I have just completed a three week collaborative residency with Gerry Turvey at Huddersfield Art Gallery.
Gerry Turvey: Dance, director, choreography.
Roger Bygott: Visual Artist, installation
June Gersten-Roberts: Video, installation
Vanessa Grasse: Choreographic director
Daniel Weaver: Sound and music composition
Gerry Turvey is a dance artist, who works in art galleries; she uses visual art as a starting point for movement and choreography. Her work and workshops have spanned over 30 years and have been seen in galleries in Leeds and Manchester as well as Iziko South Africa and The Hepworth Wakefield. She has shown work in Huddersfield Art Gallery since 1987.
Archive interview with Gerry Turvey and Ruth Gamble
Slide Show Documentation
The following slide show videos show three aspects of the residency: Development, Public Workshops and Performance. I will post video footage of the performance when it is edited. The sounds in the slide shows are all compositions by Daniel Weaver. The compositions were used as part of the sound installation and also for the final performances. There were three performances in the gallery, all fully booked (with 25-28 people attending each show).
Notes on the work
Through the threading and weaving of different art forms the artists used the personal and physical journey of Gerry Turvey’s life as the initial point to map her stories acknowledging how injury and physical trauma has brought about change in her life.
The concept of mapping and framing is a strong element of the installation, and of the performative work. The use of glass and window frames creates a sense of outlining and enclosing and develops a sense of strength as well as vulnerability. Written histories of the personal and the public are seen hanging in the space on luggage labels that celebrate the stories and lives of the many people that have added to the work. The use of film as part of the installation allows the viewer to witness images that could not be performed live. It gives closer scrutiny of physicality developing for a deeper and more intimate relationship for the audience. The film uses ideas of mapping, framing and layering, contextualising the theme and concepts. The final choreography was performed in the installation.
Visitors to the gallery were invited to witness the rehearsal process, talk to the artists and explore the installation. In addition we invited people to add their own body stories to the work by writing a memory on a luggage label. Visitors could listen to Gerry talking about her work with Huddersfield gallery since 1987, and see the images on a monitor in the gallery.
The project has been developed over a two year period as artist residencies at the MillSpace in Leeds in 2012, and as part of the Space, Time, Tools, Advice scheme at IOU theatre space Halifax during August 2013.
As visual and installation artist for the work I loved working collaboratively and found the cross-over of disciplines really satisfying.
For further information about the creative process of the Body Stories project please visit the blog where there is information, images and film footage.
Bodystories: Elements of the Installation
Two adjacent gallery spaces at Huddersfield Art Gallery. With central sliding doors between the two.
Luggage labels with Gerry Turvey and public’s Bodystories written on them.
Rasterized images of a) the luggage labels, b) still images of Gerry’s body from Gersten-Robert’s video. Mounted on A4 foam mount and hung with red thread.
Red thread. Blood, veins etc.
A3 Tissue prints from still images of Gerry’s body from June Gersten-Robert’s video.
Rolls of tracing paper: for drawing onto with chalk and pastel. Then projected onto. Hung in twos or threes on different planes with slight overlaps.
Old frames of various sizes. As part of installation and as objects for dance interaction.
Videos: developed by Gerry Turvey and June Gersten-Roberts at Armley Mill residency, Leeds.
Dance: choreography developed by Gerry Turvey and directed by Vanessa Grasse.
Music composed by Daniel Weaver. Four channel audio installation in each room.
TV/DVD player with headphones for showing of video archive and Gerry Turvey audio interview with Ruth Gamble. 10 minute video/slideshow on loop.
Table for a) extra luggage labels with invite for public to write own body story and place in installation, b) pens, c) comments book, d) further information.
A1 wall mounted exhibition information board.
Some personal evaluation points
(I will post a fuller collective evaluation later)
The final installation and performances worked. I think we worked towards an aesthetic and artistic conclusion whereby the dance and the installation elements (visual and audio) were coherently balanced. The three performances were fully booked (I assume the promotion and advertising worked). The public feedback was positive.
The primary idea was to create a performance mapping Gerry’s body stories over some 30 years of dance. I think we succeeded in doing that.
The two gallery spaces worked as linked, yet contrasting, spaces.
The video projections onto tracing paper rolls worked well.
The aesthetic of red thread and black and white prints worked well and was commented on in the feedback.
The rasters and tissue prints worked. (The tissue prints were in demand by the end of the show!).
The body stories luggage labels worked (both as an installation element and in terms of public participation). People did write body stories and read them. They were also successful in terms of engaging the public in dialogue.
Both the open and the HOOT workshops were successful and enjoyed by the participants
The artist’s talk/presentation was successful.
The most successful things
The collaborative process.
The final performances.
Seeing the piece develop over the period of the residency.
What was difficult/could have been better
Working with the limits of gallery lighting.
Limited technical support (in terms of time).
I think the archive slide show imagery could have been better edited as it had too much of the IOU residency. The information on the audio interview could have been better matched to the visuals. Maybe we didn’t need such a large screen ; a smaller wall mounted one might have been better?
The attendance for the performances was great but, I felt, a bit crowded. Could we have done more performances with fewer audience each time?
What we learned in the project
The collaborative process was productive, lively, and mutually beneficial in terms of learning.
Cross-disciplinary practice is very valuable.
There is a public interest in installation/dance.
Successive residencies (Armley, IOU then HAG) are really valuable. We built on the IOU residency and developed it considerably at Huddersfield Art Gallery. There is a sense that we could still develop the piece. This is also to do with learning about site specific modification and development. The original elements of the piece develop new relationships, meanings and layers as the project moves forward.