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Residencies & Projects

Announcing the first four artists awarded bursaries by PANIC! – Promoting an Artists' Network in the Crisis

PANIC! Promoting an Artists' Network in the Crisis announces four artists in Leeds City Region who have received £5,000 and £1,000 bursaries to support the making of a new contemporary visual artwork or project. The bursaries will offer space to create a voice and help us think through the new psychological, social and cultural conditions we face today.

PANIC! Steering Group are proud to announce that the artist bursary recipients are:

For the £1,000 bursaries:

Kevin Devonport and Hannah Lawless

For the £5,000 bursaries:

alabamathirteen and Thahmina Begum

Each artist will work closely with the PANIC! Curator, Georgia Taylor Aguilar and PANIC! Digital Producer, Jenny Handley, to realise their final artwork or bursary project.

Kevin Devonport (he/him) is an artist based at Assembly House Studios in Leeds. He is a self-taught painter, learning whilst serving a prison sentence for drug offences. Art has had a major impact on Kevin's life and in particular his rehabilitation, by allowing him to be grounded in an accepting social world, unlike previous experiences in which he was ostracised due to the criminal label that others attached. Despite not having formal artistic qualifications, he holds a First Class Honours BSc in Sociology that considerably influences his work.

Devonport is interested in still life painting of everyday contemporary artefacts. He likes to convey the meanings that people attach to materiality by creating a narrative from mundane objects. His bursary project is to develop a series of still life compositions. This body of work follows the artist's life by incorporating the Major Arcana of the Tarot to express a certain meaning to each painting, which represents Devonport's life stages. The PANIC! bursary painting will display a number of artefacts that are related to the Covid-19 pandemic through his own subjective meanings. The Tower card of the Tarot deck will be used to display a cataclysmic event that is often life changing through the breaking down of old structures. However, this also offers a renewed opportunity to rebuild.

Hannah Lawless (she/they) is an NHS nurse by day and a professional wrestler, drag king and performance artist by night. They use wrestling in cabaret and digital stages to make satirical, political and queer performance. Whilst counterbalancing the intensity of their job with the silliness of their art, they carry that tension through to their process, juxtaposing potent messages with the ridiculous and camp. By framing wrestling in a Live Art context they politicise violence in a literal call to action whilst contradicting it with an irreverent tone.

"Wrestling is essentially drag: a physical performance with elaborate costumes, storytelling and characters. Wrestling is always good guy vs bad guy – and it is almost always guys." At a Hannah Lawless show, expect to cheer, boo and dive deep into social, cultural and political issues via pro wrestling – the ultimate form of queer physical theatre.

Lawless started wrestling by embodying concepts (Brexit, the patriarchy, Karen) because wrestling is an absurd way to explore cultural discourse with humour and spectacular delivery.

Lawless's work enables the audience to participate by exploring rage: how it is expressed and who is allowed to do so. They make space for the pro-wrestling trope encouraging spectators to scream, boo and cheer. The audience has a voice and their role in the piece is vital, they can make or break a performance. Lawless wants people to scream about injustice, Covid, the inequalities in our society because it's cathartic, good for mental health, and particularly important in the context of the pandemic as people are angry and isolated.

alabamathirteen (she/her) is a disabled, working-class visual artist from Leeds. Largely self-taught, her practice focuses on her own personal limitations exploring, navigating and negotiating memories and senses in the spaces she occupies as a disabled woman. alabamathirteen is interested in how we occupy our bodies, spaces and places – in who gets to take up the most space and whose voices get to be heard the loudest. Much of her work is underpinned by the notion of non-conforming bodies, in the broadest sense, as an act of defiance, and a desire to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive narrative around disability.

Taking the form of an immersive digital film, alabamathirteen's work will document her experience as a disabled person living through a pandemic, exploring issues of connectivity, confinement and isolation, as well as the real fear of being increasingly excluded from the world as it begins to reopen. Talk of returning to 'normal' merely reinforcing that 'normal' was never an option for some of us.

This multi-media piece will combine sound recordings with static and moving imagery taken predominantly through her bedroom window – alabamathirteen's only connection to the outside world and the only space she has occupied throughout the pandemic as someone who shields from even those she shares her home with. The backdrop to this piece of work will involve turning alabamathirteen's bedroom into a giant camera obscura, transposing the outside world onto the interior walls.

Thahmina Begum (she/her) lives and works in Beeston, South Leeds. She is a mixed media artist, poet and workshop facilitator. Begum attended Leeds Arts University and is currently studying to become an art psychotherapist. Her work explores cultures, identities, belonging and British/Muslim diaspora. Begum's work explores stories, hidden narratives and storytelling through art and art making. Begum is passionate about making art accessible for everyone in society. This includes sharing how participation within art making can improve our health and wellbeing. Begum loves how art can give voices to communities who have been silenced.

Begum's work ranges from printmaking, collage, embroidery, painting, drawing, poetry and creative conversations. She loves working with communities and groups to support building confidence in their creative ideas and what art can mean to them.

Begum will explore the question: 'how can art aid healing to racial trauma?'. This bursary will be realised in a Community Research Project, working with Bangladeshi groups in South Leeds. The project will explore the contentious, complex and lived experiences of racial trauma through Creative Laboratories. The Creative Labs will use a range of materials and making processes to explore racial trauma, identity and change through art making and collective healing through discussion and reflection.

The Re-invention of the Self. Courtesy Kevin Devonport

Courtesy Hannah Lawless

Courtesy alabamathirteen

Courtesy Thahmina Begum

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