Ultimate Thunder

  • 25–27 Jan 2020
  • Free, no booking required

This installation re-presented a performance by Ultimate Thunder, a Leeds-based band featuring six artists with learning disabilities and one without, at their Pyramid Of Arts base on a light industrial estate in Holbeck. Ultimate Thunder meet fortnightly and make very loud, semi-improvised rock.

The lives of people with physical and learning disabilities tend to be structured around the provision of support staff and transport, and are sometimes restricted by this provision. This lack of flexibility can often mean that they are unable to engage in the traditional band and gigging format. Usually, any change to their regular timetable of weekly activities needs to be agreed at least two months in advance if they are to be able to get the staffing support to make it happen. On this basis, the work of Ultimate Thunder does not get the audience that it easily could in Leeds – a city where there is still an appetite for the kind of experimental, DIY, noisy music that they make. Their performances are in fact just rehearsals, within the four walls of Pyramid’s base, on a light industrial estate in Holbeck.

Sites like Pyramid’s base have been historically created by the transformation of daycare provision in the city. As local authorities shut their many daycare centres, they used the money saved to fund organisations to provide substitute activities. While this change has allowed for a much wider range of activities to be offered, it also means that light industrial estates like the one where Pyramid are based have replaced the daycare centres of old, with the same issues of ghettoisation and relative invisibility for the artists who perform there.

This installation, produced by Lumen Arts, allowed the music of Ultimate Thunder to reach a wider audience, and also invited that audience to experience the kind of spaces where that work is produced – loud, warm, exciting, welcoming, inclusive music being created behind the closed doors of cold, utilitarian, concrete, practical spaces.

The virtual reality experience was a 360 degree video documenting a workshop led by Alan Courtis – an Argentinian artist and musician working with arts and disability – held at Pyramid of Arts in April 2019.

The installation was part of Lumen’s ongoing research and development around creative application of digital technologies for immersive re-presentation of performance work, with funds from Arts Council England and Leeds Inspired.