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INTERVIEW: CIRCUS STARR

Posted 19 November 2015 by Kat

Have you ever been to the circus? Have you seen the beautiful acrobats, funny clowns and the awesome ringmaster?

There is an exhibition at Tate Modern now packed full of artwork by the great Alexander Calder. He made lots of wire sculptures inspired by the circus and all the performers.

Tate Kids got the chance to interview a real life aerial performer from Circus Starr! Circus Starr is a circus which provides amazing shows for thousands of disadvantaged, disabled or vulnerable children. Let’s meet Romy Bauer and see what it’s really like to work in a circus!

Romy Bauer centre stage at  Circus Starr

Romy Bauer centre stage at Circus Starr c. Circus Starr

Hi Romy! What does a normal day look like?

A normal day on Circus Starr includes getting up very early to move to the next place and a lot of teamwork. It also includes practising (training) and getting ready for shows. Then of course there is show time which is the best part of the job!

We would love to know when was your first back flip?

I was trained in contortion (that means that Romy is really flexible) from a very young age, I don’t actually do backflips as that is more gymnastics than aerial contortion. I always wanted to be flexible so I trained in contortion when I was younger, it was a good base skill for my future.

Romy Bauer – the aerial performer at Circus Starr

Romy Bauer – the aerial performer at Circus Starr. c. Circus Starr

How did you end up working at Circus Starr?

I was born into the circus and as soon as I could perform, I did. I made my Big Top debut aged 3. I was part of my mother and fathers act, which also included my grandmother, cousin, aunt and uncle. My parents used to be managers and artists in Circus Starr in the 90’s so I was actually brought up here! It’s a company that is close to my heart and I’m very happy to be back here.

Do you see yourself as an artist?

Yes, as circus is performance art. I perform contortion inside a giant perspex ball suspended from the roof of the big top. It is such a wonderful feeling to perform for our audiences… I can’t describe it!

If you weren’t an acrobat, what would you be doing?

I’ve always loved make-up and fashion, so maybe something in that department!

Are there any other artists or dancers that inspire you?

Whenever I go to see another circus the other artists always inspire me!

What’s the best thing about your job?

I have always loved aerial; I love the beauty and danger of it! Seeing the children’s faces and excitement at show time makes all the hard work worth it.

Alexander Calder, Acrobats, c. 1927, Calder Foundation, New Yourk, Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas in memory of Van Santvoord Merle-Smith, Jr, 2010.

Alexander Calder, Acrobats, c. 1927, Calder Foundation, New York, Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas in memory of Van Santvoord Merle-Smith, Jr, 2010.

Have you ever seen Alexander Calder’s work (above is an example of his artwork called ‘Acrobats‘)?

This is the first time I have heard of Alexander Calder. I love the movement and playfulness in his work.

As a real-life acrobat, what do you think about it?

It’s very interesting to see circus from a different perspective. It has a very old-fashioned circus feel to it. It’s beautiful!

Massive thanks to Romy and Circus Starr for the interview! Be sure to check out Circus Starr and the Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture exhibition at Tate Modern soon. 😉

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Behind the scenes: Evelyn who? Interview

Posted 16 January 2015 by Kat

Ever wondered what its like to be an art critic? What question would you ask an artist if you could? Maybe you should ask Evelyn? Who’s Evelyn?

Exactly.

Knock Knock, Evelyn who? is a radio show presented by 10-year-old Evelyn Shlomowitz, sometimes live and other times as a sound installation over a weekend at Tate Britain. She also has a few adults helping her too, curator Nefeli Skarmea and composer Serge Vuille. It’s all very exciting.

Serge Vuille, Nefeli Skarmea and Evelyn Shlomowitz Knock Knock, Evelyn who? c. Tate

Serge Vuille, Nefeli Skarmea and Evelyn Shlomowitz
Knock Knock, Evelyn who? c. Tate

Evelyn will chat with artists over the weekend and will ask her own questions about what makes them tick. However now it’s time for Tate Kids to ask Evelyn a few questions of our own!

Hi Evelyn, We love all artists at Tate Kids, but do you have a favourite?

Hmm that’s hard. I really like Martin Creed, who I’ll be interviewing, and I really like René Magritte. One of my favourite artworks by Magritte is Empire of Light.

René Magritte Empire of Light (L'empire des lumières) 1953-54 C. Herscovici, London/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

René Magritte Empire of Light (L’empire des lumières) 1953-54 C. Herscovici, London/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Cool. Art means lots of different things to different people. What does art mean to you?

I think it’s a way of expressing yourself. You might have an idea behind the art you have made, but it’s also about letting people have their own opinion about it.

I like all forms of art, from cinema to books. I read a lot of Jacqueline Wilson and I really love Hitchcock films.

Evelyn on a visit to Tate Britain looking at Olafur Eliasson: Turner colour experiments. c. Nefeli Skarmea

Evelyn on a visit to Tate Britain looking at Olafur Eliasson: Turner colour experiments. c. Nefeli Skarmea

Creativity is important when making art. How do you stay creative?

I do lots of art projects at school and I am currently writing an adventure novel and poems at home. I also play the violin and the horn. I also like running events, including my little sister’s recent birthday party.

What was the last art project you made?

At school we’ve been doing a project about African masks from Benin in Nigeria. We have been looking at the animals on the masks and the different meanings the symbols have.

Sounds cool. Your parents are musicians. What do you think are the similarities and differences between music and art?

With music, unless there is a title, you have to imagine what it is about and what it looks like, but with art (like with sculptures or paintings) you can see what it’s about more easily.

You do lots of things outside of school! Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a social worker but write books and poems on the side. My friend is, and grandmother was one, so they are my inspiration.

We are excited to hear your radio show, is this your first time on the radio?

Yes, this is my first time. So far I’ve learnt how to use the microphone and record players, which was really fun. I’m looking forward to see what other people have to say. I’m really hoping that other kids come and ask their own questions too!

Testing! Testing! Evelyn in action! c. Nefeli Skarmea

Testing! Testing! Evelyn in action! c. Nefeli Skarmea

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We can’t wait to see what Evelyn gets up to! Come down to see Knock Knock, Evelyn who?, on Saturday 31 January – Sunday 1 February, as part of Radio City at Tate Britain.

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Behind the Scenes: Tate Kids presents Pop Art

Posted 6 January 2015 by Kat

Hi guys!

Over the past few months Tate Kids has been working on a new film for you guys which has now officially been released!

We know that a lot of you love Andy Warhol in My Gallery and the Blog. We thought you might like to know a bit more about Pop Art – and it might even be useful for that pesky homework! 😉

The star of the film is Ellie who you’ll see in the behind the scene shots below! We filmed up at Tate Liverpool at the Transmitting Andy Warhol exhibition! We worked with Short Form Film to make the video who had the fancy equipment to shoot and edit it. They also had an amazing animator that made the Warhol-inspired drawings and stop-motion footage! We hope you like it!

Lights! Camera! Action! c. Tate

Lights! Camera! Action! Reading for her close up! c. Tate

Got to get the microphone on! c. Tate

Got to get the microphone on! c. Tate

Lots of crew trying to get the perfect shot! c. Tate

Lots of crew trying to get the perfect shot! c. Tate

We hope you enjoy the film! Share with friends and let us know what you think of it in the comments!

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Guest blog time: Building a Bridge of Books – Part 2!

Posted 24 November 2014 by Kat

Hello, it’s Michiko again! You may have seen my last blog post about a project at Tate Liverpool called Building a Bridge of Books. We’ve had lots of fun working with children from across Liverpool to think of stories while looking at artworks. We’ve also created our own artwork to build a story world which you can enter in our exhibition this week.

Photography by Michiko Fujii

Excellent shadow making! Photography by Jake Ryan

Some of the children who took part had very active imaginations! They found monsters, rabbits and bats hiding inside a tall metal sculpture before deciding it was a tree. They also made wire bracelets and spider’s webs as they looked at this sculpture by Robert Adams.

Robert Adams Space Construction with a Spiral 1950 c. Tate

Robert Adams Space Construction with a Spiral 1950 c. Tate

We visited Len Lye’s darkened video space, dancing to drum beats in front of white jumping lines and dots and then began to look for secret passageways along the walls. We also practiced balancing movements while we wondered why this tree needed a red crutch!

Louise Bourgeois Tree with Red Crutch 1998 c. Tate

Louise Bourgeois Tree with Red Crutch 1998 c. Tate

Later on, we had an imaginary picnic in front of Natalya Goncharova’s Gardening painting and found herbal potions and smelled mysterious, tasty scents which made us hungry and dream of fruit, biscuits and chips with ketchup!

Natalya Goncharova Gardening 1908 c. Tate

Natalya Goncharova Gardening 1908 c. Tate

Back in the studio, we turned into moving artworks as we danced with our shadows in costumes. We nursed the broken trees back to life by creating a forest outside our story tent. Some children also worked with artist Denise Wright to do gorgeous drawings, which filmmaker Jake Ryan has turned into an ace animation!

Photography by Michiko Fuji

Getting our draw on! Photography by Jake Ryan

Photography by Michiko Fuji

I can see you! Photography by Jake Ryan

If you’re in Liverpool, be sure to visit our exhibition in the Clore Learning Centre Studio. You can crawl into a specially-made den and see how we have brought our art-inspired stories to life. The exhibition is open from Wednesday 26 – Saturday 29 November, 10am – 5pm.

See you soon!

Michiko :)

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Guest blog time: Building a Bridge of Books!

Posted 5 November 2014 by Kat

Hello, my name is Michiko Fujii and I’m an artist who loves to experiment with different materials, light, shadow, reflections, images and sound. I turn all these things into large, fun play spaces or strange and spooky story worlds that you can enter. I love it when people walk into one of my installations and shout ‘wow’!

This is part of my face. :)

Source: Michiko Fujii

Source: Michiko Fujii website

I like to make and collect shadows too. To do this, I may take a camera out with me on a walk to take photos of unusual shadows.

Have you ever tried to create a shadowy space? I have. I like to make a room really dark and find different ways to make silhouettes and shadows begin to appear. Then my imagination begins to come alive.

Sometimes, just by looking at an interesting artwork or reading a good story, we can go on a journey in our imagination. At Tate Liverpool, I am working with children and their adults to go on an adventure. This adventure is called Building a Bridge of Books. I’ll be making a large den that we can enter and explore. Here, we‘ll listen to and tell stories and find materials to explore and make things. We’ll also look for a set of mysterious keys to open the door to a strange land full of artworks.

Here are some artworks that have inspired me to think of ideas as I begin to work with the children to build a story world.

Below is a scene waiting to begin. Look at the sunlight on the floor. Will somebody walk past the window and open the door? Also, isn’t it amazing how his painting looks almost like a photograph!

Vilhelm HammershoiInterior, Sunlight on the Floor 1906, c. Tate

Vilhelm HammershoiInterior, Sunlight on the Floor 1906, c. Tate

Below, in Daria Martin’s film, dancers appear as sculptures or sleepwalking characters in a palace. She wanted to bring an artwork to life, through costumes, sound and performance.

Daria Martin, In the Palace 2000, c. Tate

Daria Martin, In the Palace, 2000, c. Tate

Who or what is this strange figure below? Imagine freezing in this position and turning to stone!

Claude Cahun, I Extend My Arms,  1931 or 1932 c. Tate

Claude Cahun, I Extend My Arms, 1931 or 1932 c. Tate

I’ll be back again to show our adventures at Tate Liverpool. We are working with lots of different groups to make this project come to life but everyone can visit our interactive exhibition in the Clore Learning Centre Studio at Tate Liverpool in the last week of November!

Michiko :)

You can find out more about the artist and her many artistic adventures by PRESSING THIS! Thanks Michiko for writing a great blog for Tate Kids :) Happy Wednesday everyone!

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