Jo Chalkblack – See listed commissions and collaborations below.
My interest lies in deep ecology, human interaction and social sculpture especially around the themes of personal and societal transition. Often working in outdoor/vacant transitioning urban or natural spaces, I am not so interested in creating finished art pieces as much as creating a temporary ‘vessel’ in which a process of mutual enquiry and interaction takes place – a deeply engaging experience responding to the specific environment, people and moment in time.
As a performance-based social practice artist and creative producer, my approach lends itself to working in community projects, organisations, urban planning and creative consultation projects, education and with small groups of individuals who are seeking creative processes for navigating transitions. I respond to the need to communicate collectively, bringing diverse voices together to effect change in themselves and in their communities. My practice is informed by 16 years experience of working in adult drug and alcohol services and youth services.
I have rich multi-disciplinary relationships and work in collaboration across specialisms. As a creative producer I draw on extensive networks throughout Bristol and beyond including relationships with UWE, Bath Spa University, Screenology film school, Theatre Bristol, Creative Youth Network, Nature Youth Connect, Coresist, Bricks Bristol, BCC Community Development Team, BCC Arts Development, BCC Youth/Family Focus, BCC Heritage, Bristol Refugee Festival, Bridges for Communities, University of Southampton and with other social practice artists and creative producers. I am a member of the Rabbit Holes Collective, Bristol Artist Led Forum and Diverse Artist Network. I have Co-led the DIY Cultural Spaces Group. I am a member of Vulgar Earth environmental artist collective.
Also currently exploring how adaptive technologies can enable those in the community who experience barriers to connection with green spaces to access the natural world. Training with CCIXR at University of Portsmouth. Linked through Rabbit Holes Collective with Pervasive Media Studios, Forest of Imagination and Dr Penny Hay (Bath Spa) and Red Isaac (creative producer and placemaking consultant). Looking at how placemaking, story gathering, heritage, multi-cultural perspectives and technology can work together to make space for meaningful placemaking.
‘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).
As well as focusing on specific community development 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; I like to work with large-scale projections often using organic materials or found objects to form striking images with which the participants interact. Over time I have adapted my processes to include sustainably sourced off-grid technology in order to take participants out into the elements and wild spaces. My work is often site-specific; working with partner agencies and in collaboration with other artists, film makers, creative technologists, dramaturges, dancers, photographers, actors, storytellers, historians/museums, youth workers, musicians, psychologists, woodlanders, environmental experts, 3D makers and festival entertainment/event organisers.
Most recent and current themes of collaborative work include;
THE SPACE BETWEEN – currently scoping R&D project with Red Isaac which explores how storytelling and technology can deepen people’s connection to and embodiment of place and, more widely, the natural environment…seeding a community created immersive experience. Partnering with BBC Rabbit Holes R&D on adaptive technology.
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.
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.
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. GDPR compliant/registered.
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.