Sep 192013
 

Brooke in rehearsal

Brooke in rehearsal

My name is Brooke and I am the artist-in-residence! I am a devised performance creator and director!

Since coming to this beautiful island, many people have asked me about my art form. I find this question tricky as it doesn’t seem to fit neatly into one accessible category. I create and direct devised performance. My personal definition of devised theatre is performance created without a script or set beginning plan of what to create. Its building performance from scratch: just bodies and a concept.

Every process is different, just as every group is different. Generally the process starts with a concept. I love big, meaty and meaningful topics: boundaries, death, birth, and for this project – my personal body. Yet these big topics just stay intellectual ideas without rooting them in the body. So I work with performers to get concepts into their bodies. It’s taking an idea and making visceral. Sometimes it’s very direct: replaying a funeral, a visualization exercise reliving the facts of death. I can also be something completely abstract—building a patterned web of string as a set/installation in a piece about birth. The red string became a mixed metaphor for bloodlines, the womb and family constellation work.

Cementing ideas in the body is the most original and yet most difficult. I find it best to use the strengths in the room, but make sure to not have performers get into the heads. Once a performer stops an exercise to think about it, you’ve lost them. The best way to get performance in the body is to lead them through an exercise. A nice one is “tell me a story using your body about x”.

Sometimes you can be very mathematical: 3 actors in as many combinations as possible, each combination with it’s own story line, exploring different aspects of the huge concept. This gives structure to something to ground the organic process.

From there, you add the text. It can be written and brought into rehearsal or completely improvisational and in the moment. Both have their advantages.

Now from here, you do what needs to happen to make the work it’s best—sequencing, placing it into a space, sound, film.

The joy about devised theatre is the organic-ness and the potential for large rule-breaking creativity. At times it blurs the lines of performance art, theatre, music and contemporary dance. It makes it hard to tell people what I create! Warning: it may not have what you’re used to when you think of theatre.

 Posted by at 5:04 pm
Oct 222012
 

By Mary Sullivan Holdgrafer. Mary leads programs on creativity and other topics at The Haven and was a member of the selection committee for The Haven Artist’s Residency in 2012.

Click here for details and an application form for The 2013 Artist’s Haven Residency

Artist-in-residence programs are available throughout the world to give creative people time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. They may provide time for reflection, research or production. They may also provide opportunities for contact with artists within a new community. The Artist’s Haven residency is a new and exciting opportunity for artists of all disciplines. The program is co-sponsored by The Haven and the Gabriola Arts Council.

In celebration of the 30-year anniversary of The Haven in 2013, only artists 30 years of age and under are being invited to apply. As we begin the application process for the second Artist’s Haven residency I am thinking of ways to assist artists who wish to pursue this opportunity. There are things that applicants can do to present themselves well and make it easier for the peer review panel to assess their proposals. In a large array of proposals the best presented ones will have an advantage.

In the case of The Haven’s residency there are three stated expectations. First, that the artist have a plan of work; second, that there be a benefit to the Gabriola community and third, that the artist contribute work to The Haven. Applications should clearly address each expectation.

As you begin to consider your application, here are some questions for you to ask yourself. How will the residency enhance your development as a artist? How will it enrich the broader Gabriola community? How will it benefit The Haven? Consider these questions within the frame of a three-week residency.

Remember that producing an excellent application is a skill. Try to imagine what would be most helpful to the review panel. Think carefully about how to convey your ideas clearly and succinctly.

Applying for a residency is similar to applying for a grant. Applicants for grants have only a few minutes to convince a review panel that they should be seriously considered. Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi, owner of Nur Films, is frequently invited to sit on Canada Council grant review panels.  He suggests ensuring there is a clear intention for a proposed project and  that everything in the application package supports the intention.

Art Biz Coach Alyson B. Stanfield urges her clients to avoid clichés, favouring straight, clear language. She suggests that artists resist the temptation to overstate their experience or the quality of their work.

Here are some tips to help you produce a well-crafted application.

  1. Read and carefully follow the instructions.
  2. Ask for clarification if something is unclear.
  3. Present your best work and insure that the work relates to your proposal.
  4. Present a cohesive proposal.
  5. If necessary get help with writing or editing your proposal.
  6. Present your work in the best possible way (digital, video, print, etc.).
  7. Ask for letters of recommendation from people who can accurately comment on your work and experience generally and specific to your application.
  8. Don’t wait until the deadline to apply.
 Posted by at 11:07 am
Oct 062012
 

By Sande Waters

Here I am back at home and work, almost one week after the residency.  I have wonderful memories of my new friend and fellow artist in residence, Shirley Serviss, and our explorations on Gabriola Island, getting to know each other and our collaborative artwork.  I found the environment at The Haven and on Gabriola incredibly encouraging and supportive.  I have never experienced anything so positive before.

On Sunday, September 30th I presented an all day workshop for eight women on ‘Honouring their Divine Goddess’.  The workshop unfolded with a relaxed sharing and discussion by everyone as to what exactly the term Goddess meant and how one becomes conscious and honouring of femininity.  As the discussion took place I photographed each person with the objects and symbols they had brought and also created portraits that they felt conveyed their individual expression of femininity.  After lunch we proceeded to make a variety of art, which communicated each person’s ideas and expression of femininity.  Everyone really enjoyed playing with an assortment of materials and viewpoints.  All the while I was photographing the process of art making and the works created.  This was an amazingly fun and imaginative group of women who were really open to communicating both verbally and artistically.  I have made an individual photo journal of the workshop for each participant and mailed it to them, as well as emailing them all their individual photographs.  I hope they enjoyed the day as much as I did … it was a delightful experience.

I would like to send a thank you to everyone who made my stay at The Haven so special.  Hugs to Rachel Davey and Mary Holdgrafer who helped make everything run so smoothly.

 Posted by at 8:56 pm
Oct 062012
 

By Sande Waters

Last week in the Phoenix Auditorium I presented an artist talk about my work to a very supportive and interested Gabriola audience. The talk lasted about forty-five minutes as I worked my way through the ninety-five slides in my powerpoint presentation, explaining the thread of continuity through my work over the last twenty years. My new friend and fellow artist in residence, Shirley Serviss, read a poem she had written in response to one of my paintings titled ‘Goddess Listening to her Ovaries’. I am giving this painting to the Haven in appreciation of the amazing opportunity to be an artist in residence.

The Goddess Listening To Her Ovaries

Nice girls paint flowers not
goddesses with bright pink vulvas,
with large drooping breasts, with
flabby underarms and sizeable asses.

Nice girls don’t. Don’t know the names
of body parts between our waists and knees,
keep our legs crossed, not splayed open wide.
We hide our vulvas and vaginas, our
breasts, our bra straps, slips and garter
belts, the tops of our nylon stockings.

We try to please, bat our lashes, and smile
politely, keep our opinions, our rage,
caged inside. Nice older women play the same
game once our ovaries stop dropping eggs
every twenty-eight days like clockwork,
once our wombs stop nurturing life.

Or do we celebrate our aging bodies, silver
hair, our well-earned wrinkles, proudly
bare our arms and wear our rounded bellies
without worry, draw attention to our selves.

Shirley Serviss

 Posted by at 8:49 pm
Sep 292012
 

By Shirley Serviss

How did two weeks pass so quickly? Yesterday, I was berating myself for not accomplishing much during my time here, so I made a list of what I’d actually done. By the time I was on the second page of my list, I realized it had actually been a very productive time!

One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to get to know my companion Artist in Residence, Sande Waters. I found our discussions about art and life very stimulating. On the same page philosophically, our approaches are very different as she expresses herself visually and I use words. What happened as a result was that she ended up incorporating text into her artwork and I ended up writing a poem inspired by one of her goddess paintings, and adding words to a painting that she cut into pieces. My poetry is usually quite narrative so it was a stretch for me to write a poem that was primarily word play, using the way women’s bodies are often objectified and transforming those words into empowering ones. Actually hand-writing the words onto the page in indelible marker, after she had glued the images on, was a huge risk for me. What if I made a mistake? The beauty of literary art is that it can be easily revised or deleted. Visual art scares me because of its finality.

Sande assured me it didn’t have to be perfect.

So, now it’s time to re-enter my real life, which is always a difficult transition. Back to the classroom, back to marking assignments, back to meeting with patients at the hospital, back to trying to develop affordable housing for artists in Edmonton. I hope I have developed enough of a writing discipline here to carry on with my pilgrimage manuscript and continue writing poetry. A huge thank you to The Haven for the privilege of being here and to those of you who attended my workshop and presentation.

 Posted by at 5:20 pm
Sep 292012
 

By Sande Waters

Layers of sandstone, slowly eroding have inspired me to make a drawing.

Like the sandstone, culture has embedded layers of meaning that can be eroded with awareness and time. I have inserted text between the layers in my drawing. The text is slang words used to describe female anatomy, some words are slightly humorous, but most are negative. I am hoping that awareness of the impact of these terms will be impetus for change.

 Posted by at 4:19 pm
Sep 232012
 

By Shirley Serviss. Shirley is speaking about the Artists on the Wards program at The Haven on Saturday, September 29 at 7:00.

“Shirley!” Someone is calling my name, but nobody knows me here. Sande and I have been to the Farmer’s Market and have stopped at Folklife Village to get milk and wine. I turn as the woman who hailed me comes over and introduces herself: Kathy Ramsey, president of the Gabriola Arts Council. She recognized me from my photograph.

Sande has joined old friends for coffee, so I follow Kathy back into Artworks where she introduces me to Jaki Deere, one of the art therapists who will be working in the Gabriola Arts Council’s Creative Art Therapy Program. We quickly discover that one of the groups she will be facilitating is for people who have, or have recovered from, cancer. I have been working with cancer patients through Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute’s Arts in Healthcare program for a number of years. Jaki has lots of questions for me, and I want to know more about what their program involves, so we find ourselves upstairs having coffee as we volley questions back and forth until Sande comes looking for me.

There are numerous arts in healthcare programs across Canada, but little opportunity for us to connect and share information. Some of us belong to the Global Alliance for Arts and Health (formerly the Society for Arts in Healthcare), an international organization based in the U.S. but attending their annual conference, while very worthwhile, is often too expensive. Their medical system is completely different as are their funding programs. Fortunately, we now have a Canadian organization: Arts Health Network. Based in BC, the network has links to programs across Canada on their website (artshealthnetwork.ca). I hope it will allow us to more easily share ideas and experiences so that we can learn from each other and not have to keep starting from scratch every time we create an arts initiative.

Anyone who is interested in hearing more about the Artists on the Wards program of the Friends of University Hospitals in Edmonton, is welcome to attend my presentation at The Haven on Saturday, September 29 at 7:00. If you slip away early to attend Regina’s 60th birthday party at the other end of the island, I won’t be offended.

 Posted by at 8:16 pm
Sep 212012
 

By Shirley Serviss

“This is me,” one of the women in Eric Bibb’s songwriting workshop sang at Wednesday night’s concert.

Sande and I have been talking about the freedom of being ourselves at this stage of our lives — not having to be whom or what anyone else expects us to be. We have been discussing how older women in our society are treated as though we are invisible, how our changing bodies no longer fit the feminine image of beauty presented by the media if, in fact, they ever did. How we disparage ourselves: our round bellies and flabby underarms, instead of rejoicing in the strength and wisdom we have gained from our experiences and the confidence it has given us, the bodies that have supported us, perhaps borne children. Enjoying our sexuality now that pregnancy is no longer an issue. Having fun creating our own “look” unbounded by the fashion dictates and need to fit in.

We want to capture this somehow, in a joint project as it is something that interests us both, but haven’t quite figured out how to do that. Perhaps we could tie it into Energy — The Haven’s word for 2012. Although I, for one, am still waiting for the promised “post-menopausal zest.”

 Posted by at 2:57 pm
Sep 202012
 

By Sande Waters, artist in residence

This is heaven! Being able to work outside all day in such gorgeous weather. The peaceful silence is punctuated by ravens, woodpeckers, the wind in the trees and the distant ringing of a bell on a buoy offshore. Absolutely lovely and I feel very honoured and privileged to be at The Haven. Please come by and visit.

Early mornings and evenings I am working at my set up in the living room.


Some small warm up drawings representing a fairly typical style of my work. Shirley and I have been discussing doing a collaboration – it’s in the works! This is going to be challenging to stretch myself artistically to create narrative drawings, but very exciting to have a poem enhancing the image.

 Posted by at 9:59 am
Sep 202012
 

By Shirley Serviss, artist in residence.

I live surrounded by sound. This time of year the students are celebrating being back at school with all-the-beer-you-can-drink parties at the fraternity houses next door, down the street, and across the back alley. STARS helicopters hover overhead landing on the hospital roof a block away. Sirens from ambulances, fire trucks and police cars add to the cacophony of the busy streets and avenues nearby. I hear the comings and goings of condo neighbours: voices in the courtyard, doors closing, a child crying, a dog barking.

Here, at The Haven, there is silence. The occasional bellow of a ferry’s horn, drone of a boat or an airplane overhead. I can almost hear Sande’s brushstrokes, her fingers on her computer keys, it is so quiet.

I had forgotten the absence of sound — the sound of silence, as Simon and Garfunkel put it — the strain it puts on your ears as you listen, listen, listen, listen harder, trying to tune into the frequency of something. How, at first, you feel as though you are in a dead zone, before you start to pick up the smaller sounds of nature.

All I can hear are my thoughts, the words in my head. Exactly what a writer needs to hear.

 Posted by at 9:51 am
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