This blog is written by Wysing's Director, Donna Lynas and is about some of the things happening at Wysing, or influencing what happens at Wysing.

Guest blogger, the writer Jessica Lack, provided a live commentary on our Futurecamp events over the summer of 2014. To read full transcripts of the events click the tags 'thewaywecatnowliveblogtext'  "publicvsprivateliveblog"  "thewaywelivenowliveblog" "alternativemethodsliveblog" "apostgenderworldliveblog".

Click the tag "space-time14" to see videos of some of the people playing at our music festival this year, on 30 August.


Koyaanisqatsi  16 November 2014

I haven’t been blogging for a while, or doing anything at all really, and have missed so many things I wanted to go to, as I’ve been unwell. But on Friday evening I went to see Philip Glass and his Ensemble at Cambridge Corn Exchange with some of our lovely artists-in-residence. This was a last minute decision and one that was down to the helpfulness of Corn Exchange staff; it was sold out but they managed to find some space for us right at the front. It turned out to be an incredible night. The evening included an extract from the soundtrack to the film ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ which just amazed me because I first encountered that film when I was 16 or 17 and remember it having a huge effect on me; watching it on my own in a little house in rural Northern Ireland. And there I was, 30 years later watching Philip Glass himself playing it right in front me! Glass in his late 70s, as are some his long term collaborators in the Ensemble, Jon Gibson and Michael Riesman, but all of them are still incredibly dexterous and proficient. Some of the pieces were unbelievably fast and involved circular breathing and there was one section where Lisa Bielawa, who was the only person contributing voice, had to repeat the same phrase, in rapid succession, for about 20 minutes. It was amazing that her voice held the same unwavering clarity throughout. And Jon Gibson’s solo on ‘Facades’ was so gentle and tender, the skill was just incredible. Jon Gibson in fact played at the premier of Terry Riley's 'In C', in the late 1960s, a work that was performed by the Invisible Polytechnic Orchestra at our music festival in 2011. Anyway, the whole concert was a much needed joyous and uplifting experience. I think it might be time to watch ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ again. It means ‘life out of balance’. Here’s an extract.

Tags: philip glass | 


Remembering  2 October 2014

Sometimes, the connectedness of things really throws me and at the same time reassures. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, or maybe I’m more attuned to it than usual... last Sunday I watched a really informative TV programme on the painter David Bomberg, who was a contemporary of Dora Carrington and Stanley Spencer and an artist who was cruelly marginalised by the British art establishment during his lifetime. The reason I watched it in the first place, as I hardly ever watch TV, was because when Gustav Metzger was in-residence at Wysing last summer he talked a lot about Bomberg and how they had worked together briefly as part of The Borough Group. Gustav also mentioned that he was being interviewed about Bomberg for a BBC TV programme and of course it was the one that was screened on Sunday. Bomberg’s is a tragic story of a man of immense talent who lived to make art and who was left literally penniless and starving at the end of his life.

A while ago I was asked by someone to nominate an artist for the Joanna Drew Travel Bursary. This award had been set up by a group of friends in memory of Joanna who had been Director of the Hayward Gallery from 1987 to1992 and before that curator at the Arts Council for many years. She died aged 73 in 2003. I never met Joanna Drew, and indeed had never heard of her before being asked to nominate for the award, and I have only seen a couple of photos of her. But at an event to remember her earlier this week I was very moved to see just how much her friends still loved and admired her. These friends have been quietly distributing travel bursaries for the past ten years in her name, to ensure that younger generations of artists have the opportunity to fulfill ambitions and for them to know about Joanna and how important she was to her friends and to the arts in this country. I recently found out that whilst at the Arts Council, when it was an entirely different organisation, Joanna had brought many international artists to the UK and that she was friends with Picasso and Max Ernst. But the funny discovery was that in a male dominated arts establishment that hated him, the one person to insist upon a retrospective of David Bomberg’s work at Tate in 1967 was none other than Joanna Drew.

Joanna was born into financial privilege and no doubt that helped her on her way. But she was clearly talented and worked extremely hard, with great purpose and charisma. I’m pleased that I’ve had a reason to find out about her and her life although it's strange how little exists as a document of that influential life. And I’m glad that David Bomberg is finally receiving the acknowledgement he deserves for his work, at least his paintings still exist for us to see thanks to the art collector Sarah Rose.

How easy it is to forget people. We shouldn’t.

Tags: untagged


Karen Gwyer  25 September 2014

Everyone who saw Karen Gwyer perform in our festival last month will remember what an amazing and disorientating journey she took us all on. It was pretty special. She opened with the deeply introverted track Missisissipippi and then by the end of her set somehow had us all wildly dancing. Here's the equally disorientating and oddly compulsive video for Missisissipippi. 

Tags: spacetime14 | 


Defiance  21 September 2014

"Probably [there is bias], if one looks at the data about the number of women museum directors, pay scales and salaries, maternity leave. But it’s also interesting that many of the most exciting organizations that give New York City its extraordinary texture, that nurture generation after generation of emerging artists, and that contribute so significantly to making this city the inimitable cultural capital of the world, are run by women (as are several of the great enduring galleries). It says something about women’s visionary approach to shaping culture, their determination to make things happen in spite of the system or the conventions of institutions. Theirs is a kind of emancipation that is deeply felt, and which they act upon day after day. They ask no one’s permission to do what they do. Sexism doesn’t stand a chance."
—RoseLee Goldberg, Founder, Performa

Staying on the subject of defiance (see previous entry), I was very encouraged to read this statement by RoseLee Goldberg this week. As someone who has recently organised a festival focussing on women artists and musicians, I clearly think there is a problem with sexism in the arts. There are of course other other prejudices, in particular class, but that statement from RoseLee got straight to the point for me which is that when you are shut out of an established system, for whatever reason, then there is really is only one thing to do and that is do something different and something that you believe in. If you apply what she has said to the UK, then it’s easy to reel off a list of amazing women who are simply getting on with it and in the process offering artists access to new opportunities, and the arts establishment new approaches and perspectives.

In terms of that list, those who leap to my mind (off the top of my head and in no particular order) are Irene Revell (Electra), Lina Russell (Electra), Eleanor Vonne Brown (X Marks the Bokship), Ami Clarke (Banner Repeater), Rebecca Shatwell (AV Festival), Emily Pethick (The Showroom), Helen Legg (Spike Island), Milika Muritu (Cell Project Space), Polly Staple (Chisenhale), Catherine Wood (Interdisciplinary Projects, Tate), Sara Nunes Fernandes (School of the Damned), Eva Rowson (Art Licks), Lisa Meyer (Supersonic), Sally Tallent (Liverpool Biennial), Anna Colins (Open School East), Claire Louise Staunton (Flat Time House), Sarah McCrory (Glasgow International), Michaela Crimmin (Culture + Conflict), Sue Jones (A-N), Judith Knight (Artsadmin), Tamsin Dillon, Kathy Noble, Karen di Franco, and so many more, all of whom I feel closely related to. Maybe it’s time to shout a bit louder about just how relevant what we all do is. As RoseLee says, these alterntive ways of working are a form of emancipation that is deeply felt and quietly acted upon day after day.

Tags: untagged


More Mike Hadreas  21 September 2014

Becoming a tiny bit obsessed with Mike Hadreas - I'm just really enjoying his defiance and the way that he has transformed prejudice and anxiety into something really interesting, and exciting for mainstream music. Looking forward to hearing the full album when it comes out this week.

Tags: mike hadreas |