Whitstable Biennale 2014:
Saturday Review, BBC R4, 31 May 2014
Ken Loach’s film, Joshua Ferris’s novel, The Normal Heart on TV, Bakersfield Mist and The Whitstable Biennale
Culture24.org, 4 June 2014
Visual art, film and performance at the seaside: Whitstable Biennale 2014
03 June 2014
Mark Sheerin dips his toes into the waters as the Whitstable Biennale responds to the rich texture of the Kent seaside town by serving up a recipe of film and performance art
Good art festivals thrive off rich locations and with its traditional shops and mix of social classes, Whitstable is a place to conjure with. And it was a local artist, Rosa Ainley who dug up one of the most interesting local angles.
With two headphones on a white plinth, hers was an unassuming piece of sound art. But the story she had to relate was compelling. By cutting up interviews with a chorus of local people Ainley related the rise and fall of a pharma research lab in nearby town Sandwich.
The Pfizer building was more like a Utopian city than a place of work and many of those who you find between your ears were ready to praise the corporate giant. It was a source of unlikely pride.
But the everyday Kent accents are at odds with the cutting edge and futuristic complex, by which money was pumped into the region, only to drain out just as quick when hard times hit. Ainley’s subject might equally have worked as a radio documentary, albeit one without the evocative power of her cut and paste audio play. She has spotted a great story.
‘Dany Louise selects:
I loved this event as well. Despite the weighty ‘biennale’ tag, Whitstable remains a perfectly sized unique platform for the work of emerging artists doing thoughtful and unusual work. Works by Louise Fairclough and Rosa Ainley stood out.’
AN Artists Newsletter
Whitstable Biennale: memorable, unusual and occasionally bonkers
The seventh Whitstable Biennale opened on Saturday with a variety of one-off performances and a series of new film commissions. Dany Louise reports from the small fishing town on the Kent coast.
‘Haunting and full of pathos
Rosa Ainley presents a haunting audio work of non-linear text and interview fragments about the Pfizer plant outside Sandwich. Accompanied by a ‘pamphlet’ which is more a Modernist short story evoking a dystopian mood, this is far more than oral history. The listener is drawn to construct a fascinating narrative of changing Pfizer company culture, from its local beginnings to mega-corporation. Ex-employees talk with bittersweet hindsight and some cynicism, as with growth came a controlling culture and senior management was increasingly disconnected from the concerns of long-term employees. It made me think of the human cost of globalisation.’
Whitstable Biennale: art beside the seaside
This year’s Whitstable Biennale showcases radical live and moving artworks in the most unexpected of places, writes Louisa Buck, June 5 2014 14:32
…‘Meanwhile, in the town and tucked down a side street in the Whitstable Umbrella Community Centre Café – which supports those with loneliness and mental health issues – is an audio book by Whitstable-based Rosa Ainley, chronicling workers’ memories of Viagra-producing, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s sprawling complex outside Sandwich which was a major local employer until its closure in 2012. Listening down individual headphones to the montaged voices of former employees revisiting their lost working lives whilst surrounded by the convivial clink and clatter of a working community café is an unexpectedly intimate and moving experience.’…
Don’t hold your breath, Drawing Breath exhibition 2008
‘Drawing Breath was one of the best received exhibitions we have ever had at the Horsebridge. It was beautifully thought through, created and presented and the broad range of visitors that the show attracted to our gallery was particularly gratifying.’
Will Forrest, director of the Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre in Whitstable (exhibition also toured as an ACE-funded show)
‘A show that for me is all about listening and noticing – the film footage with Annie Whitehead’s music is mesmerizing like water can be mesmerizing, Rosa’s sound piece and Sue’s delicate maps and lightboxes work to suggest fragility and strength simultaneously, and Jean’s journey photos shine with a joyful presence. Metaphorically, pictorially, and from an auditory point of view, complete, rich and life enhancing.’
Mark Trezona (exhibition comments book October 2008)
AHRC scholarship, Royal College of Art, 2012–15
Royal Society for Public Health, Arts and Public Health Commendation 2011
Creative Leadership Programme 2010/11, Wayfarer collaborative development
CABE 2009 Sea Change funding for Vision for Leysdown, ‘a national exemplar of good practice’
Research Associate, Sidney de Haan Centre for Arts and Health, Christ Church University
RIBA South East, Architecture Week Award 2007 for Gateway Sounds: Sheppey Bridge and RSPB Purfleet (mp3 pilot project)
Grants for the Arts, Arts Council, R+D Award, to make The Names, multimedia online piece 2007