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Posted 28.10.16

Fine Art grad set to perform at UKYA National Festival: Derby 2016

By Sarah Packer

UK Young Artists is a registered charity that champions the next generation of creativity, supporting collaboration and intercultural dialogue, ensuring a vibrant and diverse creative future for the UK.

They develop artists’ practice through cross art form opportunities and celebrate creativity at national & international festivals.

Recent BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate Elena Brake has been selected to take her performance ‘Tying Knots’ to their national festival on Saturday 5 November 2016.

She called to tell us all about her work and upcoming performance...

“My work is a combination of performance, installation and video that explores and enchants the everyday world.  

I make use of methods such as repetition, the distortion of time and visual exaggerations to enchant ordinary objects and routines by displacing the audience’s familiarity with them.  

Through my work, I reveal that what may seem like ordinary, mundane things are actually a source of enlightenment and fascination.  

"The repetitive and familiar action is relaxing for the participant and unusual conversations result..."

I am interested in the state of mind of the audience, and how close readings of such common and overlooked parts of life cause an unexpected and ambiguous emotional response in the viewer.

At the beginning of July, I found out via email that ‘Tying Knots’, a piece I developed while on my final year at the college, had been accepted into the UK Young Artists National Festival: Derby 2016.  

It was an amazing moment because it was completely unexpected. I had put a lot of thought into my application but still considered it a ‘practice run’: the festival is open to artists aged between 18-30 living anywhere in the UK and selects only 100 artists spanning several categories of the arts.  

In my mind my chances were slim, so when I received the email I braced myself for a rejection, and could not believe what I was reading - my piece had been selected!

"I am really excited by the thought of starting dialogues with potential collaborators..."

It’s designed to be portable - I used technology in the college’s FabLab to create a structure that can be easily flat packed and reassembled at any location. Once there, I invite members of the public to come and join me in tying knots for as long as they like.  

The repetitive and familiar action is relaxing for the participant, and unusual conversations result between them and myself, where we would otherwise be complete strangers.

The first performance of Tying Knots was in Plymouth City Centre. I received a lot of support from Plymouth College of Art during the whole process, and the performance went really well.  

It was the documentation from this first performance that supported my application to UKYA, so I had successfully set myself up in preparation for the next step, which for me is to go to a city I have never been to before, in order to perform.

"I’ll be tying knots in the shadow of a factory that used to make string!”

UKYA National Festival is a three-day event from the 4-6 November 2016 and I will be performing on Saturday 5 from 1-4pm.  

The ethos of the festival is to set up a platform for young artists to connect and network, so I will definitely be making the most of the festival to attend workshops, experience the work being shown and get to know the artists behind them.


I am really excited by the thought of starting dialogues with potential collaborators, and that by performing at such a dynamic event my work will become accessible to a new audience that could push my creative career further.

The curators have chosen a fantastic location for me to perform – on the Cathedral Green outside the Derby Silk Mill (or inside the cafe if the weather gets too extreme). What that means is that essentially, I’ll be tying knots in the shadow of a factory that used to make string!”

If you happen to be in the area, make sure you visit Elena and take part in her performance ‘Tying Knots’ on Saturday 5 November, 1-4pm at the UKYA National Festival on the Cathedral Green in Derby.

Can’t make it to the event? Follow Elena on social: