Back to index of Nerve 19 - Winter 2011

Women in the Arts

Iris - Performance artist

I'm a multi-disciplinary performance artist, working both individually and collaboratively. My back-ground is in acting and physical theatre. I draw on a number of disciplines; contact improvisation, clowning, authentic movement, butoh, 5 Rhythms dance and somatics (experiential anatomy).

Projects I've recently been involved in or facilitated include, Hinomoto (Ankoku Butoh/ Japanese dance) Seabed (Liverpool Biennial), Stir and Maternal Line (Future Stations Festival/Metal).

I focus my work on the following themes; presence, authenticity and embodiment.

As a workshop practitioner I'm interested in trusting the unknown and being receptive to what creative forces emerge, be it in movement, word or sound.

I feel alive when life and art interact and the vehicle of process and performance provides a bridge for this.

Email: iriscollective[at]
Images: Ruth Dillon

Eleanor Rees - Poet

I began writing when I was a child and always had an ambition to write. When young I wrote in all genres but as an adult it is poetry that has inspired me the most. I have written two collections of poetry 'Andraste's Hair' (Salt, 2007) and 'Eliza and the Bear' (Salt, 2009) and have supported my writing over the years through a combination of teaching, community workshops and readings/ commissions. I received an Eric Gregory Award in 2001 and 'Andraste's Hair' was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, 2007 and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award.

Sexism does still exist but it is occluded now as are many social/identity issues. I've definitely benefitted from the advances made by generations of women before me but I think there are still issues around what you are 'expected' to write and also questions of 'authority' as a poet. I am attracted to working collaboratively yet still want to maintain a strong poetic voice. This I attribute to having a feminine perspective on 'voice' as a poet. People do listen to women for different reasons than men I've found! Different qualities are expected from you as a speaker. I've never wanted to sound 'male' just to be heard as myself. This does still seem complex for some people!

However many of the problems of working as a woman in the arts are the same as men I'd suggest.

I work creatively with both men and women and want to do so although I've found that many of my more recent collaborators are women, the wonderful Rebecca Joy Sharp and Cathy Butterworth for example in our live version of 'Eliza and the Bear'. My generation of women do seem to want to take risks and deliberately push the boundaries of genre and poetry, similarly exploring the boundaries between masculine and feminine behaviours.

Janet Brandon - Filmmaker and artist

Trick Films in Broken Down Buildings

My background is in Short Film Production, Site Specific Art and Education.

Animation is an abiding passion which regularly rears its head in my work. I kind of live outside of genre: film, theatre, photography, poetry, drawings, it's all a bit of a mix.

Semi derelict locations seem to be where I base my practice; my two most recent works are prime examples. UNDER THE FACTORY FLOOR was an experimental animated film that used about 150 life size paper cut out 'replacement shapes' to portray two characters, a seagull and fox. They live in our world, swooping down when we've finished with our chips or skulking round the bins. I guess it raises questions about what happens when the work has left the workplace, does it spell tragedy or freedom? We filmed it in subways, a forest and a magnificent old Victorian Dye Works.

My other film was an animated montage based on interviews with residents of 'the Welsh Streets' area. I used to walk through the streets every day to work, and noted the change from the chatter of people and kids running down the road to silence, metal grilles and signs proclaiming regeneration.

Film is a way of expressing things that you can't write down.

Liverpool was in an era of decline when I was growing up. The empty warehouses on the docks were like haunted houses to me. We went for long family walks on cobbles teeming with grass, past silent silos and soaring pyres of scrap metal. These museum pieces forged some kind of Romantic poet in me and I've been paying my tributes ever since.

There is something about nostalgia with a lot of us Liverpool artists. Chris Shepherd, Alexie Sayle and Terence Davies have all produced strong poetic work in this vein that I love… different generations still very much of this city. Liverpool might not give you much but it's generous with its character and plot, Dickens could have told you that.

I wonder whether the future art of Liverpool will still have this elegaic quality to it now that the docks are a glittering façade, will corporate success bring us into line and dim our dramatic potential? Something tells me the treasure casket of art from the hinterland is safe.

(You can see the films described at DVD copies of UNDER THE FACTORY FLOOR available on request to: trickfilm[at]

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