Practice-Research Forum #2: Tom Wilson – What are your ideal conditions for producing work?

Practice-Research Forum #2: Tom Wilson
“What are your ideal conditions for producing work?”

10th December,  5-7pm
Senate House
room 261

ALL RHUL PbR students and faculty welcome and encouraged to attend!

Lead by Tom Wilson, with Elena Alekseeva and Iain Chambers
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you approach creative work as a 9 to 5 job, or as a series of unbiddable outbursts of inspiration? These factors often have a profound impact on the things we produce, yet it is common for artists to be reticent about them, preferring to keep their own “special formula” to themselves, or eschewing the idea of formulas altogether. In this session, we will hear from several creative practitioners who are happy to share, as well as discussing our own perceptions of the conditions in which art thrives best.

Tom Wilson
Tom’s a London-based composer and performer currently studying for a PhD in composition with Brian Lock. His PhD work is focused on developing a personal compositional language based on an extended conception of pop songwriting aesthetics. He has released 5 albums to date, the most recent of which is entitled “The Night Attendant” and was put out by the independent label Pickled Egg Records last month. In addition, he is a founding member of Written and Composed, a collective of writers and composers that grew out of the English and Music departments at Royal Holloway.

Elena Alekseeva
Elena is a professional musician with a classical background. Originally from Russia, she started her music career as a child. She studied piano at the Moscow College of Music named after M.M. Ippolitov-Ivanov (June 2007) and the Moscow Institute of Music which she graduated from in June 2012. She did her masters as a classical pianist in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland (May 2014).

Elena is a first-year practice-based PhD student (composition) with supervision by Brian Lock. Her research topic is ‘Music Composition and Sound design for Contemporary Dance’: collaborative work with dancers and choreographers. Her composition processes include computer music composition, sound design and contemporary dance as visualisation of the music.

Iain Chambers
Iain’s music explores the hidden soundworld beneath the places and sounds we think we know well. This is acousmatic music with a strong sense of location. His music appeals to the emotions, and uses field recordings in the composition process.  Story-telling with sound is a key part of Iain’s other life as a freelance radio producer making experimental features. Iain’s work in radio mirrors his music: both combine emotive narratives with unconventional sonic treatments. His BBC Radio 3 radiophonic drama, Use It Or Lose It – featuring his music – won a Sony Radio Academy Award and Prix Europa Special Commendation for Best Drama in 2011.

Iain is a founder member of the musique concrète group Langham Research Centre. This collective resembles an Early Music group in their commitment to authentic performances of 20th century electronic music by composers like John Cage and Alvin Lucier. They compose new music using an instrumentarium of open-reel tape machines, sinewave oscillators, and other obsolete technology. They have performed at international festivals, Tate Modern, the London Coliseum and Barbican Art Gallery.

Subsequent Practice-Based Forums for your diary:
+ 28 January: Romany Reagan
+ 25 February: Nathan Jones
+ 25 March: Chelsea Bruno


NEW PbR Bi-annual sharing events

Saturday, 24th January at The Boiler House
Saturday, 9th May at Senate House, Room 261
more details to follow very soon!


Practice-Research Forum #1: Generative Constraints: Anti-Body // 15th Nov

PrimaryAntibodies press images

Practice-Research Forum #1: Generative Constraints: Anti-Body
13th November,  5-7pm
Senate House
room 261

ALL RHUL PbR students and faculty welcome and encouraged to attend!

The body represents a multiplicity of possibilities, speaking to the corporeality of a subject, the work produced by a practitioner, and a collective (for eg, the student body and the body politic). Through reading, workshops and discussion, we will interrogate resistance, prescription, embodiment and the social.


Dodie Bellamy. – Cunt-Ups


Braidotti, Rosi. 2013. Posthumanism. (London: Polity)- extract
Cvejic, Bojana and Vujanovic, Ana. 2012. Public Sphere by Performance (Berlin: B_books and Aubervilles: Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilles)- extract

NB This is an evolution of the highly successful fortnightly PbR Seminars, and alters on that format by handing over the entire session to one person/partnership to run as they wish.  The brief for running a session has been deliberately kept very open, and we hope that this format will allow for a more regular interaction with the PbR culture at RHUL, and also more innovative approaches to presenting research as it occurs in practice.


Future Practice-Research Forum events:

+ 12 November: Generative Constraints Committee
(i.e. Nisha Ramayyaa, Diana Damian, Prudence Chamberlain, Eley Williams, Kate Potts, Nik Wakefield)
+ 10 December: Tom Wilson
+ 28 January: Romany Reagan
+ 25 February: Nathan Jones
+ 25 March: Chelsea Bruno

Romany Reagan

Grief Symbolisation, Multiple Becomings and Anachronistic Space
The Cemetery as a Unique Ground for a Walking Practice
11 June @ 5.00pm


In this paper I will explore three key theoretical considerations regarding space and place in regards to a walking practice within a cemetery: symbolisation and placing of grief, as explored by Elizabeth Hallam and Jenny Hockey in their study on the ways in which Western mourners relate to their dead, and the collected work of Doris Francis, Leonie Kellaher and Georgina Neophytou, in their expansive inquiry into the cemetery as a space of mourning practice. I will then introduce Doreen Massey’s concept of ‘contemporaneous multiple becomings’, as it relates to historical sites, and expand upon this to interrogate and unpick possible new meanings for Anne McClintock’s concepts of anachronistic space.

The relationships between each of these theories will be analysed with a view towards offering a greater understanding of the complexity of a cemetery space. I aim to illustrate that this complexity lends itself well to crafting an audio walking practice. Cemeteries offer a unique chance to explore the possibilities of ‘contemporaneous multiple becomings’: they are at once historical places, with rich opportunities for an imaginative opening up of space, and contemporary green spaces. Cemeteries are also excellent examples of ‘anachronistic space’, that is to say modern life continuing in a cemetery that is preserved in an anterior time and dedicated to the memory of people long past. The kaleidoscopic potentials of place within a cemetery provide fertile ground for a walking practice, and a richness of possibility.

With the disembodied audio format, the listening walker experiences a fragmentation of temporal awareness. Listening to a voice already from the past (whether that be a remove of weeks, or years) brings to the fore thoughts of the cemetery at once moving forward and backward through time. Audio stories of happenings long past, overlaying sights of modern joggers and anachronistic gravestones, offers a way to experience an artistic culmination of the cemetery as a multiple becoming.

Brief Bio
Romany Reagan is a second year PhD candidate in the department of drama at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her practice explores theories of anachronistic space, grief symbolisation and cite-based performance through the medium of audio walks in Abney Park Cemetery. Areas of research encompass theatre archaeology, heterotopias, liminal spaces, human geography, the uncanny and the Victorian ‘cult of the dead’.

Deborah Pearson

Narrative vs. Narrative
11 June @ 6.00pm


Rather than define a “narrative” by insisting it have an inherent set of traits or qualities, I am interested in what points of focus arise if we define “narrative” as being based on context and use.  I approach this research through the lens of contemporary performance since 2007, paying particular attention to how “narrative” sits within my own work, and the work of artists in my professional network through Forest Fringe.

In this presentation, I will be focusing on the narrative expectation of conflict as a point of focus, particularly in reference to my most recent one-on-one Drifting Right.  Drifting Right was a conversation with one audience member in a canoe, whilst on open water, but the audience member had to be someone who had voted Conservative in the last election.  In the piece I am open about my own left-leaning political views, and together we interrogate to what extent a cross-political dialogue (rather than debate) is possible and useful.

The presentation considers the history and hunger for conflict (and conflict resolution) as an expectation of the narrative model, and examines this expectation in other contemporary performance pieces, including Theatre Replacement’s Winners and Losers, Action Hero’s Slap Talk and Made in China’s Gym Party.

Brief Bio
I am going into my third year of a practice-based PhD at Royal Holloway.  My research considers the points of pre-occupation that arise when contemporary performances are contextualized as “narrative.”  I founded and co-direct the artist-led producing collective Forest Fringe, perhaps best known for the free venue we have run at the Edinburgh Festival since 2007.  I am a theatre writer and performer and make experimental solo pieces which tour internationally.  I also write plays and librettos on commission for larger companies like Volcano in Canada, with whom I am an associate artist.  I am currently touring a solo piece called The Future Show, in which I tell the story of the rest of my life, starting from the end of the performance and finishing with my death.  The Future Show is partially rewritten for every new space and time in which it is performed.  Forest Fringe have won a Fringe First, two Herald Angels and the Peter Brooke Empty Space Award.  In my practice as an artist I have won a Herald Angel and been shortlisted for the Total Theatre Award for Innovation, an Arches Brick Award and a Dora Award for best new opera.  

Lucy Harrison

That I will do my best… ‘That I Will Do My Best…’
The development and delivery of an interactive sound installation
28th March @ 5.00pm


Developing a sound installation for a for a non-arts event presents a unique number of aesthetic challenges relating to audience expectation and experience as well as the expectation of the event coordinators. These challenges must be balanced with the practical considerations regarding the space available and how the art will be consumed and can often create conflict with personal aesthetic decisions.

This presentation will look at these challenges using as a case study a recent interactive installation created for a Girlguiding event at Alexandra Palace. This was a large-scale exhibition style event for Girlguiding members aged five through to adult. The wide range of ages attending, as well as the large numbers and varied experience of the potential audience created an interesting challenge in the development and delivery.

The presentation considers the creative process when developing sound art for a non-arts event including the collaborative process of working with events coordinators to fulfill the brief for the event. It follows adjustments that were made to how the work was presented over the weekend to incorporate and react to the challenges of the space and audience expectations as well as discussing how the work began to take on unexpected addition functions through user interaction.

Brief Bio
Lucy is currently working towards a PhD in composition investigating interaction and sound design supervised by Brian Lock having previously gained a Master’s in composition from Durham University. She has produced immersive, interactive installations for school settings and large scale events, most recently as part of Girlguiding’s 2014 World Thinking Day celebrations at Alexandra Palace. Other work include sound design for theatre, including site specific work as part of Royal Holloway’s Mariam Project, led by Elizabeth Schafer, and The Massacre by Elizabeth Inchbald. As part of the Mariam Project she created an audio tour, with director Rebecca McCutcheon for the Burford festival 2013. Lucy is part of Written and Composed, a collaborative group of composers and writers where she has been working on science fiction sound design with playwright Susan Gray. Future work for 2014 will include sound design for site specific science fiction theatre and an immersive audio tour.

Examples of Lucy’s work can be found at and regular updates on compositions as they are being developed can be found on Twitter at @laharrisonmusic