THE SHRIMPER’S DAUGHTER – THE BOOK
The Shrimper’s Daughter, a modern fairytale inspired by Lytham’s shrimping heritage, originally commissioned by Park View 4U and funded by Arts Council England, is to be adapted to book format. Scheduled to be published in 2017, the book will feature beautiful original illustrations by artist, Ellie Kidsley, alongside Alex’s original story. The book will be launched at a special event for Fylde Coast families hosted by Park View 4U and Fable Arts to be followed by a tour of local schools with the aim of connecting local residents to the social, industrial and geographic heritage of the area in which they live. Once the book is published, it will be available to purchase online.
A ‘temporary travelling soundscape installation’, using existing oral history recordings of Morecambe Bay’s fishing community, installed along two Northern Rail train routes around Morecambe Bay during September 2017. Commissioned by Morecambe Bay Partnership as part of their Headlands to Headspace programme.
Listen to Fleeting here.
Read Alex’s Artist Journal for Fleeting here.
DARE TO BE GREAT
SHRIMPTOWN – RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
Arts Council England funded research & writing for theatre performance which draws on the memories & stories of Lytham’s shrimping community. ShrimpTown is a family drama based on real events and memories of Lytham’s shrimping community.
Set in the 1950’s, it follows the story of Jeanie Rowe, a young working class woman from an old Lancashire shrimping family, desperate to escape her destiny.
View the outcomes of the research and development activity at:
A temporary, contemporary visual arts trail featuring 28 artworks by 12 national artists who each created or loaned work as a specific response to individual locations around Lytham across the summer of 2016. Supported by a series of artist-led creative workshops for the community and a scrap Gamelan event.during Lytham Festival.
Jointly commissioned by Fylde Borough Council and the Arts Partnership for Fylde and funded by Arts Council England, Cuffe & Taylor and the Arts Partnership for Fylde. Alex was contracted to undertake bid writing, project management and marketing for Counterpart.
View the project’s Facebook page:
View highlights from the Counterpart launch event here:
Creative Producer & Bid Writer
Working with visual artists, Lisa Wigham and Tina Dempsey to deliver a series of artist led community consultation events to reimagine Lytham Library in the wake of Government cuts to local library services.. In addition to developing and managing the consultation events, Alex produced a final report for the Lytham Library Steering Group and led the process of writing and submitting a successful proposal to Lancashire County Council.
View details of the consultation here:
Lead Artist & Creative Producer
A series of site responsive visual & aural installations exploring the impact of the Clifton family & the public on Lytham Hall during October & November 2015. Co-created by Alexandra O’Toole, visual artist, Tina Dempsey and Fashion Designer, Ellie Kidsley. It formed part of Lytham Hall’s ongoing activity programme, which encourages new ways of engaging with the Hall and celebrates connections between past and present.
Alex’s installation, ‘My Dear Mr Fair’, a staged piece of visual poetry installed in the Long Gallery, was inspired by the letters of the little known Lady Eleanor Cecily Lowther Clifton to Lytham Hall Estate Manager, James Fair, who was an effective executor of Eleanor’s practical management style and who became a sometime confidant to her. Alex combined fact and fiction to give equal reference to the documented voice of Lady Eleanor and the ghost stories surrounding her.
View images from the exhibition here:
MISS SPELLBOUND’S SUITCASE STORIES
Lead Artist and Creative Producer
A story making programme for children in Key Stage 1 and 2 designed and written by Alex to provide children with an opportunity to create, compose and perform their own original story through oral, written or visual means using a uniquely designed stimulus and guided by the character of Miss Spellbound – the mysterious, magical Keeper of Stories. Delivered in-school as half day or full day workshops or at one off events with actress,and drama facilitator Linda Hampton.
View images from one of the Miss Spellbound workshops for schools here:
THE FESTIVAL OF STORIES
Featuring professional storytellers; staged and promenade theatre productions; ethereal aerial performances; enchanting puppet shows; sensory storytelling, dub poetry performances, published children and young adult author events, creative workshops, beautiful installations, and a dedicated 0-5 years zone, the three day programme of creative, interactive and participative storytelling and story-making events and activities offered a magical and memorable experience which
attracted 7,000 visitors.
delivered 92 individual storytelling and story making events
employed 67 UK artists
employed 12 set designers from the University of Central Lancashire
engaged 50 volunteers.
View the highlights here:
THE SHRIMPER’S DAUGHTER (THE FESTIVAL OF STORIES)
Lead Artist and Creative Producer
A promenade performance piece of family theatre, written by Alex, which premiered at Lytham Festival of Stories in 2015.
With a nod to the form of a traditional fairy tales the story drew on Lytham’s long history of shrimping and the hard lives sustained by the families of shrimpers.
Part promenade, part immersive experience, The Shrimper’s Daughter combined brand new writing with innovative set and costume design by students from the University of Central Lancashire, live action and participative challenges to engage audiences of all ages.
Watch the video trailer, art directed by Alex, which was released online and on Lytham Festival TV prior to The Festival of Stories, here:
&OTHERSTORIES (THE FESTIVAL OF STORIES)
The &OtherStories project invited the community of Lytham St Annes to anonymously contribute a secret to a brand new performance based storytelling project Alex played a key role in the design of the project and engaging the community in its delivery. The community’s long held fears, regrets, hopes and desires formed the basis of a performance piece co -devised by theatre company, The Paper Birds and students at AKS School.
View the project website here:
Co – Producer, Project Manager and Workshop Leader
Alex worked with Fylde Borough Council, Blackpool & Preston Sands Group, and Blackpool Victoria Hospitals NHS Trust to co-produce the Fylde’s first memorial garden, providing a much needed facility for families on the Fylde Coast who have lost a child through stillbirth or neonatal death.
The garden, designed by sculptor and landscape architect, Philippe Handford, brings together the themes of nature and personal reflection to create a meaningful space in which families can remember their loved ones.
The garden design encourages individual and personal connections through the use of evocative words and phrases that have been chosen by members of Blackpool and Preston Sands, whilst the commissioned remembrance tree sculpture, created from steel, copper, perspex, cobbles and oak, enables families to leave a permanent memorial to their lost children in the form of an engraved copper leaf.
View images from the project here:
Alex was commissioned by Fylde Borough Council and partners, Fylde Coast YMCA, to develop and manage an Arts Council England funded artist led action research project linked to the physical redevelopment of St Annes Swimming Pool and the South Promenade and Gardens in St Annes on the Fylde Coast.
Working with landscape architect, Sophy King and fine artist, Sarah Jane Richards, Alex played a key role in developing and managing activity plans and engaging the public, community groups, users of the pool and local schools, partner stakeholders and the project’s steering group to reimagine the built and natural environment surrounding the swimming pool and South Promenade area.
View the project website here:
LYTHAM LIVES EXHIBITION
Exploring the people, places and events that have inspired the writings within the recently published book, Lytham Lives: A Community In Writing, an exhibition of Lytham Lives provided a personal look at the town’s history, with contributors to the book on hand to answer visitor questions.
In addition to working with Lytham Heritage Group to curate the exhibition, Alex worked with local school groups to encourage them to think about their own lives and to create a piece of creative writing reflecting their own personal histories.
View images of the exhibition here:
C0-Editor and Creative Producer
A unique collection of memoirs, life writing and poetry from a community which was borne out of fishing and shrimping, then transformed by Victorian tourism, to become an elegant town teeming with cafes, bars and boutiques. Through the voices of long-time locals and regular visitors, Lytham Lives describes the rich history and stunning scenery of the vibrant Lancashire coastal town of Lytham. Visit: the project website for more details.
An Arts Council England funded project commissioned by community organisation, Park View 4U as part of a wider local story sharing initiative aimed at encouraging intergenerational communication and interaction and preserving and sharing Lytham’s social heritage. Alex managed the project and worked with writer, J A Brunning, to co-edit and publish the collection.
View the project website here:
CONVERSATIONS WITH THE COMMUNITY
Twelve members of the Lytham community shared their memories of growing up in Lytham with a class of Year 9 pupils from St. Bede’s High School in a workshop called, ‘Conversations With The Community’,
Alex designed managed the delivery of the event which was facilitated by Lancashire writer, JA Brunning, author of The Witherstone Trilogy in collaboration with community organisation, ParkView4U, with the aim of using storytelling and story sharing to connect generations within the community.
View images from the event here:
As part of a wider Arts Council England funded story sharing project, Alex was commissioned by Park View 4U to write two short stories that would help the local community connect, or reconnect, with the town’s heritage. Keen to create something that people of all ages could engage with, she produced two fairytales – a form she felt would be familiar to everyone. The first story, The Shrimper’s Daughter, has since been taken forward to be developed into a piece of theatre and a book. The second story, The Beast of Lytham, is scheduled for future development.