Culture Night - the artist and the audience
Two weeks ago we participated in Belfast Culture Night. We wanted to add something to the night that would highlight the role of the audience in culture. So we did a call-out for an artist who could take audience feedback, and turn it into something visual.
We were delighted to find emerging artist Ellie Niblock. She set up her studio in Clement’s Café on the night, while we chatted to passers-by on the street, encouraging them to come inside and tell us what culture means to them.
Ellie took their words and used a mix of plastics and paints to turn them into 3D texturised letters that were hung in Clement’s windows.
This was Ellie’s first time working in a live public setting like this, so I sat down with her afterwards to see what she thought of having her audience right there with her during the making process.
Have you done any live-art before? If not, how did the experience differ from working in the studio?
The performance on culture night was my first time! It's a very different way of working, a little more pressure because I am usually pretty much engrossed in what I am doing when working in my studio, as it can be quite technical and I have a time limit with certain materials I use so I have to concentrate and then time goes by so fast. At first during the performance at culture night I was aware that people were observing me but as time went on I became less conscious of that. However it was nice to stop and chat to people about my work and process - they seemed really interested in the material used and how the work was created. Some people stayed to see their words being made because they were so curious to see it happening in front of them, which was really nice! It was good to get out of my comfort zone and try a new way of working - I liked people getting involved.
What kind of feedback did you get from participants when we asked them their opinions on culture?
I got a nice range of words that, to me, summed up culture night well. There is always so much happening on culture night, I love seeing so much creativity all in the one night. Words I got like "energy" "diversity" "expression" really did make sense to me. It was cool to see the wide age range participating as well. It was great to have so many people involved in culture night and supporting artists. During the performance, everyone walking by could see the art happening through the window in Clements and loads of people came in from the street to see what was going on, which was really nice.
How would you describe the audience for your work in general? Do you think of them when making?
I think that people of all ages are interested in my work. It's cool to see different perspectives, from a child enjoying textures to an older person liking a certain colour combination. In the past I had never really thought about the audience who would see my pieces, mostly just me experimenting in my studio and getting caught up in that, but more recently I have noticed that people are really interested in my process as it is different (and sometimes chaotic) and seeing a liquid turn to a solid is, as one of the kids described it during the performance as, "magic".