What does the development process look like? 

The commissions will be supported by a producer, who will be responsible for providing a bespoke framework of support to each artist. This could include acting as a sounding board for ideas in weekly meetings, assembling a crew for the shooting of a film, noting a storyboard, or simply holding the budget for a project.  

Since we envisage each process as being unique to the artist, with the end goal of producing something wholly new and full of risk and potential, we are primed and ready to provide whatever responsive support will best serve the project. 

What kind of artists is this commission opportunity open to? 

Sudden Connections is open to any artist living and working in the South West that has an idea which might translate to digital/online platforms in new and interesting ways. It is not limited to theatre-makers, and can span the visual/audio arts, writing, interrogations into new technology and beyond.  

The only thing we recommend potential applicants to bear in mind is that the fee is £2,000 with a supplemental £1,000 making budget for any collaborators/kit hire/other expenses — artists should scale their ideas accordingly. 

SUDDEN CONNECTIONS 2021 

The first iteration of Sudden Connection ran from May – November 2021, commissioning five artists/partnerships — two in collaboration with Rising Arts Agency. The series was line produced by Elinor Lower

The artists were:  

Anna Rathbone, multidisciplinary artist and theatremaker; Ash Kayser (Rising Arts Agency), graphic designer and poet; Asmaa Jama (Rising Arts Agency), poet + Gouled Ahmed, costume designer; Caroline Williams, theatre-maker and director; and Muneera Pilgrim, poet. 

The series played with film, social media and the web, and each artist reached into new forms to create something with a run time of less than 15 minutes – perfect for a kick of big ideas at any time of the day.  

This first round was made possible by the Genesis Foundation Kickstart Fund. 

Anna Rathbone – All The Threads You Left Behind 

Exploring themes of grief, loss, and what’s “left behind” after the death of a loved one, All the Threads You Left Behind is a multi-media online experience, offering audiences a window into a thoughtful and moving contemplation of what we mean to each other.   

Anna Rathbone is a maker-of-things based in Bristol, working across a range of disciplines including theatre, textiles, installation and live art. Recent works include: Night Out in Nature with Frozen Light theatre, A Map Made by Stitching with Arnolfini, and ongoing work with Taking Flight Theatre’s youth theatre for d/Deaf young people. 

Originally livestreamed on 5-8 Oct, a legacy version of All The Threads You Left Behind can be viewed below. 

Website design by Elinor Lower.

A photo of Anna, a young white woman, sat in a blanket fort draped with fairy lights. She is surrounded by sewing materials. It is soft and cosy.
Anna Rathbone Credit: Jade Ayino

Ash Kayser – Retail Therapy 

Retail Therapy is a darkly whimsical animated short film for the digital age. Designed to be experienced on Instagram’s IGTV, the piece leads the viewer on an adventure through the trials and tribulations of online shopping, artificial intelligence and materialist self-reinvention by plunging them into a world in which ‘instant delivery’ exists. 

Ash Kayser is a Graphic artist, designer and poet. Previous work includes a television ident for ITV and the poem An Ode to the Hot Drink We Call Tea, featured on BBC Radio Bristol.  

Sound Design by Oliver Menadue.  

Watch now: IGTV  | Audio described version (IGTV, hosted by Rising Arts Agency) 

Headshot of Ash Kayser, a young black man in a fluffy zip-up fleece. He smiles widely.
Ash Kayser

Asmaa Jama and Gouled Ahmed – The Season of Burning Things 

A moving-image collaboration between the two artists. Unfolding from the creators’ perspectives in the Somali diaspora, the piece takes the lead from East African mythos and Islamic imagery to explore mythmaking, Blackness; a ‘generation of ghosts’ and the transient spirit. 

 Asmaa Jama is a Bristol-based Somali poet and visual artist. They are the co-founder of Dhaqan Collective, a feminist art collective, and were recently shortlisted for the Brunel African Poetry Prize and longlisted for the National Poetry Competition. 

GouledAbdishakour Ahmed is an Addis Ababa-based Somali visual artist, stylist, costume designer and writer. Their ongoing self-portrait series One Day These Names Will Be Ours explores the gaps that exist within formal language in the understanding of gender expressions outside of the gender binary.  

Jama and Ahmed previously collaborated on Before We Disappear, an interactive film exploring hypervisibility/invisibility and surveillance. 

Watch now: YouTube (Captions available) | IGTV (Captioned) | YouTube (Audio Described) 

Caroline Williams – A Love Letter to Penelope Cruizer 

An irreverent and theatrical ode to ‘Penelope Cruizer’, the mobility scooter Caroline began to use in the wake of Long COVID. Using rom-com tropes of meet-cutes, montage and the ricochet of highs and lows, this off-kilter black comedy tugs at what it means to experience a life-changing illness. Who do you blame, when it’s no one's fault?  

Caroline’s background is in social and environmental activism. Her work is often in dialogue with current political issues, for example the semantics of screens in relation to the war in Syria (Now is the Time to Say Nothing, extensive touring 2018/19 produced by MAYK), multiple deaths in police custody in East London (You Do Not Have to Say Anything, The Yard Theatre) or the relationship between loneliness and technology (Can You Hear Me Now –British Council/ MAYK). Using personal narratives, she works to find a performative language that can powerfully communicate the heart of these stories.  

Watch now: YouTube (Captions available) | IGTV (Captioned) 

Muneera Pilgrim — Lessons Taught To Boys and Girls 

An exploration of consent and sexuality and the way women's bodies, particularly Black women’s bodies, move through the world. Through the lens of a WhatsApp chat, a woman — ‘the poet’ — pulls on a thread: ‘I’m not saying it was rape, but…’.  

Muneera Pilgrim is an international Poet, Cultural Producer, Writer, Broadcaster and TEDx speaker. She regularly contributes to BBC 2’s Pause For Thought and is a community artist-researcher with IBT. Muneera's debut poetry collection will be released late 2021 with Burning Eye books.  

Watch now: YouTube (captions available)  |  IGTV (Captioned)