On Thursday, 3 November 2022, the Grammy-nominated British composer, artist and co-founder of production company Sisters Grimm, Ella Spira MBE, will launch her latest art project, ‘Global Landscapes Singapore’ at Art Now gallery, in the Raffles Hotel Arcade, unveiling her work as a visual artist. The exhibition will be opened to the public with no tickets required on the 4th and 5th of November.
The launch will open with an ‘In conversation with Ella Spira MBE” hosted by Alice Black, former director of The Design Museum London and founder of ArtULTRA. The invitation only event will shed light on the process, influences, inspiration, and intention of Spira as a painter, giving context to the artworks created in Singapore.
Global Landscape Singapore celebrates the richness of life in and around the island through six individual paintings and a series of charcoals. Spira has been able to show a city that values natural resources and has kept nature as part of its urban landscape. From pockets of green punctuating the financial area of the city to the thriving marine trade, which has been part of its backdrop for centuries. Spira first came to Singapore for work in 2015, but she is painting the city for the first time this year.
The paintings are accompanied by photographs taken by Singaporean photographer Rebecca Toh and an evocative score composed by Spira. This score features Singaporean cellist Olivia Chuang and incorporates the sound of Rebecca’s camera click as well as the sound of Singapore thunder storms, which has been recently released on Sisters Grimm’s YouTube channel.
Deeply influenced by her Jewish heritage and family history as a third generation Holocaust survivor, Ella has dedicated her life to celebrating and foregrounding underrepresented cultures. Her multidisciplinary approach regularly features innovative multicultural collaborations and is rooted in a conviction that the arts have a deep influence on society.
Collaboration is a central tenet of Ella Spira’s artistic work; her encounter with Toh led to an artistic meeting of minds: Toh was given an all access to Ella, to create an intimate portrait of her and bring home what it is to be an artist. The outcome of this collaboration is a series of intimate, closely shot photographs, in which Toh has captured the soul of her fellow artist. They are not posed, but rather taken free flow, in the moment, which is Toh’s hallmark photography. Rebecca Toh’s portraits of Spira lift the veil of her innermost self to reveal the unadorned woman and her emotions, creating moments of true connection.
Rebecca Toh said, “I found working with Ella truly inspiring. The Inner Landscapes of Ella is an attempt to show her artistic freedom and fearlessness. Ella is fully invested in everything she does, ready to take risks, whatever the outcome may be.”
Alice Black said, “Ella Spira is really successful at creating a mood in her paintings, capturing a latent feeling. Her palette is sober, her brush work is calm and considered. Her paintings evoke, more than depict.”
“Spira’s exhibitions showcase the range of her creative talents. She is someone who lives in a near constant state of ebullient creativity. Ideas fuse in her head and then she manages to channel them into music, images, live performances, and exhibitions. We know that today, people long for immersive experiences and Ella can deliver that all-encompassing approach.”
The Global Landscapes Series debuted in Dubai in 2020 and subsequent chapters included the Albania and Indonesia. For each destination, Spira not only creates a series of paintings inspired by nature, which she matches to a new score to turn her work into a multi-sensory experience. Ella also collaborates with local artists to create more connections through her work. Spira’s paintings celebrate cultural explorations and musical collaborations. Through her paintings, Spira seeks to capture and share global landscapes and the human interventions within it. As such, they represent a form of preservation of our environment.
Spira’s Singapore work has already proved popular with collectors. Singapore-based and Chinese investor Jack Tao fell under the spell of Ella Spira’s Banyan Tree painting and recently acquired it for GBP250,000 (SGD$404,762). He went on to commission Spira to create the Global Landscape Singapore.
In November and December 2021, Ella Spira’s first multi-media exhibition, 50 for 50, was held at Dubai Opera to mark the United Arab Emirates’ 50th anniversary. 50 for 50 was the culmination of Spira’s travels across the UAE. It featured fifty paintings of the country’s fragile environment, created by Spira in situ, matched with original scores which she also written.
In November 2021, Spira’s Albanian landscape ‘Shala River’ was presented to Prime Minister Edi Rama by Alistair King-Smith, British Ambassador to Albania, to mark 100 years of UK-Albanian friendship. Celebrating the natural beauty of Albania, the piece had an underlying message of environmentalism, providing a new platform to discuss political relations.
ArtULTRA is a digital platform dedicated to supporting artists and artistic creation, with a view to creating a more diverse and vibrant art world. Founded by Alice Black, former director of the Design Museum in London, ambassador for the Mayor of London’ Cultural Leadership Board, a Governor of the Museum of London and a member of the British Library Advisory Council.
Founded by Ella Spira and former Royal Ballet dancer Pietra De Mello-Pittman MBE in 2009, with the mission to produce work that is relevant, driven by social impact, cultural exchange, collaboration, equality, diversity, inclusion and environmental awareness.
Sisters Grimm has become renowned for shows which offer a unique and vibrant immersive experience, powered by an explosive fusion of live music, song, and dance. They have travelled the world working with collaborators from Ladysmith Black Mambazo in South Africa, world-renowned percussionists Olodumin in Brazil to Samurai warriors in Japan to tell new culturally themed and socially relevant stories.
Whilst promoting diversity on stage is a given, Sisters Grimm is also passionate about seeing ethnic and economic diversity in their audiences too with almost 8,000 beneficiaries to date of their social impact and outreach programs offering tickets, workshops and insights into the creative process, introducing new career paths and raising aspirations.
In 2019, when INALA relaunched in the West End, Royal Albert Hall, Prince Harry’s Concert at Hampton Court Palace, Marina Bay Sands Singapore & China Tour, Sisters Grimm partnered with the Prince’s Trust to provide their Mosaic students enrichment opportunities at INALA in the `West End and at the Royal Albert Hall on Black History Month and World Ballet Day.
In 2019 Sisters Grimm were invited to Yale University, by World Fellow Nizam Uddin, to talk about the “Power of Creative Theatre to Humanise”.
In 2021 on World Wildlife Day, ‘Art in Nature Global – tackling Climate Change’ was launched which saw the music video “windows of the Mind” featuring the art submissions from over 1000 under 18 year old’s be seen by 3.5 million people worldwide.
Recognized as internationalists, the pair were awarded an MBE by His Majesty King Charles III at Windsor Castle for Services to International Trade and the Creative Industries. Spira and Mello-Pittman were honored for a lifetime dedication to spotlighting and celebrating different cultures through art of the highest caliber and fostering cross-cultural understanding.
Ella Spira MBE is a Grammy nominated British composer, painter and theatre producer. She was born and raised in Gloucester, England and comes from a long line of artistic heritage: her Grandfather, Emile Spira was a pianist and composer and both Ella’s parents are fine artists, her mother is a landscape painter whose work has been exhibited in the West of England Royal Academy and her father is an abstract artist and was a Senior Lecturer at University.
Spira has dedicated her life to cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary, global collaborations spotlighting and celebrating different cultures through the arts which has seen her work and those cultures be celebrated by millions all over the world.
At 16, she started writing music for short films. Her professional career within the entertainment industry began when alongside writing, she chose to leave school in flavor of employment by the BBC at age 17. She has worked with companies as diverse as The Royal Ballet, BAFTA, BBC, Arakan Creative, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Ministry of Sound, UNICEF NYE Campaign, Hi5 new series Theme Song ‘Hi5 Dance Off’, Universal Music and on pop chart remixes with Steve Smart & Westfunk, Bruno Mars’ ‘Just The Way You Are’, McFly’s ‘Shine A Light’, Jay Sean’s (ft Nicki Minag) ‘2012’, Alicia Dixon’s (ft Jay Sean) ‘Every Little Part Of Me’ and Nelly’s ‘Just A Dream’, on labels including Universal. All five of these reached the top 20 in the UK charts.
Ella Spira’s work includes award-winning, world-touring live musical theatre productions that have been featured at London’s Royal Variety Performance, Hampton Court Palace and Royal Albert Hall and performed in front of the Royal Family, as well as shows which have been acclaimed across the globe. She has also co-composed and produced world music videos with millions of YouTube hits.
Adept at collaborating across cultures and artistic disciplines, Ella has composed all the music for Sisters Grimm’s digital content and portfolio of culturally themed shows which have a global reach of 200 million.
In 2016 she received a Best World Music Album Grammy nomination for the songs from Sisters Grimm show ‘INALA’ which was also the soundtrack to Prince Harry’s Sentebale 2019 Annual film. In 2017 ‘Voices of the Amazon’ narrated by Jeremy Irons, for which Ella wrote the score in collaboration with Brazilian song writers, won Brazilian international Press Award Best Show. Since 2018 Ella also worked in Japan, Bali, China, and the Middle East on Sisters Grimm’s ever-expanding portfolio of cultural shows.
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