About the Artist

Jo’s interest lies in deep ecology, human interaction and social sculpture especially around the themes of natural life/death cycles, grief, personal and societal transition. Often working in outdoor woodland or empty urban spaces, she is not so interested in creating finished art pieces as much as creating a temporary ‘vessel’ within which a process of mutual enquiry and interaction takes place.  She often fuses the use of projected image with hands-on preparation of indigenous, organic materials to encourage participants on a physical journey around a space – a deeply engaging experience responding to the specific environment and moment in time. 

Her approach lends itself to working in community projects, organisations, schools and with small groups of individuals who are seeking creative processes for navigating transitions.  She responds to the need to communicate collectively, bringing diverse voices together to effect change in themselves and in their communities. Her practice is informed by 16 years experience of working in adult drug and alcohol services and youth services.

Jo networks and collaborates with other social practice artists across Bristol including Bristol Artist Led Forum and is a member of Diverse Artist Network. She was, until recently, Co-lead of DIY Cultural Spaces Group. She is also collaborating and developing environmental projects with both Southampton University and UWE, as an artist in residence at Arnos Vale Cemetery and in St Helen’s C of E Primary, Alverston and St Mary’s C of E Primary, Alverston nr Bristol. She is currently coordinating Celebrating Sanctuary in St Anne’s area of Bristol for Refugee Festival.

 ‘Through my practice I hope to legitimise a more truthful, connected existence; encouraging those who participate in it to become more authentic, creative participants in their individual contexts’.

 

Image: research for Ode to the Ash Tree (managed by Courage Copse Creatives in association with Arts Council England. Collaboration with Chalkblack, Courage Copse Creatives and Shimnix film production).

Community workshops

As well as focusing on specific solo projects Jo works with youth projects, schools, multi-generational groups, women’s projects, mental health services, substance misuse services, home education groups and special needs projects.
Working predominantly in outdoor spaces such as woodlands, coastal locations, public spaces and festivals over the past eight years; Jo often applies large-scale projections created using organic materials to form striking images with which the participants interact. She has adapted her processes to include sustainably sourced off-grid technology in order to take her participants out into the elements and wild spaces. Her work is often site-specific; working with partner agencies and in collaboration with other artists, film makers, dancers, photographers, actors, storytellers, historians/museums, youth workers, musicians, psychologists, woodlanders, environmental experts, 3D makers and festival entertainment/event organisers. 

Collaborative work and commissions

Most recent and current themes of collaborative work include;

  • ARTIST in RESIDENCE Arnos Vale Cemetery – arnosvale.co.uk  Open brief around the subject of grief.  Funded through https://necessity.info/category/radical-reconciliation Until end March 21′ (possible extension). New live community padlet page relating to one of the residency projects – https://padlet.com/jo_chalkblack_bushell/pbfbgfegkayyr4ma
  • Currently scoping Research project with UWE – Centre of Water Community and Resilience. More details to come.
  • Currently scoping for community project with https://annahaydockwilson.com/finding-common-ground/
  • CENTRE OF GRAVITY – 60 artist month take-over of empty department store – https://www.centreofgravity.uk/ba-lf    Joint exhibition space as part of Bristol Artist Led Forum https://www.bristolartistledforum.com/who-we-are   Also, immersive performance with Manu Emmanuel and Lisa Friedberg. October’20 
  • BRICKS (bricksbristol.org/st-annes) – Artist Producer for St Anne’s Creative Community Mapping Project.  Creatively consulting and working with the community of St Anne’s, Bristol about the current arts/community provision with a view to reactivating a building for dedicated community use.  Oct 19 – end Nov 20.  
  • BLEACH – Joint project between Southampton University Marine Biology Dept (project lead – Professor Joerg Weidenman) and Vulgar Earth Environmental Collective. Artists interpreting the research undertaken by scientists working on coral reef project. First exhibition 28/03/20 now postponed due to Covid until later 2021. Second exhibition planned for 2022.
  • Co-Lead DIY WORKING GROUP Cultural Spaces/BURSARY – an independent gathering of arts organisations and arts practitioners who meet regularly to advocate for the sector and to discuss and inform policy, as well as forming working groups in response to specific issues and to develop shared activity. This thinking feeds directly into the wider cultural conversations happening at a high level in the city through the Cultural Strategy Steering Group. 2018-2020.
  • WHEN PAIN MEETS ART/COLLABORATION/PERFORMANCE – exploring the relationship between long-term pain and art; collaboration with Hal Camplin; inviting artists with experience of long-term pain to join the ‘conversation’ leading to collaborative work/works. Ongoing long term intermittent project.
  • ARTIST IN RESIDENCE – St Helens CofE Primary, Alverston since 2017. Currently supporting teachers remotely.
  • LIMINAL SPACE/LAND-BASED PERFORMANCE PROCESS/WEEKEND RESIDENTIAL – five month project culminating in a three-day performance process (Oct 18) at the Sustainability Centre, West Meon, South Downs.  Exploring liminality and land-based process. Collaboration with Suzanne Baker and Emma Wallace (thisisrefugi.com)
  • SCHOOL GARDEN PROJECT/ECO – approached by St Annes CofE Primary to design a sensory/eco garden space and coordinate a team of staff/volunteers (Jan 18 – ongoing)
  • KWMC – MENTORING FOR RESIDENCY PROGRAMME/KNOWLE WEST COMMUNITY – approached by Knowle West Media Centre to mentor two recent graduate (SW Graduate Photographer Prize winners) throughout their first major community residency (8 weeks).  Working with archive and developing new material to tell the story of Filwood Broadway- the architecture, the social history, the personal histories. Working with local residents to gather stories and material. Developing material to be shared with the community and form content for an exhibition, including site specific and outdoor display. Advice, guidance and inspiration shared with the SWGPP to potentially expand their practice into other disciplines through the use of mediums such as projection, textiles, performance etc.  On call throughout the residency to offer guidance/advice.
  • ASH/FILM/PROJECTION/PERFORMANCE- The Ode to the Ash Tree project – artist led community project, research into the cultural significance, myth, uses and potential demise of the Ash tree population in the UK due to the spread of Ash Dieback and development of site specific performance and off-grid projection techniques (managed by Courage Copse Creatives in association with Arts Council England. Collaboration with Courage Copse Creatives and Shimnix film production –  6 month project).
  • HERITAGE/CHARCOAL – 3C’s Heritage project – woodland-based heritage project with five schools, experimentation with charcoal including heritage research finding innovative ways to apply charcoal to different materials including preparation of egg tempera as a medium (managed by Courage Copse Creatives – Heritage Lottery funded)
  • IMMERSIVE THEATRE – The Legends of Frome – Research into ritual art and immersive performance techniques including collaborative immersive heritage performance (managed by Edventure Frome – Arts Council funded)
  • HERITAGE/PROJECTION/PERFORMANCE- research, development and delivery of young people’s workshops for National WW1 Gallipoli heritage project (DAISI, North Devon Museums, Shimnix film production – Young Roots Heritage Lottery Funding)

Current/ongoing private project – HIGH NOON

RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT/LIFE TRANSITIONS/ART PROCESS/PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESS/PROJECTION/PHOTOGRAPHY/NATURE CONNECTION/SOLAR ENERGY

Jo received a year’s part-time funding from a private benefactor between April 2016-2017.  As a result of this funding Jo developed an art process for use during periods of life transition –

AN INVITATION TO THOSE WHO FIND THEMSELVES AT A POINT OF CHANGE IN LIFE AND WANT SOMEWHERE TO MARK, LEGITIMISE OR PROCESS THIS.  IT IS ALSO AN INVITATION TO THOSE WHO MAY FEEL A SIGNIFICANT INTERNAL SHIFT (MAYBE IN A PERIOD OF DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY) BUT CANT NECESSARILY IDENTIFY WHAT THIS IS OTHER THAN REALISING THAT THEIR PREVIOUS WAY OF FUNCTIONING ISN’T WORKING FOR THEM ANYMORE.

HIGH NOON GIVES SPACE AND FORM TO THIS PROCESS AND RECOGNISES DIFFERENCE AS WELL AS COMMON THEMES OF LIFE TRANSITION. HIGH NOON ISN’T A TALKING THERAPY BUT AN ART PROCESS THAT DRAWS ON OFTEN DISUSED WAYS OF SEEING AND BEING; WHICH HELP WHEN ACCLIMATISING TO THE UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY OF CHANGE.  THIS TWELVE-HOUR EXPERIENCE OFFERS A SAFE SPACE FOR INDIVIDUALS TO JOURNEY WITH OTHERS THROUGH THIS PROCESS IN A SMALL GROUP SETTING (max 6) IN A PRIVATE WOODLAND SETTING – STARTING AT MIDDAY AND ENDING AT MIDNIGHT.

The work is influenced by the theories of depth psychologists such as Carl Jung, Thomas Moore, Clarissa Pincola Estes and James Hollis alongside writers such Sharon Blackie and Mary Oliver, wilderness guides such Bill Plotkin and Martin Shaw and artists in the Social Sculpture discipline such as Joseph Beuys and Shelley Sacks.

Since the summer 2016, much of the work has involved working with women in a rural setting.  Jo is now collaborating with psychologist Jonathan Stott in order to develop a stronger psychological base for the process and, together they are developing High Noon to include any gender and to provide urban opportunities for people to become introduced to the idea of ‘marking transitions’.

An exhibition/event exploring the work and themes of High Noon was shown at the Create Centre, Spike Island, Bristol from 12/05/18 until 23/05/18.  Due to requests for more, similar opportunities in urban settings;  High Noon is currently working on a crowd funder in order to run further inner city events in the coming year as well as the ongoing High Noon – Woodland events.  

See ‘High Noon – Woodland’ and ‘High Noon – Events/exhibitions’ for further details.

Location

Jo is a Bristol-based artist who moved to the city in October 2015 having spent 7 years living on the coast in North Devon.  As location and landscape is an important part of her work – the name ‘Chalkblack’ referring to the geology of her home town Portsmouth where exposed areas of chalk greet those arriving along the coast line, and the geology of North Devon’s Atlantic coast line where Bideford Black can be found in coastal rock formations. Chalk and Black represent the geographic and psychological transition she made leaving one place for another.  She often uses these materials in her work for this reason.

 

Professional documentation

She is registered self employed as an artist and performer, has a current DBS certificate for working with vulnerable adults and children and has public liability insurance.

Jo has a network of creative contacts across the UK who she is able to bring onboard for specific projects that need specialist knowledge and experience.

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