Global Development Opportunities for Leaders Working in Arts, Screen, and Creative Sectors

Amble Skuse in China: Part 1


As part of her ICE fellowship, Amble Skuse spent a few weeks in Beijing in early 2013. Here she talks about working as an artist, being ill with ME and the impact of ICE on her practice.


This explorative trip to Beijing has acted as a focus, there’s something about moving from the earth to the sky, and then re-emerging onto a new bit of earth which zooms in and out, gives clarity to details, repositions facets into viewable parcels.

The parcels I’ve been viewing have been threatening to overwhelm and engulf me, so large and out of focus had they become. This is my first year of working as an artist, and my first year of working as an artist since becoming ill with ME. It’s difficult to explain the impact that becoming ill has had on my professional practice. It changes everything, but not necessarily in the way you might expect. The world becomes enormous, your part of the world becomes tiny, your influence in the world becomes microscopic, your knowledge of what your mind and body can achieve changes forever, it is unknown and unknowable.

In this context, working as a composer and producer, overcoming the usual issues of balancing projects and workload become a constant dilemma. What if I can’t?

This was the place from which I set off, my biggest question was “Can I reach China intact? Can I take part in this process, this incredible opportunity, will my new boundaries allow it?”. Incredibly, my body and mind gave me an enormous YES. Perhaps it’s obvious, but it turns out that working in China, is much the same as working in the UK, but with different everything. For me, this is the most enormous learning point, that I can afford to say YES, that there is always a way for my body to function, in any context, it’s just about finding it.

So the ICE Fellowship has already given me this, a huge opening of confidence, of self knowledge, of trust that I can take part, that I can keep pushing my world.

But what of China? All this introspective stuff is all very well, but what of China? What of Hua Dan? What of the work?

This parcel of colour, sounds, smiles and energy opened me creatively. I’ve recently been struggling with a commission, which had grown stale, closed and over planned. An encounter with Hua Dan’s evaluations director Linda Yi, sparked a spontaneous creative response, we holed up in a hotel for a few days and made our sonic response to our conversation. This instantaneous work frees me, and I begin to see my creative process in a different light. Perhaps, in a desire to ‘produce’ I have pinned down the space for creativity too much, I have over decided with my head before my heart had a chance to chip in. I think I can afford to say “I don’t know yet” and trust that, as an artist, something will come.

If this were my only ICE Fellowship trip, this would be enough, to open my capacity to say yes, remove limitations based on my physical circumstances, and to rediscover my creative process through spontaneity. That’s enough.

But amazingly, there is more to come. There is more collaboration, more exploration, more thinking, more learning, more discoveries that I didn’t expect, more context, more inspiration, more confidence, more networks, more people, more colours, more sounds, more engagement, more growing and most of all more amazing food.


This blog was originally posted on Amble’s blog, here.

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