Arts Derbyshire


New Residency Artists announced at LEVEL Centre

In 2021 LEVEL Centre launched the Level Residency Lab, a research and development opportunity for professional artists who either identify as disabled or whose work has access at its heart. Since then, and with support from Arts Council England, LEVEL has supported 17 artists who have bold, ambitious ideas that strengthen the charity’s mission to ‘Celebrate the Art that Difference Makes’ and bring high quality art to rural Derbyshire.

Now part of their year-round programme, Level are excited to introduce the new cohort of artists from across the UK who have been awarded a residency:

Ethan McKenna is based in Nottingham and enjoys using technology, light and projection in an immersive way. His residency will explore interactive control methods for installations and how they can be adapted for different access needs.

East Lab Dance Company, led by Charley Mitchell and Matilda Rowland, creates and performs family-friendly work. Both dancers trained at Déda in Derby before completing MAs at other universities. Charley has toured works by Motionhouse, Vidya Patel, Joss Arnott Dance and Coalesce Dance Theatre. Matilda has performed with Constella opera ballet, Akeim Toussaint Buck and Johnny Autin. The company will be exploring a children’s dance theatre piece during their residency, creating a multisensory performance for young people using props and storytelling.

Katayoun Jalilipour is an Iranian-born multidisciplinary artist, writer and lecturer based in the UK. Katayoun is an associate lecturer on BA Performance: Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins. Through humour, provocation and storytelling, their practice uses the body as the subject to talk about race, gender identity and sexuality. They use speculative histories and fictions to re-tell stories through a queer lens. Katayoun works in a variety of mediums including moving image, installation, drawing, text, sound and live performance. They have an ongoing body of research looking for fragments of queerness hidden in Iran’s Qajar era, specifically stories that centre intimacy, eroticism and gender nonconformity.

Conor Aylward is a playwright and performer whose work has been presented with the Cambridge Junction, Camden People’s Theatre, Trinity Bristol, HOME and Contact in Manchester. During his residency, Conor will be developing his performance piece Mindfulness-Lite: 50% less likely to cause you to try real yoga.

During their time with Level, Elana Binysh and Jonny Leitch will be exploring experimental theatre exercises and music compositional techniques to express what ADHD feels like in the body, and how it affects the brain. Elana is a dramaturg, live sound artist and performer, her work is unified by a deep devotion to exploring different forms and a desire to tell contemporary oral histories to people in uncomfortable and tender ways. She is currently writing her first solo project, an unperformable show about invisible disability and waiting. Recent work includes Arguments in the Name of the Skies at artsdepot and Bristol Old Vic, AGATHA at Omnibus Theatre and Don’t Talk To Strangers at The Yard and The Vaults. Jonny Leitch is a disabled session drummer, sound designer, composer, and aerialist performer. He has worked with incredible inclusive companies such as Extraordinary Bodies, Paraorchestra and Graeae Theatre Company and performed at Glastonbury Festival, the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall and National Theatre.

Executive Director Kerry Andrews said:

“Our Level Residency Lab continues to attract inspirational artists from across the UK and we have been blown away by the quality and diversity of ideas that were put forward. We hope that our initial support of a financial contribution and space at Level Centre will help these artists to develop work that has a future life”.

This cohort of Level residency artists will be taking part in a research study conducted by Therapeutic Arts Researcher Gemma Collard-Stokes from the University of Derby. The study will explore the experiences, practices and professional development of artists who are co-producing visual, performative or digital contemporary work and will be used to inform Level’s residency programme over the next few years.

In addition to full residencies, Level have also offered smaller kick-start residencies to two artists so that they can progress their ideas remotely:

S.L. Page is a writer and artist, they make work about their experiences as a disabled, neurodiverse, genderfluid, queer person, who has survived prolonged abuse. Their previous work includes the fictional podcast New Women, described as ‘smashing the box of disabled feminism’ by BBC News. S.L. Page will be using their kick-start to develop the audio for a short documentary film about the psychiatric abuse they survived.

Level recognises that, for many reasons, not all artists are able to leave their homes. Corinne is a disabled queer self-portrait artist creating photographic depictions from the same 2 by 1.5 metre space, her bed. This will be their fifth year spending almost every day confined to their bed and using self-portraits as therapy for their mental illness. Their kick-start work will focus on a period survival quilt depicting ‘Daisyland’ a queer utopia that Corinne and their only childhood and imaginary friend named Daisy created.

For more information about the artists and their work with LEVEL, visit the the Level website or follow @levelcentre on social media for updates throughout their residencies.

Applications for the next round of Artist Residencies will open early summer 2023, more information will be available on the LEVEL website.

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