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By: Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva
I have been offered a one year fixed term post of Artist in Residency in the Faculty of Media, Art & Communications. I will be based at Gloucester Cathedral and have been provided with a living accommodation and a studio in close proximity to the Cathedral. I will be also required to work and do approx. 30 days of teaching at the University of Gloucestershire.
# 1 [24 June 2008]
I have now moved to Gloucester and have officially started the residency. Well I actually moved last Sunday the 15th and slept in this new house for two nights but had to go back to Brighton on Tuesday. The move was good and not much of a problem, but managed to forget most of the things that I need. Luckily Gloucester is not to far and I can go back and collect things as and when I need them.
Is been a very busy time for me at the moment, too much going on. I know I shouldn’t complain I should be happy that I could work and do my work.
I was asked by the Director of the National Gallery in Macedonia to propose a project for the 53rd Venice Biennale, which will be assessed by the Ministry of Culture in Macedonia. I believe there are 10 other artists who have been proposed to give an idea and this will then be taken to a shortlist and one lucky person will be going to Venice next year. This is an amazing opportunity but am trying no to get too high about it, as there is still long way to go. I hope to find by the end of the summer who will be the lucky one.
So this is why I had to go back to Brighton to try and finish the proposal and send it to the NGM on time. The office here in the new house wasn’t really set up, I didn’t have broadband and my laptop was being cleaned and reinstalled by a friend in London.
Now I am back in Gloucester I have started slowly to get things working. I have an office and a desk in my new house with working computer and I can get on line. Is amazing how much depending we become to technology and find that we cannot do with out it. Isn’t that remarkable, how did I manage just few years back when I didn’t really have all this technology!!!!
On my first day here, yesterday I really got to know people and they new of me very quickly. I managed in 1 hour after arriving to break the front door key. It was very weird how it happen, I just put the key into the lock to open the door and tried to turn it and the key snap, but the bit of the key stayed inside the lock, so you can just imagined…. And all this happened just after I’ve been back to the office where I had a meeting and have forgotten my mobile, so I when to collect my mobile and in 5 min when back to ask for help. Luckily they managed to get the reminder of the key out without calling for locksmiths.
So not a very good start of the week but got to know few people.
# 2 [8 July 2008]
This is my third week at Gloucester now and I am slowly settling in. I’ve managed to gather few bits of furniture for the house and have set up my studio. Feels more comfortable now and I can start working.
Every day I have been popping into the Cathedral, to look around and get the feel for the place. They have many volunteers that work and help around the Cathedral, so I have been meeting new people daily, feels like I go around and keep introducing myself but hopefully I’ll soon meet and get to know all.
I had my first meeting with Andrew Stonyer, who is my contact at the University of Gloucestershire, yesterday and when very well. We when out for lunch but this was tricky as there are not many places in Gloucester where you can get a snack, so we end it up in Café Nero.
I have, also started to work on a new project, which will be exhibited at Unit 2 Gallery in Whitechapel, London, in October 2008.
Tomorrow, for the first time I am going to the University of Gloucestershire, at the Pittville Campus in Cheltenham, to loot at they studios and see if there is a possibility I can use one of they spaces for the production and making of the work for the exhibition in London.
# 3 [25 July 2008]
Sorry haven’t written in days but not much news to say.
I have been waiting to hear on my funding application to Grants for the Arts and found out that this was not successful. The funding was going to help with the development of the work for the commission at Unit 2 Gallery in London, but as usual the ACE have other priorities, and now I have to work around the clock to support and make this work.
I did got upset about not getting the funding but what really upset me was that the ACE used a temporary officer who assessed my application and took me two weeks to track him down to get some feedback and all I got was that he no longer works at the ACE and he is not in a position to give me more detailed feed back than I have already received by letter.
New press just came out regarding this project:
# 4 [22 August 2008]
Two weeks of holiday, which was amazing and long waited for, and now back to madness, back to work.
We drove by car to Croatia which was amazing. On the way down we got the late ferry to Calais and slept for few hours in Northern France.
Then drove strait to Slovenia, with few breaks, and about 10pm stopped in a hotel just outside Ljubljana. We were in a hurry, as we want it to spend few days with my sister before she and her kids left back for Macedonia. We spend four amazing days together, where everyday we when to and visited different locations on the Northern part of the Croatian Adriatic. We were all staying with family friends in Rijeka, which is a beautiful old city. These all area is beautiful and has incredible history.
Here we found a nice quite campsite and stayed for two nights.
On Thursday morning we got waken up by the bad storm and poring rain and we decide it was time to move on. We drove to Austria and found another campsite up on the northwest corner and the boarder with Germany, small beautiful place called St Johan’s.
On Friday morning drove through the a poring rain, through Germany where the temperature just changed from 30 to 12 degrees Celsius and felt like we when from nice hot summer strait to winter in less then five hours. This was a horrible wet day we drove through Germany without stopping; we stayed in a motel just outside Saarbrücken.
On Saturday morning after a small breakfast we drove to Valenciennes where we met with my friends, (which I met through my residency, and when to Adeline’s parents for gorges dinner. We eat so much that was impossible to move, we had a five course dinner… didn’t know I can eat that much.
After this lovely day we had to say our goodbyes and get to the ferry. We were very lucky our ferry was at 12.45am but PO Ferrys let us on the 10.45pm and we were home by 1.00am. Home sweet home.
Now back at Gloucester and back to cleaning more chicken skins.
# 5 [16 October 2008]
My tomorrow has turned into almost two month. It has been very busy getting the work together for the exhibition in London and this has taken more time then anticipated. Although the process has been a very hard work it has all been worthy.
The work is on show at the Unit 2 Gallery in Whitechapel until the 1st of November 2008. So if you are in the area do pop in, you may be pleasantly surprised. www.unit2.org.uk
Now I am back in Gloucester again and have returned back my research work here. The last few days have been very productive and fun. I have been meeting individual people and groups, gathering information regarding the local history, materials, have been told various stories…. Have been taken on small tours around the Cathedral, specially enjoyed the hidden areas which are not open to the public.
# 6 [29 October 2008]
Very cold day out here in Gloucester, I am trying to work out if it is colder outside or in my house/studio. Trying so badly to worm up that I am using all my energy at the moment.
Very productive week already: On Monday I had a meeting with George Moore who runs the Wired youth music project out of the Guildhall and is in a band called Big Blue Sun. Thanks to Pat Roberts, Visual Arts and Media Development Officer at Gloucester Council who put me in touch, I met with George who’s very interested in getting involved with the sound piece I am hoping to produce in the cloister of the Cathedral. We also when to the Guildhall to see the editing equipment and was so brilliant that in 10 min I was signed in with a password and now I can use the equipment. Is brilliant, George is also lending me one of his hand recorders so I can play and try different things until I get my own little recorder.
Yesterday I when to Stroud to visit the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace) http://www.sva.org.uk/ Very interesting space that has been designed by Tony Fretton who’s also designed ArtSway, Camden Art Centre, the Lisson Gallery; SVA provides workshop space for local artist and has an exhibition space.
And today I am working in my studio and working out how to use one of my new tripod heads which I bought few months a go but haven’t had the chance to use it. It is a panoramic manfrotto head, very complicated but beautiful piece of equipment.
# 7 [19 November 2008]
I am just back from Macedonia, where I when for a week to see my family and also to find out how things are developing with the Venice Biennale. I am not sure If I said this already in my previous pages, that I have been put forward and proposed through the National Gallery of Macedonia to represent the country in the next years Biennial, with my project “Butterflies in the Stomach’. I met with my Curator from the National Gallery and she told me that is only three of us in the final shortlist and now I am waiting for the final outcome, which should be hopefully the end of this month or next month. Is very painful and I am trying no to think about it…. Macedonian Magazine Forum did a brilliant three-page interview about my work and my progress in England. And Macedonian paper called Vreme (Times) also publicized an article about my proposed project for the 53rd Venice Biennale.
Now back at Gloucester and things are moving very well, slowly planning the work for the final exhibition in April. I’ve been having lots of meeting with different people and working through the ideas. Tonight is my first night where I’ll start with the filming/photographing the ground floor of the Cathedral and will be testing the light and the sound in the space.
# 8 [9 December 2008]
Looking back in history the Cloisters and its gardens use to be the only place, within the monastery at the time and now as a Cathedral, where the silent monks could talk and have a conversation.
The work I am developing is based on Thomas Tallis’s (ca. 1505 - 1585) remarkable 40-voice Spem in alium, which work challenged the Striggio's 40-part Ecce beatum lautam.
The installation will consist of 40 individual sounds, played by 40 speakers.
The idea is to have 24 speakers that will play recorded sound, 12 speakers that will transmit live sound from the Garden of the Cloisters into the Cloisters and 4 speakers that will broadcast live sound from a nearby woods (2km air distance), again into the Cloisters.
The 24 single pre-recorded sounds are collections of human voices and bird songs. I would like to use the natural layout of the cloister and the idea is for each of the four sides of the cloisters to represent the four main natural areas of the Gloucestershire county: Forest of Dean; Severn Estuary and Vale; Cotswold Hills; and Cotswold Water Park, with sounds of typical birds from each area.
At present I am working with the Gloucester Cathedral Music Director Adrian Partington and recording the boy’s and men’s choir singing Gregorian chants used by the Monks back in time, in groups and as individual voices.
Once the sounds of the birds are collected then this will be matched with the human voices and developed into Gregorian chants.
# 9 [16 January 2009]
The last few weeks have been very busy and exciting with contacting and meeting particular individuals and expertise to advise and work with me on the project.
Starting from Mr Barry Embling, working at the Forest of Dean and expert on Highnam Woods, who will be working with and helping me with the setting of the life broadcast/recording from the Woods to the Cloister. We are also in discussion of organizing couple of public evening visits to the Highnam Woods, for visitor to experience the beautiful sound of the Nightingales.
Mr Gareth Harris from the Cotswold Water Park, who spend generous amount of his time with me at the beginning of the development of the project and helped me to construct the idea of which bird sounds I could use and put me in touch with other experts from the County.
Mr. Michael Smart and expert on the Severn Vale, has introduced me to other professionals that could help with the project, for example Mr Andy Lewis from the North Cotswold Ornithological Society, has already been in touch and we spoke regarding collection of bird images and further species for Cotswold Hills, and the Bird Atlas which is being developed and printed. Mr. Smart has also introduced my project to the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to support the project through their knowledge and advice, and possibly use this exhibition to assist their publicity and make audiences more aware about ecology and birds.
Mr Smart has also introduced me to contact the WSRS - Wildlife sound
Recording Society – to see if they could help with all the bird song recordings.
With initial phone conversation with Mr Roger Boughton from WSRS, has proven to be of success and followed a meeting with Mr Phil Riddett last Saturday in Brighton, where we discussed the project and the possibilities.
Mr Riddett has initially send an email to all the WSRS members to seek the recordings and the offers have been coming in and so far there is 51 recordings, which have been posted to me to work on and developed in parallel with the human voices.
# 10 [5 February 2009]
There has been two very busy and up and down weeks, but have to say things are progressing for the better now.
Is amazing how now I am actually starting to feel that I am being a part of these place and starting to get to know people...would be almost good if there where extra 6 months to this residency... By the time you get to know these place I would be living which is a shame.
Well I still have 4 months left.
I am happy to say that I have had a successful application to the ACE for extra funding to help with the production and the succsesful delivery of the exhibition and its publicity.
My recording sessions with the men choir have also been great and in the last two weeks we have managed tocover all the recording I need.
Originally I wanted to record the boys as well but these has proven very difficult so slowly the idea has been changing and developing in slightly different direction. Which in fact is brilliant because the idea has progressed and now shifted and I will be recording four amazing Ladies which will be singing different piece but still very similar to the one the men did.Now I am organising and getting all these booked, which sometimes is a small task, making sure the Cathedral is booked for after Evensong, the most quietest time, making sure everyone knows about it and getting a date when everyone can be present.
Born in Macedonian, installation / site-specific artist, now based in Brighton, UK. I graduated from Glasgow School of Art, BA in Sculpture in 1996 and obtained an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London in 1998. I have participated in many exhibitions, commissions and have received many awards. My works use unusual materials that resonate to the uniqueness of an environment, its history, heritage, population and color.