At Battersea Arts Centre

Part of A Nation's Theatre


This spring the doors have been flung open to three new floors of artist bedrooms and living quarters in Battersea Arts Centre, which houses artists whilst they are developing new shows and performing.

The bedrooms have been designed in collaboration with artists from across the UK, taking inspiration from where they grew up and where they live. They have been launched as part of the A Nation’s Theatre Festival – a two-month celebration of theatre from around the nation April - May 2016. 

The artists took theatre critic and journalist Matt Trueman behind the scenes to share their design processes in an article for the Guardian - part of a rich and diverse series of editorial and Guardian Live conversations exploring themes raised by A Nation's Theatre over the last year.

The artists have also created a mix of digital and live performances from the bedrooms.
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The artists and their designs:

Emma Frankland and Myrriddin Wannell worked with traditional artisans from their native Cornwall to design a hive of beautiful rooms celebrating elements of the Cornish landscape and traditional crafts, such as rope-making and sign-painting. On Monday 4th April the artists were joined by a brass band outside Hall for Cornwall in Truro to ceremonial process to Battersea Arts Centre with a giant pasty (documented on Twitter: #pastysprogress). Upon arrival the rooms were awakened through song, with recordings available for future artists residents to listen to on record players.

Victoria Melody has collected antiques from her childhood home in Chester to design three bedrooms, each with a distinctive historical feel. Together with her antique-dealer dad, she appears in a film by Andrew Fettis exploring provenance – When were her chosen objects made? Where are they from? What are their unique selling points? Through the making of the film Victoria realised that the project became less about the objects and more about her relationship with her dad and ultimately her own provenance.

Tom de Freston has turned two basement bedrooms into giant paintings that capture the rugged cliffs of Sidmouth in Devon and the storms that ravage this area – pushing at the boundary between the solidity and safety of home versus the chaos of nature. This work forms part of a wider fascination with what it might mean for an artist to inhabit the character of Poor Tom from King Lear. Tom documented the making of his bedrooms together with filmmaker Mark Jones. 

Little Bulb Theatre will be creating a musical corridor, full of instruments that can be viewed, borrowed and played. They are also designing a kitchen and communal space that will double as a place for visiting artists to jam together. Their concept involves creating spaces that are functional, beautiful and well-resourced (whether for eating a meal together or writing a song together!). They’ll be presenting a live-streamed concert from inside the kitchen!

Stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses.

Battersea Arts Centre regularly puts artists and audiences at the centre of architectural developments though a process we call Playgrounding.



Victoria Melody

Tom De Freston