Sasha Gray, organiser of the forthcoming Birdsong exhibition to occur in Doncaster as the outcome of the programme of commissions, gives an overview of the development of the journey in making the works that the artists have travelled.
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Birdsong on The Planet of the Apes exhibition will appear in waves from June the 21st onwards culminating during the ArtBomb long weekend August 5-9th.
As the world entered a whole new existence at the emergence of the Covid 19 pandemic, we began to try and make huge adjustments to a life known previously, many of us had no idea of the hardship ahead. Early on in the pandemic, hit hard or exposed perhaps for the first time, to loss in the form of livelihood, death and illness, human interaction and community.
In high contrast to the tragedy and suffering, we became aware of our environment, as the roads emptied of cars and highstreet shops and businesses shut down, our senses adjusted. We were rid of the distractions that we were so attuned to and we began to notice nature and its apparent ‘take over’ of our towns and public spaces and gardens. Our minds cleared long enough for us to think.
In March 2020, Doncaster Creates commissioned 14 artists in the area to respond to the Covid 19 crisis within a project named Birdsong On The Planet Of The Apes. For many of the commissioned artists, this project was a welcome opportunity at a time when freelance work was scarce and even more insecure than ever. For some of the artists, struggling to establish themselves on their fledgling career path, it also became a significant building block of practice development in a very precarious time. As the work comes to fruition, it is interesting to reflect back.
This summer, the work of the Birdsong artists will be showcased from June over a period of 8 weeks which will also form a part of ArtBomb festival taking place between 5th and 9th of August.
With a wide variety of art forms being presented to the public, the show presents the results of the work, part of a continued experiment soon to be presented in the centre of Doncaster based at and in partnership with the Unitarian Church on Hallgate.
Each artist has used different media which includes screenings by film producers Angela Robson with Writing the World Backwards and James Lockey, 2D exhibitions from artist Mandy Keating with The World Beyond The Square, photographer Amelia Londsale with God Bless Bentley, sound, light and photographic work by multi media artist Ryan Harston with I Give You My HeART, audio short by film maker Raj Madaan with White Privilege, ceramic work by Sarah Villeneau with The Ground Beneath Our Feet, podcast with young writers from Vicky Morris with Brave New Worlds, photography by Les Monoghan with Invisible Vox Pops, youth radio show by Ian Byatt Breakin Radio, posters, placards and tee shirts by Sarah Smizz with Networks of Care, interactive slow karts by Sacha Gray with Listening for Birdsong, eco-audio hack by Warren Draper with Unbound Arts. Woven into the mix of exhibitions and performances will be workshops and artist talks will make up the Birdsong show in the shop space as well as spilling out into the public realm and online.
The Birdsong projects embrace that chink in ‘normality’ presented by the pandemic and innovatively explore how we might begin to build a new, better, world which places ultimate value on care, nurture and respect for all life.