Live Charcoal: 5 day durational art work by Jade Montserrat

7–12 September 2021

You are invited to take part in the development of a durational performance art work which will take place over 5 days and is centred around a traditional ‘earth burn’, or charcoal burn, so creating one of the oldest drawing materials. Jade Montserrat is an artist based in Whitby, who exhibits and runs workshops around the UK and internationally. Her work is developed from her Black diasporic perspective in the North of England.

The performance, Live Charcoal will peak on the evening of Saturday 11 September when charcoal tools and sculptures will be unearthed and Montserrat will present a new performance.

Sign up for a series of drawing classes, charcoal workshops, readings, and wood carving all happening outside around the ‘earth burn’. Montserrat would like everyone participating or attending to take part in the alchemy-like process involved in creating the charcoal.

The artist has a keen appreciation for the full cycle of time and energy involved in using charcoal as a material; from gathering the raw materials, sticks and branches, to its transformation into charcoal, and eventually to its application. In Montserrat’s view, charcoal as a drawing material symbolises a certain dedication to art making and foregrounds the association it holds with being a ‘master’ of drawing within histories of art. Her investigation of charcoal has allowed her to interrogate ideas around Blackness in relation to race through the writings of Alexis Pauline Gumbs and contemporary artists who also explore representation of Black people in art and art history through charcoal. The art work will be filmed by film-makers Webb-Ellis as part of the collaboration. Another key collaborator is Paul Cookson of Green Aspirations, Stirlingshire, who is generously providing his considerable knowledge of arboriculture. Paul will lead the day and night monitoring of the ‘charcoal burn’ over the 5 days of its process as well as learning activity.

Programme of Activity to Participate in

Tuesday 7 September 

11am-6pm: Building and lighting of the charcoal burn with Jade Montserrat and Paul Cookson.
An opportunity to learn about the tradition of charcoal burning, sustainable sourcing of materials and to get involved with building the traditional earth burn.

You can attend for just part of the day or a few hours. We will be in direct email contact if you book to come along.
Book here


Thursday 9 September 

2-4pm: A carving workshop led by Jade Montserrat with Paul Cookson to create wooden pieces to go into the burn and create charcoal sculptures using text composed by Montserrat.

Book to attend the workshop here.

4-6pm: Help in setting up of a Ring Kiln which will be used to create carved charcoal sculptures. Book here 


Saturday 11 September 

11am: Charcoal Life Drawing Class led by Tilda Williams-Kelly. Book here.

11pm-4pm: Cooling and Finishing of the Live Charcoal earth burn (a steamy process)

3pm: Informal Talk by Paul Cookson on the tradition of charcoal burns. Turn up.

4pm: Revealing of the Charcoal and Performance/Reading by Jade Montserrat. Book here

Sunday 12 September 

2pm: Charcoal drawing workshop led by artist Rachael Bibby. Book here.

Jade Montserrat

Jade Montserrat is an artist based in Scarborough, England. She is the recipient of the Stuart Hall Foundation Scholarship which supports her PhD (via MPhil) at IBAR, UCLan, and the development of her work from her black diasporic perspective in the North of England. Jade works through performance, drawing, painting, film, installation, sculpture, print and text.

In 2020, we commissioned Montserrat as part of our Studio Time Commissioning Programme to develop a new art work for Hospitalfield. In March 2021, Montserrat led two online drawing workshops with participants from across Scotland, the UK and University of California, Santa Cruz around drawing, speaking and listening with charcoal. These workshops have informed the development of this new art work Live Charcoal at Hospitalfield.

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