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