Explore: Outdoor Arts in the Landscape residency with AUB

Explore: Outdoor Arts in the Landscape- Activate, AUB & And Now: Residency

18 final year students from Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) took part in Explore: Outdoor Arts in the Landscape residency. Produced by Activate Performing Arts in partnership with AUB and artists And Now:*, the residency was a skills development opportunity for the students, working with industry professionals and AUB tutors to further develop knowledge in creating and producing outdoor arts.

There was a real cross-section of new talent,  BA Acting students, Creative Arts Management students, as well as students from Make-Up, Costume and Set Design courses. Taking inspiration from the old AUB24 model, which saw students work in cross-course teams to push them to act as a creative agency for 24 hours, Explore took on a similar structure. Over two, 12 hour days the students - who were selected by an application process - worked in teams of 4-5 and set the challenge of creating a short physical response to a brief which was presented to the at the beginning of Day 1.

The brief was created by And Now: and used some of the themes from the Life Cycles and Landscapes project (click here to find out more) such as ritual, journey and exchange as well stipulating a kit of materials that had to be utilized to form an installation or performance experience that would be performed at dusk on day 2. The students also had to respond to and create sensitively to their performance space, which was a small area of the Talbot Village Woodland, only a short walk from the AUB Campus.

Throughout the 2 days, the students were expertly supported by And Now: and the Activate team, but also 2 further outdoor arts professionals, performer and director Flick Ferdinando and promenade musician, Tim Hill in addition to 3 AUB tutors Adele Keeley, Craig Norman and Alison Hart who acted as mentors, to provide their expertise and to provoke questions and thoughts and to help refine ideas. The students also had a brief presentation from the Manager of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Tom Munro, during which he explained why it’s important for environmental organisations to form partnerships with the arts sector and how working outdoors can effect change. 

Both days were packed to the brim with activity; time was allocated for the teams to create their ideas, explore the extended kit of props and materials available to use, and learn about the creation of controlled fire and pyro by way of a practical demonstration by expert pyrotechnicians  And Now:  which took place at the end of day 1. Students investigated what lighting effects they could use and how they would appear in darkness.

Day 2 was equally as busy as the students were required to go straight into production mode, creating a plan and schedule for their final performance piece and making final decisions on what fire and pryo they would want to use. A fusing workshop then took place, where the students prepared their effects, under the guidance of And Now:, before the remainder of day 2 was taken up in advance of their performance, which took place at dusk to an invited audience of AUB tutors and the Explore staff.

The final pieces presented by the teams was of a very high standard which reflected their commitment to the residency experience. A real sense of energy and collaboration came across with each team creating a unique work that clearly reflected the brief.

Here is a link to a short film AUB produced to showcase highlights from the event:https://aub.ac.uk/course-info/course-news/aub-students-partner-with-activate/ 

They say a picture says a thousand words – so I’ll let these photos do the rest of the talking.

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Activate are also in the unusual position of being able to offer 5 of the Explore students the opportunity to take part in the larger Life Cycles and landscapes project; all of the students who participated in the residency had the opportunity to apply for this experience. The 5 students, who are yet to be selected, will then have a bespoke experience with the project, tailored to their wants, needs and skills.

*And Now: is made up of artists Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby who, together, conceive, design and create visual performance, image and installations; working with people, ideas, fire, fireworks, structure, sound and light. Their work is unexpected, accessible, entertaining and public.

The Explore: Outdoor Arts in the Landscape residency with funded by Activate, through Arts Council England funding, and by Arts University Bournemouth.

Slades Farm and Talbot Village Woodland were used with kind permission from Bournemouth Borough Council and the Talbot Village Trust.

Written by SammyG
Published on 21st March 2017