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Five Questions with Hellen Sky

We are once again inviting Expressions of Interest from artists and creatives to our 2022 Studio Residency Program, and be a part of Australia’s largest art and cultural precinct. Our residency offers invaluable time, space, and support for artists. It is an opportunity for artists to invest in their artistic practice, build their professional network and share their work with the diverse audiences of the Convent. 

We sat down with Convent’s Studio Resident Artist for 2021, Hellen Sky, an Australian digital choreographer/performer/director/writer, over a cup of rosehip tea and Turkish delight, to discuss her time at the Convent.   

1.   What has been the best part of your residency here at the Convent?  

It has been so wonderful to have the Convent team here to help me. I have made some wonderful friends here. I have done other residencies over the years and usually it is just you on your own, however when I first arrived here there was a team of people to help me unload the car, and I thought, “Wow, that’s really beautiful.” I would love to stay here longer.  

 

2.   How has your work developed since you have been here?  

This has been a daily devotion, like a slow plié. Being in this space has allowed me to ask a lot of questions (mainly “What the f*ck?”) as I pull apart my work and put it back together again.  

My work always is a disguised version of my own experience. It is autobiographical. Autopoietic. The beads I use for my work, I have collected, or rather, they have collected themselves, and each day I sit in the hallway near my studio, surrounded by things I love, and thread them together. I speak with passers-by, neighbours, and other artists, and slowly, they start to form a story. 

 

3.    The Convent is filled with stories to discover and nooks to explore; what have you stumbled on during your time here? 

I have been very inspired by the architecture here, which is so embedded with narratives, however it is not always conducive to interacting with those around you. I have found myself to be very silent at times. The memory foam of what has been here before seems to have seeped in. Therefore, I have chosen to allow my work to spill out of my studio and into the corridor, and I have had many lovely interactions with people every day. It has been a sort of, animation of connections. The people here have such diverse types of practice and I have met some wonderful people, including my next collaborator, Electronic Media Artist Pierre Proske, who happens to be in the studio directly below me.  

 

4.    What is the most precious item that has lived in your studio with you? 

I don’t think I could choose just one. The items I have brought here have a history with me. One work always rests inside the next, so I like to bring things from previous works, for inspiration, to remind me where I have come from and to connect previous works to what is coming next.  

 

5.    What’s next for you?  

There are so many possibilities with this new work, so the next 12 months will be an experiment. Alongside Pierre, I hope to examine voice and language and use data to convert it to light. This means that the stories behind these pieces will eventually be what is lighting them. In addition to English, I will be examining Indigenous languages, as well as working with a wonderful Welsh duet called Bragod, who perform Celtic bardic music. This ancient language will be a beautiful addition and is also a large part of the Convent’s history.  

 

Apply for our 2022 Studio Residency Program here