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Visual Artist in Residence with Karla Shacklock Dance Company

“Having been present at the beginning of The Crutch & The Buttercup, I was pleased to be able to sketch while Karla, GT & Ed worked through their ideas for their next piece Happy-ness.  As the title suggested a lighter mood, I armed myself with ‘happy’ colours.

However, it became very clear early on that one can’t just switch from a dark place to a state of happiness very easily.  There is a stage of transition.  Much caution required so as not to fall into the same traps & be hurt again.  But, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’: perhaps we just have to allow ourselves to take risks or we’ll never move on.

Much time spent arguing themselves in & out of love.  A very intense moment when Karla, contemplating the wisdom of a relationship to achieve happiness, had her head tucked into Ed’s shoulder – enjoying a moment of calm.  At the same time, GT, ecstatic, ranting on about the delights of being single.  A comical but very poignant moment.

Interesting dynamics with the introduction of a third person to the team in the form of Ed, describing himself as a performer rather than a dancer.  His dialogues, as a backdrop to the dance, provide a whole new level of interest.   He calmly throwing paper aeroplanes while Karla & GT worked their way through another performance ‘jar’ strangely seemed to make perfect sense and add an air of whimsical.

Lots to observe – much going on at the same time.  Your eye follows one line of movement before it’s distracted by something else across the room.  Gradually, I build up a sheet of responses – lines tracing the movement, outlines, washes of body & shadows, textures, occasional details.  Somehow, the figures gradually emerge.  The end result: hopefully, an image that captures the feeling of the whole event.

Interesting how others can bring out meaning in your own work that the artist hasn’t yet appreciated.  For example, when experiencing the early rehearsals of The Crutch, GT’s role was nothing but aggressive towards Karla.  I depicted him as a bird of prey seeking out & swooping down on his prey, Karla.  As the performance developed over time, the relationship between them shifted.  We’re introduced to a softer, more caring side to GT.  In the final performance, my half human half bird image was also interpreted as a guardian angel.  Perfect!”

Maggie Farmer

 

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