Manchester-based artists and curators Rosanne Robertson and Debbie Sharp, known as The Penthouse, completed a residency with Skimstone Arts in summer 2018.
They were one of four artists awarded residencies in the summer of 2018, each responding to the theme of ‘celebration’, as Skimstone Arts marked its 10th anniversary.
The Penthouse presented an ongoing artwork which was open ended, subverting the idea of ‘monuments’ being set in time. Monument to the Past was a performance of deconstruction, tearing down old patriarchal and unequal systems that do not champion or position diverse people as monumental. This performance demonstrated The Penthouse’s practice to audiences including Skimstone’s Young Artists Collective (YAC), and paved the way for Monument to the Future.
Monument to the Future was a collective live sonic artwork performed with Skimstone’s Young Artists Collective. Young artist Kieran recorded and edited his very first soundscape and introduced it to the audience, bringing explorations of the sonic landscape of Newcastle into the performance. Video and photography from the artists’ sound and environment walk were projected as well as a new illustration by YAC member Alice, titled Monument to Freedom. YAC artist and musician AJ brought innovative ways of experimenting with sound to the project and started the performance with what was playfully named the Fidget Spinner Orchestra. Alice experimented with electronic sounds combining interests in gaming and experimental music; YAC drummer and artist Ben brought his intuitive percussion and free jazz to produce a section of vocals where YAC members Nicole and Steven learned how to perform with a loop station, bringing haunting and poetic vocals to the mix. The artists worked together to structure the different sections of performance and brought the piece to an end by listening to each other after a cacophonous noise section at the end.
The Penthouse said: “The summer residency with Skimstone Arts was a rewarding and exciting experience with the freedom to experiment and collaborate with The Young Artist Collective.
“We found the experience to be of mutual learning- we learned from Claire and Peter and the rest of the Skimstone Arts as an organisation how to work continuously with young people from varying backgrounds and how to develop our interest in the political importance of socially engaged and our aims for socio-political arts practice.
“We learned from The Young Artist Collective to continue working with personal and challenging themes and how they can connect us. We felt we could provide a place for the young people to try out new things and combine visual and sonic art forms, conversation around collective improvisation, listening to each other and well being involved in physical sound making and drawing became key parts of our process.”
Claire Webster Saaremets of Skimstone Arts said: “The Penthouse brought a strong sense of artistic exploration and an immediate connection with our young artists and ourselves. We loved the theme of ‘Monument’, especially when a new YAC member found a confidence to create and perform with them. We look forward to more collaborations with The Penthouse in the future.”
AJ, a member of the Young Artists Collective, said: “I enjoyed working with The Penthouse, even from the beginning we had a base line understanding of each other and I think we had very similar comfort levels in how we liked to work. I liked that they worked with sound which was musical but was very kinetic.”
The Penthouse was established in 2012 as an experimental art studio and project space in Manchester’s Northern Quarter by artist / curators Rosanne Robertson and Debbie Sharp. The Penthouse built its foundations on experimentalism, DIY attitude, action and as a test bed for over 300 artists.
The residency was supported by Arts Council England’s Elevate fund.