Below are some excerpts from The Garden Shaman visual movement poem directed, conceived and performed by Eli Acheson-Elmassry. I was responsible for the filming and the Video Production of this piece. See Also: The Garden Shaman and The Garden Shaman – Reflection.
Update – April 2019: Having completed this project I have retrospectively considered the lessons I have learned as a result of this experience. These considerations are recorded in The Garden Shaman – Reflection. Some video clips from the final piece are located here.
During November 2018 the artist Eli Acheson-Elmassry contacted me with an invitation to produce a video piece for a new piece of work. The Garden Shaman provides a metaphor for the connection that the garden has with the cyclical nature of life and death. The natural processes that occur in the garden along with the assistance we provide to the garden to enable these life cycles to continue.
Attached to the cloak are latex moulds of commonly used garden tools and a painting of flowers that remind Eli of her childhood. A piece of work that invokes memory of life and death
My role is the project is to provide video production services, shooting and editing footage to produce an ultimate video piece with a duration of at least 10 minutes.
We began the project with an initial site visit. The filming was to take place in Eli’s back garden. During this visit, we discussed Eli’s ambition for the project and initial ideas for filming. I also shot some footage to give Eli an idea of how the cloak appeared when being filmed.
The weather was cloudy but sunny for this initial visit and it would later prove difficult to get the same weather conditions – however as it turned out with each day we recorded footage the weather was perfect for us to progress the project and the filming further.
During this initial visit, we noticed that the silky nature of the fabric produced interesting light and shadows in the sunlight – with the light behind us – yet appeared very flat in colour with the light ahead of us. The wind also improves the appearance of the cloak as well.
On the second site visit, the intention was to shoot as much footage as possible. Weather – a much duller day and very still – not so good but still recorded some useful footage. One issue that appeared in the resulting footage was that some of the images were over exposed. Having checked the camera, I did conclude that this was due to the light on the day – however it does require more investigation. Overall, though this issue affected only a small number of clips Going to use Premiere Pro to fix the over exposure for footage that is used.
This video and photography shoot then led to the first lot of video editing. Being aware that this is a collaboration with another artist, I decided to err on the side of caution and not heavily edit the clips at this point. I decided to create a collection of clips intended for use as a starting point for a review conversation. Initially because of these clips, it became apparent that another site visit to shoot footage was required.
Around a week later I shot some additional footage – this was the best day weather wise so far. Not too dark, not too bright and lots of wind.
At this stage we took the opportunity to review all the footage taken to date and for me to get a better understanding of Eli’s vision for the project. A successful discussion with a definite way forward and I now have a clear idea of what is required in terms of the video editing.
In January 2019 I then set about creating a collection of short video clips. I will then use these clips later to create the final video. Considering the fact that there is a considerable amount of footage available to use it has been important to be super organised with the footage to make it easier to access and use in the future.
Because of the amount of footage and the extent of editing required, I had be been particularly well organised. As part of this process I have created a collection of smaller video clips which I can use at a later date to create the final video piece.
The following points were key considerations to be taken during the video edit. For some video clips the speed was increased or decreased accordingly. For others reverse speed was used to create interest. Some content was zoomed and/or flipped either horizontally or vertically and mirror images were produced for some. Some of the sounds were amplified in the footage to create a sense of boldness, particularly with the digging sounds. Layers were also created in the audio by duplicating and moving sounds around to improve the audio experience of the video piece.
Finally, some experimentation with different video effects was used to demonstrate different ways of looking at the video material. Currently I’m not uploading any video clips as this project is ongoing – however below are some of the stills taken from the video clips that have video effects applied to them.
Having reviewed all the video clips, I’d produced March 2019 marked the stage where I’m putting the final video together. Having discussed with Eli at length her ideas for a sequence I have divided the content into 9 sections. This is to make the video content more versatile and more applicable to multi screens if required. For this stage though the draft video provided to Eli is one complete video with all the clips in the required sequence.
Initially the video was meant to be around 10 minutes but Eli was so pleased with the footage that the intention is to use as much of the footage as possible. The result 25 minutes and 40 seconds- the longest video I have produced to date. Two review meetings later and a final video was complete.
After two more review meetings and finalising the edits required by Eli, at the end of April, I finally got to a place where there is a final video which I am really proud of and is a good testament to the video production skills and expertise I have brought to the project.
Keen to respect the integrity of the project I am only showing images that have been placed onto Social Media by Eli. Below are some of these images from the final video produced.
I decided to make the most of the opportunity for a visit to London and stay for two days. After researching current exhibitions, I wanted to visit the Space Shifters exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, the Tate Modern and join the group from college at the Victoria Miro to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition. These two days became a moment in time where I was able to see artwork that alters the perception – definitely a mind altering two days.
My first stop was the Space Shifters exhibition at Hayward Gallery. Warned as I entered, that the exhibition is design to make you feel disorientated, the Space Shifters exhibits certainly met that objective. An awe-inspiring collection of work from 20 international artists with eye-catching sculptures and installations throughout.
Alicja Kwade’s piece WeltenLinie (2017) is a steel structure that uses double-sided mirrors and cleverly situated objects. I found myself tentatively navigating the structure, not always sure that I was looking through the object or at a mirror. The structure seemed to become almost a landscape in its own right with my perception of the space being somewhat greater than my perception of the objects.
A turntable originally used by the American military and repurposed into the Untitled Parabolic Lens by Fred Eversley. The process used by Eversley to create these parabolic sculptures intrigued me. Using a potter’s wheel to create moulds partially filled with liquid polyester that forms a symmetical curve once cool and hardened. Being able to look through this piece as well as at this piece gave the potential for different perspectives that would be continually changing depending on the light and the people around the piece. I really did feel this was a glass piece when I first saw it – reminded me very much of a prism that I had as a child.
The main reason I wanted to attend the Space Shifters was to see Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama. A collection of stainless steel orbs as an installation. First displayed in the Venice Biennale in 1966 as a large-scale intervention, with the plastic mirrored spheres sold for two dollars a piece. A surreal landscape of glistening reflective orbs I found myself drawn into the reflective nature of the piece, attempting to identify markers in the room within the reflective surfaces.
Fascinated by architectural structures and gallery spaces, I always enjoy visiting the Hayward for the purely enjoying the space that this gallery embodies. The Square Tube Series by Charlott Posenenske blended effortlessly with the architecture of the building, so much so that it would have been easy to overlook the piece as part of the building. Prefabricated galvanised steel units that at first impression seem to have always been there, as part of the fabric of the building – yet on closer inspection they follow routes that lead to dead ends – open into nothingness and simply do not make sense – subverting the space that they inhabit.
Having seen the piece 20:50 (1987) by Richard Wilson when it was previously exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, I was not even sure I would queue to see this piece. However, in the end, I did queue and it was very worth it. The two viewings gave me completely different experiences. At the Saatchi Gallery, I had viewed this piece from a balcony above that gave me the essence of the reflection in the engine oil, but little else.
At the Hayward, however I unwittingly walked along the inclining narrow passageway into the centre of the room I immediately experienced a sense of vertigo. This was strange for me, as it is not something that usually bothers me. I really had to struggle in my mind to remind myself that I was standing on the floor and not on the edge of a parapet far above the reflections of the ceiling around me, even if that is how it felt.
The Sky Mirror, Blue (2016) by Anish Kapoor dominates the outside sculpture terrace. I had plenty of time to watch this piece as I queued for 20:50. This concave mirror turns the space around it upside down and appears almost like a portal into a different dimension as we can look through the piece at the reflected skyline above.
In particular, I wanted to re-visit the Artist Room for Joseph Beuys, however found a few interesting things to see whilst I was there.
The end of the Twentieth Century (1983–5) by Joseph Beuys an installation of basalt rocks roughly measuring between one and two and half metres in length with a cone shaped hole drilled into one end. The holes smoothed and voered in felt before the previously removed polished basalt placed back into each of the holes. Prior to Beuys death in 1986, the work had not be installed.
This work suggests a relationship between the natural ancient world and the new world that we live in today. His ecological concerns during this final stage of his life may have been of influence in this piece.
I happened upon The Clock (2010) installation by Christian Marclay quite by accident. Prior to viewing the piece I had no real understanding other than it was a film called The Clock. I soon realised that this montage of film was running in local time and I then realised that the film was a 24-hour piece. The film covers many thousands of film clips collected from decades of cinematic history. I became quite intrigued. Not only by the fact that the film serves as an accurate way to measure time, but by the painstaking research that must have taken place prior to the film being produced. I sat for 45 minutes watching this film and could have quite easily sat for many hours – quite an achievement for someone who gets bored easily.
The Between Object and Architecture
The Between Object and Architecture exhibit at the Tate modern shows a collection of sculptural pieces in a way that is more engaging for the viewer. Given my interest in architecture, the geometric shapes and configurations were interesting for me to see.
The artists in this exhibition used materials found in the everyday buildings around us; some materials used were from construction and others from building sites and the street. The aim was to provide a more direct encounter with the sculptural objects for the viewer.
The Passing Winter (2005) by Yayoi Kusama was the piece that I wanted to see prior to visiting the Between Object and Architecture exhibit. I was intrigued to know how the process of making for this piece.
A glass cube placed on top of an x-shaped pedestal, which is lined on the inside and outside with mirrors. Each side has three circles cut into the glass revealing an infinite world of circles in the middle of the cube. The circles seem to float with the surface altering depending on the position of viewing and the light in the room.
I really enjoyed being able to interact with the Pavilion Suspended in a Room I (2005) by Chrisina Iglesias. You are encouraged to navigate through the latticed panels providing a sense of being enclosed and detached from the rest of the room. Initially the panels appear to be matting suspended from the ceiling, yet on closer inspection words begin to appear in the panels. These words are taking from the science fiction novel
Rendezvous with Rama (1973) by Arthur C Clarke. This piece relates to a series by the artist known as Celosia (Spanish for jealousy or slated shutter/blind).
Drawn to the piece, Stack (1975) by Tony Cragg, and fascinated by the every-day materials used to create a solid cube by packing them together, wood, magazines and building materials making the cube personify the layering found in geological structures.
A suggestion towards our relationship with the natural world and the impact of man on nature, using the man made to represent something you would see in the natural world.
Victoria Miro Gallery
I was very fortunate to visit “The Moving Moment when I went to the universe” exhibition by Yayoi Kusama at the Victoria Miro gallery. A collection of works from the My Eternal Soul series, a series of bronze sculptures (pumpkins and flowers) and the large mirrored infinity room.
On arrival we were ushered three at a time into the “Infinity mirrored room – my heart is dancing into the universe, 2018” to spend 60 seconds in the otherworldly installation. The inifinity room with mirrored walls filled with paper lanterns with changing coloured lighting inside. Not enough time to fully appreciate this room and feel the effects that it might have on you, however even just that short space of time was enough to make you feel you had stepped into another realm.
The Bronze Pumpkins exhibited reference the cultivation of seeds by her family and her fascination with the natural world. A plant that appears repeatedly throughout her work, appearing in prints, sculptures, installations, paintings and environmental pieces.
In the garden were the painted bronze Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky (2018).
Upstairs in the gallery were paintings from My Eternal Soul series. These large-scale canvases now form part of a collection of hundreds of works. They are surreal and colourful with a strong representation of repeating patterns reminding me almost of ancient populations and shamanic symbology with geological structures and patterns.
Having not painted for some time, these paintings have inspired me to pick up a paintbrush again and continue to paint from my imagination, akin to the paintings of my earlier years.
I was especially interested in the exhibition by Heidi Bucher combining some of her latex works created during the last two decades of her life including films that document her whilst working with the latex pieces. Known for her casting of room interiors, objects, clothing and the body using latex skinnings. The skinnings create a lasting physical impression of something that held a memory for her. What I found interesting was the process of lining the objects with a gauze or mesh before adding the liquid latex and removing when almost dry. The addition of the gauze creates a stronger final material for display.
Nov 2018: Update: Unfortunately I was unsuccessful on this occasion, however the panel did pass on this message to me which instilled some hope for the future.
The panel wishes to share the following feedback: Although this artist is early career, it was a strong application outlining a relevant and appropriate approach to the project. However, we received several strong applications which allowed us to explore pairing different artists together, and in the event the panel decided to award the commission to the collaboration they felt would offer the greatest potential.
October 2018: I decided to apply for the Syria Art Collaboration taking place between November 2018 and January 2018 at Pontio.
Proposal for SYRIA.ART + CARN: Wal Wen (White Wall) Commission
For this collaboration I foresee many online discussions using the online tool best for both artists that will enable the proposal for the work to be developed collectively and enable communication for both artists online with Pontio, while the artist in Wales will be able to visit Pontio in person when required. This process will begin with some initial communications that enable the artists to establish a way of working that is appropriate and suitable for both people, taking into consideration the time difference of 2 hours.
A collaborative project between two cultures that has the intention of building bridges between those cultures has the potential to examine the similarities in our every-day lives and the environments and the landscapes that we live in.
The need for a sense of belonging and identity is inherent in all of providing security in knowing who we are and where we came from. As we grow the landscape around us changes, our impression of such and our memories also become fuzzy and altered.
Significantly, massive change in an environment can be brought about through the influence of the governmental decisions of the time. In their wake landscapes are destroyed for the greater good and all that remains are clues that allude to the environment that once was. The way that we view and interpret the landscape and environment around us can provide us with a metaphor that represents our identity and the loss of associated memories through the passing of time and changes made in the name of progress. Our understanding of the history of the land that we inhabit also affects our interpretation of our environment.
In reflecting on the changes in the landscape as an analogy for those memories that might be lost forever, we can reflect on the beauty of what remains and the strength that keeps us in our human experience moving forward in life.
Similarities can also be drawn between collective memory and personal memory in relation to world affairs. Our perceptions of world affairs are likely to be similar but different given our cultural differences and the fact our exposure to media is different. Yet I imagine our perceptions to be not to dissimilar given that we are still two people living a human experience in the world today.
Footage can be gathered from both Syria and the UK and amalgamated to become a cohesive collaborative artistic effort that demonstrates the building of bridges between the two communities.
Digital Media is a constantly expanding industry sector that provides an effective method for visual communication and can be used to represent the shared experiences of communities across the world in the internet age that we live in.
Having successfully used Skype Messenger to communicate with people all over the world and pre-recorded video loaded to YouTube for people in countries where Skype video is not available, this provides the advantage of saved chats in Skype and video content to reflect upon collectively when required.
The following images were also supplied in support of my application:
Below is the supporting information I provided by email.
Currently, I am in the early stages of a Masters in Fine Art Digital at Camberwell College. I completed my Bangor University degree at Coleg Menai in July 2018 with a First Class*. Primarily focussing on photography, video and projection.
Since 2016 I have spent time producing digital artwork that hopefully provides an empathic reflection on diaspora, displacement of community and the reasons for this displacement and the effects on the community as a whole. During this time, I produced work relating to these issues in a variety of contexts; the evacuation of children from Liverpool to Caernarfon in World War 2, the effects of war on the Syrian population and the displacement of a community at Tryweryn in North Wales.
In my own practice, I am currently moving from the subject matter of displacement to reflect on issues of collective memory and personal memory where I am looking at changes in the landscape through building and progression and how these might reflect our inner experience of memory and how these may fade or alter over time, a displacement of an inner kind.
Unfortunately, I am only English speaking – having been taught Welsh to O level many years ago, lack of use has meant that I cannot say I speak Welsh fluently, only a few words. Born in Scotland and raised in Wales has given me the feeling of being Welsh without actually being Welsh. Although I cannot say I speak the Welsh language I am fully supportive of the continuation of Welsh speaking throughout the community.
I have attached a current CV and a proposal for the collaboration project along. Three images are attached and the following links are also provided as part of my supporting visual material.
The following websites all provide examples of my work.
I am aware that being in the early stage of my career you may require a supporting letter. In lieu of this, I can ask my degree tutor to provide a reference if required.
It was a pleasure to be a part of the John Street Project at LLAWN in Llandudno in September 2018. Below are some images of my work on display.
July 2018 Update: Unfortunately I was not successful on this occasion and on reflection I do see that I was probably competing against much more experienced artists and that I have little experience in Community Engagement. However the organisers of the Artist Residency will be contacting me directly when the next round of applications opens.
June 2018: I was really keen to apply for the ELAN Valley Artist Residency in 2018, particularly given my recent work on Tryweryn and my desire to continue the theme.
My Application Statement is outlined below along with the supporting images:
Weaving traditional with contemporary, historical with current, I am interested in the integrative nature of digital technology as a way of extending the media used as part of my visual art practice. Particular processes of interest are Printmaking, Sculpture, installation and digital art practices, film and photography. Possessing a keen sense of attention to detail and a strong research ethic. I have recently focussed my artwork around social and/or cultural issues reflecting on historical events that continue to be of relevance in today’s society. In particular, there are two projects that are relevant to this application.
The first body of work relating to the Elan Valley Project comprises artwork that was completed in Spring 2017 for a student exhibition about Caernarfon at Galeri, Caernarfon. This piece, inspired by Hannah Hoch, explores the historical events associated with the evacuation of children from British inner cities during the Second World War.
Many children were evacuated from Liverpool to towns and villages across the North Wales Coast, including Caernarfon. This story, although historical has relevance today, given the issues of migration and displacement that continue to dominate the media. Historical artefacts were gathered from the time period of World War 2 that related to the theme of the evacuation of children. Primarily a suitcase, a gas mask and a child’s jacket, leaflets and photographs.
To provide some clarity to the research, I decided to assemble a mood board. This provided the impetus to produce an assemblage of historical artefacts, photographs and leaflets from the time. This was all stitched together in the form of a map of the UK, with the stitching closely resembling train tracks. I also produced an accompanying book and video that reflected on an unaccompanied child’s journey from Liverpool to Caernarfon. After reading many personal accounts of these events. I devised a collection on bi-lingual statements that appear to reflect the general sentiment felt by the evacuees, their families and their prospective foster communities. These were subsequently used in both the video and the book.
Determining a theme that linked the historical events of the Second World War with current situations piqued a new found research interest. Honouring our heritage by remembering historical events that continue to be of relevance today. These events often determine the future, however progression is sometimes slow and similar situations or events continue to arise.
The next body of work of pertinence to the Elan Valley Residency comprises the artwork I completed during the Spring of 2018. A site-specific piece about the construction of the reservoir Llyn Celyn, flooding the Tryweryn Valley and demolishing the village of Capel Celyn in the process. This piece represents a continuation of an ongoing theme relating to displacement. In this case, the passing of the Tryweryn Bill that lead to the displacement of the village residents to provide water to Liverpool. Approximately 70 years earlier an Act of Parliament had been passed to provide water to Birmingham from the Elan Valley.
Initial focus for this project was on the effects of this controversial scheme on the local community. Of particular interest were the protests and rallies that took place against the Tryweryn Dam project that ultimately led to calls for devolution in Wales.
Inspired by the artist Tim Davis, who uses film, photography and installation to respond to and represent specific sites of interest. Davis also produced a piece called Capel Celyn. He cast 5000 wax nails based on a rusty nail found on the bed of Llyn Celyn during a period of drought.
Many visits to Llyn Celyn were undertaken so that the current aspect of this piece of work was a response to the site itself. Found Objects of note were taken to the site and photographed to create a record of site-specific intervention and response. This is a line of research that I intend to continue.
Two Visual Boards were created using original media photographs to describe the sense of emotion that the project had provoked in the local community. These mood boards were then photographed, and the photographs used in a 5-metre Digital Collage that seeks to remember the protests that took place at the time. Additional Banners were also printed as an accompaniment.
The essence of the work I have created for the Tryweryn work has formed the basis for the ideas presented for the proposed community engagement for the Elan Valley Project. The proposed programme of events I would create for the Elan Valley Project could become a template that can be used in the future for other site specific works with community engagement.
I first became aware the Elan Valley Project when researching the construction of the dams in the Elan Valley and was immediately interested. The Elan Valley Project would give me the opportunity and experience of working external agencies in an artistic capacity.
Having recently been awarded a First Class BA (Hons) Fine Art, I am eager to develop my skills and a practising Fine Artist and the experience of being an Artist in Residence for the Elan Valley Project will help me to achieve this. I am really excited at the thought that I might be able work as an Artist in Residence for this project, achieving a personal goal in the process.
I anticipate that it presents many opportunities for personal growth, development and collaboration particularly with my desire to work further with site specific art and the creation of temporary interventions for the purposes of photography, video and printmaking – extending the media beyond traditional artistic processes.
In my Technical career of some 20 plus years I have worked as a Software Trainer providing training and workshops. I also trained as a Yoga Teacher during this time and taught Yoga for a period of 10 years delivering classes and workshops. Moving forward, I am keen to begin developing workshops and events as an Artist in my local area, improving my Community Engagement Skills and Curatorial Skills.
I was also asked to “outline ideas of how you may engage with local communities and the legacy of your time in the Elan Valley”
Below are my initial thoughts on a programme of community involvement in my proposed residency at the Elan Valley Project.
I anticipate that over the six months I would stay in the area on approximately 10 occasions to develop art work and run interaction with the local schools and community centres in the form of a community project that culminates in an exhibition of digital fabric banners. The artistic purpose of the project would be to create a greater awareness of the integration of digital technology with more traditional artistic processes.
A programme of events and workshops would be developed to run in the local school community and the local adult community consecutively. The intention of the workshops would be to develop a collection of community artwork that could be included in the digital fabric banners.
A series of workshops where people can create vision boards reflecting the Elan Links goals and the intention of the Elan Valley Project a given theme throughout the programme of workshops. The overall intention of this programme is to create an exhibition of banners that reflect the community response to the given theme. The community will be encouraged to take photographs and create drawings and paintings of the area in between sessions that they can use as part of the visual boards.
Once the workshops come to an end, I envisage photographing each of the boards individually to create the digital imagery to be displayed as banners.
I can provide peer to peer mentoring at the community centre for those interested in improving their digital skills or those who need help and assistance with their digital technology. This is an important way that I can share my digital knowledge on to fellow artists, members of the local community and visitors to the area.
Ongoing throughout the project, I would hope to have access to a wall in the community centre that could be the focus of the project where ongoing work could be displayed.
To bring the project to a culmination, I would create a collection of digital collages that can then be printed on fabric.
A competition would be run for the best three visual boards for both the schools and the local community groups; these would then be printed as individual fabric banners and included in the exhibition.
A Social Media campaign will also be run throughout the project with regular posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter along with a weekly blog post.
I was fortunate enough to be nomatinated for inclusion the the regional degree show, Nascent Inclinations exhibition at Ty Pawb in Wrexham, an exhibition of work from emerging artists across the North West region of England and from North Wales. Contributing Universities were Wrexham Glyndwr University, Liverpool Hope University, Aberystwyth University, University of Chester, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and Liverpool John Moores University.
I also was asked to be the representative for Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and the liason with the organisers at Ty Pawb, providing information such as Artist Statements, Artwork Specifics and Images for the nominated artists, myself, Jasmine Dawson and Gwenllian Griffith to Ty Pawb and organsing the collection of work, both before and after the exhibition.
I produced the following pdf with details of all the artists work, so that it would be easier for the organisers at Ty Pawb to see the work available at Coleg Menai.
Below are the initial details put forward of my own work.
- Three fabric banners, 1 measures 5m x 1.4m (h), 2 measure 1.4m x 1m (h)
- Three Photographic Prints each measuring 841mm x 594mm (h)
- Artist Book measuring 30 cm square.
- Two Video Pieces, one is currently projected the other on a TV, can be provided on DVD or USB if required. Below are the links to the videos on Vimeo.
- Floor Piece – this is also attached to a wall with plumbing fixtures and measures approximately 3m square, if this is required.
Below are images of my work on display at Ty Pawb.