Fidelma O’Riordan reflects: How to Live

In another reflective piece, Fidelma O’Riordan – Creative Apprentice at John Hansard Gallery – shares her thoughts on How to Live by David Blandy.

How to Live (2020) is one of two digital works by artist David Blandy, specially commissioned by John Hansard Gallery to reflect on the uncertain times we currently find ourselves in. The work was first shown as part of the gallery’s online programme in June 2020 and you can still watch it here.

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Introducing Fiona Sunderland, Student Insights Coordinator with the Arts team

Fiona has enjoyed finding ways to keep busy during lockdown!


What is your role at Arts at University of Southampton? 

I’ll be working as “Arts, Culture and Student Insights Coordinator” which is a fancy title I came up with to look cool on LinkedIn. In reality, it means I’ll be working closely with Louise Coysh and Jen Harris in the University’s Arts and Culture team, alongside our venues John Hansard Gallery and Turner Sims, to look at how we can develop the student experience around the University’s arts and culture offer. This involves supporting the student voice in the Heart of Campus project and city-wide cultural development. I’ll be particularly focused on making sure we have extensive student consultation and input! 

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🎥 WATCH: Larry Achiampong interviewed by Arts at University of Southampton

Student Arts Ambassador Kate Briggs-Price interviewed artist Larry Achiampong in January 2020, during his solo exhibition When the Sky Falls at John Hansard Gallery, 25 January – 14 March 2020.

Larry and Kate chat about all things – from working across different mediums and taking artistic inspiration from popular culture, to class, race, privilege and the environment (and how they are all connected).

John Hansard Gallery is part of University of Southampton and is funded by Arts Council England. Larry Achiampong is represented by Copperfield Gallery, London.

With thanks to Larry Achiampong and John Hansard Gallery.

Video by Kate Briggs-Price.

Continue reading 🎥 WATCH: Larry Achiampong interviewed by Arts at University of Southampton

Review: Heist at NST City (or Our First Dance Show Experience!)

By Thea Hartman and Kate Briggs-Price

To our shame and huge excitement and curiosity, the opening night of ZoieLogic Dance Theatre’s Heist was the first time either of us had seen a dance-only production. And on top of that, whilst between us we have a few years’ worth of mostly amateur dance experience, we know nothing about contemporary dancing, which was the show’s predominant style. In a nutshell, we went to the opening night of this show with absolutely no expectations and completely ready to see contemporary dance with fresh eyes.

And that is exactly what happened. As ZoieLogic Dance Theatre Artistic Director Zoie Golding expertly put it (she created the show after all), Heist mixes “the adventure of Mission Impossible, the gaming of Crystal Maze, and a little bit of the heart of The Goonies” – an emotionally dynamic, cleverly woven, action-packed show bursting with the most graceful moves which kept us on the edge of our seats throughout.

One of the most striking aspects of Heist was in the way it established the tone so promptly and accurately from the very first minute with the help of soundtrack and a villain with robotic moves, deeply unsettling facial expressions and Matrix-like costume. We like to think that we don’t get scared easily, but we definitely found ourselves huddling close into each other as the villain slowly approached our end of the stage. This almost instant characterization was also instilled into the four ‘good’ guys – despite there being absolutely no words spoken for the entire duration of the show, we quickly got a real sense of the dynamic between the characters in the first act, as their movements started to organize themselves into patterns and motifs to show their quirks and mannerisms, their teamwork and their willingness to do whatever it takes to escape the prison.

Interestingly, the storyline was quite minimalistic. Whilst the general plotlines were conveyed by the characters’ interaction with the set, the soundtrack and the dancers’ movements and facial expressions, the lack of words brought with itself a lack of specificity which Heist turned on its head into a vagueness encouraging audience engagement. We did not know exactly why the four men were imprisoned, or what they tried to set free at the end of it, but when we talked about it after coming out of the show we both thought it had something to do with identity. Whether or not that’s what it actually was about is a different question.

The great thing about the show is that none of this guesswork actually matters: you don’t get brownie points for identifying one specific metaphor the author wanted to convey. The focus was simply on how the incredibly skilful and graceful movements affected the audience’s emotions (and trust us, they did). The plot was merely shaped by some classic heist film tropes (e.g. the chase scene), and the fantastically adaptable set which enhanced the experience of the show by being as fluid as the dancers’ movements; the essence was all in the relationship between movements and emotion. As the dancers were climbing the prison’s walls showing some real parkour skills, we waited anxiously for them to fall. As they supported each other through their feeblest sequences of choreography we felt feeble with them. As they were running from the villain through the set which became a maze we were rooting for them to get away.

For us, that was the essence of Heist. It did not matter that we knew close to nothing about contemporary dance. It only mattered that we opened our eyes and hearts to see and feel this show, and we left NST City all the richer for it.

Watch the trailer for Heist below, and catch ZoieLogic Dance Theatre’s next show @zoielogic or at www.zoielogic.co.uk.

Introducing our 2019/20 Arts Ambassadors: Molly Ellis

Molly Ellis (left) filming with SUSU TV

Third year Music student Molly Ellis tells of the impact the arts have had on her life here at University of Southampton and looks ahead to the next few months in her role as Arts Ambassador.

I had such a good time working as an Arts Ambassador last year that, when the opportunity came up again, I couldn’t not apply! Last year, I had a blast reviewing theatre, art exhibitions and concerts, attending events and networking with both my peers and professionals in the industry. This last year has really opened my eyes as to what kind of future could be possible in the arts beyond university.

This year I hope to continue working to promote the arts to both my fellow students and the local community. It’s so important for students to understand that the arts you’re involved with at university could pave the way to a career, regardless of your degree. Showing that the gap between the ‘student’ and ‘professional’ worlds is not that wide is something I’m really keen to do – exploring these possibilities and networking is what university is all about!

As a third year music student, the arts have shaped pretty much my entire time at University. I’ve been lucky enough to start shaping my passions for music, theatre and filmmaking into the beginnings of a future beyond graduation- something I’m incredibly excited about.

I’m a freelance filmmaker and photographer and have had the pleasure of working with some amazing groups, such as SÓN and SUSO, and on some cinematography passion projects- one of which has just been accepted for screening at the Canadian International Comedy Film Festival!

I am also a Musical Director for musical theatre society Showstoppers after joining last year (on the advice of previous Arts Ambassador Ben McQuigg). I soon found myself stuck in with nearly every show and my first as Musical Director, ‘I Love You Because’, is coming up at the beginning of February! Getting stuck in with all of these activities across a breadth of arts topics has been an incredible experience, and has really extended the scope of skills learnt during my degree. I encourage absolutely everyone to get involved with at least one arts passion they have during their degree!

Being an Arts Ambassador for me is about both being a role model for participation and engagement with the arts, but also being a gateway to helping others access the arts, particularly those that think ‘it’s not for me’. There’s a wealth of things out there to explore in Southampton and beyond!