Harriet Harding, Cleo Mees and Willie Saussay: current artists-in-residence

Harriet Harding, Cleo Mees and Willie Saussay are friends and collaborators working in different fields in Sydney's creative scene. Harriet is a composer and musician; Cleo is a contemporary dancer, writer and filmmaker; and Willie is a painter. They plan to spend their week at Gunyah working on their individual creative projects.

Harriet Harding and a student from Mozaqa Jam 2011

Harriet Harding studied Music Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and since 2010 has been the composer-in-residence at Newtown Primary School, where she has been composing two or more new pieces a term and directing their active band program. Her compositions are unusual for primary school bands – they are explore a variety of different grooved based styles influenced by Ethiopian, gypsy, middle-eastern and Latin music. Recently Harriet travelled studied, taught and performed for a few weeks in Palestine and Ethiopia. Harriet is also the co-founder of Sirens Big Band, a 17 piece all-female big band, which has played at many festivals and recently recorded an album at ABC Studios. Harriet will be working on her composition pieces and school band development program at Gunyah.

Harriet Harding and her music class at Askar Girls School, Askar Refugee Camp, Nablus, Palestine, 2011

My dream is to create a band development package to sell to schools, to give some fresh repertoire to often very repetitive band programs. Many of my friends are school band conductors, who don't compose or feel capable at teaching kids to improvise. I have seen how this manifests in later years for these kids - becoming teenagers who are often afraid to improvise or compose, and who are bored by their repertoire and often end up quitting band altogether. My pieces introduce improvisation in a confidence-building way, starting with very simple scale-based solo sections, progressing to more complexity. In my work I aim to introduce kids to complex compositional and musical ideas in an accessible, fun way. 
Harriet Harding

Harriet Harding playing with the big band at Yared Music School, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, 2012

To find out more about Harriet's music go to www.sirensbigband.com and below is “Bangkok Running/Maqamat”a music video that Harriet recently produced with Cleo, featuring Newtown Primary band.

Cleo Mees is a writer, filmmaker and dancer. She is currently working on an essay-film which explores notions of place through writing, audio-visuals and dance. Cleo plans to spend her time at Gunyah filming amongst nature, writing and using dance to further develop her practice. Her use of dance incorporates aspects of BodyWeather, a performance practice derived from Japanese Butoh dance. The practice is interested in environment and the pre-social body; asking how can we can be danced by our environments, and how might this lead us into new ways of moving that take us beyond the habitual body. Cleo is also member of WritingDancing, a group of writers and dancers who meet every month to explore the intersections between writing and dancing, this has assisted her in writing reviews for publications such as Real Time Arts.

Cleo Mees, contemporary dance duet with Kathryn Puie, 2012
performed at Platform 5 Fraser Studios, Sydney

For the past two years I have engrossed myself academically and creatively in the topic of essay filmmaking. I recently completed an Honours degree which culminated in a short thesis and a fifteen minute essay film. This allowed me to explore a filmic tradition that fuses video and writing in evocative and non-linear ways. I recently applied for a PhD, through which I plan to make a feature length essay film exploring my response to a book about Sydney. The film will not only be about my response to a text, but about my response to a place, too. How can place be evoked on screen and in writing? And how might my BodyWeather practice help me to access place more fully?
Cleo Mees

To find out more about Cleo's practice and view her recent film go to www.youlaughwithyourwholeface.com.au

Cleo Mees, You Laugh With Your Whole Face, 2012, essay film production stills

Willie Saussay was born in New-Caledonea and is currently based in Sydney where he is studying painting at UNSW College of Fine Arts (COFA), Paddington. Willie plans to spend his week at Gunyah painting and creating new works for his graduation exhibition at COFA. Willie describes his painting practice as a constant celebration of human life, approaching his abstract subjects through colour, with references to mapping, culture and nature.

Willie Saussay with his painting A Ciel Ouverton the cover of MX magazine, 
promoting his 2011 solo exhibition at Monstrosity Gallery, Sydney

A painting is something that walks by itself... Every piece of work I create is in constant progress and they evolve like the endless growth of the spirit plant. My intentions are to give each mark, stroke or word as much meaning as possible. My inspirations and themes vary from one piece to another, there could usually be a few ideas in one painting but it is all, to some degree, connected. My use of obvious words is to push the viewer in certain directions, and direct their train of thought towards specific subjects. Decisions are most of the time made during the painting process, the accident is not considered as a mistake but more as a new and innovative personal path leading to the final achievement. The artistic risk is what really fuels my work, but the loss of control rarely happens as every problem has its solution. The excitement of the final vision feeds my heart with joy while I paint... I am a contemporary explorer who paints with closed eyes and lets his mind and heart guide his hands on the surface of the canvas... My paintings are a ticket for a ride to the bottom of your soul.
Willie Saussay

For more information on Willie's practice visit his website www.guillaumesaussay.com

Willie Saussay, Zig Zag Cream, 2011, acrylic, oil and ink on canvas