Watch this Space group 2019

Young artists inspired by nature

Mon, December 9, 2019 by Charles Tyrer

We’re delighted to have Louise Cross in our team at Settle Stories. Louise was the successful applicant for our Event Manager Internship. She promised to write regularly for our blog. Here is this month’s contribution.

Life has been full (this is a recurring theme at Settle Stories), and work is now well underway for the Yorkshire Festival of Story, which is incredibly exciting – more on this next time. For this months blog I wanted to share my story of working with other young, female, local artists through Great Place Lakes and Dales and their project Watch This Space. This was such a brilliant opportunity for me to be creative in the open space of the Yorkshire Dales with others at a similar stage in their career. It is a rare opportunity to meet with new artists you’ve never met properly and just share and collaborate.

A week ago I spent the weekend on Newton Grange farm by Gargrave. It’s a farm built into holiday lets, perfect for those looking for a walking, cycling or horse riding holiday getaway. But this weekend it became a space for a meeting of creative minds thanks to  Great Place Lakes and Dales.

A handful of weeks ago I was put into contact with a writer and poet, Melissa Davies, living and working in Kendal whose hopes to encourage collaboration between individuals from different disciplines resonated with my own. Together we organised a two-day residential for four young female artists, between the age of 24 to 30, including ourselves.

As we were all young artists living and working, and for some amongst us, growing up in rural Dales and surrounding areas, it became apparent that landscape is integral to the work that we make.

Melissa writes landscape poetry and over the weekend we looked at one of her poems in progress which was a diglossic poem where Melissa was experimenting with how using different languages within her poem, especially including a language that the audience didn’t necessarily understand, could play with how words interact on a page to conjure images of wild landscapes.

Sarah Smout shared with us music and spoken word that she had composed from her adventures traveling to Iceland, via Orkney, Shetland, and the Faroes. Sarah uses her loop pedal to build a layered and dynamic sonic landscape of the spaces she visited by tapping and playing on her cello in innovative ways conjuring images of flocks of birds flying overhead and the whistling of winds.

Juliet Klottrup screened for us a documentary she is working on which captures life in the rural North for young people growing up in the area. It was particularly interesting to see Juliet’s documentary in the context of Settle Stories’ exhibit Life in Our Hands, by Shantamani M which also delves into life in Craven but considering the stories of older generations in the area. Juliet uses an old fashioned Super Eight film camera to create “breathing images” of her subjects. These breathing images capture these young adults in their surrounding landscapes. These snippets of films have both a feeling of nostalgia and freshness. It reflects a landscape that is both old and unaging. The result is an extremely lyrical documentary.

Juliet Klottrup - Dales photographer and director

Juliet Klottrup – Photographer + Director

My own work as a theatre maker looks at building landscapes on stage. I presented the group a workshop that had everyone building spaces and environments out of cardboard boxes to explore how closely memory and location are linked together. 

Throughout the weekend, it became apparent that, although the four of us had extremely different art practices and styles, landscape is the so-called “red thread” in our work and over the weekend. 

We found that we had many common shared experiences of starting a career in the arts in rural communities as women and as women under 30. In fact, it was a reassuring process to hear other similar examples of what we had all experienced, as when you work freelance in the arts, there is no clear career plan. Speaking to one another, we agreed that as there is no “one size fits all”  for a professional career journey in the arts, it was more possible in rural landscapes, such as the dales, for you and your work to breath and grow, outside the rush and pressure of metropolitan lifestyles.

This weekend was an exciting opportunity for me to have two “hats” on. My Event Manager hat, where Melissa and I programmed and ran a packed weekend of workshops, advice labs, feedback sessions, sharings and goal setting, as well as my theatre maker hat where it was extremely beneficial to hear from and gain insight from other contemporaries in the area. 


Top image – courtesy of Julie Klottrup

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