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SPILL 2020: Sonia Hughes — I am from Reykjavik


A black and white image of artist Sonia Hughes. Sonia is wearing a black jacket and a beanie hat. She is staring directly at the camera.
Image by Solomon Hughes

The team at Pacitti Company are delighted to co-commission Sonia Hughes with Jerwood Arts for the SPILL Festival of Performance 2020, in Ipswich.

Sonia Hughes is an English artist, writer, director and performer based in West Yorkshire. A long standing collaborator with contemporary theatre makers Quarantine, she has also worked with director Juliet Ellis, choreographer Jane Mason, and performance artist Mem Morrison. Sonia is now making her own stand alone work as an independent artist. Sonia has been making art for over 20 years, but you’ve probably never heard of her. She’s a great collaborator (Quarantine, Jeremy Deller, Mem Morrison, ANU productions, Jo Fong) but has rarely taken centre stage. I am from Reykjavik is her first major foray into making work in the public realm.

This ambitious project will design a physical house-like kit structure, which Sonia will then build in public space – with or without the aid of the general public, depending on how passers-by in the street respond to her request for help.

It is an attempt to be a post-racial, global citizen. To claim space by building a temporary dwelling, thereby inviting people to exchange hospitality. To morph roles of host, guest, stranger and consider who will help or object to this hospitality.

It comes from Sonia’s personal tiredness of being asked ‘Where are you from, from?’ to which she would like to reply ‘I am from Reykjavik’ and a longing to be welcome anywhere. It comes at a time in the world where borders are being moved and contested, breached and erected and when who is entitled to claim land and citizenship is a hugely vexed question.

“Jerwood Arts is delighted to be supporting this commission with SPILL Festival for the quietly radical performance maker Sonia Hughes. Our relationship with SPILL Festival and Pacitti Company through our support for the SPILL Open has shown time and again the care and expertise Robert and his team bring to supporting artists with the time and space to explore and push their practice in new directions, resulting in exceptional new works. We look forward to joining them all in Ipswich in October 2020.”

Lilli Geissendorfer, Director, Jerwood Arts

Jerwood Arts is the leading independent funder dedicated to supporting outstanding UK artists, curators and producers to develop and thrive. We collaborate with organisations across art forms to imagine a more sustainable sector. Our programmes provide transformative opportunities for early-career individuals through awards, fellowships and commissions, and we present exhibitions in our gallery in London and on tour nationally.

This co-commission evolves a long and meaningful relationship between Pacitti Company Jerwood Arts, which started in 2009 with the SPILL National Platform and now looks forwards by jointly nurturing this exciting and timely co-commission. If you would like to learn more about Jerwood Arts please click here.