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Teaching Artists in Residence 2022

Over the summer we have been running our Teaching Artists residency programme

Each summer Glyndebourne and the University of Brighton collaborate to offer an artist residency for a few PGCE Art & Design students.

The selected students are granted exclusive access to Glyndebourne – its performances, grounds, staff and rehearsal rooms – and are invited to create an artistic response to their experiences. The residency gives students a chance to create work in their own right as an artist, free from expectations of output, and to take the knowledge and confidence gained into their teaching career.

Now in its 6th year, the programme immerses the resident artists in Glyndebourne’s creative atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Artists are free to explore whatever aspects of Glyndebourne they find most inspiring. Their engagement, however, extends beyond this as being dropped into a different physical environment which leads in turn to new ideas, social engagements and interventions.

Our 2022 Teaching Artists are Natasha Tully, Sam Ford and Elena Ward. All three will begin their teaching careers in local schools this year.

Natasha Tully

Natasha works with a range of different media and enjoys combining more traditional skills with digital animation, photography and film. With an interest in the accessibility of opera and a love of dance, she would like to encourage school students to think about the different aspects of opera including movement, performance and lighting. Natasha was inspired by the rich history, vibrancy and energy of Glyndebourne as well as the idea of capturing aspects of the environment that may usually go unnoticed.

The residency programme at Glyndebourne has allowed me to stretch my practice through new techniques and concepts. Having been fortunate enough to experience every opera at the festival this year, I felt drawn to the dark and foreboding atmosphere of The Wreckers. In the past, my work has explored themes of death, tyranny and community but not for a long while after graduating from university and working as an animator on bright and upbeat music videos. The Wreckers reminded me of past themes and why I love mystery, uncertainty and darkness.

The darkness in The Wreckers is established through lighting and the use of shadows to cast ominous silhouettes of figures on the sets. Using projections on the backdrops, contrasted with vibrant oranges and yellows from flames, the darkness appears infinite, as do the characters as they multiply through their bodies and their shadows. The casting of shapes, to suggest underlying tensions, came through in my project when using cyanotype techniques. The distinctive, monochromatic blue of the prints mimics the blue hues in the staging of the performance, while the use of light to expose the composition on paper and fabric plays with the concept of positive and negative space. For fire-like details I used powdered turmeric, bleach, embroidery and gold foil to highlight the glistening light particles from the lighthouse and embers from the fire. Much of my project, including the framing, used found materials akin to The Wreckers in which sets were constructed from items gathered when beachcombing local shores.

In addition to physical artwork, I also created a short animation. My time spent immersed in the Glyndebourne archive granted access to timelapse folders, images of every incremental moment in every opera, presented in a book. This inspired me to hand draw over 1500 frames to encapsulate the dark themes in The Wreckers. Foley sounds inspired by the audio design of the performance accentuate the atmosphere and tension of the piece.

Overall, my Glyndebourne experience has reignited past interests and allowed me to explore new artistic processes which I plan to continue experimenting with in my personal practice. Witnessing the collaboration between departments during rehearsals, performances and backstage interactions highlighted the importance of sharing ideas and expertise. I plan to carry this forward into my teaching practice at Cardinal Newman Catholic School where I hope to unite art, technology, music, dance and drama departments to open students’ eyes to the magical world of opera.

Sam Ford

Sam has a wide practice ranging from socially engaged art projects with community groups to theatrical performances, often using sculptural installations to create immersive and imagined narratives. The residency gave him the opportunity to explore the history of the Glyndebourne site, the performances on stage and what Glyndebourne means to the people that make up its community. An inspiration for Sam was the creative process of staging a production, the spirit of collaboration needed and how this can be brought into the art classroom in school.

I studied Fine Art at UWE in Bristol and am currently based in Newhaven, East Sussex. I will be teaching art and photography at Uckfield College this year. Most recently I co-founded Hospitable Environment, a community arts organisation, and specialise in mixed-media sculptural work.

My work focuses on this year’s production of La bohème directed by Floris Visser. La bohème is set on a cobbled street in Paris that is flanked by high bare walls and leads off into the darkness. This minimalist design creates an immersive perspective which pulls you into the action. As the staging remains constant throughout the whole opera, it allows the subtle gestures and moments of intimacy between the characters to be the focal points of the scenes as it contains the powerful imagery. The staging provides the framework for these paintings and photographs which use the symbolic objects, the white sheet and red balloons, to explore the central motif of death. Puccini’s shifts in the emotional energy of the music give the paintings their vibrant colours as they aim to capture the emotional world of the characters. The figures in the work are set on the edge, as if stood on a precipice. The artworks aim to question our relationship with these figures as they face into the void and prepare to step into the unknown. As in the opera where death silently stalks throughout the piece, the artwork explores the concepts of memento mori.

The residency has firstly given me a love for opera. Experiencing the community of Glyndebourne alongside the festival of world-class productions has highlighted to me the immense power of art. La Voix humaine and La bohème are two shows that stood out for me in their intensity, music and staging. Seeing behind the scenes of these two shows at a rehearsal and from the fly-tower during a live show, showcased what a truly collaborative creative process it is and was inspiring to witness.

During this residency I have experimented with different media from pin-hole photography to film, from chemigrams to painting. All of this work has led to new skills and ideas. Ultimately, a majority of my final work has engaged with the productions through the primacy of drawing. It has been great to rediscover the significance of drawing as a means to explore and think visually. Continuing a drawing practice regularly is something that I plan on taking forward. Overall the residency has helped to re-ignite my passion for the arts and I very much look forward to attending more opera in the future.

Elena Ward

Elena specialises in fine art painting and drawing with recurring themes including movement, the body and other organic life forms. Another dominant feature of Elena’s work is the colour palette, often made up of sweet pastel tones, bringing a dream-like quality to her work. She was excited by the challenge of capturing the energy, mood and narrative of opera in a still piece of art. Another inspiration was arriving at Glyndebourne, passing through the ‘mesmerising’ gardens and the impact this has on the opera experience.

My background and passion is in Fine Art Painting having studied at Wimbledon College of Arts. I enjoy contemporary dance and yoga, and these interests have influenced my art since college. I use the body and its movement to create and develop shapes within my work, blurring the line between human and other life forms. I frequently use sweet pastel tones to add nostalgic or dream-like quality to my pieces.

My initial focus at Glyndebourne was to explore the operas ’movement and physicality, not just in the complexity of the choreography, but also the subtler ways individual performers move around the stage, particularly in Le nozze di Figaro, The Wreckers and Alcina.

Once I started my artwork, I realised I wished to also convey the broader experience of Glyndebourne that was casting its spell on me: journeying through the Sussex landscape, arriving in magical gardens, and the emotion of seeing amazing opera framed by leafy green palms and rolling hills.

I used framing and borders to represent worlds within worlds. Each layer is inspired by an aspect of Glyndebourne, with what’s on stage often taking place in the centre. In some works, I merged imagery of opera and surroundings, so performers are situated in the gardens or the Downs, blurring and enriching the overall memory of the experience. The framing mimics the audience’s view of the stage, and hints at set changes that occur during the opera. I was particularly drawn to Le nozze di Figaro’s set with patterns influenced by Seville tiles. I have incorporated these motifs into my pieces, and used them to contain the figures in my works.

My final outcomes resulted in a series of pieces which include acrylic paintings on canvas, pencil drawings on paper and scratch board engravings.

The challenge of responding both to the operas and to Glyndebourne as an institution has been educational and rewarding for me. It has made me explore additional aspects connected to performance, and suggested new starting points when creating artwork such as location and set design. My previous work did not use framing and borders to shape its composition, and I am excited to see how I might continue with this way of composing my artwork to tell a story or journey. The residency has re-engaged me with consistent artistic practice, whereby I am planning and making artwork as a cohesive series, rather than one-off pieces. Glyndebourne has perfectly inspired me into a new rhythm and way of creative working which I intend to continue alongside my new job as an art teacher at Priory School Lewes.

Our Teaching Artists in Residence programme is part of our work in partnership with universities and higher education institutions in Sussex.

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