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Announcing 12 new commissions for artists

Into the Mountain - Simone Kenyon. Photo: Felicity Crawshaw

We’re proud to announce the artists we will support with our micro-commissions programme.

Earlier this year Magnetic North received a Small Business Support Grant of £10,000, as part of the Scottish Government’s support for businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic. This enabled us to create a programme of £1,000 micro-commissions for independent artists based in Scotland. The aim was to give a number of artists some time to invest in themselves and their practice, or to work with others remotely if they wanted to. Artists based in Scotland working in any artform were eligible to apply.   

We initially offered seven micro-commissions, planning that four of these would be awarded to artists we had worked with before, at least one to a BAME artist and at least one to a disabled or d/Deaf artist. There was a huge response to the programme and we received 225 applications.

Due to this level of interest and the quality of the applications we received, we increased the number of commissions to 12. The awards have been made to practitioners from a range of disciplines and backgrounds including theatre, performance, storytelling, music, visual arts and dance. Each commission will be complete by the end of 2020.

The panel for the commissions was Magnetic North’s Artistic Director Nicholas Bone, Producer Verity Leigh and Artistic Administrator Caitlin Fairlie.

We’re delighted to be able to support these artists in a small way during a very difficult time. Their projects are a glimpse of some of the exciting work that Scotland's artists will make in the future.

Micro-commissions programme award recipients:

Jo Clifford and Maria MacDonnell
Jo will be using the commission to continue developing her 101st play: The Not So Ugly Duckling with her co-writer and performer, Maria MacDonnell. Jo & Maria will explore how the restrictions imposed by the virus can prompt new ways of presenting theatre and reaching out to new audiences. The story they want to tell is of overcoming isolation and embracing transformation. They see this as the perfect image for these times in which we all must change in order to survive.

Penny Chivas and Nicolette Macleod
Penny Chivas is a Glasgow based dance artist with a background in improvisation. She has worked with a number of choreographers and most recently begun to investigate screendance work. With her award, Penny will investigate developing an outdoor practice interweaving the movement of dance with the movement of the camera, and will spend time with long term collaborator Nicolette Macleod on the development of live sound in this context.

Rufus Isabel Elliot and Lea Shaw
Composer Rufus Isabel Elliot and mezzo-soprano Lea Shaw are working collaboratively on a new piece of music documenting the way trauma affects the voice — alongside other forces in their lives such as race, disability, and gender. For this project, they will focus on a couple of moments from this music, featuring bass guitar as a powerful rooting machine to their conversations. Rufus and Lea began collaborating a year ago, and this commission represents a chance for them to work on bringing their ideas out into the open for the first time.

Harry Harris
Harry Harris is a Welsh born, Edinburgh based singer, songwriter and composer whose last album I FEEL DRUNK ALL THE TIME was released in 2019. He’ll be using the commission to develop a new folk-opera Centralia, inspired by the true story of the town of Centralia in Pennsylvania, which was effectively written off the map after a mine fire was left to burn in the town’s abandoned underground tunnels.

Rob Jones
Rob Jones is an artist who makes theatre, sound, video and games. With this commission, he will conduct research and development towards expanding his performance practice onto the video game streaming website Twitch. His Twitch channel will explore the strange worlds of old video games, adding layers of responsive sound and video design, and twisting old media to tell new stories in a collaborative, live online environment. Rob thinks it might feel like a fuzzy homing signal guiding you gently to a weird and unfamiliar location and a surreal space for breathing out and letting go.

Simone Kenyon
Simone is an Edinburgh based artist, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner. For the past 20 years she has worked across performance and dance that embraces the complex interrelationships of movement, people and place. Her work continues to explore ideas of expanded choreographies and for this commission she will initiate the beginnings of a new research phase. This commission will give time for reflection on her practice, before delving into new conversations and research activities; coming together with others in the future, considering wider experiences of collective participation, conversation and dwelling.This will begin practically through learning the physical and haptic skills of dry stone walling.

Sean Wai Keung
Sean Wai Keung is a Glasgow-based performance maker and poet with interests in mixed-race identity, food and intimate performance. The commission will allow him to continue research and development into how the pandemic has changed perceptions on food and race throughout Scotland, and how food businesses have adapted the way they work. Sean hopes to present different performative ideas around food culture and race online and learning new skills to adapt his previous live performance experience to the digital environment.

Peter McMaster
Peter McMaster is an experimental and interdisciplinary performance maker and appreciator of the amateur, the underdog, the radical and the embodied. Work under his directorship spans a variety of projects, but somewhere within each one abides criticisms of male-ness (autobiographical/entitled/loving/paradoxical) and sympathy for site, ecological thinking and collaboration. With this commission Peter will be developing a new solo performance text called Elephant, in collaboration with artist Tim Etchells. This new work will reflect/ruminate on the sensations of being tongue-tied and concerns of not knowing how, or when, to speak.

Mara Menzies
Mara Menzies is a Kenyan/Scottish performance storyteller based in Edinburgh. With her own vision of the beauty, history and aspirations of people of African heritage, she fuses ancient and modern in an intoxicating experience where the audience takes centre stage. Following the success of her show Blood and Gold which was part of the Made in Scotland showcase 2019, she now intends to explore contemporary issues through myth and fantasy in a podcast. Working alongside a music producer, she will experiment with how story and storytelling can have a profound impact on how we see the world.

Daniele Sambo and Hannah Brackston
Glasgow-based artists Daniele Sambo and Hannah Brackston often collaborate to explore the theme of ‘play’ in public space. Daniele has a background in Urban and Landscape planning and Photography. Hannah is a socially engaged artist and studied Environmental Art. For this commission they will reflect on the unique position they find themselves in during lockdown as new parents. Experimenting with a mixture of sculpture, photography and moving image they will explore how objects, light and textures within the confines of home become tools for play and communication between their new-born and distant family members.

Niroshini Thambar and Nik Paget-Tomlinson
Niroshini is a musician, composer and sound designer working in theatre and installation. She is UK-born with Sri Lankan roots and her creative interests are fuelled in part by her heritage and the natural world. Niroshini will reflect upon previous development of new work about identity and connection to landscape, editing together existing audio-visual documentation and exploring new musical ideas with collaborator Nik Paget-Tomlinson. She will also establish a landscape walking/writing practice, and reflect on the challenges in creating authentic work whilst negotiating the expectations that can come with labels such as BAME and POC (Persons of Colour).

Julie Tsang and Niloo-Far Khan
Julie Tsang is an award winning playwright from Glasgow. Her most recent credits include: All Noise - Theatre 503, Spring Lantern Riddles - Lyceum Theatre and RSC, Fix - Pleasance Theatre. Julie will use the commission to develop a new play which delves into the narrative behind Vladimir Tretchikoff’s painting The Green Lady. Julie and collaborator Niloo-Far Khan will research Tretchikoff’s work which portrays women of colour in a green otherworldly depiction. Julie will write a one-act play transporting these iconic women to the modern day, bringing them to life on stage in an entertaining yet powerful story about the objectification of women in art and misrepresentation of race and otherness.