The artist, laying on a platform. She is conntected to thousands of multi colour party balloons.
Previous Unlimited commission – Noemi Lakmaier’s ‘Cherophobia’ performance at Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival 2016. Photo by Grace Gelder for Unlimited.

Revealing the Unlimited Shortlists 2016

The Unlimited selection panels have just completed the unenviable task of selecting just 60 applications from our recent Expressions of Interest to form our shortlists – who will go on to complete full applications for the commissions. Selecting down from the 269 applications was never going to be easy, and huge thanks to everyone who applied and made this task such a challenging one.

The panel opinions were as wide and diverse as the people who make up the panels themselves –assessments were made using the key criteria for Unlimited (disability-led with quality, innovation and ambition) as well as criteria specific to each award (more on those here). The panel focused on the ideas expressed – would this make a compelling artwork or project?

So who made it through? Rather than grouping by the different award strands, here is a sneak peek by art form (of those artists who wish their details to be publicly shared at this time)…

Music on the shortlists

We are delighted to have 5 music commissions across the shortlists and at least two described as combined arts that lead with music. These include The British Paraorchestra wishing to create Velocity,a long-form composition by Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory to be danced as well as played, Britten Sinfonia wishing to develop its programme of Family Picture Book Concerts through working with working with musician Lloyd Coleman, Baluji Shrivastav applying to develop an orchestra of blind musicians fusing musical styles from a wide range of cultural traditions working with Antardrishti with Shri Ramana Maharishi Academy and Andh Apang Manav Kalyan, India, Equart, Wales wishing to create The Deal with Janelle Colquhoun, Salubrious Productions, Australia, Adrian Lee with That’s Life, Ireland and Institut Seni Indonesia wanting to fuse the potential of the Central Javanese gamelan and new technology, The New Carnival Company wishing to set up an Alegria Samba School with Embaixadores da Alegria, Brazil and learning disabled artist Delson Weekes wishing to create a concept album through working with Bulblet and then lead BLINK in an interdisciplinary creative response to this in a project called Pull Up.

Dance on the shortlists

We have 2 international dance collaborations – deaf street dancer Billy Read with Sergio Ruiz Suarez, Spain and Marcos Paulo Silva Dos Santos, Brazil – exploring a dystopian future where sign language users are exposed through surveillance, and Chisato Minamimura with Pulse – a multi-media dance production incorporating tactile and sound visualization technology through her partnership with VibraFusionLab, Canada. Plus Mark Smith / Deaf Men Dancing wishing to R&D a new work inspired by the life of Alan Turing, Helen Hall from Northern Ireland wishing to create a solo dance and spoken word piece examining visual impairment and dance and Aby Watson (Scotland) wishing to create a new solo ‘duet’ between two bodies of air: one a helium balloon, one a human being (the balloon deflating and the human a dyspraxic woman on roller-skates).

Theatre on the shortlists

Graeae with Cosmic Scallies by Jackie Hagan, a play exploring the lives of working class disabled people in the North West of England with director Amit Sharma, in partnership with Manchester Royal Exchange, Vital Xchange with Hold the Hearse! developing a contemporary Canterbury Tales reflecting representations of disability with regional voices and establishing partnerships between theatres and museums, Fittings Multimedia Arts with Vogue: The House of Krip, focusing on Vogue Balls – underground dance and fashion competitions for US drag and LGBTQ communities in the 1960’s, and Kaite OReilly looking to create a new version of the ‘d’ Monologues” based on the lived experience of being Deaf or disabled in Singapore with Peter Sau are all on the list. Plus Jo Bannon wishing to develop a new large scale performance project exploring the internal and external experiences of female desire, sexuality and neoliberalism, Vici Wreford-Sinnott, R&D for the beginnings of a contemporary performance piece experimenting with form and audience, about surviving on the outskirts of modern England, Elaine Paton (Wales) with an R&D for a cabaret drawing on the artist’s family landscape of precarious mental uncertainty, utilising personal archives: diaries, letters, photographs & observations, and Jackie Hagan wishing to create Jumble Soul, a solo show using puppetry and object manipulation based on verbatim theatre from on interviews with people living in vulnerable circumstances. Two Welsh emerging theatre artists are included – Tom Wentworth and Jonny Cotsen – wanting to explore issues around the language of disability and humour through comedy and access through a deaf person’s eyes and ears respectively. And 4 R&D awards are on the list – Simon Startin / Woven to explore the satirical and theatrical potentialities of “Inspiration Porn”, No Excuses to explore a new topical SitCom giving a unique slant on current government cuts, Jack Dean with Jeremiah – hip-hop, cinematic composition, spoken word and traditional folk songs telling the story of the Luddite rebellion and Chloe Phillips (Wales) wishing to take The Importance of being Described…Earnestly? one stage further.

Visual arts on the shortlists

Visual arts covers a huge range, from live art – emerging artist Amy Rosa (Scotland) for Gallanach, a durational performance utilizing live electric fencing exploring themes of the female healer and chronic pain / fatigue, to textiles – an R&D proposal from Deaf Sudanese textile artist Omeima Mudawi Rowlings to develop an artistic conversation with a dyslexic glass artist referencing childhood affiliations with the Rivers Nile & Tamar, to public art – Jason Wilsher-Mills’s concept for a large scale intervention artwork, using public sculpture and augmented reality to chart the life of the ‘Calliper Kid’ as he interacts with the modern benefit system, to virtual reality – like Playing God – a multi-user interactive Virtual Reality (VR) experience immersing audience members in ethical dilemmas via a branching (multi option) narrative from Ben Fredericks to gallery based work, such as the R&D by David Sinden (Wales) for a series of photo-based interventions exploring the worlds of espionage and deception investigate the ways in which we all construct our identities, Altered-Ego.

Works on the lists utilizing new technology include Lump, a virtual reality gallery artwork which sees Picasso’s studio and creative process from a different point of view – that of Lump, his four inch tall dachshund dog by Justin Edgar / 104 films, [between language and skin] by Aidan Moesby with Indigo Eli, Australia for a large-scale installation designed to be touched and physically explored including a wallpaper embedded with responsive inks and pigments revealed through touch, Beyond the surface, by Zoe Partington with Camila Alves, Brazil, a unique and intimate immersive experience exploring the art work of Picasso and of Helio Oiticica through audio, Esther Appleyard-Fox with Absent Voices, R&D for a sound installation triggered by movement through space exploring opinions on genetic screening, X0X0 by Jane Gauntlett with Daniel Savage, Australia, an interactive digital installation showcasing fictionalised stories exploring the impact an ever increasingly digital culture has on our relationships and emerging artist Jason Eade with his plans for Paragon City, an immersive video comic game showing a dystopian future where being perfect is paramount.

The applications included work that takes a new perspective on household detritus transforming common household into stunning fabrics running riot across walls, curtains, cushions and armchairs – My Dirty Secret by Kristina Veasey, work capturing journeys across London by

Thompson Hall & Ian Wornast, an R&D for an interactive outdoor installation lined with cones which breathe in and out by Anna Berry and another installation that utilizes the way early memory polarizes and intensifies imagery and sound using lenticulars, holograms, mirrors and other illusionary media by Bonny Cummins. It also includes international projects by Rachel Gadsden with Ali Said, Palestine – looking to create a collaborative multi-visual and sound performance installation called It was Paradise by which the voice of the disempowered can be heard and considered, and by Richard Butchins with Atelier Corners & Kazuyo Morita, Japan working on The Voice of the Unicorn, a multi-disciplinary collaboration that incorporates the artists’ silence, revealing to the audience the unknown world of non-verbal behaviour & communication.

Literature on the shortlist

Much of the above includes new writing in some form but two specific works on the shortlist that major on the presentation of literature are Owen Lowery with Transformations – a new published series of poems dealing with the subject of personal and metaphorical transformations supported and Penny Pepper with Wards – the development of a poetry collection and readings focusing on a life within the NHS as a disabled person.

Combined Arts and other works on the shortlist

Some of the shortlisted combined arts works and projects are mentioned above within the other catagories. Others include work from a circus base such as Elephant by Milton Lopes – multidisciplinary performance involving storytelling, aerial circus and live music as tools to ask questions such as “Is identity defined first by race or by (dis)ability?” and Sailing Through The Dark by Amelia Cavallo – a performance piece that explores the joys, challenges and unexpected twists and turns of life mixing aerial circus, live music, acrobatics, dance and storytelling, work for outdoors with a re-imagined version of Candide with an emphasis on visual spectacle, access and impactful outdoor storytelling by Bradley Hemmings, G+DIF and R&D into Spin – an inclusive adventure skate park show working with disabled parkour runners, skateboarders, BMX riders, dancers and acrobats led by Rick Rodgers / Hubble Bubble Productions, work for virtual as well as physical touring with Barbara Lisicki/Wanda Barbara with Sarah Barton, Australia revinventing political disability cabaret in Still Tragic But Brave and creative workshops enskilling a new generation of artists by Rowan James and reflecting on neurodiversity history through exploring archives and museum objects by Jessica Starns.

There’s also a group of learning disabled artists questioning the concept of Monuments and what it means to be remembered, who gets remembered and why (Art In Motion), an installation celebrating mind-wandering, magic carpets, and making small talk with Kai Syng Tan and We sat on a mat and had a chat and made maps!, Archive of Hope by The vacuum cleaner with Jessica Huber, Switzerland, playing on the notion of the archive and how we can create a space for hope, and a Trail of two cities by Maria Oshodi with Lynn Manning and Watts Village Theatre Company, USA, a proposal for a mixed media live performance piece structured as a collaboration and dialogue between two blind Black artists – one living in London, one who lives in LA. Plus R&Ds into Deaf identity and mental health issues utilising British Urban Sign Language (Rinkoo Barpaga with Bubble and Butch), an installation piece that explores the experience of invisible disability (chronic pain) and provides a public a resting space for neurodiverse people (Raquel Meseguer and A Crash Course in Cloudspotting), to identify and translate the sound of a number of stars into live visual patterns creating an orchestra of the sounds of stars enabling them to be heard, seen and felt (Juliet Robson with Secret Songs of our Stars), even an accessible giant dolls house (Rebecca Atkinson, #Toy Like Me).

Why are we publishing the shortlists?

It’s an amazing ambitious list of work all of which could be extraordinary. At the moment, these works and projects are shortlisted so we want the full applications to be as strong as they can be. Over the next few months each shortlisted artist or company will have support from the Unlimited team and also our network of allies to develop their full application and we really hope the sector can come together to support these works to come to fruition, whether or not they eventually gain support from Unlimited. By the end of March we will have selected the 10-15 projects we will commission over the next few years and we’ll continue to work with the works we can’t fund too – hoping to support them to find support through other means.

Do let us know if you could help develop one or more of these works.

You can read the full press release about the shortlist here.