I started this blog in 2009 when I began work on my practice-as-research PhD (Plymouth University). Coming from a background in skateboarding and recognising that many fewer women than men take part in public urban forms of play, I wanted to explore what happens when a woman chooses to play in public urban space, and contribute to knowledge in the field by drawing out some connections between gender politics, public urban spaces, and free improvised playing. This blog was a way for me to document much of the performance work I was doing as part of that research (you can look at different projects using the tabs on the left). I finished my PhD in January 2015 (My thesis is available here if you’re looking for a long read) and since then I’ve begun working on a couple of new projects, which are detailed below.
Skateboarding, Palestine and Cultural Exchange
I discovered the charity SkatePAL through a video posted on Instagram by Sidewalk Magazine in the summer of 2014, which pictured Isle team rider, Chris Jones, performing a Backside Boardslide on a rail outside a shop in Ramallah, Palestinian Territories. It was an unlikely news item to come out of the West Bank at that time, and as a skateboarder and someone with Palestinian heritage, I was keen to find out more about the charity. During the summer of 2015 I spent three weeks in Asira Al-Shamalyia – a small town in the North of the West Bank (close to Nablus) – helping to build SkatePAL’s newest and biggest skatepark to date, with around 20 or so other skateboarder-volunteers. I was fascinated by the work of the charity and the space of intercultural exchange that was opened up by the project.
Whilst I was there, I worked alongside the charity and fellow British female skater, Lily Hein-Hartmann to establish skate classes with the young women and girls of the local community. I wrote two articles and put together some footage for Girl Skate UK, which show how these sessions went: ‘SkatePAL and Girl Skating in Palestine’ and ‘Girl Skate Classes Begin in Palestine’. This was my first research project focusing on the charity and I’m currently writing up my academic findings for publication. I’m heading back out to Asira Al-Shamalyia in July 2016 to do some follow up work with the female skaters in particular.
I’ve also been working on an Arts Council England funded project called ‘Accumulations‘, with three other female artists based in the North West of England. We’ve been exploring how female artists, activists, theorists and our individual female family histories have become embodied within our performance practices. Accumulations is a research and development project that celebrates the wealth of female/feminine experience and expertise and how that contributes to our cultural and personal landscapes. On 4th August 2016 we are curating a performance evening at the Whitworth Gallery titled Precarious Assembly, which will feature performances and exhibits by 12 movement-based and visual artists, happening throughout the building from 6-9pm.
Day to Day
I’m a Senior Lecturer in Performance at Sheffield Hallam University, teaching mainly on the BA(Hons) Performance for Stage & Screen course. My research outputs are listed on Academia.edu. I live in Manchester where I’m a proud member of a small, but really friendly and supportive girl-skate crew. We regularly meet up to skate Projekts Skate Park, and the park also hosts a girls-only skate night on the first Thursday of each month, which provides a relaxed space for girls and women of all ages to develop their skills.
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