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At the heart of English folk

2014 Creative Artist Residencies announced

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has revealed the recipients of its latest round of Creative Artist Residencies.

Three applicants were chosen from a strong field.

They are:


The creative artist residencies are part of EFDSS’ Aspire Programme, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, to provide artistic support and professional development to emerging artists.

The artists will undertake research and development to create new music using folk material as their source and inspiration. They will receive a bursary towards expenses and fees plus rehearsal and performance space at Cecil Sharp House, and support and guidance for the future development of their work.


Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin

Phillip Henry and
Hannah Martin

Phillip and Hannah are a BBC Folk Award winning duo from the West Country. Their residency will kickstart a project to celebrate the centenary of Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles' song collecting trips to the Appalachian Mountains in 1916-17.

During a week at Cecil Sharp House, they will use the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library to research diaries and original notes taken and re-examine their work, in the light of both the English and American traditions, and create reinterpretations of the songs in their collection ‘English Folk Songs From The Southern Appalachians’. They are hoping this could lead to a more substantial project and album or collaborations with English and American musicians to explore the relationships between these two genres.


Emily Portman

Emily Portman

Emily is a singer, writer and concertina player originating from Glastonbury and hailed ‘one of the new British folk scene’s most beguiling presences’ (Uncut). Emily is the 2013 holder of the BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Original Song and is now embarking on a new songwriting project for her third solo album, due out in June 2015. The EFDSS Creative Artist Residency will enable Emily to research and arrange traditional songs and tales that will in turn inspire new compositions.






Emily said: “Traditional folk songs and stories are the dominant inspiration of my songwriting. I am drawn to the rich folklore surrounding birth, death and the power of liminal spaces in folklore: the lying in and laying out rituals, ballads of the restless dead, the untying of knots at births and deaths, death as a symbol for transformation and metamorphosis and so on. Drawing on materials found in the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) archives, my aim is to write new material unearthing the contemporary significance of these songs and tales.”


Polly Paulusma

Polly Paulusma

Polly is singer-songwriter who has toured the UK, USA and Europe and supported the likes of Bob Dylan, Marianne Faithfull, Jamie Cullum and Coldplay. An English graduate from Cambridge, her residency will tie in with a post-graduate research project to research the influence of traditional folk music on the writings of the feminist novelist Angela Carter.

Polly will use the archives at Cecil Sharp House to find the songs which have most impact on Carter’s work, and then to be able to play them with folk musicians, work up versions of them with musicians who could guide her and teach her more about traditional folk performance.

From the rehearsals with folk musicians Maz O’Connor and Jack Harris and indie folk bass player John Parker, the bursary will allow her, to create a mixed-media project involving spoken-word excerpts of feminist prose presented side-by-side with the traditional folk songs that inspired them.


About the Creative Artist Residencies

The scheme is open to professional artists from all genres at any stage in their career and offers the time and resources to develop their practice, research, and create new work linked to English traditional folk arts.

Awards are made annually and applications are invited from individuals or groups including dancers, poets, storytellers, musicians or visual artists. Previous awards have been made to artists working primarily in the fields of classical music, dance and storytelling as well as folk music and dance.


National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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