Performance artist Amelia Beavis-Harrison has been chosen as one of the artists to respond to Creative Black Country’s 100 Masters shortlisted nominations.
Her boundary pushing work can be controversial, angry and, almost always, politically motivated. We meet Amelia to find out more about her plans for the project which will be presented at the Festival of Masters at Starworks Warehouse in Wolverhampton on the 24th and 25th of November.
Can you tell us how your background has influenced the work that you make now?
I grew up in a working class household in Yorkshire, with strong social ethics which have influenced my practice since day one. Someone once asked me why I make the work I do, and after some thought, I traced my political stance back to a single moment in time where my mother made the very important gesture of crossing the street to buy the Big Issue. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, but it influenced the pre-school younger self more than I knew. I am now living in the West Midlands after moving back from Oslo this summer.
What attracted you to the 100 Masters commission?
I began reading about the work of Parv Kaur, the first female dhol drummer in the UK and realised the importance of telling her story. I am always inspired by strong female role models and Parv is a testament to that. Not only has she managed to break through gender stereotypes she is also now passing down her skills to the next generation of young women.
Much of your work appears to be performance and conceptual led. Can you tell us how you approach your work/projects and what triggers your ideas?
My work often stems from a place of frustration or anger, often with a socio-political context. A key issue I keep coming back to is social injustice and discrimination. I have made works about Roma rights interviewing a family working on the streets in Oslo, and works about how the Job Centre (and DWP) is pushing families into poverty. An issue that compels me as a human being to take action is likely to be a context I will address in my work.
You don’t appear to shy away from controversial issues (modern and historical) or be afraid of tackling social issues – will you be using that approach with 100 Masters?
The work I am making for 100 Masters is about female empowerment and inspiring women that have broken boundaries. Instead of taking a critical approach against patriarchal structures the work is much more about celebrating the power of women, focusing on select individuals. The work is implicitly feminist in nature.
How do you envisage the final piece of work?
Loud and collaborative! I often work with particular groups of people may this be dancers, swimmers, prisoners, when making my work which makes my practice instinctively collaborative. Through this piece I hope to bring together multiple references from the women I have met, working directly with some of them in the final performance. Conceptually the work will very literally look at the physicality of ‘breaking the mould’ and questioning how that could materialise through performance. I imagine there will be some destruction in the final piece.
Entry to the Festival of Masters on Saturday the 25th is free and open to the public. Join us from 11am until late for a celebration of talent from the Black Country.