Somewhere in Ely was an arts project that was launched in the city in early 2020 with the support of Babylon Arts, Ely Markets and Ely College. Artists, makers and creators from across the country were invited to propose ideas for fun and unexpected things to happen in the city. There were over 70 proposals offering performances, sculpture, installations, activities and events. There were 3 commissions of £1,800 available, 2 of which were chosen by Ely residents through a public vote.
The 3 commissions were:
1. Community Clay installation with artist Louise Beale
Louise Beale is a ceramic artist based in Ely whose vision was to create an installation of hundreds of ceramic sculptures that represent our city. Across the summer Louise gave out ‘clay making kits’ to local residents, schools, businesses, care homes and families. Local people got to work making clay models inspired by Ely. The final work was on display as part of a mass installation at the Babylon Gallery during the All Together Now exhibition from 16 October – 15 November 2020.
2. The Yesterday & Tomorrow Machine by artist Mike Hartley
Mike Hartley makes kinetic sculptures using recycled materials and his proposal for a new contraption to entertain people in Ely won the public vote. Mike developed his fantastical contraption called the ‘The Yesterday and Tomorrow Machine.’ You can see a video of the work in development here, and a clip of it on the move here.
3. The Dance WE Made: Ely, with Casson & Friends
Casson & Friends are a record-breaking Dance Theatre Company, creating unique performances that are interactive and joyful. The team of dancers visited Ely on Sunday 25 October 2020, and had just 2 hours to create a brand new dance. To do this, they gathered moves from Ely residents, and brought them together to create a new dance. You can now watch the dancers gathering their moves as well as the final performance here.
The Somewhere in Ely project is the creation of local artist and project manager Amy Wormald. In 2019 we started talking to Ely Markets, Ely College and Isle of Ely Arts Festival about the project idea. In early 2020 Amy talked to local residents, visited groups and discussed the project with students at Ely College. The ideas and information gathered from local people was used to inform the writing of a creative brief. We then invited artists and creatives from across the country to respond to the creative brief with proposals for new temporary artwork in Ely.
We received over 70 proposals from a whole range of creative people, who wanted to make something fun and interesting happen in our City. In May 2020 the project steering group shortlisted 5 proposals who then pitched their ideas for local residents to choose. Each of the 5 artists made a 2-minute film to explain their idea. People who live and work in Ely were invited to look at the films and vote for the ideas they would most like to see happen. You can see the short videos here on the Babylon Arts YouTube channel.
The two artist proposals with the highest votes were awarded an £1800 commission to develop and share their work in Ely. In July 2020 we announced the two artists who won the public vote: Louise Beale and Mike Hartley.
Alongside the public vote, a third commission was awarded to Casson & Friends - a UK based Record Breaking Dance Theatre Company, creating unique performances that are accessible, interactive and joyful. Casson & Friends were commissioned to bring "The Dance WE Made" to Ely.
You can follow the project on Instagram here.
This project was managed by Amy Wormald in partnership with Babylon Arts, Isle of Ely Arts Festival, Ely Markets and Ely College. The project was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.