Emergence – Projected Backdrops for English National Ballet

On Saturday 16th March 2024 English National Ballet’s new Dance for Parkinson’s Performance Company took part in Re-Play, the annual showcase of live dance, music and film celebrating the theme of “Emergence” in the Holloway Production Studio at the Mulryan Centre for Dance.

As an artist, I was over the moon to be given the opportunity to create three, atmospheric, semi-abstract pieces of art to be used as backgrounds for a new dance piece created for Dance for Parkinson’s new performance group – of which I’m also a member. We worked with the theme “Emergence” guided and accompanied by our truly wonderful team of talented and committed dancers, musicians and volunteers.

What I’ve tried to show is the way in which the dancers have come to work together, to become a company. We refer to ourselves jokingly as “comrades”, or the “squad”!

For the first image, I was inspired by the words of Nina Simone’s song, Feeling Good including the lyrics “Blossom on a tree, you know how I feel” and refrain, “It’s a new day”. This became very important for me, but a new dawn means different things to different people. Does anyone ever know how others feel? The choreography involves many different stretching moves, branching out, waking up, and, like the blossom, slowly unfolding.

The image for the second sequence compliments the welling-up of the sound, and a gathering of energy. A stylised plant form gives a sense of scale to a murmuration or shoal of small marks which echo the movements of the dancers at different parts of the dance piece. I tried to respond to the duality of the choreography: a couple of dancers break away to perform a duet, soon to be joined by another couple. They intertwine with each other, until they are joined by the rest of the company. On the shout of the word ‘emergence!’, the group freezes before running to the back of the stage. The colours I use are linked to the sound, becoming more saturated. Among the green are hints of yellow, referring back to the first image, while the blue looks forward to the final sequence…

We now see the dancers regrouping, striding forward, leaving the previous scene behind. This last image is the most abstract. The only concrete motif is the monogram, formed from the initial letters of the names of the individuals involved in the collaboration. The dancers group and gather again, this time with a sense of knowing, and mutual understanding. Subtly sprinkled with colour from previous scenes, this image is light, soul-filled, airy, fluid, optimistic and forward-moving, full of rhythmic energy. We emerge as individuals within a strong group.

Drop in Art Sessions: art x 4 u

Over the summer I held a series of four drop in print-making sessions at a local social club. These were enjoyably informal sessions with people of all ages in what is basically a pub environment. The theme was Black and White. We did some chatty group pieces as well as individual prints, exploring texture and composition. We also had some fun composing still life photos in black and white.

Images by students.

Being creative has never been a talent attributed to me so you can understand that it was with some trepidation that I attended Abbey’s art class being held at my social club. The theme was black and white using various materials and textures. What I produced was nothing more than I was expecting, that is, until the suggestion to turn it upside down was made. Wow: a comical figure holding a flower became a beautiful forest scene with ice cap mountains in the background. From then on, I looked forward to Abbey’s classes and all the fun and laughter we had. I’m also delighted to say my picture, alongside others, now graces the wall of the social club.
Pippa Thompson

Art Exhibition: Art in the Garden

I have been experimenting with iron water, heat, steam, inks, paints, wax resist and sewn thread to create atmospheric pieces which bear the imprint of leaves from my garden.

Friday 8th September 2023.
Private View.

Saturday 9th September 2023 By invitation.
Art in the Garden and homemade pizza made in our original kitchen bread oven.

Sunday 10th September 2023 everyone welcome.
Art Exhibition & Art in the Garden.

All visitors were invited to imagine which picture would suit them most if they were a frog and were looking for a nice place to reside. Some people decided that, although a particular picture would suit a frog, they preferred a different picture, some people liked the same picture as their frog and another friend decided to choose a picture for a toad instead.

On a lovely sunny afternoon, I visited Abbey’s Art Exhibition in her garden and Shepherd’s Hut. I was totally captivated. The picture I liked best made me feel I was at the bottom of a pond looking up through the lily leaves and dragonflies with the sun filtering down. There is a great feeling of peace and tranquillity in her work, but it is created with endless patience and some very complicated techniques. Abbey’s art reflects her garden, herself and the countryside she so loves.

Annette Shelford