Ella Good and Nicki Kent, Building a Martian House. Credit: Robert Keller, Satori Photos

Ella Good and Nicki Kent, Building a Martian House. Credit: Robert Keller, Satori Photos

Introducing our Winter Residency artists

Posted on Thu 17 Oct 2019

Following our open call for Watershed and MAYK’s Winter Residencies programme, we’re delighted to announce the three artists who will develop works exploring technology and climate breakdown.

Following our open call for Watershed and MAYK’s Winter Residencies programme, we’re delighted to announce the three artists who will develop works exploring technology and climate breakdown. From experimental robotic sculptures, duetting with a humpback whale and building a Martian house, these projects will focus on the local effects of the climate crisis, the ocean and our demand for gas and oil, and sustainable energy.

The residencies are a briliant opportunity to think, make and share ideas, they offer technical and critical support, space in the Pervasive Media Studio, a community of peers and funding. For these Winter residencies we – along with our partners at MAYK, the creative producers behind Bristol’s international festival of contemporary theatre - were particularly interested in artworks that were underpinned by the stories and experiences of people affected by the climate crisis.

Say hello to the latest residents

First up is Robbie Thomson, a Glasgow-based artist who will develop a series of robotic sculptures that will be installed in city spaces with a contentious environmental impact (such as motorway embankments and polluted waterways). Using biology and the natural world as a mirror for the impact of human activity, the sculptures will seek to draw attention to our local understanding of the climate crisis.

Robbie says:

“There’s a danger that we focus on places where the impact of climate change and environmental destruction is most visible – like the Amazon fires or coral reef bleaching, and fail to take action as the most extreme effects appear to be happening somewhere else. We are less aware of issues within local environments, and my work will explore the invisible processes going on all around us that we are desensitised to, such as loss of biodiversity, threats to food security, and hopefully start a bigger conversation”.

Our second recipient is Xavier Velastin, currently based in London. [whalesong] is the name of his human-computer duet that takes its structure from the song of male humpback whales. It derived from his interest in seismic surveying, the process whereby loud soundwaves are used to prospect for oil and gas – something that is hugely damaging to marine life.

Xavier says:

“I’m thrilled to get a chance to work in the Pervasive Media Studio to develop [whalesong] and work and learn from people working in diverse fields. It feels like one of those moments when my practice is about to change in some big way, and I’m excited to work with Watershed and MAYK to make that happen – moreover, I hope [whalesong] will draw attention to the relationship between human consumption, our oceans, and the climate crisis”.

Our third Winter Residency is shared between Ella Good and Nicki Kent, who have a particular interest in space science, which they use as a lens to question how we live here and now on Earth. Since 2016 they have been working towards Building a Martian House, a real life house that you can step into and imagine how we might live on another planet. They are bringing together scientists, architects, makers and the public to develop this large scale artwork, with a focus on developing the technologies needed for the house. Through a public DIY Club, they will invent creative ideas that support human life, such as energy, air, water, and waste recycling.

Ella says:

“Living on another planet would necessitate complete self-sustainability. Building A Martian House provides an inspirational context where we can explore visions of sustainable futures, which provoke us to genuinely reflect on how we live here and now”.

Kate Yedigaroff from MAYK says:

"Creativity is a crucial part of understanding, unpicking and re-examining our relationship to the world around us. We are really looking forward to partnering on this unique residency programme which champions and prioritises research, innovation and a genuine investigation into ambitious and complicated territories. We’re excited to see how Robbie, Xavier, Ella and Nicki respond to the climate breakdown and technology theme and to what a collaboration of this nature brings to that.”

All three residencies will run from December 2019 – March 2020, and the artists will share their progress via blogs, Studio talks, and more. We’ll also host a free public Sharing Event in the Spring. There will be lots of opportunities to get involved – so watch this space!