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Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

The Badger spoke with Sussex University’s Maayan Cohen about her creative workshop, ‘Bits and Pieces.’

Can you tell us a bit about Bits and Pieces- what’s the event about?

Bits and Pieces is a super laid back life drawing and creative writing workshop. It’s not a class, you don’t have to have any experience (trust me, my drawings mostly consist of glorified stick figures); it’s a space where people of any ability can come and have a go at something creative. The events are loosely based around a theme, with portions of the evening centred around writing prompts and others around drawing. It’s basically a chilled out space, where you can drink, listen to some ambient tunes, write a couple of poems, and drawing an impressively still nude human!

Why did you decide to start it?

Whilst on my year abroad at the University of British Columbia my friend, Roisin Trelfa, and I were both looking for informal ways of doing something creative. Roisin wanted to do some life drawing, I wanted to do some automatic writing. When we couldn’t find anything that suited us, we decided to have a go at starting something ourselves. Honestly, we thought it would just be something held in one of our living rooms for like ten of our friends, but it sort of snowballed.

Originally you launched it in Vancouver? How is that different to hosting an event in Brighton?

There are a lot of similarities and differences. Vancouver is bigger than Brighton and harder to get around, so just logistically it’s been easier to get attention over here as people are more likely to be like ‘oh that place is five minutes from my house, I’ll check it out’ rather than take a 40-minute bus ride. Because I was completely new to Vancouver I probably had slightly fewer inhibitions, whereas coming back to Brighton trying to establish myself felt somewhat more daunting, but the art communities in both places turned out to be very supportive!

What advice can you give to young people looking to start an event?

Honestly, just have faith in your idea. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have lots of funds or lots of experience, there are a ton of places that want to provide space for creative events. Once you start trying to establish yourself you’ll realise that people are interested, people want to be involved in new events, and often spaces won’t charge you. Also, you’d be surprised how many people just want to do something different than going to the same old pub- so by starting anything new you’re going to spark interest. And in terms of it taking time away from your studies, all I can say is that of course it can be time-consuming, but it is also so rewarding to do something completely for yourself that you can be proud of.

What has been your favourite part and the biggest challenge?

My favourite part has definitely been the huge variety of responses we have gotten from prompts; just seeing how some people go about a writing exercise or see the same body in front of them so differently is so interesting. The biggest challenge was trying to find a last-minute life model two days before an event when we realised the guy we got in contact with on Craig’s List was not the man for us (let’s just say he was fully convinced Trump was tapping into his phone calls).

What are your plans for its future?

Currently, Bits and Pieces is being continued in Vancouver, is running in Edinburgh, and is here in Brighton. Hopefully, it will continue to thrive in these places and adapt to include more creative mediums (like collage, sculpture, or painting!). Roisin and I have plans to take it to some festivals in the summer and hopefully get it up and running in London next year. We are also aiming at realising a few zines with some of the content as soon as we get to grips with Indesign!

Make sure to follow their events at @bitsandpiecesworkshop

Words: Emma Phillips

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