Adventures in The Space: Last week's Lunchtime Talk
This Friday we were joined in the Studio by Sarah Pickthall and John Durrant part of the team behind PUSH ME, a collaboration led by Watershed.
PUSH ME is a series of 90-second films comissioned for The Space; a multi-platform initiative by the BBC and Arts Council England. The films document the journey of 12 artists working on projects for Unlimited, the UK’s largest festival celebrating arts, culture and sport by deaf and disabled people. They explore how the artists are pushing their creative practise and how their work pushes others.
PUSH ME was co-curated by Sarah Pickthall and Jo Verrent who founded the organisation Sync. They aim to change disabled and deaf people’s relationships with leadership, by offering support, opening dialogue and designing leadership interventions.
The production and filming of PUSH ME was led by John Durrant the Creative Director of multi award winning production company BDH.
Sarah and John said the aim of PUSH ME was to change the way that disability and creativity are viewed throughout the cultural sector. They wanted the films to show the quality of the work rather than focusing on the artist’s personal stories.
They decided to film the artists at the beginning and the midpoint of their journey as they felt this would enable them to capture the development of each project and help as a promotional tool for the artists work at Unlimited. John then showed some of the films available on The Space so far and explained the artist’s projects.
Creating the Spectacle! is a series of performances that take place underwater by performance artist Sue Austin in her wheelchair. Sue’s performances aim to generate a widespread public debate about the nature and value of contemporary arts practice shaped by the experience of disability. Sue spent six months learning to dive before spending a week filming in Egypt’s Red Sea. On the 31 August she will be showcasing her performance at Osprey Leisure Centre, Portland. Footage from Portland and Egypt will be shown at the Southbank Centre during Unlimited.
Box of Frogs is a show with a difference; five acrobats and two musicians play with the audience’s expectations of mental ill-health and performance, against a backdrop of filmic illusions. The show is based on Mish Weaver’s personal experience of bipolar disorder and illustrates her take on the feelings, thoughts and behaviour that are part of the condition through the medium of circus. Box of Frogs is showcasing at the Southbank Centre on the 2 & 3 September before touring around the country.
'Irresistible' is a musical experience from Jez Colborne that combines alarm sirens, other non-traditional instruments and singing voices to create a breathtaking choral work. The performance radically reworks the mythical story of Odysseus and how he narrowly survived the devastating Sirens who used their hypnotic song to lure sailors to their death. Jez draws on his skills as a composer, musician to create a breath-taking symphony and performance that will take over the Royal Festival Hall on 8 September.
Sarah explained that accessibility was a major consideration when creating PUSH ME. The team felt it was important, given the subject matter for all films to be made available with subtitles and audio descriptions. In the initial stages, however, the platform didn't support the subtitling programme that they used. When they identified the problem they were able to work with The Space to integrate the software they needed. When it came to adding audio descriptions it became apparent that the 90 second films had been constructed in such a way that there were few gaps in the audio that could be used to audio commentary. They resolved this by making bespoke videos with much of the description inserted in the opening sequences to make sure they were able to deliver the same quality of content. John played the audio described version of Jez’s film Irresistible and after watching the film some of the audience said they preferred that version for it's own aesthetic qualities.
Sarah then explained that PUSH ME has been a really exciting project to work on because it has changed the way the artists think about the promotion of their work. When asked what would success look like for them they reflected that one of the ways in which it has already been successful is the way in which it has started to cause arts organisations think about how they can make content accessible.
You can watch the PUSH ME films on The Space here. To find out more about PUSH ME including a blog with insights into the artist's work, visit www.pushmeplease.co.uk
Unlimited is taking place at the Southbank Centre between 30 August – 9 September. You can find out more and book tickets here.