Laterally Creative has created works that explore our visual culture. These projects include film, theatre, performance, soundscapes and combinations of these crafts. Laterally Creative has also enjoyed collaborating with fellow creatives to explore new ways of making work and expressing ideas. Here are some examples that explore visual culture and demonstrate of the potential of collaboration.
Visual culture is a term that opens up a dialogue on the meaning of representation. The accumulation of what is seen, heard, performed, written, touched, and felt is understood through our cultural lens. Every artistic element can be a point of departure for discussions on histories, critical theories, politics, and the sacred meaning of the artefact. Interpreting creativity is a dynamic experience that changes with our perception of culture, and our perception. This understanding is also influenced by our worldview.
Artwork, Photography & copyright: P. D. Casely-Hayford
The film, Confidential Despatch, is P.D. Casely-Hayford’s response to the legacies of enslavement, and the ensuing marginalisation of the women of colour’s voice. The point of departure for the work was the confidential correspondence between governmental officials that became known as the Firminger Scandal of 1891. The scandal concerned the illegal enslavement of a woman named Fatima by a British colonial officer named Firminger on the Gold Coast colony in West Africa in the 1900s. Firminger purchased Fatima from a slave market for his sexual pleasure then discarded her onto the streets when he returned to England. The film presents a bricolage of the moving image, stills, animation, and archival materials including the transcript of the original colonial correspondence. The film was initially screen at the Block, Creative Industries Precinct, Brisbane, Australia. Subsequently, Confidential Despatch was officially selected for the 2014 International Black Women’s Film Festival held in San Francisco, U.S.A.
The film, Shirt & Teapot was P.D. Casely-Hayford’s film responds to stories from her mother’s stories from missionary boarding schools during the last stages of the colonial era in Ghana, West Africa. The film highlights the monotony and banality of domestic duties that were undertaken by young institutionalised children. The narrative is expressed through gesture and a haunting soundscape. The film evokes questions on the power structures involved in domestic enslavement in society and the ensuing psychological and cultural abuse.
Shirt and Teapot was officially selected for the 2015 International Black Women’s Film Festival held in San Francisco, U.S.A.
Artwork, Photography & copyright: P. Casely-Hayford
International Black Womens Film Festival>>
Sankofa Dreaming, featured in the image gallery above, was a solo exhibition by experimental filmmaker, P.D. Casely-Hayford, held at the Block, Creative Industries Precinct in Brisbane Australia in 2014. Sankofa is an Akan [West African] principle that encourages people to revive the spiritual teachings from their cultural traditions, and apply these insights to their present circumstances. This process helps them to understand how legacy can hinder their personal and cultural maturity. As a result, people can contextualise their experiences and responses, and find positive ways to resolve inner conflict with the wisdom of the Ancestors. Casely-Hayford applied this principle to the project. The legacies in question were colonisation, postcoloniality and the subsequent filmic stereotypic representations of Other. The point of departure for the exhibition was investigating the complexity of the history of domestic enslavement of West African people. The final work presented a set of six films that expressed these legacies through gesture, texture, soundscapes, text, and symbols. The exhibition presented a diaspora aesthetic as the artist looked back to culture while exploring motifs of the transglobal culture. Two films from the exhibition were officially selected for International Film Festivals.
The Block Exhibition >>
In 2010, Indigenous Australian visual artist and scholar Mayrah Yarraga, and P.D. Casely-Hayford developed Project 24. This was an artistic conversation between the two creative practitioners who worked in different mediums. The aim of the project was to converse through 24 creative exchanges on the 24th of each month for 24 months. No discussions on their work were allowed, other than their ritual of the exchange on the 24th. This unique collaboration enabled each artist to explore a range of formats. Each exchange became to the point of departure for the next work. Neither artist knew what they would receive during the exchange. Now Project 24 has been rebooted for another round of creative exchanges. Also, we will be announcing details of the exhibition of the Project 24 very soon. Meantime here are some of the comments from the artists’ blog on the Project 24.
“Wow, what can I say. In responding, a lot of things were going on for me. I had been really thinking about my connection to country and the movements of people through my life. When listening to your soundscape there was a moment of confusion. It was like you had taken my heart and transformed it into sounds. A kind of bloodline, familiar and comforting. As I painted the movement of the sounds swirled my brush strokes, and soon a colour change was needed. Then the Ancestor, a power iteration of your mob. This collaborative moment made me think of their emergence into my work.” Yarraga
“We are working in different mediums, and have no idea if the other [artist] will continue using that medium for the next exchange. We have absolutely no idea of the outcome or themes that will emerge, nor what threads these conversations together.” Casely-Hayford
“Well it seems as though the conversation has shifted. This kind of reminds me of the process of language. We all are thinking about the same thing, but we say it in different ways. I thought I had some idea of where we were going. Just goes to show you should wait till the other person has finished speaking [through their creative work].” Casely-Hayford
far left: Mayrah Yarraga opening exchange: left, textile art by Mayrah Yarraga: right, sculpture by P. D. Casely-Hayford: far right: photography by P.D. Casely-Hayford
Sunshine Coast [Australia] Playback Theatre Group’s Red Hat was a film and playback theatre project that involved improvised performance and film-work. The Red Hat playback theatre performance re-enacted the traumatic experiences of a group of travellers who were captured by Banditos in Columbia, South America in the early 1990s. Filmmakers, P.D. Casely-Hayford and Athena Currie collaborated with producer Suzanne Nicholson and Playback Theatre Specialist Dr Rea Dennis on the project. The filmmakers merged with the ensemble, and interacted with the performers on stage. This process disrupted the demarcation of the performance space as the filmmakers’ presence was both performance and archivist.
Dr Dennis, Convener of the Improvisation Continuums Conference, 2007 described the outcome as a "groundbreaking film documentary… an experimental dramaturgy that explored improvisational story-based method playback theatre in performance in film, filmmaking and storyboarding.” The film was initially screened at S.C.A.I.P, Queensland, Australia. Subsequently, the film was screened at the 10th Annual Playback Theatre Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August, 2007 as part of a session entitled, Enthnofiction, Re-enactment and Playback on Film.
far left: Anna Heriot, Zjamal Xanitha & Adam Cashmore-Brooke; left: Zjamal Xanitha;
right: Zjamal Xanitha, Anna Heriott; far right: Anna Heriott & Adam Cashmore Photography: P. D. Casely-Hayford
Everywhere that Mary Went was a collaborative experimental film project involving Laterally Creative and producer, Suzanne Nicholson. The film explores the recovery of memories concerning abuse. The filmmaking process was improvisational. The story was told through gesture, soundscape, textures, and light. Each scene was limited to one take to create a sense of urgency in the film. Also there was no storyboard to guide the set up of shots or actions on screen. After all, it was improvisation!
Film director Casely-Hayford, said, “It was a wild carnival ride in the dark, never knowing what was around each corner. Suzanne gave me the ticket, we all got on board with little idea of the destination, or how we were going to get there. I imagined scenes on the spot, and we just went for it. The actors and crew were great. Everyone trusted the process. No rehearsals, no blocking, and only one take, then literally pack up and rush to the next location. This tension flowed into the film. I'm still making sense of it all. It was wild, fast and fun! Urban Gothic drama meets improv film art freaks.” Everywhere that Mary Went was screened at S.C.A.I.P, Queensland, Australia in 2007 to a mesmerised audience.
far left: Trevor Russell, left & right: David Lindsay Falcon-Smith, right: Fiona Donelly. Photography & copyright: P.D. Casely-Hayford