UK Young Artists is a registered charity who are dedicated to helping young artists in developing their practice and in pursuing a creative career, something which can feel out of reach at times. They are unique in their approach to working with artists in all art forms and each one is celebrated at their yearly UKYA National Festival.

This is their fourth even on this scale in the Midlands and it's promises to show you the best of the UK's creative talent. The 80 artists selected for this festival submitted their work and with a record high in applications for the festival, there's something which already draws you in to see what this festival and artists are all about. Platforms like this exist in order to show the importance of supporting UK young artists but to also showcase to you the many art forms that can be brought together in one city for a short space of time.

The creative industries contribute significantly to the economy and UK Young Artists recognise the need to encourage and foster this expanding part of the economy by providing young creatives with the support, guidance, performance and presentation opportunities across art forms and practices.
                                                         Michelle Bowen, Director, UK Young Artists 
First up on my list was the Dance Double Bill on the Friday night. Jamal Sterrett is a self taught local dancer from a small area in Nottingham called St Ann's. This area is typically labelled as an area of low pay, a lot of hard work and high crime rates. Little do you know that St Ann's is actually a place of talented individuals at the heart of its community. It's the people he meets from his local community and the stories he is told that inspire his art form, and the emotional rawness of the people that makes his art so real.

Having experienced watching Jamal Sterrett present his work Flexing Forever in urban areas of Derby's City Centre he presents to us the stories of the people in his community and the energy through his body. In the intertwine of theatrical nature of flex dance and storytelling of stop motion the moving body will have you entirely in that moment with him.

His moving body captures your attention in an instant, whether that is when he is floating along a floor or contorting his body in ways you couldn't imagine your body would do itself. Every movement is a string of stories and emotion. Flexing is a style of dance that definitely enables you to think of what's beyond the body in it's physical form.


Next up I watched ZukDance - A Live Concert Choreographed which became to being a performance so unexpected but so incredible at the same time. Accompanying a music band named Tucan Morgan were contemporary dancers, breakdancers and acrobats.

I loved how this performance had a lot of layers not only within the structure of their piece with different art forms coming together but the context of the piece as a whole. I felt like there were moments of raw emotion and you started seeing the musical score as the main thread of the performance if not more so than the movers in the space. There was a great relationship between everyone within the space and there was so much happening that you almost didn't know where to look. They are a dance company I would absolutely love to see again and interested to see what other work would be created as part of their concept.

On the Saturday I headed over to the QUAD to watch the UK Young Artists: On Screen films. As somebody who creates content on YouTube and aims to produce monthly videos which are like films this part of the festival was something which did what it should have, it inspired me. All of the films had a different strand within them which made each of them individually pleasing and enjoyable to watch.

Chris Alton's film Under the Shade I Flourish is based on "an unknown rhythm 'n' blues band"* called Trident were briefly managed by the non-UK domiciled billionaire, Michael Ashcroft. Notably he is a controversial figure for "opaque tax practices" and "operating in the dark". This documentary film was in fact portrayed events which were unreal, using only scripts and fictional events to create what we saw. There is a real blur within the fiction and non-fiction which makes it a fun and interesting watch. Chris mentioned that the body of work to create this film was huge, from the scripts, the props, the music lyrics and so on.

Another favourite from the films was Annabel Duggleby's Yarl's Wood. The film is based on a personal investigation of the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre near Bedford, England. The film collaborates landscape and power, and how Law and the regulation of mobility affects physical space. This film was relevant what enhanced what has been so mediated over the past couple of years. The use of undercover camera footage was hard hitting and quite emotional, to think that this is a reality within our country and we're so unaware of it. I really enjoyed the use of voice over to add another layer within this film to help bring it more to life and just as powerful as the images she used to use.

UK Young Artists is a fab charity and I am already to discover some new artists in their festival next year!


thanks for reading,

Disclaimer: I was invited to UKYA National Festival in Derby in return for this post to be published. The views are mine and the photos are sourced from the UKYA website.