2010: A Year in Art (Mine and Other People’s)

Hannah with her broken arm

Me mid-June, with my freshly broken arm and super-attractive cast protector.

Mandatory end-of-year reflective blog post ENGAGE.

So, yep, here we are. And what the heck could you want more than my reflections on My Life in Art 2010 Edition? Exactly. This is going to be meandering and will probably miss things out, but is a rough account of art wot I have done, and art wot I enjoyed this 2010…

So, apparently I’ve actually done quite a bit of art stuff this year, despite the full-time PhD (and I managed to deliver two papers this year without having anything thrown at me, or getting thrown out) plus a broken arm in June… which still hurts actually. Half a year more and it should stop. Anyway, art!

In March I had my first full proper-play production at Theatre503 with Box of Tricks Theatre’s Word:Play – Awake was a short 15 minute conversation between a dying gamer and her avatar. It was an interesting experience, but I don’t really rate it as a piece of writing, I think I’d found a story but not really the right form; so I next moved from the stage to the street… In May I released my first experiment in sound-based pervasive work – Walk With Me, a 10 minute soundwalk for one to be done anywhere in the rain. I got some lovely feedback, handwritten notes, posted found items, and twitpics and photo albums from people who went on the walk. I then got to develop to 30 minutes worth of sound-walking for The Smell of Rain Reminds Me of You in July, which although admittedly breathed it’s first breath out of Walk With Me, was this time built out of memories collected from people online. It was commissioned by the Green Room as part of the Hazard Festival, and I fell slightly in love with Manchester as well as learning a lot about working with a group audience, not just a single person. APPARENTLY YOU CAN’T HERD THEM. Who knew. Then Fierce‘s Interrobang allowed me to push my practice beyond the soundwalk (which I didn’t want to get stuck in as a form) into a 4 minute piece of live art called Home’… OK it still used recorded sound. And was pretty damn authored. But it was a step, and I learnt a lot more about live art as a form. A brief art/academia mashup occurred for the TaPRA conference with A Soundwalk without Organs – a soundwalk done as part of a paper delivered which described the contemporary academic conference as completely useless in representing either academic thought or arts practice. FUN. Then it got to Autumn, and I got to make a soundwalk with a piece of entirely new music from the brilliant Lantern Music, Nightwalk York happened as part of the Take Over and Illuminating York Festivals in October/November. Finally towards the end of November Hibernate! a game for Larkin’ About took to the streets of Manchester, and I was at least able to push my practice a little bit further in terms of pervasive stuff…

I also attended and liveblogged Mayfest for Forest Fringe and Inbetween Time for New Work Network, did my first 2 guest lectures in January, and followed with a few speaking events, culminating in Shift Happens in July. I’ve got a lot better at speaking/teaching since the shaky beginning of this year, and hope I get the opportunity to do more of it in 2011.

This year coming I’d also like the opportunity to collaborate more with OTHER PEOPLE. I really don’t see enough of them other people types. Although I suppose it’s harder to fit in if there’s more than just me to cater for, I do often wish I had a collaborator to bounce ideas off, too often end up bouncing my head off a wall instead. Sometimes I think I’d like to be a part of some kind of company. But it’s all a long while off. 2012 (all going to plan) is when I’ll be PhD-ed up and looking for some kind of game-plan.

And what about other people’s work? Well here are some of my favourite things, where possible in twos (for no real reason at all).

Music – This year was tinged with a Scottish rockish feel, Frightened Rabbit captured me for the Summer, and We Were Promised Jetpacks came in time for Winter to ease me into the darker days. I got to see Frightened Rabbit live, but WWPJ haven’t ventured south yet from what I can see. Hope they will soon, because Scotland is expensive to get to.

Film – I saw Moon in January – seriously amazed this didn’t get ALL OF THE OSCARS. And the exquisite Bright Star is well worth a watch – I don’t care if you ‘don’t like films with bonnets and dresses in’, watch it. It’s a wonderful piece of writing/acting/direction.

Theatre – Although not a personal favourite, it was an absolute joy to introduce someone to theatre with Kneehigh’s Red Shoes – a friend who I discovered had never even seen a panto had their MIND BLOWN by what theatre could be. Highlights (more than two) otherwise divided between Yorkshire’s Unlimited, Third Angel and Red Ladder stage shows, and Bristol’s Duncan Speakman, Mayfest, and Inbetween Time festivals which woke me up to what more theatre and performance could be. London gets a look in for the one piece I could afford to get to (it was free and on a Sunday) – Hide and Seek’s adventures in and around the National. And then to Birmingham for The Author, which resulted in my FIRST PROPER QUOTE IN THE GUARDIAN. It made my parents forgive me for getting quoted in the Telegraph.

Apps/Games I finally forked out for World of Goo – and there’s an Android app called Spaghetti and Marshmallows which channels it a little bit which is worth a go if you can’t access iOS4 – I like them physical puzzlers. Papa Sangre OMG buy it now, and the Board Game Remix Kit, which is going to form the basis of basically the COOLEST DINNER PARTY YOU EVER HEARD OF early next year, are all worth the small amount of money you’ll pay for them.

Comics I woke up to comics care of the iPad my mum kindly bought me with some inheritance money – I could cart whole series across the many train journeys I take monthly; bliss. I kill Giants and Preacher are the two I’d pick out if I had to.

Book Serious? I haven’t read anything without pictures for pleasure for… since the PhD started. I try, and then I fall asleep. Incidentally I’m currently encountering the same problem with PhD books so it’s nothing personal (or genre-ific?)

And a resolution? Well last year’s to eat less meat got turned into 360 day a year vegetarianism, so I have high hopes for 2011’s SORT OUT YOUR MONEY.

Have a lovely 2011 all, thanks for reading the blog. Here’s to exciting new projects *raises glass*

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