Site-specific Contemporary Art in Derbyshire

Level Centre Residency

Artists' Residency at the Level Centre

Five artists were invited to spend a week at the Level Centre, home to First Movement, during the first week of June 2011.

Marc Atkinson, Marianne Holm Hansen, Bob Levene, Tim Skinner and Neil Wissink were invited to come to the Level Centre to explore the creative potential of the building, the technology within it, and the surrounding area.

First Movement works with learning disabled people, creating projects that develop and promote their unique creativity. First Movement is now signaling its leadership in this area of work, and working towards the establishment of the Level Centre as the National Centre for Digital Arts with Learning Disabled People.

The centre serves as a natural focus for local creative people, and is increasingly becoming established as a place where artists come together for development, collaboration and creation.

Marc Atkinson says of the experience, "Initially on hearing about the Level Centre and its position in the Peak District, I was drawn to the possibility of reflecting on the multiple uses of the land and the history of the area around the centre, specifically the disused railway line. Much of the visible traces of the line, however have now gone and the station building itself forms part of the Peak Village shopping centre. In some ways this was an interesting idea in itself, but on arriving, I was also drawn to the technology of the centre and wanted to use the opportunity to at least test out the equipment." 

"The Level Centre is equipped with a four and two screen projection space and I decided to use some of the materials gathered from walks around the area to recreate some of these experiences. The two experiments created at the centre, attempt to utilise the space as well as reflecting on the surrounding environment. Transmission was displayed through four projectors onto four surrounding walls. The looped video features images of a type of transmission tower. Due to its elevated position, it was visible on most of the walks around the area and was one of many man-made structures that marked the natural landscape. Its presence and often remoteness through distance suggested a slightly ominous influence over the area, partly through my own ignorance of what it was for. Sanctuary was again a video work through two projectors, one on the floor and one front facing. The footage was taken from a small hermit's cave and the movements of light within it, formed by sun, wind and the rock formation itself. The shape of the light patterns appeared to form cryptic abstractions in the shape of a triangle and an eclipse. The cave was also a moment of shelter from the hot day outside. To me it suggests the way in which we often look for patterns and moments of significance in Nature or natural forms and the meditative experience of simply looking and experiencing in a natural space."

"Both pieces reflect on my thoughts about the area during the residency. The Peak District was clearly beautiful, but like most of England was marked by tourism, farming, mining and the other necessities of the managed countryside. I was also struck by the acts of ritual we often perform in the countryside; the gathering of people at stone circles, the carving of words and names into rocks, the following of past traditions such as the ritual of tying material to an Oak tree on Stanton Moor. Returning to East Anglia, perhaps one of the most managed landscapes in England, I thought about our desire for wilderness and how difficult it is to find in England."

"The residency as a whole helped me to consider different ways of capturing and presenting landscape images. I am currently working on an idea around light systems and patterns in forests using sound and motion/light sensors. These ideas were developed on one of the walks during the residency.The conversations with the other artists and facilitators of the residency, were also richly rewarding as was observing the way in which the other artists approached working with both the amenities and the landscape."

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Arts Council England Lottery FundedDerbyshire Arts Development GroupDerbyshire County CouncilEsmée Fairbairn Foundation