ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

ArtsLab11 Reflection: What was the experience?

Photography by Yann Audic

My 2011 ArtsLab year has come to an end, and upon reflection, I know this experience will continue to shape the paths I forge and the stepping stones I choose to jump, to come. However, before I close this chapter, I want to briefly reflect and in turn reveal, what my ArtsLab11 experience has really been like, and to share both the revelations and resolutions I have come to both express and to confidently take with me into the future.

Phase I: Work-in-Progress (April July)
This period was most definitely a trying time for me. I found the work-in-progress framework difficult to work within and to explore and navigate my ideas in such a new way was raw. The development of my creative ideas – my enquiry into the relationship between “Movement (Flesh ÷ Body x Surface x Texture) + Light + Sound = Untitled Rred” – was not ground-breaking to say the least, but in hindsight, this creative development was foundational if not essential to my final work, Homunculus.

From Phase I, I learnt several valuable lessons: The significance of time (and time management), but  more importantly, the complexities and challenges of an initial creative development of new creative ideas. I also began to face my ‘trained eye’ (refer to BLOG: ArtsLab11 Work-in-Progress: To Ponder) and to openly take into consideration the impact of my classical training as a dancer, as well as the advantages and disadvantages such training could have on my current artistic practice. And perhaps most significantly, I began to realise the strength, trust and instinctual confidence I needed to have in both myself as well as those I work with. I must mention here: A BIG thank you to Michael Pigott for persevering (and politely pushing) with me in every possible way.

Phase II: Shopfront Contemporary Arts & Performance’s Machine Atlas (July – August)
To have Machine Atlas between Phase I and Phase III: Final Season of Work of ArtsLab11 was a blessing in disguise. The rehearsal period and performance season were both experimental (that is in comparison to anything I had ever participated in before) and while on many occasions I felt out of my depth, I enjoyed the process as it developed over the short 6-week period.

In Machine Atlas, I was so fortunate to work alongside a core ensemble of talented young performers and an extensive team and network of industry professionals. This was by far the highlight of this experience, and a lesson I learnt in collaborative approaches towards a shared vision and production: How to work with a team in a productive and manageable way. A BIG thank you to Caitlin Newton-Broad for her leadership.

Phase III: Final Season of Work (August – November)
This 8-week period was both the most fun and rewarding of ArtsLab11. Even now as I write, I feel so elated and so very proud of my (and the ArtsLabbers) achievements. So, where to begin?

Devisor Rachel, Performer Rachel and The Creative Team
During Phase I, I had a huge realisation: I do NOT want to work on this piece on my own. I discovered that on my own, whilst I was efficient, I was not as productive as I wanted or could be. This lead me to make three big decision that I would put into practice in Phase III:
1) When I was in the rehearsal room playing and exploring, I would be ‘Devisor Rachel’; and
2) When I was performing on stage (or doing a run of the piece during a rehearsal), I would be ‘Performer Rachel’; and
3) I would NOT work on this piece on my own and instead, I would surround myself with a team of individuals I had trust in to work with during the 8-week period.
… and this is exactly what I did.

All three decisions were effective and definitely a way of working I found to be incredibly useful (and will strive to keep developing) – especially decision 3. I surrounded myself with five individuals who guided, supported, encouraged, inspired, influenced and opened me up to the possibilities of my own creative ideas and process, as well as their own. All five know who they are, and I am eternally grateful for what you have taught me. I cannot wait to work with you all again!

ArtsLabbers become Producers
The ArtsLabbers were also the producers of our final season. This was a challenging facet, but in short, many skills were learnt – Marketing, Publicity, Photography and Filming, Writing Media Releases and hundreds of odd, little jobs – and our working relationship as a team was strengthened. A BIG thank you to Pollyanna Kasia Nowicki, Yann Audic and James Shepherd for photographing and filming for ArtsLab.

Final Season of Work
It is so very hard to put into words what I think and how I feel about my final work for ArtsLab11, Homunculus. And so, in true Rachel form, here are a collection – my stream of consciousness – of photographic and filmic images I want to use to describe and capture my experience.

Photography by Pollyanna Kasia Nowicki

Photography by Yann Audic

Photography by Yann Audic

My 2011 ArtsLab year has had a phenomenal impact on both Rachel as Devisor and Performer (and now, the term I happily refer to myself as – Rachel the Physical Movement Artist), as much as it has had on just Rachel. The support of Shopfront and our mentors has finally given me the courage to tackle this dream of mine, and now, I am filled with a drive unlike any I have had before. With spirits high and a determination to make this dream into a reality, I know this never would have been possible or even ignited without ArtsLab.

Thank you to all that have I had the utmost pleasure working alongside this year, and to all that have supported the ArtsLab Program.

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