Gemma Burditt: The Art of Milk (Oct 2016 - March 2017)

Gemma Burditt: The Art of Milk (Oct 2016 - March 2017)

Our new artist in residence is Gemma Burditt, an animation director and illustrator of short films and music videos. Gemma’s work examines human stories and how individuals negotiate their personal journeys through changes in the wider context, changes in political situations or conflict in personal truth versus societal expectations.

Gemma’s work examines human stories and how individuals negotiate their personal journeys through changes in the wider context, changes in political situations or conflict in personal truth versus societal expectations.

Her recent projects have included ‘Urban birds’ – a documentary about female cycle couriers exploring the need to be physical in an ever sedentary workplace and weighing up the priorities of a pressure to contribute economically with a desire for freedom and personal autonomy; and ‘Through the Hawthorn’ – a multi-screen short film telling the  story of a young schizophrenic patient negotiating his way through compulsions to follow voices in psychotic episodes with his mother's expectation to be "normalised" and a patient's right to choose when in conflict with a carer's wishes.

During her residency Gemma will work with researchers at the Centre for Rural Economy and the Institute for Sustainability at Newcastle University, to document dairy farming in Northumberland, exploring the scale of factors that depend on their success from disease and nutrients in the soil to current European policies and subsidies.

Now in its fourth year the residency provides the opportunity for an artist working in any discipline to question what and who is rural, and explore rural life and society beyond idyllic representations, whilst living and working in Berwick-upon-Tweed for six months.

The Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) at Newcastle University is a research centre specialising in interdisciplinary social science, researching rural development and policy, food and society, and the wellbeing of rural communities. The centre will provide access to research staff, facilities and equipment to support Gemma in the development of her work and support the distribution and display of work that is produced during the residency period. 

Upon appointment to the post Gemma said ‘I very much look forward to beginning this unique residency to explore the varied journey of dairy in such a historic and dramatic landscape. I have no doubt the opportunity to live and work in Berwick will enrich my practice enormously.'

This year’s residency is supported by the Newcastle University’s Institute for Sustainability, which is tackling global challenges in sustainability through interdisciplinary research and collaborations with industry, policy makers and local communities. Funding from the Institute will support the exhibition of the film in Newcastle and a number of other promotional activities, including a workshop with Newcastle University researchers and submission of the film to international film festivals.    

Prof Phil Taylor, Director of the Institute for Sustainability, said “We congratulate Gemma Burditt on her new artist in residence. The Institute is pleased to support her film project that is covering a topic of great importance to the sustainability of dairy farming in Northumberland and throughout the world”.

Gemma was selected by a panel consisting of James Lowther - Head of Visual Arts, Berwick Visual Arts; Dr Menelaos Gkartzios, Senior Lecturer in Rural Studies, Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University; Laura Cresser, Relationship Manager – Combined Arts, Arts Council England and Alexia Mellor – Artist.

Dr Menelaos Gkartzios, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Rural Economy, said “Continuing this successful collaboration with Berwick Visual Arts is paramount to us, and we are honoured to welcome Gemma Burditt at the Centre for Rural Economy team. Her focus on dairy farms in Northumberland comes at a critical point given the uncertainty that many farms currently face, and we look forward to support her residency. The skills in animation and filmmaking that Gemma has demonstrated, make her an ideal resident artist to tell the ‘story of milk’, from production to consumption, and all the work and pride that comes with it”.

James Lowther, Head of Visual Art for Berwick Visual Arts, said ‘We are delighted to appoint Gemma as our next artist in residence. All members of the interview panel were impressed by the quality of her work and proposal for the residency, along with her commitment to the development of her artistic practice. We look forward to welcoming her to Berwick and supporting her in the research and development of this particularly relevant subject that is pertinent to many rural areas.’

Gemma will be resident in Berwick-upon-Tweed from October 2016 to April 2017.