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A creative retreat

On 13 March five artists will go on a creative retreat we call Space/Time at Lyth Arts Centre in Caithness.

Space/Time is a paid creative retreat for experienced artists from all disciplines that asks the question “How does an artist keep developing?”

It aims to refresh participants through a stimulating examination of creativity. During the residency, we will explore how creativity can be nourished and how artists can continue challenging themselves to develop.

The artists taking part are:

Angus Balbernie
I’m Angus, I’m 65 this year, and as a student said to me five years ago, when I had three big attacks of Bells Palsy, “Never mind Angus, you always looked like an angry boiled egg”. Apart from looking like an angry boiled egg, I’ve been doing this art malarky for donkeys in odd ways…

Trained with a sculptor on the Isle of Man in my mid-teens.
Trained as a plasterer with a master-builder in the Cotswolds.
Lived in Provence and did street theatre in my early 20’s.
Went to China and spent a year studying Tai Chi.
Then ended up at Dartington and finally got a degree.

I ended up involved mostly in dance/choreography/directing because I'm too dyslexic to remember words, and moving bodies just made patterns that I found so much easier to work with.

I come and go from Scotland, working mostly outside the UK, and live mostly in a wee town called Forcalquier, in the Alpes de Haute Provence.

My bio:
‘...has created and directed around 85 pieces around the world, and taught all over the place, including for many years at EDDC/artEZ Arnhem, Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, Dartington College of Arts, Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Falmouth University. Was visiting Professor of choreography at KNUA Seoul, and LEM Buenos Aires. Now just improvises, makes the odd commissioned piece, performs as an "oldie" for other folk, and plays the banjo left-handed and really quite badly. He might still improve…’

The Bells has left me deaf, unable to taste or smell much, with no balance, chronic tinnitus, and a wonderful thing called hyperacusis, which means sounds and noise physically hurt…but, as a musician, I realise I now just fill in all the bits of music I still love with better, imagined, players than those I can’t hear anymore, so it’s fine. And I just might get better on the banjo...

Jo Clifford
I'm Jo. I'm a proud father and grandmother and I live by the water in Leith in Edinburgh.

I've written a lot of plays, many of them as "John Clifford" when I lived as a man, and some more as Jo Clifford now I live as a woman.

Living as a woman suits me better, and I feel so much more comfortable in my skin.

I've also discovered that I love performing. Maybe I even would have been happier being a performer all along.

But writing is still such a joy...

Last year I had five short plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (FIVE DAYS WHICH CHANGED EVERYTHING), performed my EVE with the NTS in Dundee, Nairn, and Brazil, and performed my GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN with my own company in a cafe in Dumfries and Traverse One and Glasgow Uni Chapel. The Portuguese language version of the play toured Brazil for all of last year, and was banned frequently, the cast was subjected to horrible death threats, and even now when it is far too dangerous to stage it there it is one of the most talked about and important plays in the country. My new queer version of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is being co-produced by the Sherman and Tron Theatres, and is about to open and I do hope you'll be able to come and see it.

Alexandria Patience
I live on the North Coast - to the west of Lyth Arts Centre, through Thurso and onto the wilder craggy Sutherland area and off road to a wee old fishing village called Portskerra. I came here when I returned to Scotland from Canada and somehow, I have remained; living above the sea with a wild view that may have something to do with it. 

I trained in theatre in Scotland and Canada and worked predominantly in theatre for years, as a performer & director. I then felt the urge to claim more control of my work and with three others we created a women centred theatre company, Maenad Theatre in Calgary, Alberta. We built a collaborative way of making and supporting the development and production of new work and each year we presented a season of three mainstage shows and a three week festival and a FemFest cabaret night of new interdisciplinary works. 

I performed, directed, wrote, created audio, time-based media, produced, promoted, administrated in every way for the company. Three of the original collaborators rotated all the roles required to make each different production happen. Ten years of this was truly fabulous, and being regarded by Canada Council as a ‘valued Canadian company’ was nice, but we were still funded as a ‘project', so it was time to allow others to carry the torch. I moved onto The Banff Centre for the Arts residencies and working in their programmes, and then back home to Scotland as more of an interdisciplinary artist than a straight theatre maker. Although, in 2017 a play I co-wrote, APHRA, was published beautifully in Canada. When I returned home and to the Far North of Scotland, it was to work with Grey Coast Theatre Company, Thurso, which unfortunately re-trenched within the following year, but by then I’d woven connections and so theatre slipped away and the performance maker, festival builder, audio artist, storyteller, community arts instigator, social development activist stepped further forward.

Mark Saunders
I live outside Edinburgh near South Queensferry on the shores of the Firth of Forth.

I trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq and then worked for 12 or so years freelance, creating/performing and touring shows, mainly physical theatre/ physical comedy. Some with others, some solo. I toured all over the UK and abroad, especially Germany. In 1990, I started working at the RCS Glasgow, as Lecturer in Movement. I did that for about 17 years - along with a lot of directing - then for 10 years ran the MA in Classical and Contemporary Text programme. I left RCS the Christmas before last, in order to see what else is out there, to search out new pastures, and to see how I can develop creatively. I am writing quite a lot (mainly poetry) and am also interested in art, horticulture (currently doing a course at the Botanics) and nature generally.

Jenna Watt
I am an award winning Scottish theatre maker and director, originally from Inverness, and have been making theatre professionally for 10 years, with my most recent work ‘Faslane' premiering in 2016 at the Edinburgh Fringe. It has since toured the UK and Umeå in Sweden. I've recently completed a Masters in Sustainable Rural Development with the UHI where I studied concepts such as conservation, managing biodiversity, renewable energy and land use, rewilding and engaging communities. These passions have been running parallel to my artistic practice, until the later part of last year when I became the 2018 recipient of Magnetic North's Artist Attachment which has afforded me the time and space to integrate the learning from my Masters into my artistic practice whilst exploring the concept of rewilding.

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