Credit Katie Villa

PILES has been created by Exeter based performer Katie Villa, exploring family life in lockdown. Image Katie Villa. 

Hyperlocal project shows that “home is where the art is”

Artists from across Devon and Cornwall have harnessed their creative talents and shown that home is where the art is, to produce an inspirational set of new, small-scale arts commissions.

Ten freelance artists from across the West Country have create a series of playful and innovative projects, using inspiration only found in their homes, as part of a specially-designed local project.

The scheme, called Hyperlocal, was launched last month as a collaboration between Arts and Culture, University of Exeter, Exeter Phoenix, Kaleider and Exeter Northcott Theatre and designed to encourage local freelance artists to unleash their creativity.

More than 200 submissions were received, covering a wide range of artforms - spanning dance, film, installation, animation, graphics, jewellery, painting, sculpture, textiles, performance, print-making, photography, story-telling, poetry, music, and song.

The judging panel, comprising of representatives from all partner organisations, have now selected the 10 winning entries, with eight coming from Devon and two from Cornwall.

Sarah Campbell, Associate Director for Arts and Culture said: “The project partners were thrilled to receive so many high-quality applications for Hyperlocal. It was definitely a challenge to select just ten, and we are hugely impressed by the resulting submissions.

“The arts are a wonderful medium for exploring life’s highs and lows, and we hope Hyperlocal serves as something of a time capsule for this moment. The commissions are deliberately varied in format, nature and tone, exploring humour and sadness, wonder and anxiety. For audiences, we want Hyperlocal to offer a fun and thoughtful experience and perhaps a new perspective on the domestic environment.”

The winning submissions, each receiving £500 each, include a giant camera made out of a shed, atmospheric soundscapes, storytelling podcasts, poetry, illustration and puppetry performance.

Exeter-based Brendan Barry, a photographer and creator of one of the winning commissions called ‘Shed Camera’ said: “My work primarily involves gathering groups of people together and operating in confined spaces making photographs. Not something that is very advisable in the current climate! So what do you do when all your work for the foreseeable future is cancelled? Well you turn your shed into a camera of course”

Ellie Pellowe-Bailey, Devon based illustrator and designer who won with her commission added: “Exploring Mundania is a series which aims to examine the idea of constraints or a lack thereof, and the extent to which we 'perform' our routines on a day to day basis.

“What happens when we are allowed to exist without the constraints of being viewed? Speaking to lots of people (especially those who live on their own) it seems interesting how the current situation is causing our daily routines to unfurl in one way or another.

“These sequential illustrations follow a single person re-navigating their domestic space as a new and exciting world.”

A full list of the commissioned works and their artists can be seen below.  

From Devon

Shed Camera by Brendan Barry - A DIY project with a difference. Photographer Brendan Barry has turned his garden shed into a giant pinhole camera, and has documented its transformation. He has created a short film about how he did this, including insights into how to develop and fix film using everyday household materials.

Comfort Stop by Lucy Bell – Writer Lucy Bell has created a short story recorded as a podcast. Comfort Stop follows a grounded Devon tour guide who, confined to her flat for 12 weeks with her ex-husband, begins to express her frustrations to an invisible audience, via guided tours under her couch and through the tin cupboard.

RE-FORM by Somatic - Dual-heritage Sound Artist, Producer and DJ; Somatic (Somin Griffin-Dave) explores the tones and textures of sounds heard in his everyday environment on a micro and macro level and has combined them to create a soundscape that reveals a whole new world of sonic possibilities.

A Set of Poems Under Constraint by Mark Leahy - Echoing the restraints we are all currently having to live by, Writer and Artist Mark Leahy has created a series of short poems confined to a square format, which will be shared on his social media. The poems draw on Mark’s readings, news and other text entering his local environment over these uncertain weeks.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? By The Macbeth-Ripley Family - A family of artists collaborate to create a short vlog-turned-docudrama which will throw light on how the abnormality of life outside seeps into home life. With no new visitors, the family has to manufacture their company; a dinner guest brings humour and familiarity, as well as something of the uncanny, into a profoundly unfamiliar situation.

Exploring Mundania by Ellie Pellowe-Bailey - Illustrator Ellie Pellowe-Bailey has created a series of sequential illustrations depicting a single person re-navigating their domestic space as if it were a new and exciting world. As mundane objects gain a life of their own these illustrations will throw up questions about our approach to human connections and communication.

Pause… Repeat by Laura Porter - Artist Laura Porter is working with deconstructed clothing items donated by members of her household to create a small series of sculptural works inspired by the surfaces that are subliminally part of our everyday, which have now come under new scrutiny in the new ‘normal’ we are now living in.

PILES by Katie Villa - A glimpse of family life in lockdown from performer, theatre-maker and parent Katie Villa. Inspired by her four-year old’s obsession with destroying piles, this short photographic diary of parenting through a lockdown sees Katie create daily mini installations of piles of things she finds around the house, inspired by her environment and its limitations and pressures.

Cornwall artists and their works:

Concoctions by The Jam Collective with oho_co - The hyperlocality in this commission is a Cornish boatyard: a scene of constant adaptation, and home to a motley crew living across 30+ vessels. When a new pay-what-you-feel food-surplus shop opened on-site, members of Jam Collective, a group of artists and craftspeople, began making preserves to share with their neighbours in exchange for food stories. An improvised ‘jam’ of recorded sounds and conversation snippets provides an aural snapshot of this maritime ecology.

A Date with Doug by Jennie Rawling - The Borrowers meets Honey I Shrunk this Kids in this short playful puppetry performance from Cornwall-based puppeteer, actor and writer Jennie Rawling. Explore her immediate domestic environment from the point of view of a 10cm puppet, as they scale giant noticeboards and navigate around prickly houseplants on their way to a first date.

The winning commissions are now available to view by visiting the Arts and Culture website:  https://bit.ly/HyperlocalWorks

Date: 1 May 2020

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