A dance drama which challenges obsessions with the “body beautiful” could be heading to gyms and fitness suites around the region after the success of the performers in securing funding from the Larkin25 Arts Awards.
Also recognised by the awards is a project by Hull-based Canadian artist Alison Slack to link sounds and locations around the city and to highlight changes dating back to the 19th century.
“Virging on Active” by Non Applicables and Alison’s “Soundmaps” are the latest ventures to win support from the awards, which were set up to use some of the proceeds from the sale of the famous Larkin Toads in 2010 to promote development of the arts in Hull and East Yorkshire.
Elaine Burke, Independent Arts Consultant and Chair of the Larkin25 Arts Awards Committee, said the calibre of entries this year underlined the quality of art being created in the region and the growing prestige around the award.
Elaine said: “Once again the awards were over-subscribed which shows that they are gaining momentum, and once again we have been really impressed with the high standard of applications which made it very difficult to select the winners.
“The awards tell us there is a wealth of talent and of innovation and excellence out there and that artists want to be associated with Larkin25. On our part, we are proud that the awards are attracting such a high calibre of entries and that we are able to support excellent and innovative art in Hull and East Yorkshire.
“The City of Culture bid has highlighted the talent and ambition of the city and surrounding area and has also prompted conversations about the under-developed arts infrastructure, and Larkin25 sees itself as having a role to play in building the capacity of local artists and contributing to their long-term development.”
As Non Applicables, Larkin25 award recipients Sian Myers and Fenella Ryan have built a reputation for challenging audiences with their dynamic dance productions which address such social issues as binge drinking and online dating.
“Virging on Active” is a study of body image obsession and the behaviours within the protected walls of gyms, weights classes and slimming clubs.
Sian said: “The piece is a comment on the fixation within western culture for that ‘perfect body’ and the way we achieve this.
“We are really excited to have won the Larkin25 Award. It’s really pleasing to know that someone considers our work valuable enough to invest in.
“We now want to pilot the piece at various different venues around Hull and East Yorkshire – bingo halls and village halls and maybe also gyms and fitness suites. Eventually we would like to promote the piece nationally as something that is made in Hull.”
Alison Slack will use her award to develop Soundmaps, which is still in its early stages and which will aim to re-connect people with the sounds of the city.
Alison said: “Because we live in a visual culture out other senses have lessened. I believe that the world we live in contains an aural landscape that helps us shape what we see.
“I feel honoured to be recognised by the Larkin25 Awards. It’s not something I expected and it will help me develop the project in a way that wouldn’t be possible without the funding.”
In addition to providing a share of a £5,000 prise fund Larkin25 also supports the awards winners with mentoring and guidance.
Elaine added: “The money helps the artists develop their projects and the mentoring enables them to reach higher, achieve more and build their skills.
“We were really impressed with Non Applicables – their energy and excellence, their vivacity and professionalism and we want to help them develop ‘Virging on Active’ into a bigger piece and follow it with workshops for young people.
“We were fascinated by the way that ‘Soundmaps’ looks at the physical changes around Hull since the 19th century and reflects on how sounds can be used to define the places where we live and we look forward to helping Alison develop the project.”