Charlotte Stuart-Grumbar

Charlotte Stuart-Grumbar, Blind Sight 2012

Charlotte’s ‘Blind Sight’ 2012, was nominated for Nova.

CSM’s Nova nominees are put forward by their Course Leaders and represent the best talent across the degree shows. Here, Charlotte provides an insight into the work which earned her the prestigious recommendation.

Blind Sight

Blind Sight, developed collaboratively with Kate Auster and Florence Mein, is a sensory One-on-One performance in which the individual audience member, blindfolded and propelled in a wheelchair by a nurse, goes on a journey through different environments created through the use of minimal objects.  Sounds and smells, and other sensory experiences, are used to evoke a particular environment and to prompt memories.  It is only as the journey evolves that the participant begins to realise that each successive ‘memory’ represents a fragment from their own past.  Blind Sight sought to shed light on Dementia from the perspective of someone living with the illness.  Placing them in alien environments, without sight or freedom of movement, seemed to reveal to them a glimpse of the reality of Dementia.

Secret Cinema gave me the opportunity to work in a professional environment with a successful immersive theatre company. Taking on board the themes from the Third Man, I was especially drawn to aura of corruption, and illegal dealings. I chose to create my own story through the enigmatic character of Mary Rennie, which ran along side the central story of the Third Man.

In order to create a sense of authenticity, I constructed exhibit boxes into which audience members looked, enabling them to piece together their own version of events. Suspending the boxes in mid-air allowed the audience to wander around them at their own pace and direction. Each successive box lured the audience into new facets of the world which I sought to evoke. I carefully considered the available space, looking at the surroundings and furnishing in great detail so that my work would suit the environment in which it was set. Audience members became a detective or spy, piecing together the clues from the objects, which included a candle stuffed with money, conflicting identity documents and a secret, recorded conversation played through Balkin headphones.

For both Blind Sight and Secret Cinema, I worked externally, which was crucial in developing my professional practice. I handled issues such as identifying a venue, sourcing material on a low budget, and managing costs and travel. The reaction to Blind Sight provided strong encouragement to explore its useful, wider application.