Long Division Live Sessions: Simon Widdop – I Saw I See. Introduced by National Coal Mining Museum for England

A series of live sessions for Long Division Festival 2018. Filmed by Skysail Studios and commissioned by Wakefield Arts Partnership as part of a series of collaborative commissions. Each musician, performer or band is introduced by a different Wakefield Arts Partnership member.

Long Division Live Sessions: Simon Widdop – I Saw I See. Introduced by National Coal Mining Museum for England.

Above and Below the Surface – A Social Geographic Map of Wakefield District

The latest in our series of blog posts about collaborative arts commissions between Wakefield Arts Partnership members, features the collaboration between Edgelands Arts and the National Coal Mining Museum for England (NCMME).

 

Blog by: Bev Adams, Co-Director, Edgelands Arts

How often do we think about the ground beneath our feet? Do we ever stop and think about how the subterranean landscape can affect the nature and shape of the communities above?

Edgelands Arts and NCMME asked these questions as part of their recent project supported by the Wakefield Arts Partnership. Armed with the understanding that mining was the key industry in Wakefield for over a century, Edgelands Arts worked with volunteers from NCMME to map the mines in the District.

35 mines were located from memory and by looking at books and old maps.

Tony Wade, Co-director of Edgelands Arts, then drew a simplified map of the Wakefield District, pinpointed the mines, made some cut-out pitheads and took the now three dimensional map to NCMME, asking visitors to add their memories to it. Over 100 people interacted with the map, writing memories on cards and adding more mines.

Stories emerged about how miners could walk underground for miles, and how some mines were connected, allowing miners to descend in one village and ascend in another.

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Edgelands Arts showed the map again, in the Art House, as part of the recent Wakefield Art Walk. A further 140 people interacted with the exhibition, adding more mines to the map along with childhood memories of playing on or near the spoil heaps, of women eating lumps of coal to combat indigestion, and how the coal seams are so shallow in the west of the District that people still dig coal out of their gardens to this day. The total number of mines now mapped is close to 60.

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The most overheard comment at the Art Walk exhibition was “fascinating!”

The map provides a stimulus for conversation and social interaction. It brings people together to explore our District and share our knowledge of it. It explores the past to understand the present and look to the future. It helps us to understand how Wakefield has been shaped geologically, topographically and culturally.

There is a further opportunity to interact with the Map at National Coal Mining Museum on 3rd June as part of NCMME’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

 

Collaborative Commissions: Tango Unchained – HQ Arts and Wakefield Jazz

HQ Arts, established in 2003, is a professional arts company based in Featherstone. HQ Arts specialise in participatory arts projects and have worked locally, regionally and nationally, delivering high quality projects for and with people who would not ordinarily access the arts.

Wakefield Jazz is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, in its 31st year. It presents high quality live jazz weekly with local (North of England), national and international musicians who are keen to visit.   We present a wide range of styles and group sizes with limits excluding New Orleans or Freely Improvised music.   Our setup and membership has made our outward-facing activities limited so far and we hope to capitalise on this project to do more.

Tango Unchained is a short performance project bringing together Stuart Hawkes and Karen Quigley from HQ Arts together with musician Pete Rosser to work with older residents from across the district to create an original performance. Tango Unchained will explore the passion and stories behind the tango to reveal the hidden depths, hidden stories and hidden talents of Wakefield.

It’s Thursday 22 February 2018, I’m travelling with Pete Rosser to Castleford, to meet with our Tango Unchained group. This will be our second meeting with them. We have a plan, an accordion and the means to make tea and coffee.

They are already waiting for us in the William Street Working Men’s Club, the kettle is on.

William Street Working Men’s Club overlooks the rugby pitch where Lock Lane Amateurs play. We rehearse in front of the stage on the wooden dance floor. The bar staff are busy cleaning.

We start with a warm up: physical stretches to make sure that everybody’s parts are moving and drama games to test their reactions.

In our first three hour session together we deconstructed the tango and agreed key physical movements and gestures. We explored the stories and imagery behind the dance and worked with music to find the essence of the tango and the physicality of the piece.

With Pete at the accordion we rehearse our Tango moves. We add some Tango attitude and punctuate with moments of stillness. We ask them to work out a route across the space. They have an agreed starting point and finishing point. We repeat. We add a tango gesture, a moment of stillness, the essence of tango. We repeat. We build and add another gesture; more tango and more passion. We repeat until we have a sequence. They have now walked about four miles! They need tea and cake.

In the second part of the session we facilitate a writing exercise. They are happy to be sitting down. We all laugh a lot. We share what we have written, we laugh some more.

I gather up the stories that Karen and I will shape before our final devising session.

A quick reminder of the dance moves we’d learned earlier and there is just time to check everyone’s availability for the next rehearsal before we are off.

We have to finish on time, there is a funeral tea at two o’clock.

Stuart Hawkes is the Artistic Director at HQ Arts

“The music helped enormously with Pete leading us in on the squeeze box with that special tango rhythm and that made it much easier to image ourselves in the role.   – it had to be all sleek , smooth then staccato moves, so with a bit of practice we began to feel like dancers, when we weren’t laughing our socks off anyway, and not a wobble in sight. ” Bren, Tango Unchained participant.

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Collaborative Commissions: WE ARE & The Art House

WE ARE is a partnership between Amy Lilley and Lucy Norton. We provide a platform for early career artists and young businesses through a variety of collaborative projects and events. We first started working together in 2013, when we met volunteering for Beam after both returning to Wakefield from University. In trying to obtain work in a creative industry in the area we found that there was a real lack of opportunities for young artists and professionals in Wakefield. We decided the best way to solve this was to create opportunities for ourselves, and we began to design and facilitate our own projects and events to address this. Since then we have worked on a variety of creative projects such as film nights, exhibitions, markets and residencies, all with the aim to help other young, emerging creatives who are in the same situation we were. We now also run a space in the city centre called Crux where we host events, gigs and share the space as studios with other creatives and musicians.

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During January we’re working on our WAP co-commission with The Art House, an arts development agency and accessible studio space in Wakefield. We wanted to use this opportunity to work on a project with an organisation who has a lot more experience than us! To be able to learn from each other and bring different experiences and knowledge to the table for this project seemed like a great idea.

Together we’re facilitating a two week residency with 3 artists and a collaborative duo, culminating in an exhibition at the Wakefield Artwalk on the 31st January. WE ARE and The Art House selected the artists for the residency with help and insight from Nicola Freeman from The Hepworth Wakefield’s curatorial team. I think a collaboration like this is important for these kinds of opportunities as the variety of organisations involved can each bring different opinions and knowledge to the table, which in turn brings more to offer to the artists taking part. 

Selected artists

Holly Rowan Hesson is planning on creating an installation which captures interesting sculptural forms which take inspiration from her walks through Wakefield. The work will focus on highlighting the things most people take for granted or don’t notice at all, such as old railings and shop shutters.

Holly Rowan Hesson

Image: Holly Rowan Hesson

Joseph Jackson will be taking his audience on holiday to Pugneys Country Park. He’s interested in the idea of holiday advertisements and how ‘fake’ or unattainable they are. He’s creating a large scale sculpture using images of Pugneys lake to break it down and give the illusion of a vacation at home.

 Yoke is artist duo Annie Nelson and Chris Woodward, they plan to construct test sculptures and maquettes which celebrate the historic importance of the Aire & Calder navigation to Wakefield, and those who use and enjoy it today. They’re using this opportunity to test out ideas which will feed into a larger future project.

Yoke

Image: Yoke

Wakefield Artwalk

2018 marks 10 years since the Artwalk first started in Wakefield, and to celebrate the occasion we’re working towards making this year’s events extra special. We hope there’ll be lots of exciting projects coming up and we’re really looking forward to seeing more projects from the other WAP members’ commissions in March too.

The upcoming Artwalk is on 31st January 5pm – 9pm, our artists in residence will have their new work on display at The Art House during the evening and there’ll be more information on their practice to see too.

Other great exhibitions to see on the Artwalk include The Art House’s current artist in residence, Rich White, who will be exhibiting work created during his month long residency.

At Neon Workshops, Black Hole by Richard William Wheater is the third installment from the artist’s ongoing rooftop neon text series called ‘Things People Say’ and Unity Social Pop Up Cafe Bar will be presenting the work of local artists Dave Foley and Jamie Oldroyd. You can find out about all the events taking place this January here.

We hope to see you there!