Monday, November 2, 2009


Claire Elizabeth Barratt / Cilla Vee Life Arts


Shrine – photo Marc Dale
Life is Arts is ..... - poster by Mary Ann Kearns
Queens Library gala – photo Dominick Totino
Attack of the Killer Stripy Tubes – photo Janet Barratt


Dear friends,
The mountains of Southern Appalachia must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth to spend the Autumn season, so I'm very happy to be here in Asheville to appreciate it.

I've recently returned from three months of living out of a suitcase in a variety of somewhat unusual conditions.
The first being a gorgeous Georgian mansion in Chichester, UK – owned by my uncle “His Honour Judge Robin Barratt”, whose fairytale wedding I attended in Chichester Cathedral early in July.
Then returning to the states for a very intensive and creative period of time from late July through early October.
During August and September, I held two Artist-in-Residence positions at chashama NYC and 119 Gallery, Lowell MA respectively.

SHRINE – chashama NYC

“SHRINE: What Do You Worship?” was a twelve-day living installation. Literally – I was installed and living in a store-front gallery space at Times Square!
The concept was to explore ideas of worship and ritual.
The installation was part living space, part shrine.

The purpose of living in the space was to perform everyday activities as ritual.
Sleeping, Eating, Bathing and the preparation to do each, became embraced as ritual, rather than a necessary chore to be hurried through the motions of.
I built separate “kitchen”, “washroom”, and “bedroom” areas – all visible from the street.

I also built a “Shrine” area, which spread across the inside of the window (including a performance platform) and outside on the sidewalk.
This was constructed mainly out of chicken-wire with materials woven through it.
A variety of random objects were placed on the Shrine (plastic pink flamingo, tailor's dummy, plants, jewelry, crystals, rocks, shells, botanica candles etc.)
Passers-by also placed objects on the Shrine. (The most mysterious being some rather large orange pills!)

There were performances everyday.
I invited guest artists of all genres to participate. Each day, a different musician came to play, as well as dancers, visual and word artists.

In between scheduled events, the installation was open to the public as a place of refuge from the hot and busy streets of the city.
Calming music, incense, art books and seating were provided and many passers-by came inside.
They responded to the installation in various ways – such as doing yoga, meditation, singing and drawing. (There was also the obligatory masturbating homeless man!)

Visitors were presented with cards that posed the questions:
“What Do You Worship?” (gold card)
“What Are Your Rituals?” (pink card)
There was a whole wall dedicated to the replies and, over the days, the gold and pink cards filled that wall.
Please take a look at these beautiful images taken by Marc Dale from chashama.
If you open them in the order below, it will give you an idea of the progression of the installation throughout the twelve days.

1.Basic installation & deep breathing excercises.

2. Fred Hatt drawing & responses to question cards.

3. Sidewalk painting, Nature objects, Book.

4. Nature objects & Time.

5. Mark Lamb Dance – music Dave Ross

6. Pakistani wedding dress – music Zemi 17

- For more information about the organization “chashama”, go to: -

LIFE IS ART IS LIFE IS..... - 119 Gallery Lowell MA

This was an installation created in collaboration with Lowell-based sculptor and poet Patrick Pierce.
The residency lasted for a six-week period. (Which was quite the luxury of time for me.)
The first two weeks were spent constructing the installation.
The show was then up for the month of September, during which performing artists from the Boston area were invited to collaborate with us.

The installation itself consisted of:
A set constructed with cardboard, paper, vines and rushes.
Metal and wood sculptures.
Poetry – stamped with letter-blocks and ink.
Video projection.

The performances included:
Music / sound.
Dance / movement.
Poetry / spoken word.
Live video manipulation.

The concept reflected our life and work as artists.
Our quest to create work of beauty and significance, the marrying of art and life, nature and industry, the organic and the fabricated, the workshop and the muse.

The major learning experience for me was to create a thirty-minute sound installation.
I've never worked alone with sound design before – so that was an exciting accomplishment.

Please go to the YouTube links below to see the video & sound components of the installation.
Note that the sound has been abbreviated to fit the length of the video (originally, the separate 20 minute video & 30 minute sound pieces coincided independently – never meeting in the same place twice.)

Life is Art is... part 1 (10 mins)

Life is Art is... part 2 (10 mins)

- For more information about 119 Gallery, to go: -

QUEENS LIBRARY GALA – Waters Edge Restaurant Queens NY

While on my travels, I received an unexpected invitation from the Queens borough library.
Their executive director had seen one of our Motion Sculpture Movement Installations at an event in Manhattan's Morgan Library three years ago. She remembered us and decided that we would be ideal for their annual Gala dinner this year in early October.

Fortunately, I had picked up some gorgeous gold silk fabric from “Materials For the Arts” (look it up) and was able to make costumes from that. I asked two of my NY-based Motion Sculpture dancers to participate.
It was quite the glamorous event. Held at the Waters Edge Restaurant, overlooking the East River from Queens with a view of Midtown Manhattan.
Three elegant figures on pedestals – all draped in gold and decked with fresh Autumn flowers.
(Complete with dinner provided in our dressing room.)


On returning to Asheville, I headed straight into this conference produced and hosted by Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center with UNC-Asheville.

I presented the performance installation “Attack Of The Killer Stripy Tubes!” in the window of BMCM+AC for the conference reception, and then again at UNCA in the entrance-way to the keynote speaker Dorothea Rockburne.


I'm actually presently trying not to accumulate too many projects, as I need time to organize, edit and file a back-log of documentation.

Having said that, I am embarking on a collaboration with my dear friend – Asheville-based writer and actor John Crutchfield.
I won't give away any secrets about what's brewing – but it promises to be quite absurd!

THANK YOU for your continuing interest and support of CILLA VEE LIFE ARTS.

If you would like to make a donation to CVLA, please go to our website where you will find a direct link to PAYPAL at the bottom of the Home page.

love & best wishes,

Claire Elizabeth Barratt

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Dear friends,
How time is flying!
We're already into the end of May – didn't 2009 only begin a few weeks ago?

Cilla Vee Events Report – Winter / Spring 09

Asheville Fringe Festival
The short music/ art video “Sallimone” premiered at Asheville Fringe Festival & was very well received. This beautiful & surreal video piece, created in collaboration with composer Kimathi Moore & film maker Charles Elmer, will be entered into more festivals before being accessible on the internet. We'll keep you posted.

February: 48 Hour Dance Project
Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre invited five Asheville based choreographers, each from different dance genres; Contemporary dance, Salsa, Hip-Hop, Break dance & Movement Theater (that was me!) to create a piece in only 48 hours.
There was a pool of thirty dancers, also from different dance backgrounds, whose names the choreographers pulled out of a hat to determine their cast of performers.
I was extremely fortunate to end up with six of the most open-minded & ready-for-anything ladies I could've wished for. And that's exactly what they needed to be for the project I had in store for them!
My piece was an exploration of the neurological condition “Synesthesia”. Synesthesiacs experience a “cross-wiring” of sensory input – music can be perceived in colours, as can certain letters or numbers. A word can evoke a taste or smell. Texture can trigger very real emotions.
The piece was entitled “Whenever I Hear The Name Bill, I Taste Burnt Onions” and included video footage of the dancers taking in various sensory stimuli from well known Asheville establishments & translating them into movement, sounds & words.
This, as well as live action painting, live sound, text & movement was incorporated into the piece.
After 48 hours, the resulting pieces were presented to an audience & adjudicated by a panel.
I won first prize!
(See link to You Tube footage below)

February / March: XFest & North East Tour
At the end of February, I was invited to participate in the very first XFest in Lowell, MA (just outside Boston) Curated & produced by Walter Wright at 119 Gallery, this weekend-long festival was an intense orgy of experimental & improvized performing arts.
Walter invited ten guest artists & forty New England regional artists from disciplines of music, dance, performance art & video. He arranged groupings of various combinations of the above & allowed free reign for the artists to improvize together for thirty minute or one hour sets.
The result was a wonderful, inspiring, eclectic mix of exquisitely eccentric individuals in one of the most creative & supportive environments I've ever experienced.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to perform three times. In the first piece, I did an action paint dance with music by two local members of Lowell's noise punk scene – it was pure Rock-n-Roll, man ..... wild!
The second was with two extremely accomplished string players; Audrey Chen on cello & voice & Shayna Dulberger on bass.
I created an installation in the space by hanging cocktail dresses & fabrics & placed natural objects – rocks, sticks, rope & feathers around on the floor.
The result was an hour-long journey with a little Butoh flavor to it.
My third performance was with two electronics guys, Kevin Frenette & Mike Fun.
My wacky performance of creating a DaDa beach scene complete with pointe shoes, collapsable beach chair & parasol was an extreme contrast to their stark clicks, buzzes & squeaks – to say the least! Such fun!
(See links for picture & video footage below)

After Xfest, I continued touring – performing with the band Joyful Sonic Wash at a venue in Woodstock, NY called “The Woodstock Mothership” (yes, it was exactly how it sounds like it would be!)
Then going on to perform in The Bronx with saxophonist Bonnie Kane at “Synthetic Zero” art space as part of the Bronx Council on the Arts Culture-Trolley Tour.
And finally, I ended up at Stroudsburg, PA to teach a Motion Sculpture workshop at the
Wellspring Holistic Center.

April: Black Whole & Birmingham
In April, I was supposed to be dancing in a very complex project by choreographer Janice Lancaster. She & her husband, who is a media artist, created a dance piece “Black Whole” to be performed in a skate-board park here in Asheville, with live video mix. It was presented through Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.
Unfortunately, I injured a ligament in my hip (an old injury) whilst running up the inside of the skate board bowl during a long night of rehearsal, so could not perform.

Fortunately, it had recovered sufficiently by the following week for me to participate in an evening of improvization at The Green Cup bookstore in Birmingham, AL.
This event was put together by the very lovely Ms. LaDonna Smith. It was quite an entertaining soiree of music, dance & poetry in the store's huge, raw upstairs performance space.

I then continued my road trip South to New Orleans for some much needed R&R!

One Dollar FundRaiser Report

As many of you know, for the last few years I have been using the month of my birthday – April, as Cilla Vee Life Arts fundraising month.
The “One Dollar Fundraiser” is a favorite of mine, as it is a no-pressure contribution request. I really enjoy receiving everyone's little attached notes & cards & it helps me to stay connected with friends & supporters of Cilla Vee while gradually accumulating donations. Some are incredibly generous & the total amount ends up being quite significant. This year, we raised a total of approximately $400 – Thank you all so much.

There is now a new Pay-Pal donations button on the Cilla Vee website, so contributions can be made conveniently at any time.

Up-Coming Events

This Summer includes two big residency projects, one in New York & one in Massachusetts, plus teaching & performing in Ontario.

The first will be a huge undertaking & an extreme challenge that I'm very excited about. Through the arts organization “chashama”, I have the use of a store-front space near Manhattan's Theater district on West 44th Street where I will be literally residing for twelve days. (July 29th – August 9th) During that time, I will build & inhabit an installation which I will not leave for at least one week!
The project is entitled “Shrine”. The activities I perform inside the installation will represent acts of ritual. Performance will be influenced by, but not directly reproduce, rituals from cultures & religions all over the world plus every day rituals, such as preparing & eating food, dressing & accessorizing, bathing & sleeping. My own personal rituals of dance, exercise, practicing music & creating art will also be incorporated.
I will build a shrine & passers-by will be encouraged to stop for a moment to place something on the shrine. They will be invited to step inside & rest for a while, relax, meditate & enjoy a peaceful moment. They will be challenged with the questions “What do you worship?' & “What are your rituals?”.
In these current times, I feel that people's values are being challenged as financial stability is shaken. This may not be such a bad thing! The purpose of this project is to put priorities into perspective & question what is really most important.

“Life is Art is Life is.....”
Starting August 15th & running through the month of September, I will be an artist-in-residence at 119 Gallery, Lowell MA.
This promises to be a very fun collaboration with sculptor Patrick Pierce, who creates beautiful, fluid metal & wood sculptures – he also writes poetry & plays a little music too.
During the second half of August, we will build an installation of sculpture, video, sound, written-word & other materials. We will also develop a performance that will include movement, music & spoken-word to be presented as an extension of the installation. The title is “Life is Art is Life....” & represents the creative process of the artist in our eternal quest to produce work of beauty & significance.
The installation will run throughout the month of September, during which there will be a series of performances; some by Patrick & myself & others by performing artists in the Boston area who are invited to create their own interactive work & also to collaborate with me, in response to the installation.

“From The Soul” plus
Also in September, I will be hopping over the border to teach my annual “From The Soul” workshop (blending the aesthetics of Isadora Duncan, Butoh dance & Motion Sculpture movement) at Ottawa's Dance/Space 637 studio & also to dance with the magical rock sculptures of John Ceprano.

Keep your eye on the calendar at:

In The Works

Currently in the planning stages is a project with a lot of exciting potential.
Some of you may be familiar with the legacy of Bob Moog & Moog electronic music products. Perhaps also with an unusual instrument called a Theremin, which is played literally in thin air, by interrupting radio waves.
Well, fortunately for me, the Moog Foundation & Moog Music manufacturers are based right here in Asheville, NC & my good friend & composer Liz Lang is employed there & has all the latest products at her fingertips!
We are developing a project entitled “Kirlian Harmonics” in which the new Etherwave Plus Theremin will be a conduit for sound produced by the new MiniMoog Voyager Synthesizer & triggered by dancers movement through space. What fun!
More on this as it develops.

New Logo

On a final note – Cilla Vee Life Arts has a new logo. I really love it & feel that it represents Cilla Vee perfectly. I designed the basic idea myself & then turned it over to my friend, Asheville performance artist & graphics designer extrordinaire, Jim Julien.
And here it is......!
(See images)

Thank you for sticking with me through another Cilla Vee epistle!
Your continuing support & encouragement is so gratefully appreciated & inspires me to keep pressing forward – forging a new path into the abyss of the unexplored .......
Sounds like Star Trek!

Best wishes to each & every one,

Claire Elizabeth Barratt – director Cilla Vee Life Arts –

Cilla Vee logo by Jim Julien
XFest live action paint - photos by Dr. T
LINKS to documentation: