I make and perform sculptures that are also playable electro-acoustic instruments and tools. I play them with multiple participants and a wider group of collaborators through evolving cycles of making, improvisation and responsive adaptation – each sculpture is intended for shared use and plays out in a politics of negotiation that is channelled through their physical materiality. I have been exploring multiplicity, collectivity and communality through feedback methods of composing and improvising I develop in my sculptural films, performances and public workshops. The resulting Instrument-Sculptures’ soundscapes are characterised by group dynamics as material and create moments of focus, humour, ferocity, generosity and struggle.
The sculptures bring together a wide range of reference points from ancient musical instruments, the ritualistic and hypnotic material processes of artisan labour, to aquatic life forms. Each sculpture continues to evolve as part of a highly sensitive ecology of forms. These respond to the people and location they are created for – whether imaginary, site-specific or a combination of both.
My past works were deeply rooted in the space of the studio, which acted as a laboratory for alchemical transformations of different ideas and materials. It now involves moments when the sculptures are taken out into the world and played by others. Chance and intuition remain intrinsic, where sometimes things happen and at other times they just crumble and collapse – my models, films, scores, drawings, soundscapes and diagrams document this continual process.
Do you consider the objects/instruments as temporary in the mediations of collaboration and togetherness? Or are they able to transcend into further sonic embodied experiences beyond the immediate interactions? A question from the workshop I devised with Marianne Mulvey for the Royal College of Art MA Contemporary Curating course.
“For the artist with British-Canadian roots space is a stage, for which she develops objects from
ceramics, textiles, water, wood and metal that move at the intersection of sculpture, display and
instrument. The musical performance lives from the communication between the artists, who play
the same instrument together. Evans combines ancient and ritualistic music traditions with random and spontaneous musical choices, matching the instruments to the characteristics of the site and the interests of the artists.” Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, 2020
“There’s always a central connecting thing, whether that’s an object or the jelly-like surface you have in these drawings – there’s something that can be gathered around and then transformed by the presence of other people. I really love how in these (drawings), while you don’t have a physical breath, or physical bodies present because it’s a work on paper, that sense of gathering remains, even if it’s in the realm of a potential gathering, a potential togetherness. I find that really moving and really hopeful. I think we’re all trying to envision other possible ways of existence that we didn’t have to before and it’s almost like this is a strategy for that, which I really appreciate being able to see… “. From a conversation in late 2020 with Amy Lay-Pettifer about these drawings, and their connection to my sculptural performative sound practice and workshops. Full interview is at the Aleph Contemporary website.
“What first struck me about Rita’s work was its fearlessness about using wide-ranging technologies, combining the sophisticated with improvisatory and spontaneous practice. Her drawings showed a real similarity to the freedom, quirkiness, humour and enquiry intrinsic to Stephen Cripps’ sketches.” Anne Bean, Artist, Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award panel, 2015
“Rita stood out as an artist who was very motivated and spoke and illustrated a number of projects that were often ‘off the beaten track’. She already seemed to be wholeheartedly committed, with a number of engaging ideas, for projects that were well-orchestrated in her mind for Thurrock, the local environment and those who live and work there.” Ron Haselden, Artist, Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award panel, 2015
ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS Commissioned artist by The Drawing Room, London. This engagement programme puts children at the centre and explores with them, their teachers, schools and families what drawing can be. The programme is taking place with children in the Elephant & Castle area of London, both online and in schools from January – September 2021.
Recent workshops I have been invited to lead include Collective Instrument Making at Open School East (in 2020) and for Royal College of Art, MA Contemporary Curating students (in January 2021). Through these, I am evolving my work online, as group formation and dynamics through sonic explorations of participants’ own environments. Based upon my sculptural and sonic practice and the moments where this enters collective imaginary spaces, the workshops and performances utilise the textures and rhythms of video conferencing, respectful anticipation, awkwardness and delay.
A selection of my drawings are currently available through online art dealers Aleph Contemporary. An interview with Amy Lay-Pettifer for Aleph about the sculptural and communal relationships between my drawings, workshops and sound performance pieces here.
This Autumn I will be at the Bauhaus Dessau as Artist-in-Residence, for their theme Infrastructures. At the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the GfZK (Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig). Dessau, Germany from September 2021. During the stay in Dessau, unusual hybrids will be created on the occasion of the Foundation’s annual theme of “Infrastructure”, involving visitors and citizens of Dessau-Roßlau. The results and work processes will be presented at Gropius House.
In Spring 2022 my new sculptural performance Stringing the Matrix, commission by Tate St Ives will take place, UK
A recent blog for Towner Eastbourne about my commission in October 2020 can be read here.
A blog about the beginnings of my instrument-sculpture workshop-performances in 2016/17 at Chisenhale Dance Space can be read here.