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Complete audio of the interview with Richard Layzell
Richard Layzell began working in performance as a student at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. He also explored installation and video as emerging artforms, in the 1970s. Early recognition included exhibitions at the Camden Arts Centre, the Royal Academy and the Acme Gallery. He subsequently became an administrator and curator at the Acme Gallery and lived in a related artists studio/housing project in Bow, East London. He re-engaged with performance in the late 70s, showing at 2B Butlers Wharf and the Basement Group in Newcastle. This was an energetic period in the emergence of ‘ephemeral practices’ on the UK art scene, leading to experiments on the fringes of visual theatre and club culture. His relationship to video deepened with an extended residency in Brighton in 1980, which led to a series of works, including Floor, Power and For Space.
He represented the UK at the 4th International Performance Art Symposium in Lyon in 1984 with Stand Up/Sit Down and began a series of tours and residencies in the US and Canada. An autobiographical performance Bruno’s Leg was commissioned by the Tate Gallery in 1987. A seminal off-site work The Revolution – You’re In It was commissioned by Kettles Yard Cambridge in 1989. In this he adopted the ugly persona of a successful Thatcherite businessman, Bailey Savage, for several days, waking, eating and sleeping as this crazed person. In the 1990s he began a series of explorations to approach new audiences, including the young, the older, the physically disabled and the sensory impaired. Tap Ruffle and Shave, an interactive installation aimed specifically at the sensory impaired, was experienced by 100,000 people in galleries and museums across the UK.
He explored the relationship of art to business with a seven-year residency with a software company, assuming the invented job title of visionaire. This innovative practice included bringing performance and happenings into the work place. In 2002 he began the process of bringing some of this knowledge and experience back into the cultural sector with a series of socially engaged residencies and commissions across the UK, including IS, a major commission for Bristol. In Shanghai, he lived, performed and researched within the boundary of one square mile of the city for two months in 2008.
Since 2000 he has been an artist/researcher with ResCen, which has led to the creation of his collaborator Tania Koswycz. Their installation The Manifestation was shown across the UK and their dialogues are published in Cream Pages. He is also the author of Enhanced Performance (1998) and Live Art in Schools (1993). He is an honorary associate of the National Review of Live Art.