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Chalk Black

As a performance artist, Jo creates space for people to reconnect with the natural world, community and heritage (personal/local/global). Her practice focuses on ‘our primal urge to connect and create and the wellness that comes from this process’. Having practiced as a performance artist since 1991 (ongoing), studied 3D design, studied and worked as a freelance textile designer, worked in youth services and adult substance misuse services over a period of 16 years she has drawn from these experiences in order to develop a way of working which is accessible and dynamic.

Jo uses immersive, experimental techniques to engage audiences and participants. Her work encourages a deeper connection and understanding of specific environments/aspect of heritage/’ourselves’ in relation to our community and environment. In her workshops and retreats she encourages hands on preparation, use of the imagination and an element of performance to create powerful moments of self-discovery.

Community workshops

As well as focusing on specific solo projects Jo works with youth projects, schools, multi-generational groups, women’s projects, mental health services, substance misuse services, home education groups and special needs projects.
Working predominantly in outdoor spaces such as woodlands, coastal locations, public spaces and festivals over the past four years; Jo often applies large-scale projections created using organic materials to form striking images with which the participants interact. She has adapted her processes to include sustainably sourced off-grid technology in order to take her participants out into the elements and wild spaces. Her work is often site-specific; working with partner agencies and in collaboration with other artists, film makers, dancers, photographers, actors, storytellers, historians/museums, youth workers, musicians, psychologists, woodlanders, environmental experts, 3D makers and festival entertainment/event organisers. Jo is a registered artist with DAISI – Devon Arts In Schools Initiative.

Collaborative work

Most recent and current themes of collaborative work include;
• ASH/FILM/PROJECTION/PERFORMANCE- The Ode to the Ash Tree project – artist led community project, research into the cultural significance, myth, uses and potential demise of the Ash tree population in the UK due to the spread of Ash Dieback and development of site specific performance and off-grid projection techniques (managed by Courage Copse Creatives in association with Arts Council England. Collaboration with Courage Copse Creatives and Shimnix film production – current 6 month project).
• HERITAGE/CHARCOAL – 3C’s Heritage project – woodland-based heritage project with five schools, experimentation with charcoal including heritage research finding innovative ways to apply charcoal to different materials including preparation of egg tempera as a medium (managed by Courage Copse Creatives – Heritage Lottery funded)
• RITUAL PERFORMANCE/IMMERSIVE THEATRE – The Legends of Frome – Research into ritual art and immersive performance techniques including collaborative immersive heritage performance (managed by Edventure Frome – Arts Council funded)
• HERITAGE/PROJECTION/PERFORMANCE- research, development and delivery of young people’s workshops for National WW1 Gallipoli heritage project (DAISI, North Devon Museums, Shimnix film production – Young Roots Heritage Lottery Funding)

Current/ongoing project – HIGH NOON

Having received a year’s part-time funding from a private benefactor between April 2016-2017; research and development has taken up a large proportion of Jo’s time over the past year alongside project work. This has given her freedom to develop her understanding of the natural world, heritage, myth, storytelling, rites of passage and Jungian theory of life transitions. The main emphasis of this research was to discover:
‘How the use of indigenous materials found in our natural environment can play their part in aiding our transitional journeys and whether, by drawing on elements of our oral history and theories of Carl Jung, it is possible to develop a process that uses the making of art as a relevant and accessible rite of passage’.
Jo’s approach has drawn on Jungian theory and the work of Clarissa Pincola Estes, Sharon Blackie, Mary Oliver, James Hollis, Bill Plotkin, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Moore, David Whyte and Richard Rohr.
As a result of this funding Jo has developed a ritual art process for women, High Noon, which she trialled during summer ’16 and has continued to run in 2017.  See ‘High Noon’ for details of the next High Noon date for 2018.

Since this period Jo has deepened her research into life-transitions and is now collaborating with psychologist Jonathan Stott in order to develop processes that interweave both male and female experiences of life-transitions.  For more details soon see ‘Dark Skies’.


Jo is based in Bristol but, having spent 7 years living on the coast in North Devon, still has strong links with this region. Having moved to Bristol in October’15 she is now building up a network in the city and surrounding counties. She has recently relocated her retreats from North Devon to Chew Valley, South of Bristol.
Jo has a network of creative contacts across the UK who she is able to bring onboard for specific projects that need specialist knowledge and experience. She is registered self employed as an artist and performer, has a current DBS certificate for working with vulnerable adults and children and has public liability insurance.
Sept 2017

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