Look out for #GreatWarMK Postcards

Great War MK postcard

Look out for Great War MK postcards around MK – plenty of activities and events will be taking place between now and September 2015… there will be textiles workshops to create banners, choreographed dance, performances of Your Loving Brother Albert and Nellie, film screenings, poetry evenings and much more.

Join us in commemorating the Great War across Milton Keynes.

Project partners: Cowper and Newton Museum | Deanshanger Village Heritage Society | Festive Road | Independent Cinema MK | Living Archive Milton Keynes | MK Gallery | Pepper’s Ghost Theatre Company | Westbury Arts Centre

Milton Keynes Heritage Association-enabled partners: North Crawley Historical Society | Simpson History Group | Bucks Constabulary History Association


Westbury Arts Centre appoints artists for their #GreatWarMK project

Westbury Arts Centre have now appointed a textile artist and a group of dancers/choreographers to work with the community on an exciting piece of performance art for Great War MK.  Working with schools, community groups and individuals across the city the aim is to create a dynamic piece of work that could be displayed in Middleton Hall or Campbell Park. Each individual will create a piece of textile work, each telling a story of their family/history 100 years previously. They may choose to explore the social change, and the change in expectations that they experience compared to one of their ancestors 100 years ago.

Vinny Stapley – Textile Artist and Designer

Vinny StapleyVinny, born in Scotland, received a First Class Honours in Printed Textiles at Middlesex University in 2002 and  then took a PGCE in Art and Design after a  previous career working on worldwide music tours as a wardrobe consultant and as a freelance dress-maker, costume maker and sample machinist.   Vinny has exhibited widely since graduating including selling her degree show work to the Donna Karan studio and exhibiting a piece for  ‘Art of Stitch’ fashion show at the V&A Museum in 2002. Since graduating she has worked as a textile artist and designer whose experience ranges from art textiles, textile design for the fashion industry.  She has also run specialist textile workshops and teaches art and textiles.

Vinny states that: ‘My work is motivated by a pre-occupation with memories and family history.  Each gesture, mark, or element expresses an event, emotion or feeling.  Part of the process for me is the collecting of memento-mori and precious delicate fabrics.  My work documents my own family history which, as my mother’s memory loss accelerates, becomes more fragile and precious.  Sometimes these pieces take the form of little sculptural coats, referencing my great-grandfather’s work as a tailor.  They seem to dance in mid-air, devoid of bodies, contorted moments frozen in time.’

Vinny says that the Westbury Arts Centre commission resonates on a
number of levels for her – her practice of collecting family history, working within communities to develop textile artworks and the referencing of prayer flags.  Independently of this commission she has been developing work in remembrance of WW1 inspired by a visit to Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. She is also collaborating with the glass artist Chris Wood to create a major public art commission for Cochester Hospital.

Chris Bradley, Helen Parlor, Effie McGuire Ward: Dancer, Artists

Chris, Effie, Helen DancersChris, Helen and Effie are all Milton Keynes based dance artists who have been working together in various capacities since 2008, most recently acting as the directorial team for the MOTUS dance festival in Milton Keynes.  Between them they have over three decades of experience working in dance and they have many links with the MK community which Westbury Art Centre believes will be a key factor in the success of the GW project.  Chris, Helen and Effie have extensive experience of working collaboratively.

Chris graduated from De Montfort University with a 1st class honours degree in Performing Arts having specialised in Contemporary Dance and Choreography.  He has toured with a multitude of companies both nationally and internationally.  Alongside his performance career he has worked as a choreographer and teacher including working with Warwick Arts Centre’s Boys Dancing project for many years and most recently, has established a Milton Keynes based youth dance company, Initiate YDC, that performed its inaugural work at the recent dance festival.

Helen completed her degree at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.  She joined Motionhouse in 2000 after touring with Dansconnect, an initiative run by Swindon Dance, and remained with them for six years, becoming a dance captain.  Helen has also toured internationally with a Norwegian company, Panta Rei Dansteater, and nationally with Mobius Dance Theatre.  During this time she began to direct her own work and has worked as a creative director, most recently as Assistant Choreographer for the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Games.  She has many links in and around Milton Keynes.

Effie began her dance training at Stella Mann College before undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.  Her professional performance experience covers a wide range of companies including Parlor Dance and most recently Ffin Dance.  Effie has experience of working with people across the age spectrum from children aged 3 to adults in education settings and in community based groups and she has worked professionally on several large-scale site-specific participatory projects including Games Time Northampton and the recent Under the Vaulted Sky for the 2014 MK International Festival.

Westbury Arts Centre is very excited to have this opportunity of working with Vinny and the dance/choreography trio of artists over the coming months and look forward to engaging with Milton Keynes community and working with the partners across the Great War MK project.

Frontline Project Artists Announced #GreatWarMK

Poppy fieldMK Gallery is pleased to announce the selection of artists Alicja Rogalska and Teresa Paiva to deliver its Frontline schools engagement programme over the coming 12 months. Frontline forms part of the wider Great War MK project, conceived and managed by the Arts & Heritage Alliance MK, to mark the centenary of the First World War and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

During the coming year Alicja and Teresa will work with pupils from Hazeley Academy, Lord Grey School, Oakgrove School and MK Academy in Milton Keynes via workshops and visits to national museums and galleries to explore the question ‘How have artists used the visual arts to depict and interpret military conflict, historically and in the present-day?’. The project will culminate in an exhibition of their collaborative artwork in MK Gallery’s Project Space in June 2015.

Speaking about the project, MK Gallery’s Formal Learning Manager, Hannah Gaunt, said:  “We are so delighted to have Alicja and Teresa on board with this exciting project to commemorate the centenary of World War One. We received many strong and impressive applications from artists wanting to be involved in ‘Frontline’ and the wider ‘Great War MK’ programme, but we are certain that we have selected two candidates with significant experience and knowledge of the subject area who will be able to expertly guide and develop the artistic outcomes with the participating school pupils.”

Alicja Rogalska has over 8 years of experience working in arts education and gallery settings, including interdisciplinary and research-based projects.  Her practice encompasses both research and production, with a focus on social structures and political undercurrents. Many of her works and projects are context-specific, collaborative and have educational elements. She has an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College (2011) and an MA in Cultural Studies from Warsaw University (2006).

Teresa Paiva is a multidisciplinary artist with over 10 years’ experience working with diverse communities in London on arts education projects, as well as working across galleries and museums to deliver artist-led programmes and projects.  Her current practice explores the cross-over between new media and more traditional artistic mediums.  She has a BA in Sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto.

The Frontline project coincides with MK Gallery’s autumn exhibition An My Lê (19 September – November 2014).  Lê (b.1960) now recognised as one of the most significant photographers working in the world today, is a Vietnamese-American artist whose images explore the experience and culture of conflict, drawing on her personal history as a political refugee from the Vietnam War.