As the pandemic ensues the music industry has continually been plagued with a sense of fear, uncertainty and unanswered questions towards their future. It is an industry on red alert, urgently needing government support to survive the COVID-19 crisis. We have previously supported causes like #LetTheMusicPlay and #WeMakeEvents that draw attention to the drastic situation facing our industry which looks set to collapse, unless the government provides the right support. Whilst many are sad not to be able to see their favourite touring artist, club night or festival this summer, there is a far more serious concern at hand. This is of course the staff who work tirelessly behind-the-scenes at our favourite venues around the country. This pandemic has put their livelihoods at risk, with a serious lack of funding or clarity of when nightlife can return.
When nightlife does return one really does hope there will be a rejection of the outdated framework of clubbing, one of superstar DJ's, overbooked venues and copy & paste festival line-up's. Instead, it would be far more beneficial to see a return to D-I-Y club nights that place emphasis on the party as a whole, it's lighting, affordable pricing, local line-ups, music policy etc. The return of these parties would truly champion the hard work of creatives who work tirelessly behind the scenes, one of these people being Georgie Hall. We talked to Georgie about the amazing work she has done in Leeds, whilst getting some real insight into what influences her work.
Hi Georgie, tell us a bit about yourself?
23, Live in Leeds. Freelance artist working as part of Endless Studio with Aaron, Jamie and Joe in Hope House, Mabgate. Volunteer at MAP Charity. MAP Charity is an amazing charity which gives young people who are at risk of exclusion from mainstream schools qualifications in creative subjects. Recently I have been helping with the donor processing and social media. I primarily work with visuals, and light installations. Studied Fine Art at University of Leeds- graduated last year.
You studied in Leeds; how would you compare working in the city in comparison to studying in it? (No worries if you don’t think there is a massive difference).
I think I found that during my last year at uni I tried to integrate more with events and nights in the city that were not student orientated, and I also began doing some work experience at Endless Studio- a graphic design studio in Hope House, home of MAP Charity and Cosmic Slop. This was a huge turning point for me as they were so welcoming and taught me so much about how they work- you may recognise posters from them for the Limit nights at Distrikt and recently the album artwork for the great Leeds band Mamilah. They also introduced me to people who work and live in Leeds who aren’t students and therefore the the transition was easier, but it was definitely still different and took some getting used to. Leeds is much better in my opinion when you work rather than as a student because there are so many things going on which you aren’t necessarily aware of as a student, and the amount of creativity and exciting projects is huge.
How long have you known you’ve wanted to be involved with lighting, is it what you see yourself doing long term?
I’ve always been interested in light as a material and how it can be used in different contexts, be it on stage, in clubs, restaurants, bars and cafe’s. My work in first and second year was primarily painting and photography but always with light and colour in mind. In my third year at uni I decided I wanted to make it my main medium as it combine everything I was interested in. It is something which can make a huge impact on the atmosphere of a space and can be manipulated and controlled in so many ways. I hope that it is something I can become more proficient in and that I can keep doing it long term and I would love to progress and make installations and visuals for festivals as I feel this is something where you can be so creative and the nature of the installation would have a collaborative, interactive element to it which would be amazing to explore.
Do you have any creative projects you have recently been involved in?
Before lockdown I was involved with doing the visuals for Axel Boman at Sheaf St for Limit and Truelove in February. It involved making some visuals which were then used on Resolume with Sheaf St’s incredibly high tech equipment. This was really exciting because I’d never seen my visuals projected over three screens in such high quality- so that was really fun.
How does it work in regards to lighting for events, are you given creative freedom or does it require a lot of collaboration with the person putting on the night?
It varies, sometimes the person is very much happy to let me do what I want to the space which is nice as I often don’t have a plan of what I would do until I am in the space and try different combinations out. But equally, if the person has a very clear vision of how they want the ambience of the night to be it requires more collaboration. I really enjoy this communication aspect, as the lighting is not the main part of the night and therefore it needs to add to the overall result rather than detract from any other aspects. I’ve found that the fluorescent lights that I use are incredibly bright and due to their nature can’t be dimmed- this can be an issue if the person wants the night to be darker. I’ve found that less is often more, and it the use of light with other materials such as smoke which can create an interesting effect. The placement of the bulbs within a space can also greatly alter how the space looks- sometimes the sculptural object of the fluorescent tube works on display and is deliberate, however if it is the glow of the light that is more important it is good to try and place the tube out of site and where it is obstructed, allowing for a softer, less dramatic diffusion of light into the space.
In terms of live visuals, often the person gives an idea of the type of music that will be played and therefore I know what kind of visuals I should be using, however this can be altered on the night as long as I have a big enough variety of material to work with.
Is there anyone within the industry that has an affect on your work?
I was introduced to doing visuals through Jamie, who works at Endless Studio and he has had a huge impact on my work- through teaching me how it all works, giving me the software to use, as well as showing me how I can combine different parts of my practice- such as the lights I use- into video material and then digitally edit them with effects to create completely unique visuals.
In terms of artists, there are the main ones: Dan Flavin, James Turrell , Bruce Nauman and Olafur Eliasson. Particularly Olafur Eliasson because of the the way he uses light to create sculptures in so many different ways. His work sometimes plays with the natural qualities of light and sometimes it is more constructed. Also often his work is environmentally conscious which is something which is becoming harder to avoid as an artist, and I find how he merges the natural world and natural phenomena like waterfalls and rainbows with artificial light very interesting.
Es Devlin is also someone who inspires me a lot- an artist and stage designer who creates massive installations which combine so many elements including light, language and sculpture. She also does a lot of projection mapping on to sculptures and the way she incorporates light and mirrors into her designs has made me see how light can be a moving performative piece of art, a beautiful sculpture in its own right as well as something which can affect an audience and kind of enhance another element such as music.
Do you have a favourite venue to do lighting for?
Probably Wharf Chambers, because the room is completely dark and interesting in terms of the interior architecture (pillars and corners etc.) so there’s a lot to play with. When I did lighting for Sequential (Human Capital, Adam Pits and Alex Jann) last October I used three different coloured bulbs and a smoke machine which was quite simple but was really effective in changing the atmosphere and depth of the space. Wharf is an amazing venue ran by a workers co-op and is an incredibly inclusive and safe space, but due to Covid it is struggling financially- so any support anyone can give to them at the moment is vitally important as it would be tragic to lose it.
I also have enjoyed doing lighting in Hyde Park Book Club, again for the nature of the interior- every time I have done it there I have changed the combinations of lights and projections and the result has been different. These independent venues are so important to Leeds and are so supportive of creative people and it is great that we are given so much freedom.
So much of your work in based on nightlife, which sadly just isn’t a thing during lockdown. How hard has it been to adjust to lockdown and what have you been doing in your spare time?
At first I found it quite hard not being able to go out and have events to look forward to, but I gradually adjusted to the slower pace and realised it was just a good time to read books I’ve never got around to reading and try and get more material for visuals. I also did a painting which took up a couple of weeks which was nice as I haven’t had time to paint for a long time. However it has been difficult with everything going on to feel motivated and at times I’ve felt unable to do anything creative, but I think a lot of people have felt like that and I do think its been interesting for the creative nightlife sector to kind of find ways to navigate and reflect on what is important and hopefully when we are able to go out again there will be a lot of positive changes.
Is there anything you’ve learnt during lockdown that you think you’ll transfer into your life after lockdown?
When it became safer to go out, we decided to do up the studio and make it a fresh space to work in which has been really nice. It made me realise the importance of having a space in which you feel comfortable working in, somewhere to nurture ideas and that can help motivate. Coming from being stuck at home for so long it’s been good to spend time and care on the studio so that we all feel like it is somewhere we want to work.
I’ve found that it’s been a good time to reflect and take more time over things. I’ve learnt that it’s important that the spaces in which nights are put on are promoting positive values, and that they are environments in which everyone can feel comfortable. Therefore it’s been a good time to reflect on my part as an artist and how it is important that I am conscious about who I choose to work with and where. It is difficult feeling as though there are much more important issues and what is the real importance of being an artist but I think if anything lockdown has shown just how needed club nights are in creating a community and feeling a connection to other people- as well as being a release from the stresses of day to day life. So hopefully it won’t be too long before they can be back.
I’ve also been exploring different venues where lighting can be used and how I might be able to progress my practice further, moving into other contexts outside of nightlife, thinking forward to festivals and how we could take what we do and make it larger scale. Though I am interested in designing spaces for other contexts like cafes etc., I do feel that it’s the energy of the different elements of a night- the music, the dancing, the people, the darkness and the visuals which I find most exciting and rewarding.
Above: Trailer for Ema
Has there been a piece of art, music, poetry etc that has really inspired you recently?
Over lockdown I watched quite a lot of films on MUBI one of which was EMA. The aesthetic of that film really inspired me from the way it was shot and the lighting that was used, as well as the way it combined dance and music into the narrative to create such an energising and pumping experience.
I’ve also revisited Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard which has inspired an idea for a possible installation outside centring around the phrase ‘The desert of the real’. This is in its early stages but hopefully it could be quite exciting.
Is there anything we should look out for in the near future from you?
Before lockdown there were plans in place for a night that would be at a different location to a club which was going to have a very strong theme and me and Jamie were going to be very involved with the visual side of this night. Hopefully this will still be happening when it is safe to do so and it is good in a way as its means we have even more time to find the materials and plan how it’s going to look- so that is exciting.
There is also the ‘installation’ that I mentioned before which will be happening maybe towards the solstice but this is still very much in the planning stage. Other than that I am just up for getting involved with new projects and people to work with- perhaps using my work as a backdrop for creating music videos or for creating album artwork.