Chris Crickmay is a visual artist, teacher, writer and performer, specialising in dance-based multi-media performance and drawing. After taking a degree in architecture and a postgraduate diploma in design methodology, he moved into art and art education. Subsequently he developed an interest in improvised movement work and began work in an area of performance between dance and art, which he has continued to explore ever since. Despite this diversification of interest, rather than replacing each other, most of these activities have continued, either in parallel, or as part of a multi-arts practice.
Chris’s involvement in performance has led to a number of working partnerships, bringing art and dance together in performance work, writing and in independent teaching. The first of these collaborations, and the longest, has been with Miranda Tufnell This collaboration began with a film made for the Open University called ‘Dance Without Steps’. It subsequently led to the writing of two books, Body Space Image and A Widening Field, both on strategies for improvisation and working across the arts. These have become set texts for many students of dance and drama. Another early collaboration was with Mary O’Donnell Fulkerson. A work created with Mary, entitled ‘Field’ was performed in London and toured in Scandinavia in 1982. Chris has worked in more recent years with Alice Tatge and with Ellen Kilsgaard.
The most sustained partnership in making performance work has been with dance artist Eva Karczag. ‘Promenade’, a series of improvised, durational, place-specific works, has been developed with
Eva Karczag and musician Sylvia Hallett. The making of environments for Promenade and other performance pieces has led to work in a mix of visual media as well as performing, including photography, video, lighting, and sculptural installation. Chris has also maintained a separate visual art practice which has resulted in occasional exhibitions. Coloured drawings derived from Promenade, culminated in one such exhibition in 2018. In partnership with the dancer colleagues, Chris continues to teach independent workshops, which generally combine moving, making and writing. The teaching also reflects his interest in relationships between the body, objects and space in performance.
Besides his performance activities, Chris has followed an academic career in Art and Design, teaching in a number of Colleges and Universities in the UK. He began at the Open University in its early years, working closely with design theorist Christopher Jones. Chris Crickmay was also part of the Open University team that developed the course Art and Environment – a unique practical course in the creative arts for the non-specialist. Chris was Head of Art and Design at Dartington College of Arts for 12 years from 1978-1990 and was later awarded an honorary fellowship by the College in 2001. Whilst there he led the team developing and teaching the innovative degree course, Art and Social Context. A colleague, David Harding who played a key early role in developing this course, went on to establish the very successful Environmental Art Course at Glasgow School of Art. Dartington art students spent the later part of their course doing a residency, which provided the context for a large part of their art making. Residences included an extremely wide range of settings – for example, a zoo, a fish shop, a light house, and a school for special needs. Chris re-established and taught on the same course at UWE Bristol, where it ran throughout the 1990s, led by an ex-Dartington colleague, Sally Morgan.