The Application

An excerpt from the application made to the Unlimited funding stream:- “During the 1970s, as a young artist, BB aspired to make work that was accessible to a very wide audience.  In 1979, she was commissioned to make a piece for the Hayward Annual, Packed Lunch, placing her work on a national platform for the first time.  Following this an opportunity arose to show Packed Lunch at the National Homes Exhibition, where BB encountered the audience she had searched for – people outside the frame of ‘high culture’, who had an intelligent, open-minded fascination with her ideas and appreciation of her sense of humour. In 1990 she was commissioned, as part of Glasgow, City of Culture, to make a new piece of work. In Cook Dems BB created a show aimed to reach this audience again, outside the traditional framework of arts venues – and showing it instead within community halls and centres where they lived and worked. The funding covered 2 weeks touring in the Strathclyde region. The venues were ‘self-selected’ in that they responded to the offer to host a funded ‘cookery demonstration’. The mobile kitchen assembled by BB, by necessity, had to fit into her own estate car, with tabletops strapped on the roof, making it cumbersome to tour and easily damaged. It toured to women’s refuges, coffee groups and local businesses and was universally popular and well received, with lively and hilarious audience feedback. Economically however, it was unsustainable to continue touring to non-art spaces in this way, after this initial short tour. The show was subsequently adapted into a hugely successful and profitable stage show – but never again reaching the audience it was designed for. A similar opportunity has not arisen since, but BB has always hoped to have more opportunities to access audiences outside the arts mainstream in this way. Between 1991–2001 – throughout the making of the Daily Life series of shows (all commissioned by LIFT) – BB made various attempts to reach this audience again. Funding applications for these shows incorporated plans for elements of the show to be presented in places where ‘non-art’ audiences might access them, but with little success (in How to Shop, for example, BB handed out packs in shopping centres – this was unpopular with shoppers who generally headed in the opposite direction!) In 2004, BB collaborated with set-builder and engineers Miraculous Engineering for How to Live, a major show at Barbican Arts, funded by a Wellcome Arts Award and ACE – based on her research with a clinical psychologist. How to Live went on to receive critical and public acclaim but, again, it largely toured within traditional theatre settings.  After another funding application, DLL devised a small version of How to Live for non-art spaces. This proved challenging – conceptually, logistically and economically.  The scale of the original show and financial constraints meant that uncomfortable compromises had to be made. The short tour of this adapted version of How to Live included a show at Clean Break in London, a theatre company working with women involved with prison services. BB has close local links with this company – and it was a successful and enriching experience for all, with a performance for 30 women followed by a lively workshop and debate. However, it was impossible to replicate this elsewhere and the short tour to similar venues proved logistically and financially frustrating. While at the Hayward Annual in 1979, BB encountered the work of Jim Whiting, a sculptor producing mechanical installations, who inspired BB’s first ideas of collaborating with such an artist to incorporate functioning and elaborate machinery into her performances. BB has recently collaborated with a young sculptor, Charlie Whittuck, whose skills and creativity compliment her aims; he is her ideal collaborator for this project but he now lives and works in Oslo, working within the arts and creative community there. They have worked together on some small projects in London, but only in pressurised circumstances due to budget, access to workshops and time. The aim for Mad Gyms and Kitchens will be to create something much more sophisticated – within a carefully scheduled, budgeted plan – over a period of months, allowing for the ideas to gradually develop to their full potential, and fitting around other work commitments – so as to allow considered time to deal with the practical issues relating to making complex new work. This show will incorporate the mechanical aesthetic and sophistication that worked so well in How to Live, but will be specifically designed from the start to easily tour to non-traditional venues so that we produce an entirely new style of live work – which incorporates superb craftsmanship within a smaller, more intimate performance, taken right into the places where people meet in their daily lives.” This application took a lot of work. Roxy, as you can see, did absolutely nothing to contribute.

The Application