Hollowware Artist’s Performance for Worcester’s Canals
11 August 2018, 1:30 pm start
Museum of Royal Worcester (Severn St, Worcester WR1 2ND) & Diglis Basin
Contemporary artist Emily Speed will create Hollowware, an unusual artwork and performance inspired by the Museum of Royal Worcester’s historic collections and the waterways nearby that once served the Worcester porcelain works.
Part of the artwork is a structural costume, from which the performer will reveal plaster moulds and the spaces they contain, referencing a pair of potter’s vases held in the Museum’s archives (the vases date from 1878 and contain miniature scenes from artisans’ workshops, in an Italian Renaissance style). On 11th August, a performer will parade from the Museum of Royal Worcester, setting off at 1:30pm, down to the canal side at Diglis Basin, telling stories about the miniatures, the museum and the canals on the way. Emily Speed says, “The objects I make, and the stories told by the performer, will have an abstract quality, acting like memories or moments in time.” Part of the journey will take place on the ‘Wanderer’, a working boat owned and operated by the Canal & River Trust.
The work is being commissioned by regional arts organisation Meadow Arts and the Canal & River Trust’s ‘Arts on the Waterways’ project The Ring, aiming to bring high quality art to the area, encouraging local audiences and visitors to visit the museum and Worcester’s canals and rivers. Emily Speed is one of seven artists commissioned to make work as part of The Ring, in a project taking place from March to September 2018.
Tim Eastop, executive producer of the Canal & River Trust’s ‘Arts on the Waterways’ programme, says, “Emily’s fascinating work and performance will bring to life some of the rich narratives that have entwined Worcestershire’s waterways with its world famous porcelain. I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished work in the museum, following a towpath walk alongside the river that helped inspire it. We are delighted with how the worlds of the arts, the waterways and local people have come together throughout the last few months of The Ring. Emily’s performance is the next chapter of this evolving programme of high calibre arts inspired by waterways and one I can only recommend that you see for yourself.”
Emily Speed, who is based in Cheshire and travels internationally for her art projects, is talking to groups and individuals about their interest in the history of Royal Worcester and links to the waterways, which are inspiring places to visit. Her interests lie in the relationship between people and buildings and her work often explores the human body and its relationship to architecture, she says, “I am interested in the dual histories of life working at Royal Worcester and also living on the canals. Hollowware takes Royal Worcester’s reticulated wares – objects made with layers inside other layers – as a starting point to produce a sculptural costume that speaks of a compact way of living, where work and life are inextricable.”
A film of the performance will be made on the day and this will be exhibited along with the costume in The Precious Clay, a major Meadow Arts exhibition at the Museum of Royal Worcester from September 2018 to March 2019. Anne de Charmant, Meadow Arts’ Director and Curator, says, “We are delighted to be working with Emily, who has already talked about her work as part of our Garage Open Lecture Series with the University of Worcester. Her work is exciting because it lies at the crossroads of performance and sculpture; it relies on sharing stories and direct participation with audiences. At Meadow Arts we believe that The Ring project has brought a dynamic extra arts presence to Worcester and compliments the work that we do to bring contemporary art to the rural West Midlands counties of Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire.”