The School of the Arts at the University of Northampton has recently played host to a series of student led talks as a way to extend the context in which people work as artists. The ‘Illuminare’ talks have been curated by Fine Art student Bethany Murray, and the first series of these talks in November and December 2013 saw 8 students deliver lectures on their work, their influences and external interests.
The second series began in January 2014 and developed the Illuminare evenings into not only artist talks but also trial events for art performances. Instruction based fine artist Ally Johnson used her Illuminare talk to launch the concept for her work entitled ‘The Hive’. This initially revolved around a performance by musician Cassie Mathews and poet Isabel White whilst the audience where invited up to take an envelope from off of the wall and act out the instructions inside. With heavy influence from early Fluxus based events, the room soon became a ‘hive’ of activity by using the audience as the artistic medium.
The event was the first of many for Ally Johnson who devised the concept of The Hive whereby the audience are turned into ‘worker bees’ who act out instructions, creating activity centred around other performances or artworks. The instructions for this trial run ranged from moving around furniture, talking loudly, and even disrupting the performers; a concept which turned the passive spectators into active participants of the work. Initially everybody was nervous and unsure how to act, but as certain more willing volunteers started to act out their instructions people became more enthusiastic about the tasks. As soon as everybody had relaxed about the idea of being involved the room became hectic with activity which allowed the artist to explore her theme of Harmony to Dissonance.
The launch event for this exciting new Fine Art concept was extremely successful with positive reviews all-round afterwards. Ally Johnson will again be working with Cassie Mathews and Isabel White on developing another Hive event in March at the Royal College of Music, as well as working with fellow Fine Art student Billy Hawes on a Hive based collaboration for the University of Northampton’s Fine Art Spring Show.