MIF were delighted to support six Greater Manchester based Jerwood Creative Fellows who spent time with the Festival in the build-up to and during MIF17. The cohort of creative practitioners worked alongside creative teams of major festival commissions, exploring how work is created, gaining great experience and learning new skills in our unique Festival environment.

The six successful practitioners are: Simon Bray, a landscape and documentary photographer; Hafsah Aneela Bashir, a poet, spoken word artist and facilitator; Chanje Kunda, a Manchester based poet, playwright and performance artist; Amy Lawrence, a multidisciplinary live and visual artist with a practice that encompasses facilitation, curation and creative producing; Erinma Ochu, a writer and producer of immersive and participatory experiences; and Mahboobeh Rajabi, a Digital Artist, Animator, Film Maker and Theatre Director.

The Jerwood Creative Fellows programme is generously supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Jerwood Charitable Foundation is dedicated to imaginative and responsible revenue funding of the arts, supporting artists to develop and grow at important stages in their careers. The aim of its funding is to allow artists and arts organisations to thrive; to continue to develop their skills, imagination and creativity with integrity. It works with artists across art forms, from dance and theatre to literature, music and the visual arts. www.jerwoodcharitablefoundation.org

Chanje Kunda

Commission:
Fatherland

Chanje Kunda is a Manchester based poet, playwright and performance artist that tours nationally and internationally. She has performed at venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, Calabash Literature Festival Jamaica, National Arts Festival of South Africa, Podium Mozaeik Theater, Amsterdam, and for the British Council at the Harare International Festival of Arts in Zimbabwe.

What were the key areas of your practice you wanted to develop?

I wanted to develop my skills in writing for theatre, voice for theatre, dance and movement (especially contemporary dance); to increase my knowledge of music and how it enhances theatre. I was keen to see masters at work and learn about their processes of making work, their methodology and how they rehearse for shows.

What were the specific questions or challenges you wanted to explore through this experience?

Previously, I did feel out on a limb being an artist working outside of London, because the highest quality international artists presenting work do so in London and I didn't feel I was getting that exposure, and this impacted on my ability to be innovative in my own practice. Being part of the Jerwood Fellowship and also being involved Heiner's development process has opened my horizons artistically and creatively.

Erinma Ochu

Commission:
What If Women Ruled The World

Erinma Ochu is a writer, producer and researcher of immersive and participatory experiences she collaborates with artists, designers, scientists and the public to create experimental work across a range of settings. Past commissions include gallery piece, Nature’s Switch, FarmLab and The Manchester Recycled Robot Orchestra. She teaches at Salford University. Following the fellowship, she went on to take up a visual artist residency with her collective, Squirrel Nation in The Stuart Hall Library / INIVA.

What were the key areas of your practice you wanted to develop?

The fellowship was timely an opportunity to learn from international artists as they create work with the MIF team. I hoped to learn from the development and production of high quality work, particularly in relation to participatory and cross disciplinary elements, evolving artistic forms and creating ambitious, memorable and unique works that can tour.

What were the specific questions or challenges you wanted to explore through this experience?

In particular, I loved learning about directing performance, sound composition and lighting and how that all comes together – I feel indebted to Vicky Featherstone – she was so generous. Yael’s brilliant concept – and seeing it brought to life, to take form, I was grappling with a different way into writing, and now, through this creative process, I saw how that’s possible, its liberating. My writing will be richer for it. I learned a lot from John McGrath and different MIF teams in terms of leadership - how they engaged with people, talked about difficult topics, creatively problem solved and thrived under pressure.

Simon Bray

Commission:
One of Two Stories, or Both

Simon Bray is a Manchester based artist, currently utilising photography to explore the notion of place and landscape. Through project collaborations with artists and participants, he looks to encourage the exploration of our connection with locations formed through memory, shared experience and emotional response. Having completed a degree in Music at Manchester University, he continues to utilise music within his research, particularly how sound and composition can influence and support the creation of visual content. His work has been shown at The Whitworth, Southbank Centre, Brighton Photo Biennial, The Guardian and BBC In Pictures.

What were the key areas of your practice you wanted to develop?

I needed to persevere with the development of my image making, the motivations behind the projects and photographs I’m taking and building a body of work that engages a more emotional response.

What were the specific questions or challenges you wanted to explore through this experience?

It’s been a huge pleasure, a life and career affirming experience that has inspired so many ideas and generated so much momentum within me that I feel like I will be working for years to come.

Mahboobeh Rajabi

Commission:
Party Skills for the End of the World

Mahboobeh is a Digital Artist, Animator, Film Maker and Theatre Director. Her specialisms are animation, moving image, documentary, promo videos and making theatre.

What were the key areas of your practice you wanted to develop?

I needed to develop both my performance production and Digital skills. I was open to explore and experience the process of any form of art work.

What were the specific questions or challenges you wanted to explore through this experience?

I had a lack of confidence in an idea to create an artistic hub to explore innovative ways for
co-creation to make a project that I am preparing to produce for Japan Day 2018.
After my Fellowship I now have full faith in my idea because I witnessed how these creative
and innovative collaborations are effective in a very positive and productive way and I made the first artistic HUB happen in Manchester.

Amy Lawrence

Commission:
10000 Gestures

Amy Lawrence graduated from Manchester School Of Art in 2013 and has since worked across the UK and beyond as an artist, creative producer and facilitator of participatory settings and events in various settings from the gallery to site specific settings and theatre spaces. Amy is also the co-founder of LEGROOM, a new space for approaches to movement and visual arts in Manchester city centre (supported by Castlefield Gallery).

What were the key areas of your practice you wanted to develop?

Observing the preparations for 10,000 gestures (Boris Charmatz), allowed me to develop a more coherent and knowledgeable approach to choreographic methods, performative skills, devising processes and rehearsal methods in order to professionalize my practise further. I hoped to develop my curatorial practise through being embedded within MIF and explore how creative relationships are instigated and managed but also closely observe the diversity ethos and talent development programmes so I am able to apply these approaches to LEGROOM (Amy Lawrence & Juliet Davis).

What were the specific questions or challenges you wanted to explore through this experience?

Through my involvement in the programme I now have connections to the Festival which are very beneficial. I have been able to talk with members of staff and develop a deeper connection with MIF and to continue my communication across the organisation. I worked alongside my curatorial collaborator who was an artist liaison for 10,000 Gestures, which meant we were able to involve some of the Boris Charmatz dancers within our project LEGROOM through this connection so we now also both have contacts with the dancers and team behind the work’

Hafsah Aneela Bashir

Commission:
The Welcoming Party

Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a published writer and performance poet based in Manchester. I facilitate creative writing workshops with underrepresented and marginalised groups in the community with a strong focus on empowerment and identity. I'm also co-director of a new arts collective I co-formed, Outside The Frame Arts, which aims to challenge the gatekeepers of knowledge and platform voices often absent from the mainstream. https://hafsahaneelabashir.wordpress.com/

What were the key areas of your practice you wanted to develop?

I wanted to develop skills for script writing and learn more about the collaborative process of devised theatre making. I wanted to develop my confidence especially performance skills as I would be producing and acting in a play centred around the complex relationship Muslim women have with the cloth.

What were the specific questions or challenges you wanted to explore through this experience?

It’s taught me a lot about the various art forms and techniques that I can incorporate into my own practise. It reminded us of the ethos and vision that MIF is achieving and gave us food for thought as to how we can contribute to that legacy once the festival is over.

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