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As part of Place, Space and Identity 3, all artists will be communicating via this blog, to let people know what they are planning and to share the inspiration behind their work.  The first of these blogs is from performance artist, Daisy Thompson.

Daisy Thompson during a performance

“I left Stoke-On-Trent 16 years ago to pursue my dreams of travelling and experiencing different cultures. It was only meant to be for a year, but 2 weeks after I returned I decided to move to another city to do a bit more exploring and I have never stopped moving since.

“Dilapidated memories of Stoke-On-Trent were lingering in my head for years, as most of my family here all came from mining and pop bank backgrounds, and like many, were deeply affected by all the closures. So when phase 3 of this project kicked off with a tour of Stoke-On-Trent, it really opened my eyes to how much it had changed and how the inhabitants of the city had adapted. New restaurants, small businesses, arts organisations, pedestrian areas and housing have emerged all over the place, and there seems to be a much more positive ‘buzz’ about the place. That is not to forget areas that are still going through hard times and those people who may feel neglected, and this is where I support the Place, Space and Identity scheme to date, and how they are intervening to create stronger connections and empowerment within communities.

“I am a dance artist (which includes being a performer, teacher and choreographer) who will be creating a small performance piece with different people of all ages and backgrounds in Stoke-On-Trent. The more I research my ideas for the performance, the more it dawns on me the responsibilities I have in this project. You see, I’m not interested in making an amazing artwork that blows people away, I’m interested in the experience during the process that the participants will have, and how this can positively affect their lives. Not dramatically by any stretch of the imagination, but even just a little in a way that might offer a small change of perspective, or open a door to something they may want to continue. My challenge is to get ‘ordinary’ people dancing together in a work that celebrates a ‘common’ experience: being a Stokie!!!”

Please see more about Daisy on her blog here: daisykarenthompson.blogspot.com

As part of Place, Space and Identity 3, Metapod: Be Effective training will be given free of charge to budding entrepreneurs from the arts and culture sectors. This year’s programme was oversubscribed by 100% so extra places have been provided.

The first session, which will be taking place tomorrow 22nd June, will feature guest speaker Natasha Carlish, a BAFTA award winning Film and Television Producer. Natasha has produced over 50 short films including BAFTA award winning Brown Paper Bag and BAFTA nominated Bouncer starring Ray Winstone. Her documentary credits include RTS award winning, The Man Who Wouldn’t Paint Hitler and Golden Rose of Montreux nominated Abba:Bjorn Again. She co-produced feature film, Soul Boy, which enjoyed a successful theatrical release in 2010. Natasha produced micro-budget film

Turbulence in 2010 and it is now in post production. She has a slate of film and tv projects in development. Natasha was a founder member of the Producers’ Forum before becoming a Board Director and now CEO.

Natasha was awarded an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University in July 2010. She has worked as a mentor for new and emerging talent for The Producers’ Forum, Metapod, Hi8-us Boost Programme and Content Media Lab/Nesta Insight Out programme. Natasha devised and ran Birmingham School of Acting Brummiewood short films project for four years and also devised and managed feature film Soul Boy training programme for 40 graduates and undergraduates based at Staffordshire University. Natasha has been a guest lecturer at University of Birmingham, London College of Fashion, Goldsmith’s College University of London, Wolverhampton University and Birmingham City University. She is passionate about nurturing and developing new talent and will be passing on the benefit of her experience to the participants.

Rich White
From: Nottingham
Trained: University of Gloucester

What is your ambition for your proposed work in Stoke-on-Trent?
I’d like to build something that really has an effect on residents and visitors alike. I try to make evocative work that speaks of its location and resonates with the viewer. For Stoke-on-Trent my ambition is to really push myself and the work to create something special.

Who or what inspires you?
People and places, stories and architecture.

When were you happiest?
Are you implying that I will never be that happy again?

What would your super power be?
To be able to understand, speak, read and write any language.

Tell us a secret.
I do a mean ‘Careless Whisper’.

Rich’s artform:
Rich seeks out the stories that make a place interesting and uses these to build a large sculpture, incorporating local architecture that brings the stories to life.

An image from Vigilance, made from cardboard and string in 2007.

These sculptures are often built from materials found in and around the place, further involving the local environment and community.

B-Arts Ltd.
From: Stoke-on-Trent

What is your ambition for your proposed work in Stoke-on-Trent?
To repurpose an under-used public space in Stoke-on-Trent with the local community.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being part of the development of the cultural sector in North Staffordshire over the last twenty-five years

Who or what inspires you?
Lots of things because we’re magpies – the work of other artists, the people we meet in the course of our work, new technologies…

If you could be an animal, what would you be? And, why?
A beaver of course, as our original name was Beavers Arts.

What would your super power be?  
Working creatively for change.

B-Arts’ work:
B-Arts
is a group of artists who make films, exhibitions, performances, music, lantern processions, carnivals and other art in partnership with communities in North Staffordshire and partners across Europe.

Hot air balloons at Hottonfiades 10th Anniversary
The artworks are usually site-specific: they are designed to be seen in a particular place (for example a park or a street) and encourage audiences to engage and take part in many different ways rather than just sit down and watch.

Rob Hewitt (Redhawk Logistica)
From: Birmingham
Trained: at Loughborough College of Art and Design

What is your ambition for your proposed work in Stoke-on-Trent?
To make a real difference to the appearance of the place, to get people thinking and talking about it and to literally bring more colour into the world!

Who or what inspires you?
I am constantly inspired by the urban environment; I take lots of photos of visual moments on my travels, often when walking around. This can be discarded umbrellas, weathered signage, paint spillages, scrapes in walls, lost traffic cones, hand-made notices or just reflections in puddles. Often there is a fragile poetry to be found in these chance encounters. They seem to be expressions of our time and make up a kind of contemporary language that is so familiar to many of us, but often overlooked.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?  
Not exactly advice given to us, but taken on by us as an unofficial motto; ‘An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory’ by Friedrich Engels (the German socialist and economist).

What is your greatest fear?  
It used to be nuclear war, now it is the UK (and everywhere else) turning into a fully fledged corporate playground, a place governed by one motive; maximising profits by driving down standards

If you could be an animal, what would you be? And, why?  
This has to be some kind of bird of prey, drifting effortlessly on thermals high above mountains and the forests, to experience total freedom.  In fact this is where the name ‘Redhawk Logistica’ comes from, after hawks, which enjoy great eyesight.  Like them, we like to ‘keep watch’ on urban phenomena and logistics, which refers to our timely and ‘well aimed’ public space interventions.

Redhawk Logistica’s work:
Last year, Rob was riding his bicycle near to where he lived when he saw two old men cross the road outside their houses carrying paint pots and brushes and rags. They went onto a small patch of grass on a central reservation where there was a very tatty, old bench. They started sanding down the bench and then got out their brushes and carefully re-painted it, leaving it looking as good as new. After attaching a ‘wet paint’ sign to it, they strolled back across the road and went back into their houses.

Roadworks ‘An Incidental Estate’ taken by Trevor Pitt, Birmingham 2011

This small act gave Rob his idea that instead of feeling bad or annoyed because things are dirty or broken where you live, it makes you feel a lot better if you do something about it yourself, even if it is just one little thing. Rob then created his company Redhawk Logistica to organise projects to do just that, making small changes for the collective good.

Anoushka Athique
From: Brighton
Trained: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design

What is your ambition for your proposed work in Stoke-on-Trent?
To transform, to wrap, to care, to bring the landscape into our imaginations

Who or what inspires you?
Walking

When were you happiest?
Whenever I am standing on top of a mountain or high hill, maybe a little bit hot and out of breath from the climb up.

If you could be an animal, what would you be? And, why?
A cross between a giraffe and a cheetah so that I can see over all the treetops but also run really fast. (However, in reality, this animal might be a little bit unstable on its feet!).

What would your super power be?
I would like to be able to teleport.

Anoushka’s artform:
At the heart of Anoushka’s work is the idea of story-telling, or as she puts it, her work is about “telling stories that connect our imagination with the environment. The world we live in from the proximity of our bed to the wall, the volcanoes in the pacific, to the darkest depths of the ocean and outer space make us who we are.”

An image from Mobile Machinoeki one of the Walking Performances.

Anoushka creates artworks within the landscape, from handmade objects to drawings and performance pieces. Previously, Anoushka ran ‘Walking Performances’ with Phil Smith and live artists Katie Etheridge and Rachel Sweeney where they ‘drifted’ through Devon creating art as they went.