Our last project in Sunderland, On Screen In Street, focused on showing video clips in Norfolk Street (Sunniside) business windows. This was so well supported that we have decided to focus on some of the same addresses for our next project. We have been introduced to Gemma Parker, burlesque artist from Manchester, who is interested in working with us `on location` in Sunniside to combine burlesque with local history.
Wednesday 21st May, the day of the shoot:
11am: We began our photo-shoot at the Theatre Restaurant, John Street, not far from Sunniside Gardens. The Theatre Restaurant supported our project by offering us their attic studio space for costume change. Carl Gregg (Design and VJ artist) arrived to record the event for us and collect video footage to mix into his own vj performance. Dave Foster from Square Photography and Dave from Shambles boutique (Sunniside) worked together on the photography – and we are all really looking forward to seeing the results.
12.30: Moving on down John Street, we descended on Eauzone Cafe bar who had agreed to host the first part of the shoot which links our characters to their Sunniside history. Gemma as Mary A Jedball, a dressmaker by day, kicked the shoot off in Eauzone with her dressmakers dummy.
1pm: Lunch, which Gemma and Kirsten managed inspite of the corsets and bustles.
2pm: Outside in Sunniside Gardens the main surprise of the day was how well the characters all worked together – it turned into much more of a team effort than we were anticipating. With Sam and Mitch (from Sunderland University) arriving to help Carl with supporting video footage, the whole day took on a sort of film crew feel.
3.30pm: Finishing the day at Square photography studio, Carl collecting film footage against a white background.
So the project continues, with Gemma`s next residency day (date yet to be arranged) set to discuss the photography, and how we might tie this all together into a cohesive exhibition.
We hadn`t planned, at the beginning of the project, that our photo-shoot would have a Victorian feel. So it was interesting that the characters that appealed were from the mid 1800s. This of course has meant that we have been on the look out for costumes with a sense of victorian.
We have recently had help from wardrobe department of the Royalty Theatre in Sunderland, and found costume items for Ross that have come together really well. Ross is playing around with hair and make-up ideas, that will give his Primitive Methodist Minister character a punk edge.
Our photo-shoot in Sunniside is set for Wednesday. Tuesday will potentially be an opportunity for us all to meet up beforehand, though we have managed to do a surprising amount of planning via email.
Gemma will perform her part of the shoot inside and outside Eauzone cafe bar . (the site of no 25, residence of the dressmaker Mary A Jedball).
Our vision for the photo-shoot is to organize an event which facilitates collaboration between local businesses, and a mix of artists, student artists, designers and photographers.
As Art-wave weaving together the strands of this collaborative mix has become our art.
Interestingly, Gemma`s practice as resident artist becomes subject matter.
Last Monday we also looked round `the Place` in Sunniside. We have been fortunate enough to be offered one of the early exhibition slots in the new performance space (prior to its official opening). the Place is an inspirational mix of old and new, and influenced our choice of project title … what do you think you`re looking at
The meeting last Monday was a good chance to discuss how the characters are developing, and the practicalities of getting everyone together for a photoshoot. Setting a date was quite a logistical task, but we are now on a countdown to Wednesday May 21st.
Guided by Gemma, Kirsten has decided to focus visually on one side of her character and has chosen the widow rather than the schoolmistress, with dramatic effects.
Phil has acquired costume items from a local gentleman, Mr Brian Moore known as "the spectre".
Gemma is guiding the development of these characters, and the idea of how character is portrayed by burlesque performers.
Ross`s primitive methodist minister has proved the most difficult to develop. I think it has great potential – a methodist minister with a twist of punk to reflect the radical nature of this victorian breakaway movement. The concept is really exciting, but now we have set a date we are running very short of time to get this together. Hopefully as a collaborative effort we will pull it off, and Ross will `model` the character for the shoot. We may be able to borrow costume items from the Royalty Theatre, but have yet to have this confirmed.
The photoshoot will be held in various locations in Sunniside Gardens throughout the afternoon of the 21st. We`ll need to be organized to get the most out of the day, but at the same time retain a certain amount of fluidity. Our objectives are to assist Gemma in creative directorship, facilitating the creation of images (for exhibition) and the recording of footage for Carl Gregg`s vj performance.
Also of course to create something visually different …
and on the subject of something visually different that leads to the subject of titles. We now have one for our project:
What do you think you`re looking at
…… the Sunniside of Burlesque.
We have been doing alot of our communicating and decision making by email. So tomorrow it will be good to have the chance to all get together again in the same space.
Phil put us in touch with Shambles vintage boutique and arts cafe, originally with a view to their possible help over costumes and as a base where we can meet and discuss ideas.
Our initial meeting at Shambles has led to more than this – contact with Dave, "Photogracky" (based at Shambles) and Dave,"Square Photography" based in Sunniside, who are both interested in supporting the project and working together at the photo-shoot.
Paul and myself are really excited about this development and the potentials of two different photographers with two different styles working on the same shoot.
This also really supports our (Art-wave`s) concept of collaboration. Not just collaboration with other artists but also with local businesses – the concept on which On Screen In Street was also based.
So tomorrow we have alot to discuss – an all important update on costume development from Gemma, and chance to meet with Ross, Kirsten and Phil to discuss ideas about their characters. In addition an opportunity to meet with two Daves and discuss how the shoot might work.
We are also using the photoshoot as an opportunity to explore ways of working again with Carl Gregg, design ad vj artist. There are potentially alot of logistics to get into place!
What I find fascinating about this kind of project is the snowball effect. Allowing a project to grow and snowball leads to exciting possibilities that werent anticipated. (At the same time it becomes a challenge not to loose sight of the manageabilitiy of what is developing.)