Two hands holding or pressing floral fabric or paper

Image courtesy of Sandra Johnston, 2020.


Denys Blacker, Helen Collard and Sandra Johnston

Thursday 27th August 2020
6:30-8pm (via Zoom)

We begin with the idea of memory.

We record ourselves privately; remembering/talking/flowing/interconnecting/constellating/listening and imagining the telling of this story – our stories

We send our memory recordings to each other.

After listening to each other’s disembodied voices, we write – attempting to recall what most enthrals us, which scenes and situations come to the fore, feelings and emotions, people, plants and animals, reality and dreams. We attempt to understand the wider story that takes us from ‘me’ to ‘us’

We send our texts to each other

We are moved, empathized, humanized by the way our stories diffract back at us, like an unexpected intimacy, a glance in a broken mirror, like eavesdropping on a private conversation.

We collect small fragments of video, images that resound within us and relate to the words both spoken and written, and we share them

Past becomes present and shapes the caring future.

Rhubaba is delighted to present Figments (2020), a series of memory exchanges produced between Denys Blacker, Helen Collard and Sandra Johnston. Often working within the spheres of performance practice, throughout lockdown they have been exploring alternative ways of working, emphasised by the absence of bodies, space and physicality. Having worked on previous collaborations together, the lockdown period has brought with it a virtual intimacy, harbouring a space for creative exchange and experimentation. Substituting performance with various ways of making; including, but not limited to walking, drawing, listening and recording; they have been sharing figments of material with one another. Through the sharing of these memory extracts, a system of material exchange emerged; with each piece building on the previous one shared, in turn shaping the subsequent response. Through this process, small moments are captured in time and unconscious connections become apparent.

The figments of audio/visual work will be shared online and an extract played during the Zoom session. This will be followed by a Q&A session with the artists.

Free booking, but to reserve a place please email with subject line ‘Figments’ by Wednesday 26th August.

Further information

Denys Blacker is a visual artist whose practice spans performance art, drawing, sculpture and video. Currently based in Spain, she has organised over twenty international performance art festivals in Girona and Barcelona. She is a founding member of the all-women performance group Ocells al Cap (Birds in the Head) and a member of the International performance group Wolf in the Winter. She is co-founder of the project ELAA (European Live Art Archive) based in the University of Girona, and holds a PhD from Northumbria University, titled Interconnection, Synchronicity and Consciousness in Improvised Performance Art Practices. Blacker is interested in elements of (un)conscious connection and the relationships between one another and our surrounding environments. Through her work she explores the boundaries of self and object, as well unconscious sensations and cognitive senses.

Helen Collard is an artist interested in the connections between the mind and body, sound and technology. Collard’s work is presented through various forms including performance, interactive installations, film and sound works. Blending her knowledge and teaching of yoga with performance art, Collard employs techniques such as āsana and vinyasa breathing practices with the philosophies of the body. These are expanded through her creative experiments with technology, biofeedback and sound, which she employs to generate and explore listening environments. Collard holds a PhD titled Finding Prana: digital and performative experiments in Search of a Technology of the Self from Northumbria University. She is a member of the improvisation performance group Ocells al Cap (Birds in the Head) and has shown work in Spain, Columbia, London and Newcastle.

Sandra Johnston is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts at Northumbria University, as well as Programme Leader for the Baltic 39 BxNU Master of Fine Art Programme. Sandra’s work spans site-responsive performance actions, installations and drawing, with an emphasis on locations of historically contested space. Since 2001 she has developed an extensive body of practice-led research exploring creativity in relation to the aftermath of social trauma. Between 2002-2005, as an AHRC Research Fellow based at the University of Ulster in Belfast, she developed a practice-based investigation into issues of ‘trauma of place’. In her role as Lecturer, she has supervised multiple PhD students, including both Helen Collard and Denys Blacker. Throughout her career, Johnston has exhibited internationally and collaborated extensively with other artists, occasionally through participation in international performance laboratories. She was also a co-founder and committee member of various artist-run collectives in Belfast, including Catalyst Arts, Bbeyond, and Agency.