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”


‘Afterka’ (is Polish for after-party)




An immense thank you to everybody who came to experience Snow Q our collaborative installation at the Regency Town House Annexe on December 21, 2018!  We were thrilled to share our work with you.  Thank you also for writing your thoughtful and very encouraging feedback on the backs of ‘fish’ – the way that in Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story the old woman of Lapland and the Finnish woman communicate with one another, writing on fish and then, having read the message, add the fish to a stew. We are still processing everything at the moment but hope to share some fish with you before long.



Is it all over? We certainly hope not! We are delighted to have freelance documentary film-maker Rosie Powell putting together a short film of highlights from the installation which we will be posting soon. Meanwhile Dagmara and Wendy, our visual team extraordinaire, will be giving an artists’ talk about Snow Q at the Phoenix Gallery in Brighton on Monday January 14th. All welcome!

spotlight 2019 jan

Are we nearly there? Happy Solstice/ thank you!

WEP_0338At this time of year, far away at the North Pole, elves – some people believe – are frantically working to wrap gifts ready for Santa Claus to deliver around the world. Who can say if that is true, but here in the U.K, while people have been lighting Chanukah candles and others are preparing for Christmas, shopping, baking, carol-singing or not…a team of artists are working their socks off to get ready for a collaborative installation on Winter Solstice, Friday Dec 21st at the Regency Town House Annexe Basement. Our research and development project Snow Q – a reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story along contemporary themes – began at Summer Solstice six whole months ago. And now we are almost ready to show you – for one day only – what we’ve been up to! We hope you’ve booked tickets (free) and can come along. Wear woollies! It will be zimno zimno/ccccccold. For those who can’t, we’re making a documentary about it and will be uploading that and some sound recordings after the project next year.

Lampshade1Right now the visuals team Dagmara and Wendy are putting up the artwork with help from Regency Town House’s curator Phil Blume. (Dagmara is sewing as I type.. ) Amy Clark and David Manion from Glyndebourne have not only very generously lent us the most extraordinary light equipment but already installed it for us – bear in mind this is a historic building with no sockets! Simon Yapp our sound engineer is installing VGA cables and Rasberry Pi’s. Nevermind speaking Ponglish! They’re talking keystoning, video mapping…Plus there is lumens to take into account…obviously. (Others of us use notebooks, pencils – cut and paste is the pinnacle of our technical achievement …)
WEP_0340Rita mutters lines to herself and sleeps with poems under her pillow. Mark stays awake. Ellie dreams phrasing and tone. Emails fly back and forth non-stop. Phone calls, meetings. Apparently we’re still 1 projector short…WEP_0321WEP_033548394047_1013760298830722_4005019267937337344_n

Looking back at the last 6 months, we want to thank all of you who have been following us via this blog. Thank you for taking the time to read about our journey from tentative ‘what-are-we-doing?’ right through to: ‘well whatever it is, we’re doing it, NOW!’ And a huge thank you to those of you who talked to us and let us include your thoughts in our posts. You’ve enriched them and made this blog much more interesting.48389815_216460055956315_9018116249858605056_n

WEP_0353Please stay with us. Your support and any feedback you care to give make all the difference. Without you we’d be a sorry bunch of elves indeed. Enjoy the Rasberry Pi!


Photos at Regency Town House Annexe Basement by Wendy Pye





Probably the most Patient Man in the World/Behind the scenes with Simon, Peter and Ellie

In a small studio in Kemp Town in Brighton magic has been taking place. The magician is sound engineer Simon Yapp.  He’s already recorded Rita’s performance of some of Maria’s poems and is now working with Maria’s collection of sounds – plus a list of requests – for a sound poem. Could he get some better crows because the ones Maria had were too muffled? Sure, said Simon. Maria, Dagmara and Wendy then visited and told Simon that on reflection we’d like to change the sound poem completely and could he enhance the sounds in a different way. I see, said Simon.

We used some of Simon’s sound recordings of Rita at the Snow Q Preview for Lewes Live Literature on Dec 1st and they went down very well.  Recently Peter and Ellie Snow Q’s talented viola player have been in to record Peter’s music. Without Simon’s patience and immense technical skill, a lot of what you will hear on Dec 21st simply wouldn’t happen. If you’ve only just joined this blog the 21st is our collaborative installation at Regency Town House Annexe Basement re-imagining Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen. If you haven’t booked yet, hurry! Tickets:

We’re very proud to introduce Ellie Blackshaw here. She will be bringing Peter’s music to life both via recordings and live on Dec 21st. We feel lucky to have her on team Snow Q. This is what Peter says about her:

20181126_142709Last Monday, Ellie recorded most of the music I have composed for Snow Q, which is where the photos were taken. My previous blog gave a number of reasons for why I composed the Snow Q music for solo viola. Those that I gave were all perfectly valid ones but I inadvertently left out one of the most important.20181126_124145

I have known Ellie since her early teens and therefore outside my immediate family, longer than almost anyone else with whom I am in regular contact. Over several decades, the number of occasions we have performed together in orchestras, chamber ensembles and other ad hoc groupings must by now run into nearly four figures!

As both a violinist and viola player – only Americans use the expression ‘violist’ – Ellie has probably played more of my compositions than any other performer but until now I had never actually written anything specifically with her in mind. I therefore decided to remedy this with the Snow Queen music.

I was very happy to hear Ellie’s developing interpretations for the first time at the recording session. We had previously rehearsed the music but that was more in the nature of a ‘read-through’. I’m therefore really looking forward to the next one and also, of course, to the live performances on the 21st.

Tickets from: