Snow Q Crow Goes to Lewes Live Literature – Rita

Snow Q is continuing. Snow Q is branching out. Here is Snow Q’s actor Rita Suszek talking about her recent performance of Maria Jastrzębska’s Crow poems. These poems were written for our collaborative project and inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story in which the heroine Gerda meets a Crow on her quest.
On Thursday, 23rd of May I got to board the train from London to Eastbourne after work. I was excited – I was to bring Snow Q’s Crow poems to Lewes Live Literature! The event was part of their Outside Season and created in support of CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably. While suicide – its results, prevention and suffering – was the main theme of the evening, the guiding quote was the one by Munia Khan: “Nothing is unreal as long as you can imagine like a crow”.Untitled
Having arrived and conferred with Mark Hewitt, who had directed Snow Q last December and was one of the organisers, I spiked my hair and put some black lipstick on, the better to emulate the Crow. Crows are strange creatures – scavengers by nature, symbolically guarding the border between life and death, tellers of stories. In the case of Snow Q, the Crow is the one who has the answers, who has lived long enough to tell stories. The poems we chose to perform speak for themselves, evoking the cold snow communist Poland, the border between Polish and English language, the walls between families and their children. They speak of loneliness and connection both, and punctuate every poignant moment with indignant caw-ing, which I was more than happy to demonstrate.
I was honoured to recite alongside the wonderful pieces that were on that night. “This is always the result”, a live narrative over a film piece, written and performed by Gus Watcham, directed by Mark Hewitt with video sequence by Abigail Norris – the piece shows a suicide attempt and its impact on one family’s life in incredible detail, unrelenting, poetic and touching at the same time. There was also poetry performed by Imo Carr and Ellie Long, Arts Award students from Eastbourne College: the poems were diverse and thoughtful, delivered beautifully. Finally, we listened to a series of music tracks by an award-winning songwriter, Elsa Hewitt: they were hypnotic, conveying both a sense of quiet and a frisson of unrest, worry, questioning; some of the songs were also layered over a video, showcasing how mental health problems can creep on us all.
To learn more about the event, take a look at this link:

Cover image by Dagmara Rudkin

You can read Maria Jastrzębska’s The Subsongs of Crow poems in the current issue of Poetry Wales magazine. 


The Flower Garden in May and June at the Phoenix Brighton

What better time to think about a garden? Even one connected to Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen which was the original starting point for our collaborative Winter Solstice project which is beginning to grow again.

Two Women Who Knew Magic from our Visual Team, Dagmara Rudkin and Wendy Pye will be opening their studios this coming weekend, 18th and 19th of May as a part of Open Studios at the Phoenix Brighton. They will be showing their own work as well as work that either inspired or was directly produced for our Snow Q event. They both have their studios on a third floor so please do come and visit them.



Gerda’s chandelier and textile installations developed and produced for the Snow Q will also be displayed throughout June in the Phoenix Brighton Window Gallery. Watch out for a new piece which Dagmara will add to the exhibition on the Summer Solstice.



Snow Q from Snow Q on Vimeo.

Question: How can you summarise months of work – discussion, ideas, attempts to blend together the creativity of artists working in entirely different fields, music, fine art, photograpy/video and poetry – in one short documentary film? 

Answer: It’s impossible! Not that it ever puts artists off! We live and breathe impossible… Luckily, Snow Q, our collaborative project to re-imagine Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen, had filmmaker Rosie Powell who came to us during rehearsal just before the opening of our installation and shot some amazing footage. With that and some additional footage from Snow Q’s own filmmaker Wendy Pye, Rosie and Wendy between them have put together a short documentary with help from sound engineer Simon Yapp, which we hope will give you some idea of what we’ve been up to.

If you couldn’t come to the installation we hope it gives you a flavour of our work and if you came along a reminder. We’re now thinking how to take our many new ideas forward. Watch this space!

Behind the scenes at the installation… with Dagmara and Wendy

Dagmara and Wendy recently gave a talk at the Phoenix Arts Association (Phoenix Brighton) about their work for Snow Q, our collaborative project to re-imagine Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story.spotlight 2019 jan

Phoenix Brighton is the largest South East arts organisation which hosts exhibitions, workshops and art events and also provides studios for over 100 local artists and designers. Both Wendy and Dagmara have their studios there and, as a part of Phoenix monthly Spotlight talks, they were invited to talk about their individual practice as well as their collaboration on the Snow Q project.

Wendy and Dagmara presenting Snow Q

It’s a wonderful insight into how artists work and what inspires them. And it was lovely to see a full house which included not only other Phoenix artists but a new audience who had seen our Snow Q event and wanted to hear about our Visual Team inspirations and have an opportunity to discuss their interpretation. Thanks to Bernard G Mills who filmed the whole thing you can watch it here on the link below. It includes Rosie Powell’s fantastic footage put together by Wendy along with Wendy and Dagmara’s photographs and images. Rosie Powell’s documentary about the project is still being edited but will follow in a post soon!

Here is Dagmara’s and Wendy joint presentation on the Snow Q project:

If you would like to see the first part of their Spotlight talk, where Dagmara talks about her Fine Art practice and Wendy talks about her Photography and Moving Image work, here are their two individual presentations:



Gone fishing…

There was no What’s App or Facebook in Andersen’s Snow Queen story which inspired our Snow Q collaborative project of course but paper was scarce too. So the old woman of Lapland wrote messages to her Finnish friend on the back of fish, which on being read could go in the stew. Members of Older and Out wrote us messages on ‘fish’ for younger LGBT people which we incorporated into our installation. We also used fish for the audience’s feedback. Fishing for compliments? one cheeky person wrote! And compliments there were a plenty.

photoshoped feedback1

What do you do with compliments? Are you meant to shrug them off? Not blow your own trumpet? Most artists I know struggle with gigantic self doubt and insecurity. Dagmara touched on it in an earlier post. Is that because the arts attract ‘sensitive’ people or could it be the whole way art is treated in a competitive, profit-led society? Unless you are an artist whose work is auctioned for eye-watering amounts on a scarcity basis, you’re unlikely to be valued much or seen as doing ‘real’ work.


feedbacks with hands 1So good feedback is important and we’re immensely grateful people took the time to write on our fish. Mostly people embraced the uncertainty and enjoyed losing themselves in the misty spaces though some of you found it daunting. You also questioned the lack of access (a historic basement venue with only steps to get in) and that is important to thinking about our future work.  If your comment isn’t here it has probably swum away to join its sisters (fish take a female pronoun in Polish..). If you didn’t get a chance to fill in a fish you can still comment below – we’d love to hear from you. Some fish went off to the Arts Council as part of our evaluation. We didn’t send them: ‘It’s totally fucking marvellous’ but we liked that one!  We read every single fish and we were overwhelmed by people’s generosity, so here’s to trumpets (as well as fish):

“What a wonderful interplay between images and sounds, woven together with the serious joke of words ‘not’ in translation. The venue for this is perfect emphasising the weirdness of it all. Serious congratulations to this team of creative artists and engineers for coordinating such a many-layered experience. It just asks to be repeated!”

“Very moving – it spoke so eloquently of the lost and lonely and the endless search.”

feedbacks with hands 5“Poetic, poignant, intriguing projections in space resonates Poland I remember in 1990. Delightful.”

“Intriguing and atmospheric very well put together. Makes me think of all the strange folk tales from my childhood and how they relate to today. Thank you.”

“Beautiful and mysterious  – the fluttering birds in the end cupboard broke my heart”

“Liked it being into languages – mysterious – like the links between young carers and the Snow Queen’s ‘carer’ trying to find her kidnapped friend Some puzzling elements in an atmospheric space Wonderful icy sparkly lights with projected snow scene and mirrored reflection”

“What a fantastic experience for all the elements of the installation came together beautifully. Maria’s wonderful poetry was complemented by an array of stunning videos artworks and musical pieces. The live performances brought Maria’s characters to life with verve. Well done to all involved.”feedbacks with hands 3

“Brought in the story and the present stress of living and the timelessness of all things”

“Great and dark evocative music in bleak, acrid surrounds, beautifully played”

“Spellbinding and strikingly original, a perfectly odd and beautiful representation. Deconstructed, yet coherent and engaging – a multimodal formula to explore further. Where and what next?? Six out of five stars”

feedbacks with hands 2

“Magical and stunning Totally immersive”

“Interesting ancient overtones of story, darkness and loss of light”

“Fabulous journey through the mist so many mysteries. I leave wondering”