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Gold Run: A multimedia performance celebrating London 2012 Paralympics and the Paralympics story

  • Date: 8 June 2012
  • Artform: Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual arts
  • Area: South East
Carousel Singers Carousel Singers, Photograph: Andy Hood

In April, an ambitious new production called Gold Run premiered at Glyndebourne, starring a choir of 30 young learning disabled singers who performed alongside a live band, film, visuals, and live VJing.

At the heart of this multimedia extravaganza is the story of hopeful Paralympians who discover that their coach has a shameful secret: he cheated in the Games. Gold Run explores the dreams, hopes, hard work and determination represented in the Paralympic Games and also draws on a true-life story.

Gold Run is an inspiring story of a project four years in the making, involving three Arts Council England National portfolio organisations – Carousel, Glyndebourne Touring Opera and Glyndebourne Education and Pallant House Gallery – and their artists. Their project has been supported with over £55,000 in Arts Council England Grants for the arts awards. Grants for the arts invests National Lottery money to support activities that engage people in the arts and helps artists and arts organisations with their work.

Partnership and collaboration

The idea for the project was first conceived in 2006 by Brighton-based leading disability arts organisation Carousel and Glyndebourne Education.

Mark Richardson, Director of Gold Run and Carousel, explains: ‘Katie Tearle from Glyndebourne and I wanted to create a work that celebrated London 2012 Paralympic Games and thought the story of how learning disabled athletes were banned from International Paralympic Committee events after Sydney 2000 would be perfect for a multi-media show. We thought it would be interesting to involve a visual arts organisation – so we invited Pallant House Gallery to work with us.’

Together, they brought together a team of artists who became the project’s creative team, led by Director Mark Richardson, to produce the one-hour long multimedia show.

Pallant House Gallery – Outside In artists

Pallant House Gallery brought in talented artists associated with their successful visual arts programme, Outside In. This included disabled artist James Lake, who created the large scale portrait sculpture of learning disabled opera singer, David Rushbrook, and photographer Andy Hood, who documented the whole project from start to finish.

Marc Steene, Head of Learning and Community, Pallant House Gallery, says: ‘In the early discussions, we suggested working with James Lake, an artist from Outside In who exhibited his incredible self-portrait Cardboard Self in 2009. James, as well as being physically disabled, is also dyslexic, and this project offered an amazing platform to the next stage in his career. James has had many years’ experience producing powerful monumental sculptures and has also worked for several years with Bristol-based Firebird Theatre Company producing stage sets and felt a natural appointment.’

Sculptor James Lake describes creating the larger than life sculpture: ‘The piece was designed to emphasise the choir and in particular David Rushbrook as the lead. I worked with cardboard to create the initial structure and then created the facial details by layering smaller pieces of cardboard.

‘As an artist with a physical disability, I had to find a way that I could physically build a large scale sculpture using accessible materials and techniques. To overcome this, I built the sculpture in sections that I could assemble and fix together.

Marc Steene continues: ‘We also realised the project needed to be documented and saw another opportunity for an Outside In artist to be involved. Andy Hood, who was an Outside In 2007 award winner and accomplished photographer, was appointed to document the project, bringing his idiosyncratic approach to capturing the project.’

As the official Gold Run photographer, Andy’s evocative behind-the-scenes photographs of the project’s participants, captured during rehearsals and at work in the studio, have been on display at Glyndebourne’s The Stables Gallery and Outside In’s Brighton gallery Wellington House Day Options.

Carousel

Carousel also brought many talented artists to the project. This included Carousel Singers, a newly formed 30 strong choir and filmmakers Matthew Hellett, Jason Eade, Adele King and Sarah Watson, part of their international award-winning Oska Bright Film Festival.

Sarah Watson created five films, which were projected onto the screen throughout the show, adding a narrative thread and light relief to the performance.

She says: ‘I knew it was going to be a show but I was open-minded about what was going to happen. The films came out different to how I thought they would - I am used to going on the road and making films in that way, but working with schools was very different and hard work!

‘My proudest moment was when my films were shown on the Glyndebourne screen, especially during Let the Game Begin. There’s one scene where the man is bursting to go to the toilet and has to get out of the stadium – when I heard the audience laughing, I felt really good.’

VJ and filmmaker Adele King was the principal VJ for all the Gold Run live performances.

Adele says: ‘I’ve used VJing before at the Blue Camel Club, but this was different to what l have used, so I had to learn new skills to do it. I practised lots before the show.

‘I was really nervous and tired on the day at Glyndebourne. Making sure I used the right VJ clips from the right banks was hard and knowing the cues to do the VJing was difficult. However, I was quite impressed with how the VJing looked on the screen at Glyndebourne.’

Glyndebourne Education

Glyndebourne added to the project their unique expertise in the creative sector and producing large-scale productions, as well offering rehearsal space. They engaged composer and Carousel Singers conductor James Redwood as well as a choreographer, sound designer, vocal coach and a professional band.

James Redwood composed the score working closely with Carousel Singers, who were selected through taster workshops in local colleges and arts and community venues. Carousel Singers also sang, dance and acted on stage through the show.

Mark Richardson says: ‘I think we’ve witnessed the beginning of the Carousel Singers fully “owning” their work – I’m really looking forward to seeing how they grow and challenge us all to accept other ways of being a choir.’

Legacy of the project

There are many aspects of the project that will live on, not least the creative output. The experience of being part of the Gold Run project will stay with the participants for a life-time.

Andy Hood’s Gold Run photograph exhibition is on at Dilston Grove 3 to 9 September and at Pallant House Gallery 4 September to 14 October.

As part of the project, James Lake has been mentored by Turner Prize-nominated artist Richard Wilson and Director of CGP London Ron Henocq to convert his ideas from Gold Run into an installation called Gold Run:Remix. The installation will open on 9 September 2012 at Dilston Grove alongside the Outside In:London exhibition in CGP London. It will then tour to Pallant House Gallery as part of the Outside In:National exhibition, then to three other venues in 2013.

On 9 September, the Carousel singers will perform at Dilston Grove as part of James’ Gold Run: Remix installation, from 2 to 4pm, and a full-length Gold Run performance will take place again at Chichester Festival Theatre on 30 October.

To learn more about Gold Run, please see: www.goldrun.org.uk