On Sulphur

On Sulphur took place on 12 July 2018 at Toynbee Studios, London in their Court Room, Theatre and Courtyard, and featured an eclectic programme of talks, screenings and discussion curated by artist Sheila Ghelani and Producer Sally Rose about sulphur the chemical element, sulphur as metaphor, and Sulphur the artwork, originally made by Sheila in 2017.

Unfolding in two parts the event was cooked-up as a way for Sheila to both open up and share the research processes she went through when making Sulphur, but also as a day of research in itself for anyone who attended. The event asked would presenting different scientists, artists and work alongside each other illuminate new connections, conversations and relationships about bodies, politics and climate change? And could Sheila’s own piece of work also flourish in a different form?

The answers were a resounding yes!

The day took place across two sessions with invited contributors - some of whom collaborated on Sulphur in 2017.

Session One’s programme included Professor Clive Oppenheimer from the University of Cambridge talking about sulphur as a chemical element and its relationship to ‘The Year Without Summer’ in 1816, alongside self-proclaimed writer and drifter Agnieszka Gratza sharing her experiences of swimming in volcanoes. Session Two (officially opened with the release of a yellow smoke bomb) consisted of artist Tim Spooner performing his well-known piece The Telescope, ‘Science Technician’ Ross Williams giving a live science-demo and a screening of short films including work by Lucy Cash and a collaboration between Becky Edmunds and Fiona Wright.

Also on show throughout the event were installations - Marty Langthorne’s light piece Turner Reflections, How To Make Your Own Volcano a work for camera made by Belgian artist Gosie Vervloessem and a series of Sulphur films by John Hunter.

The event ended with a reading of Sheila’s Sulphur text performed by artists Jo Hellier, Katherina Radeva and Louisa Robbin - whom Sheila is pleased to be re-working the piece with early next year, with a view to sharing it beyond theatres.

Perhaps one of the most exciting outcomes of On Sulphur has been the establishment of a longer term plan for Sheila and Sally’s shared practice - a company called Pollinator. This will be a new way of working for the pair which encompasses curations that cross-pollinate and jump across boundaries - hybrid and migratory in form, magazine-style and full of generosity in nature… and a continuing collaboration.

On Sulphur was generously supported by a Royal Society of Chemistry’s public engagement grant and using public funds by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Categories: Report

Date Posted: 27 September 2018