IOU is an organisation with 43 years’ experience making original work across art-forms including: sound, video and sculptural installations, site specific performance, music, touring theatre, interactive digital works and virtual worlds. The company is recognised for creating work with a distinctive style, both intimate and large scale, commonly a collision of the familiar and the mysterious, often darkly humorous.
“IOU occupies a position in the contemporary arts and performance arena where it is considered to be a model of excellence both nationally and internationally, a position it rightly deserves. The often surreal and fantastic narratives are a means of transporting the audience to a world of possibilities which are dreamlike yet present opportunities for contemplating the ordinary and familiar things around us. This is an important part of IOU’s aesthetic approach and cultural identity. On reviewing thirty years of work, you begin to appreciate how everything is beautifully made, from costumes to machines, revealing an in-depth understanding of art, materials and mechanics.”
Russell Roberts, Head of Photography & Senior Curator of Photographs, National Museum of Photography, Film & TV
The work is created by freelance production teams drawn from a pool of artists, makers, performers, poets, musicians and technicians who have a range of experience working with the company – from founder members to recent graduates. Projects are led by the Artistic Director and supported by IOU’s Executive Producer, technical and administration team.
IOU Studio is the administration base and creation centre for the company which is situated within Dean Clough Mills, Halifax. This is a vast stone built Victorian industrial complex formerly the Crossley Carpet factory which closed in 1982, finally succumbing to the decline of the textile industry in the area. Reinvigorated by the vision of Sir Ernest Hall, Dean Clough is now a lively community of arts organisations, individual artists and commercial business. It has been IOU’s home since 1984, when the company became one of the first tenants and arts organisations to occupy the building.
IOU Studio comprises of two large interconnected spaces which were originally converted and used by The Henry Moore Foundation. Between 1989 and 2003 The Henry Moore Foundation invited leading international sculptors to present work specially made in response to the distinctive atmosphere and history of these spaces. In 2005 IOU received an Arts Council England Capital Grant to make the spaces usable for IOU and fully accessible to the public. Here IOU presents a programme of activity that includes exhibitions/installations and preparation, rehearsal and presentation of IOU work. The space is also used for IOU’s professional development programme which helps emerging practitioners and arts organisations, artistically and strategically. Separate from the Studio, IOU has a large workshop where making can take place using welding and other machinery for large scale constructions.
Current touring works include:
Volatile Light & Patternarium
Audiences will experience an intimate, all enveloping combination of light and sound by placing themselves at the centre of a miniature, wrap around universe of moving lights and sounds
An installation inspired by the extraordinary sound of vortex rings travelling through the atmosphere at supersonic speed. A gleaming steel sculpture made of large air-ducting tubes and giant cones spills out a chorus of sound into special listening zones.
In collaboration with composer Yannis Kyriakides, IOU present Vortex – a music and sound project which continues the theme of natural forces and phenomena developed from IOU’s Artistic Director David Wheeler’s time in Antarctica.
Long Division is a hauntingly atmospheric sound installation.
As the clock chimes on the hour, there follows a sequence of sixty hushed, spoken exchanges, timed to the divisions of the clock.
‘If at 65 you could say something to yourself at 23, what would it be?’ Led by the performance poets Cecilia Knapp and Jemima Foxtrot, IOU tells the story of a woman’s life in an unforgettable journey through Coventry aboard a unique open-top bus.
Rear View 360
Take an unforgettable virtual journey from the intimacy of a life class to the reality of the streets, following the story of a life yet to be lived. Wearing Oculus Go virtual reality headsets, see the show from the perspective of the audience and performer. Feel the sensation of riding on the Rear View bus and share the 360° stage with performer Cecilia Knapp as she leads you through the streets with her poetic narrative.
The Storytelling Bus
Audiences take a 30-minute journey on an alternative sight-seeing tour, listening to a series of short stories. The words and voices are produced by people who live in the town (or city) and then set to specially composed music. Personal stories are brought to life – giving voice and shared meaning to the everyday moments of our lives. Travelling along on IOU’s specially converted rear-facing bus – the only one of its kind – audiences sit high and cocooned in noise-isolating headphones, the experience is powerful and cinematic.
Other shows and installations are currently in development – please talk to me about what interests you!
“IOU’s inimitable style matches Heath Robinson ergonomics with Samuel Beckett’s sense of purpose” – The Guardian