new or refurbished housing stock generally sees an in pouring of builders that boost some local trade. The resultant building is a tangible outcome and perhaps some needed housing or retail space. I wonder what the equivalent art project would be to this sort of hard outcome? Would it be a statue? Something along the lines of Verity in Ilfracombe by Damian Hirst? Something contemporary by someone suitably famous that would be sought out by the eager followers of an art movement creating a new economy or building on the existent trade?

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It’s not what I imagine in Maindee. Certainly not as part of New Pathways anyway. However there are other outcomes that I think the arts offer that are rarely considered. What if regeneration was more about people? What if specific art projects were aimed at improved use of public space, developing local spirit, engendering identity and creating community. What was deeply apparent from a week on the busiest street in Maindee is that Inviting The Neighbours Around To Paint and the participating Artists created an environment that allowed people to be together and that provides a whole host of new possibilities. In science the builders of the Large Hadron Collider in Cern aimed to build a machine that would create the right environment for particles to collide. I suggest that this is what projects like Inviting The Neighbours does… it allows people’s lives to collide, connect and new possibilities to grow. Can that be regeneration? Well I will leave that to you to decide but what is clear is that new and engaging ways of bringing people together creates energy and that is positive in any community.

Gareth

 

It’s been a while…

There are plenty of great things happening here in Newport. Much of it goes beneath the radar as I think the City suffers a little from it’s close proximity to Cardiff. However let’s chirp on about some of the interactive and proactive creative happenings for a moment.

The finest of all venues, Le Pub, commissioned the Clarks to curate an evening of art and performance as part of their #WeShallOvercome weekend of events. The money donated was for those hardest hit by austerity cuts. The evening featured Mr and Mrs Clark, Justin Cliffe, Dino Rovaretti, Art Rat and Barrie J Morgan, June Campbell-Davies, Sarah Campbell-Horner, Donna Males, Sheree Naqvi and Bosch. The evening under the name Express Yourself was a joyful success and here are a few snaps.

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Pictured: June Campbell Davies                 Sheree Naqvi

However art is not merely for the interior of establishments. In an attempt to create a positive energy around negative spaces NIA founder member Marega Palser organised a walk around town with a painting event. She sent out an open invitation to artists to join the walk through the heart of the City centre. The result resembled something of a positive protest with paintings held aloft on a march down Commercial Street. The result left us asking where should art really be and who is it for if it’s confined to galleries and museums and what if art was introduced to negative spaces in the city? Here are some images…

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So we’ve been busy in a non-NIA way… engaging with the way we make and show work. There’s more to come from NIA artists over the next month or two including Mr and Mrs Clark’s Inviting The Neighbours Around To Paint in Maindee. If you want to get involved, here’s a bit more info.

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Over and Out

Gareth

 

 

Summer Happenings

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It has been a while since the NIA posse came together after a successful winter and spring   calendar full of events, walks and workshops. That’s not to say we haven’t been busy.

Steph has installed her mighty public art piece ‘With Passing Ships’ commissioned by Pill Regeneration Scheme and in collaboration with Nick Jones. There is a film of the whole project coming from the Bosch collective who documented the process from start to finish.

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Gareth has continued to work on his Creative Wales research project and has been working with Theatre Versus Oppression, Punchdrunk and Hijinx. He had also been developing a new solo performance with the director Agnieszka Blonska.

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Marega has been devising a performance jukebox with the choreographer and performer Jo Young that premiered in Newport Museum Art Gallery. The performance celebrated the art in the collection of the gallery and was developed with the support of National Theatre Wales. Marega also hosted the splendid Inviting The Neighbours Around To Paint that transformed the Project Space for a week.

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Jo has spent this year immersed in training – she’s now been awarded her certification in the Beloved Photographic Technique, which looks deeper into the connections between photographer and subject. It’s been a busy time too launching her new children’s website http://www.childsplay-photography.co.uk alongside working with some local businesses to show off their talents and wares.

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Gareth and Marega are heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August with their Newport inspired show SMASH IT UP. If you find yourself up that way do support the cause. Have a good summer and see you all soon.

Meet the Artists

Safe_VJEJones_LoRes cVictoria J E Jones | enterthehighfields.com

‘The What It Is Rite 01’ (2015) has been developed via walking and bus journeys across Newport eavesdropping on conversations. A collection of phrases particular to the local vernacular were collated and edited. My work is concerned with positive and empathic experiences. In previous works I have collated and exhibited positive affirmation phrases. In delving below the surface of Newport, the word ‘safe’ seemed to have a particular resonance. Its local use as a positive affirmation statement, as a greeting and as an alternative to ‘yes’ , made it a particularly pertinent starting point for a work. Its more usual meaning of security points to the tension between local and non-local perceptions of Newport.

art rat cArt Rat | mswhittaker.wordpress.com

For this project I spent the day walking around Newport town centre wearing a vest made from canvas on the front the words ‘I Am An Artist’ on the back ‘Please Donate A Penny’.  I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Newport many of whom when I told them what I was going to do with the money donated more than a penny. The coins collected have been fused within glass and metal to create a sculptural form. The materials I have used are metaphors for the industries that were once thriving in Newport. The sculptural form created is accompanied with a video of my time spent in Newport as well as canvasses that were signed by each of the donors.

Conversations with Katherine This is a performance that explores the experience between an artist and its viewer/participant using presence, ritual and exchange. Participants are required to bring an ‘offering’ that has a story attached in exchange for time with Katherine within her space where a series of rituals will take place. Each experience will become personal to participants and the outcome of the rituals and artefacts given will become part of an installation within the space.

jo cJo Haycock | johaycockphotography.com

Poached eggs on doorstep toast no butter, with an Americano please” was my first breakfast order taken in Fanny’s Cafe some months back. Now I’m greeted like a family friend, coffee brewing when I walk through the door. I’ve spent my time listening to many colourful and humorous tales from the Fanny’s team and those go there. It’s not just any cafe, it’s a place where folk go to celebrate and share what is going on in their lives, and every single one of them is given the red carpet treatment. I set out to find one unsung hero and here have found many, this red retro gem in Newport’s crown not only serves the best darn poached eggs (thanks Dean!) but is without doubt my hero on this journey.

For the Beneath The Surface exhibition, I have produced Blind Dérive, a conjoined series of eight paintings drawing inspiration from NCC Street Scene department’s efforts to eliminate graffiti from the city. In the performance U Bend, I Bend, I celebrate NCC worker Carol Ellis, her pride in maintaining the cleanest toilets in the land and her ongoing contributions to local charities.

 

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Stephanie Roberts | stephanierobertsart.wordpress.com

|ˈhi(ə)rō| – A person who is admired for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

My work explores 3 stories that are inspired by contrasting acts of heroism with in Newport. The story begins in 1909 with young lad, Tom Toya Lewis, his act of courage saved a life of a Newport dock worker, who became trapped amongst fallen timbers. Tom’s story has become a constant reminder to me of the ‘hero’ that saved me within my dreams as a young child, where through technical reenactments I was rescued from being buried alive. These poignant stories have lead me to explore todays hero’s within the city. On 12th March 2015, I became a blood donor and with many others that have gained the power to help others. This piece is a mosaic of stories that suspend, held together without constraints or limitations. Thank you to the Welsh Blood Service team and the donors that day for the support given to me on this project.

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Marega Palser | mrandmrsclark.co.uk

Encounters Beneath the Surface so far….
Include conversations and visual ramblings in Pill. Experiencing the micro-climates that exist under Newport’s bridges, which include fishing for drunken back stories, abandoned playgrounds in amongst household waste, and Mother Nature’s relentless quest to replenish and provide life for all that feed her expansive tit.
I’ve met some members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace group, heard Gabriella Gillespie speak of her life’s experience and i’m about to have my cobwebs shaken by Lynette Webbe….there’s more, but that can wait.

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Massimo Salvato | vimeo.com/massimofilms

Jonny is a documentary about Newport artist Jonathan Sherwood. Through his eyes and the constant suspension between creation and demolition we follow the diaspora that a group of artists is stuck in since the transformation of the town centre into a big shopping mall. The film’s story spans over the period of two years from the summer of 2012, when Jonny – who suffers from bi-polar disorder and keeps himself alive through the creation of his art and through heavy medication – together with other artists from his collective charity Artopsy, as consequence of urban planning, is leaving the empty shop that he is using as a community art studio in the town centre of Newport.

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Marion Cheung | marioncheung-artist.com

Analysing the idea of loss and improvement through destruction and repair, I literally went ‘Beneath the Surface’ and based a series of paintings on the colours of the Friar’s Walk site overlaid with graphic structures of new buildings. I contacted Queensberry Real Estate for photographic resources – the project managers and front of house staff kindly gave me access to a wealth of images.

Additionally, I made a number of drawings from several vantage points which reminded me of a style of Japanese pottery called ‘Kintsugi’ meaning ‘golden repair.’ It’s the art of fixing broken pottery, rather than throwing it away, repairing it with laquer mixed with powdered metallics. The mended objects become much more beautiful than they were before – the scars now form part of their history. The paintings are inspired by the aesthetic and philosophy of Kintsugi.

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Tin Shed Theatre Productions | tinshedtheatrecompany.com

We remain honorary Newportonians, engulfed and accepted by the city in which gave birth to us, Tin Shed Theatre. ‘Beneath The Surface’ is giving us the opportunity to share our secrets, confess our sins and portray life as we see it exist in our concrete jungle. We hope to mix live performance with spoken word, and character based narrative in a mish-mash performance style of pop up happenings with unusual Encounters.

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Gareth Clark | mrandmrsclark.com

As a performing artist my research has been based on experiences with people in the City. In 2013 I began volunteering at a refugee drop in centre and these meetings inspired me to consider displacement and identity. Furthermore I realised that there were many supportive people who were rarely recognised for their incredible journeys, work ethic and humanity. In the developing performance I hope to make people question their own identity and to consider the unofficial infra-structure that holds us all together and is rarely celebrated.

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Dino Rovaretti | facebook.com/MissingBear

In exploring the idea of a surface as an interface or meeting point questions begin to emerge around what creates a stable image of a city, what is Newport’s surface? Is it like the skin that forms over warm milk that has been left to cool? Is it a building or a series of buildings? Is it wherever the sun is? Is it on Facebook? Is it the patches of dry left on the uneven pavements after rain?  Is it a memory, or series of memories? Through performance interventions I have been navigating the surface(s) and edging on getting lost.

Beneath The Surface is supported by Arts Council Wales, Newport City Council and The Project Space.

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Beneath The Surface – Cinema and Theatre Tickets for sale

As part of our residency at The Project Space in Newport we are presenting some intriguing and distinctly local events. The first is a film showing of Massimo Salvato’s documentary film ‘Jonny (The Shaman of Rust) from 19th – 21st March at 7.30pm.

The second event is Encounters, a series of performances including Conversations with Katherine by Art Rat. Encounters features Mr & Mrs Clark, Tin Shed Theatre Company, Dino Rovaretti and Steven George Jones from 24th – 28th March at 7.30pm.

All tickets are available from The Project Space or reservations made via our email and cost £5. Audience numbers are limited so booking is essential.

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Film, Performance, Walks and Workshops

19 March – 7.30pm Jonny – A film by Massimo Salvato

20 March – 7.30pm Jonny – A film by Massimo Salvato

21 March – 7.30pm Jonny – A film by Massimo Salvato

22 March – 2.00pm Lost (and Found) Dino Rovaretti

24 March – 7.30pm Encounters and Conversations with Katherine

25 March – 10am Yoga with Marega

8.30pm Encounters and Conversations with Katherine

26 March – 7.30pm Encounters and Conversations with Katherine

27 March – 10am Yoga with Marega

7.30pm Encounters and Conversations with Katherine

28 March –  11am Yoga with Marega

7.30pm Encounters and Conversations with Katherine

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Beneath The Surface is supported by Arts Council Wales, Newport City Council and The Project Space.

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