Anna Kirk-Smith

Art and science. Unusual bedfellows, some might say. Not so for Anna Kirk-Smith. Our curriculum leader for Creative Futures and Fine Art lecturer has collaborative working down to an incredibly fine art.

Having initially trained as a vet, she then completed a HND in Illustration and an MA at the Royal College of Art, London, which focused on natural history and scientific collaboration.

“The two disciplines complement each other incredibly well,” says Anna who, among other roles is committed to writing the employer engagement strand of Hull School of Art And Design’s offering for the next seven years. “The inspirations, methodologies and practical aspects of science and art fuse to form hybrid works.  I am becoming increasing intrigued by the communication of scientific thinking through visual means.”

Anna’s personal fine art practice, for example, includes research and conservation projects, commissions from the Wildlife Trust and work with the scientists of Hull Geological Society.

The Unfortunate Repercussions of Discovery and Survival (1xxx)“My work is drawing based,” she explains, “as well as sculptures and paintings. I instigate the commissions I take on, so I get to choose my collaborators and subjects.”

Anna has exhibited her sci-art work extensively in solo and group shows, recently in the 2011-13 Ghosts Of Gone Birds exhibitions in Shoreditch a project that saw 120 artists including Sir Peter Blake and Ralph Steadman each create a work of art around an extinct species – in Anna’s case, a spectacled cormorant.  The exhibition also led to an personal book collaboration with an academic from Williams-Mystic College in Connecticut.

“I really enjoy the research aspects of the projects that I do,” she says. “That’s why I choose my projects – I select something I want to learn about and always make sure it’s a subject I know very little about. Hence joining Hull Geological Society.”

As an extension of this research, she expects to start a PhD based around the idea of sci-art collaboration in the near future. To this end, Anna – along with a poet, a sculptor, a fine artist and a silversmith – is currently engaging in geological research field trips around Flamborough Head , taught and led by the Flamborough Quaternary Research Group. This will result in a group exhibition opening in January 2014 at Studio 11 gallery, in Humber Street, Hull. The exhibition from there will tour nationally.

She has won numerous awards for her artwork, including the Mann Group Drawing Prize (2003), the Birdscapes Gallery Award (2009) and the Wildlife Trusts Underwater Award (2010).

Sandeels - Dunbar

Anna was for many years also a co-director of a social enterprise visual arts development company, ‘Create Big Skies’ – which she describes as a way of providing arts mentoring that will ultimately leave a legacy for the creative community in Hull and East Yorkshire. “I have now incorporated these experiences, the skills development and industry contacts into the new Creative Futures curriculum within the Faculty of Art.”

Naturally, Anna’s drive and dedication to creating a legacy for future students is vital to her roles at Hull School Of Art And Design.

“The USPs here include our employer engagement and the employability preparation we give our students,” she says. “Eventually, we aim to launch creative business spaces and studios for our graduates to rent. I’ve also just set up the Fine Art Alumni Association that we plan to use as a template for other courses. The whole point is to continually reinvigorate the arts scene in Hull.

“There are a lot of similarities between art and science. One’s trying to find a point and, through experimentation, one’s trying to prove a point.”

Littorina littorea

Whether sci-art collaboration is an aspect of the future of art in Hull remains to be seen. But for Anna Kirk-Smith, at least, it’s the natural conclusion.

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Mark Pearce

The term “real life Billy Elliot” has become something of a cliché in dance terms. All too often, the phrase is wheeled out to describe any male ballet dancer with a working-class background.

For our BA (Hons) Dance lecturer Mark Pearce however, it is a little more than that.

Having performed in Matthew Bourne’s highly acclaimed adaptation of Swan Lake, Mark and his fellow cast of all-male swans featured in the final scene of the Billy Elliot film.

His role in the hit West End and touring production took Mark from the UK to Europe and Israel. At times, it really did seem a long way from his Hull roots.

Severely dyslexic and growing up in an environment where it seemed “nobody was interested in diagnosing dyslexia”, Mark admits his school days were spent mostly “messing around”. When he wasn’t messing around, he was playing rugby. He captained his school’s rugby team and played for three teams, club, city and county.

It may not come as surprise then, to learn that Mark’s talent and passion for ballet was discovered quite by chance, when dance lessons were unexpectedly offered to teenage boys at his school.

“I fell in love with ballet,” he says. “It is such a pure, controlled discipline, I love that side of it and the intensity of the training. I love the art of it. You need to make it look as though you’re light but you need to be as strong as possible.”

Mark went on to train in contemporary dance and ballet with the Northern School Of Contemporary Dance, and performed with the exclusive Laban dance company, Transitions, in Europe and Japan.

““Ballet is great because it’s so structured and it fully works the body,” he says. “It’s a funny thing, dance. It can play with your emotions. I never cried until I went to dance college. When I trained, you were pushed to the floor if you got something wrong. Of course, we don’t do that here but you do have to be in tune with your body to do it. You need to feel it.”

He returned to Hull for his family because “even when you’re staying in five-star hotels, when you’re touring all the time and living out of a suitcase, you just want to come home at the end of the day to spend time with your kids”.

Mark taught at St Mary’s College in Hull for more than two years and, as a freelance artist and dance teacher, in 2003 set up Y Dance with a colleague to provide workshops to Hull schools and work within Creative Partnerships.

He was appointed to teach dance at Hull School of Performance Arts in October 2012. Practical research projects are already under way. He is currently working with a colleague on a dance project in an “upside-down room” with the third-year degree students called Falling.  And he has recently returned from a four-day research trip to New York with 22 students, where he learnt contemporary Graham And Cunningham (G&C) dance techniques first-hand at Martha Graham and Emma Cunningham’s New York studios.

“I try my best to keep the dance I teach as pure as possible,” he says. “The way I see it is, if I teach my students something that’s pure, they can take those techniques anywhere else.”

Whether you come from a classical dance background, or a tough Hull estate, Mark is living proof that, with talent, hard work and commitment, dance can take you anywhere.

Hedley Brown

Have you got a minute? That’s all our lecturer in Acting needs to convince you that all the world truly can be your stage.

Having taught acting since 2000, in his spare time, Hedley Brown contributes as a playwright, actor and a co-director to an annual one-minute play festival Gi60 (Gone In 60 Seconds). All-comers are free to submit their one-minute works, and 100 are chosen. Fifty of the plays are performed at Harrogate Theatre, Stage 12 at Leeds University and the Viaduct Theatre at Dean Clough mills in Halifax; and 50 go to Brooklyn College in New York. It’s a wonderfully inclusive approach to theatre, says Hedley, which strives to make theatre more accessible and fun.

“We want to get as many different playwrights as possible,” says Hedley. “The beauty of it is, if you don’t like one play, you don’t have to wait long until the next one comes along.”

Hedley’s students often take to the stage to perform these theatre shorts, all of which are filmed and published on Youtube. Hedley’s Sceptical Sceptic, for example, can be viewed HERE:

Hedley completed his first degree in Theatre Acting at the University of Leeds’ former arts enclave, Bretton Hall. Invited straight back to teach at Bretton Hall after graduation, he says the unique location played a huge role in his passion for acting and theatre.

“It got me into this mad world,”  says Hedley, who went on to teach at Harrogate College in 2006 and, in 2012, at Hull School of Performance Arts within the Faculty of Arts. “That landscape and the nature reserve left a real lasting impression on people who studied there. Now, we’re finding inspiration for our students in the urban environment – it’s trying to find the magical in the mundane. We’re looking at urban spaces in a different way as we aim to introduce site-specific performances.

He is currently planning to study a performance-related MA, using practice as research.

Hedley is heavily involved in corporate theatre practice, appearing in role-play scenarios for training, recruitment or promotional videos – mostly for the police force. He also regularly participates in organised street theatre, for example staging a version of a Christmas Carol that saw him “dragging a guy on a cart through the streets of Ashby-de-la-Zouch”, while wishing surprised onlookers “a very miserable Christmas”.

Proof, should it be needed, that the world really can be your stage.

Ben Wade

A practising film-maker and photographer, Ben Wade is our video production learning advisor.  Ben arrived at Hull School of Art and Design as a technician in September 2012, moving into his current role only two months later.

He now teaches video editing techniques and software skills to photography, TV and film degree students, with a view to taking on increasing teaching responsibilities as he adds to his academic qualifications.

“I like to be thrown in at the deep end,” says Ben. “I’m constantly updating my skills using non-linear video-editing packages, including Adobe Creative Suite and specialising in Adobe Premier Pro.  I have to stay ahead of the game – students can look up so much on the internet but nothing compares to doing it yourself. I’m there to support them as they do that.”

Ben completed a BSc (Hons) in Film Production And Technology at Staffordshire University and has worked as a sound engineer in BBC Radio 4’s drama department in Manchester.

Inspired by the Renaissance period of art, Ben draws on this imagery in his film-making practice, which includes work with independent film-makers Berry Productions.

He provides the Hull-based company with practical sound production and post-production expertise and has contributed to a number of films, including The Reunion and The Field, which is currently at the production stage.

The following showreel highlights a wider range of Ben’s film-making and editing skills.

His freelance portfolio includes photography, film, sound and lighting for independent film-makers, SFX, marketing and graphic design corporate identity work for business and wedding photography.

Some examples of his candid wedding shots can be seen HERE:

Find Ben on Linked In; or follow his film and photography practice on Facebook.

Claire Day

You will find sought-after textile designer Claire Day’s work in London’s Chelsea Harbour and New York’s D&D building.

These global interior design hubs house many of the well-known clients that demand her talents to produce weave, print and wallpaper.

Yet it is perhaps the textile and fashion industry’s fasting growing and most pressing problem that has sparked a fascinating area of research for Claire.

She combines her Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) role with freelance practice and research on the subject of sustainable textiles. In short, what can be done to keep textiles out of landfill.

Claire’s passion for her subject is evident and highlights an interesting dilemma for the designer with a conscience.

Creativity is in my blood,” says Claire, who has been at HSAD since 2005. “Growing up, somebody was always making. For me, it was always fashion and textiles.  I knew from the age of 10 I wanted to be a fashion designer and I was making clothes, even selling my stuff, back then.

“I love what I do.  Especially designing checks and stripes – they look very simple but, in fact, are very, very difficult to do well. Checks and stripes are some of the hardest things to design because of the simplicity.”

Claire did her BA in fashion and textiles at Birmingham City University and an MA in Constructed Textiles at the Royal College of Arts, which she completed in 1999. She completed an MSc at the University of Leeds in 2011.

“I was working from my first degree onwards,” she says. “I had a paid placement while on my second degree with an Indian manufacturing company and was also teaching at the same time.”

She has extensive experience working in design businesses and manufacturing in the UK, Europe and Asia and now completes commissions from leading design houses.

Claire is currently investigating the way customers dispose of their clothing and the processes that can be put in place to keep more of it out of the world’s burgeoning landfill sites.

“I’m looking at the link between the first supply chain and the second supply chain,” Claire says. “I started researching this subject because I wanted to change direction in my work and there were elements of not wanting to be part of the problem. So, I went off to be a research assistant as part of a University of Huddersfield programme that went to Africa. We looked at landfill sites there and we saw first-hand how much clothing is being sent to landfill that could to be used further as recycled textiles.”

The first supply chain refers to the first use fashion market. “Once we think a garment is valueless, we send it to charity for recycling,” says Claire. “A vast amount of UK textile is sent to sub-Saharan Africa as second-hand clothing, the second supply chain. Yet the whole industry relies on the goodwill of the UK customers. The difficult part is finding a way to influence that goodwill.

“All textiles can be reused and have value, from the top-grade reuse fabrics, which takes the least energy, to the lowest-grade fabrics that can be taken back to their fibre stage and reused.

End-of-life management and sustainability should be the textile industry’s USP. I want to use my industry knowledge to set a precedent.”

Claire’s research is ongoing.

JIll Howitt

Jill Howitt is our Critical And Theoretical Studies (CATS) leader for the faculty.

After completing her own first degree in Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design, Jill’s career progressed towards a focus on theory, allowing her to combine experience gained as a practicing abstract artist with her on-going research work.

She completed an Open University MA in Art History focusing on the cultural and aesthetic issues surrounding Anish Kapoor’s 110m long, 50m high Temenos; a public artwork in Middlesborough Dock. Her current PhD builds on that study, and is titled, On The Borders: Public Art and Coastal Sites In The North Of England.

Jill says:  “My research work has developed with the Open University to look at art in the public realm. I am interested in the critical frameworks required to assess public sculptures as art and as public works. Each of the works identified for this study has specific economic and social aims. The joining of the words public and art suggests that there will be a relationship between sculpture and site and that there will be some public involvement or benefit.

“I am interested in the role of art within the contexts of place, identity and migration. While some of the sculptures I am researching commemorate place, some examine identity outside of civic and national boundaries by celebrating journeys, migration routes and the connections between places, rather than the differences. For example, Immigrants is a cast sculpture placed in Hull, Liverpool, Portsmouth and in several sites in America. It traces the route travelled by immigrants from Eastern Europe, through Britain via Hull and Liverpool, bound for America.”

Jill also writes exhibition reviews and attends conferences and forums run by the Open University, such as The Surrealist House at the Barbican, London. She also attends events that focus on public art in the north of England such as, Magnificent Distance – a critical forum that took place in Newcastle, in August 2012.

Jill is a BAAT-registered art therapist.

She has been teaching since 1982.

 

Mark Terry

Some say the internet was made for cat pictures. And if you have a spare moment of web time and fancy a comedic, documentary insight in the world of feline floor-fillers, take a look at Mark Terry’s Cat Show 1 and 2

The results are what happens when a documentary photographer with a “lifelong apathy toward cats” reluctantly finds himself submerged in the surreal world of pet shows.

Internet-friendly they may be, but the candid shots taken by our lecturer in BA (Hons) Lens-based Photo Media – and lecturer in New Media for other courses – are, of course, but a cat-scratch on the surface of a fascinating portfolio.

Delve deeper into Mark Terry’s research projects and you’ll find portrait and landscape work documenting the characters who work on or use the River Ancholme; a grease-spattered look at the staff and clientele of a roadside transport café and, perhaps most significantly, a large-scale cultural exchange and arts activity project working with artists in Kurdistan.

The Kurdistan project is called ArtRole and was set up in 2004 by one of Mark’s students, a graduate of Hull School of Art and Design of Kurdish-Iraqi origin, Adalet R Garmiany.

Mark is a co-founder and director of the organisation and has so far made three trips to the country, providing the art exchange scheme with photographic documentation, design and publicity.

More exchange visits followed and in 2009, ArtRole organised a Post War Festival in Kurdistan.

Mark says: “At the Post War Festival, artists from Iraq showed their work in the Red Jail, a 3,000sqm cinderblock complex of cells that were formerly used by the Ba’ath regime to incarcerate, torture and murder Kurds, including those who opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime, until the Kurdish uprising in 1991. Now, the Red Jail is a museum and gallery for Kurdish culture.”

At the three-day festival, opened by the Prime Minister of Kurdistan, an installation by artist Richard Wilson was shown for the first time in the Middle East. Called 20:50, it was an oil-filled room, entered via a walkway. Deceptive and reflective in equal measure, the effect of all that black gold was, Mark says, a sight to behold.

In 2010, ArtRole staged an exhibition in Manchester, Contemporary Art In Iraq, and the group is currently working on a Kurdistan-based project, Women In Action, highlighting the work of female artists in Iraq and Kurdistan.  

Mark has worked as a photographer at the Ministry of Defence’s HMS Nelson base in Portsmouth, in press photography, medical photography and has also worked in a self-employed capacity, in a photographic career that started in 1980.

He has taught photography at Hull School of Art and Design since 2007, and web design, digital imaging and video at Lincoln University prior to that. Mark achieved an MA in Digital Imaging and Photography MA at Lincoln University in 2011 and work from his final project, On the Ancholme has been shown in London, Lincoln and Hull.

Keep up-to-date with Mark’s work at blog.markterry.net