Hazel Soper joined the Fish Factory for a residency at the end of August 2020, as life after lockdown slowly began. Hazel has always wanted to be an artist, "ever since I learnt to hold a pencil!" she exclaims. Originally from rural Norfolk, Hazel now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, after graduating from Newcastle University in 2017.
"My work, and solo exhibition which took place at the Fish Factory, explores witchcraft and social history so I was really excited to visit Cornwall and explore celtic sites of religion and ritual, like the holy well at Madron and Men-an-Tol. These gave me lots of inspiration to develop work in the Fish Factory studios!" Her exhibition Altar for the Commons, a pop-up exhibition which took place at the Fish Factory, explored how women have been ostracised from modern medicine, land ownership, even though pre-16th Century, women were deeply connected to ecology. "In modern times we’re still dealing with this fall out- we’re detached from the earth that provides us with components for our phones, and poison the land and water with intensive farming techniques, easily forgotten when grabbing branded products off a shelf." Hazel explains, "the bucolic green fields of Britain are deserts for biodiversity and soil quality. This work represents the need, in this time of environmental crisis, for women to reclaim our persecuted connection to nature and magic, and again revolt as witches."
Hazel endeavours to give people an experience through her artwork, "whether that be through sharing different ideas or atmospheres, or presenting them with strange and unusual objects." Hazel engages with her audience, seeking to inspire dialogues and create fun experiences.
"I bring video, audio, print and sculpture together in immersive installation works, that examine our intimate communications and relationships, how the influence of global capitalism affects these, and whether technology and techno feminism has the promise to emancipate women. Using video installation I strive to immerse and engage the viewer with a physical experience of the work, and play with repetition, appropriation and absurdity to break down the hierarchies and pedagogy surrounding engagement with contemporary art." Inspired by eco-feminism, Hazel is particularly focused on social equality and justice. In November she took part in a group show at Baltic 39 in Newcastle and is continuing to investigate human relationships to landscape through soft sculpture and video. We hope to see you again Hazel!