Eye of the River by Jill Randall

Monday, 1 December 2008

Helen Sargeant - Visual Art

I would like to be considered for this project because of my interest in site and site specificity and equally because I am a local artist who is keen to work together with artist’s, creative partners and the community in Burnley to make art work in or in response to the town’s environment. The project sounds very exciting and I think that I could help contribute to its success. I am open to suggestions or approaches towards responding to the project and can work independently or collaboratively.

Given the opportunity to work on the project, I would be interested in the possibility of initiating a collaboration with a group of young mothers and their children living in Burnley and making work in response to their town through their experiences of it. In response to your ideas of uncovering hidden places, perhaps mapping their journey/s through the town with their children and/or through gathering and collecting stories of hidden places to be examined, interpreted and uncovered. The outputs of which and media choice would be pre-determined through consulting with this group and in meeting the aims/objectives of your project.

I am a visual artist, academic, feminist and socially engaged practitioner. My visual arts practice has been informed through my background in drawing and painting. I have produced work of a consistently high level that is both contextually challenging and utilises a wide range of media, making site specific installations animation, video, new media, sound and performance pieces.

The work is process driven and made in response to “site” and “situation”. I began working in this way after completing a residency at Brockhall Village, Lancashire which was once the site of an old hospital. Living and working on this site resulted in creating work with the performance artist Michael Mayhew where together we made site specific installations and performance work exploring narratives, objects and documents collected from the decaying hospital environment.

Current research is concerned with the female body and identity informed through a personal and political experience of motherhood, utilising reflection and reflexivity as a method of production and intellectual enquiry. This has led to the recent exhibition of ink drawings and books, “M(other)” at the Chapman Gallery in Salford. As a result of this exhibition I have been working in collaboration with the Midwifery department at the University. Together with the staff and students from the BA (Hon’s) Visual Arts Programme and the Midwifery department respectively, it has been proposed that a visual and text based artists book be produced exploring ideas of birth and creativity.

I am a socially engaged practitioner and have a history of working with a variety of collaborative partners from school children and teachers through to older people and health care practitioners developing and delivering arts projects in a wide variety of environments and contexts within the community, such as schools, hospitals, and sheltered housing. Clients and commissioners have included the NHS, Creative Partnerships, Salford City Council, the Museum of Science and Industry and Artists & Education. The delivery of these projects has had a range of positive outputs from increasing wellbeing and recovery in hospital patients through to improving creativity, literacy, self-esteem and knowledge of local history with school children.

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