Supporting Text for 'Facing' by Laurence Lane
Hayley Newman is an extraordinary artist.
She began her performance career in 1994 with the performances Record and Kiss at the monthly night club Nosepaint in London. Her solo performance works have frequently involved physical sound elements presented in direct relation to the body. One such performance was Microphone Skirt.
In 1996 my colleague Paulette Terry Brien and I, were promoting a series of nights of performance, experimental film and soundworks in a Manchester bar. Under the title of The Savage Club we were looking for contemporary work that was appropriate to the times. My education and experience told me that painting and sculpture were irrelevant and that an art more visceral and irreverent was essential at the end of the 20th century. Composer Matt Wand had recently returned from an event in Berlin and insisted that a piece he had witnessed there was essential viewing for an interested Manchester audience. His description of it convinced us that we should put this work on and the live experience of it was greater in every way than the anecdote. The piece was Microphone skirt and still the memory of it makes me smile and sends tingles along my spine. Microphone Skirt is exactly as it is titled. A Velcro belt hung with 20 vocal microphones fixed around Hayley's waist with her dressed ready for a night out. Each of the microphones is plugged into a separate channel of a mixer and amplified through the house PA. For The Savage Club performance Hayley started after a pause in proceedings with no announcement in a busy bar. Standing on a small stage she started gently rotating her hips the sound of the jostling mics bumping and scraping against each other. The conversation quickly lulled and the audience was immediately engaged. As the performance progressed and Hayley reached her groove the amplified crashing and smashing had become a cacophonic music concrete crescendo. It was a truly exhilarating live experience. And I have never forgotten it.
This initial relationship led to Paulette and I working with Hayley on several other projects and we always found the process and the final project touching, absurd, ridiculous, beautiful and thoughtful.
Since our last collaboration Hayley has completed her PhD, curated events and inaugurated the self-help group Capitalists Anonymous (CA), a forum for people to come and confess their capitalist tendencies.
Hayley has written that she is committed to working creatively around the current economic, social and ecological crises and with this energy has recently concentrated on her collaboration with Gina Birch and Kaffe Matthews as The Gluts. This all-female collective was formed in 2009, at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. A statement from their website www.cafecarbon.net is worth quoting:
"The Gluts resist the current dismantling of culture and our welfare state – market-led solutions, corporate greed, millionaire government types, capitalism and their roles within climate change and its ongoing effect on our world and people. We want life, not death: education not poverty: fulfillment not oppression. We want libraries with books in them, a healthy health service and a global commons for everyone to share and enjoy, now and in the future!"
Hayley is also working on an artists' book based on her experiences as 'Self-appointed Artist in Residence' in The City of London which is to be published by Copy Press in 2012.
I can't guarantee that the performance that has been commissioned for Between will be as memorable as Microphone Skirt, but there is a good chance.