What's On

Find the Places

Meet the People

Culture Blog

Rachel Dobbs and Hannah Rose

Play Video Play Video

Share:

Rachel Dobbs and Hannah Rose are the collaborative duo behind the interactive Plymouth-based LOW PROFILE.

Throughout their journey Hannah and Rachel have put community and audience at the heart of their work, which often features a participatory element.

HANNAH ROSE: “We met on our Fine Art degree on the first night. We studied at Exeter School of Art & Design – which was part of Plymouth University – and lived together throughout our whole degree experience.

“We ended up making a single work together at the end of our third year, which wasn’t assessed or done with any intention of forming a long-term collaboration. Following that, I went straight on to a Fine Art MA at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam.”

Rachel and Hannah stayed in touch regularly throughout that time, sharing ideas by email and having conversations on the phone. 

Through that frequent communication they developed the starting point that would lead to their ongoing creative collaboration. 

RACHEL DOBBS: “After our degrees, I had been living in Plymouth again for about a year while Hannah was in Rotterdam, and we were thinking about which city in the UK we could live and work in.

“Plymouth was a place where you could make stuff happen quite easily – and that’s something that really continues. 

HR: “Yeah, it was partly a decision around how we could earn a living alongside being artists, but also seeing an opportunity to really be actively involved in shaping and contributing to developing culture in a place.

 “Once I finished my MA, we spent the following 10 years making live work together – presenting at art festivals in the UK and Europe. We enjoyed doing that but in 2013 decided to take ourselves physically out of the work and think about other ways of making work.”

That decision coincided with being offered a solo show at Exeter Phoenix by Matt Burrows. 

“It was great timing, this opportunity to reframe a new direction whilst also presenting work we’d made over those 10 years within a gallery context. Since then we’ve continued to make work that takes different shapes and forms.

“We design for the audience, they’re at the heart of everything that we do. How the work comes into contact with them and what their experience of it is. And I think that comes from those 10 years of making life performances.”

Would You Like this Badge? was a project LOW PROFILE made in 2011 as their own love letter to Plymouth.

RD: “We wanted to get people thinking differently about this place that we’d moved to, fallen in love with, and wanted to celebrate. So we made a series of badges that had factual slogans about Plymouth.

“The badges said things like ‘Plymouth Twinned with Plymouth’, ‘Plymouth, Bigger than Reykjavik’ – stuff like that. The way we distributed them was by making friends with the landlords of five of our favorite pubs in Plymouth and providing them with these badges. Each badge would also have a map with it that showed you where the other four pubs were so you could get the other badges.

“You could only get the sixth badge in the series if you signed up to a special pub crawl. That badge said ‘Plymouth, the Spirit of Disco’ which we named after the signs being taken down at the time that said, ‘Plymouth, the spirit of discovery’. 

“People would graffiti out the ‘very’ and just leave ‘disco’. We thought that that was a really joyful assessment of what Plymouth could be and made a special badge to commemorate that.”

The badges were a way of sparking interesting conversations with wearers and they ended up in lots of different places. 

“Somebody got in touch to let us know that they had bought one of the ‘Plymouth, Bigger than Reykjavik’ badges to send to their friends who lived in Reykjavik,” says Rachel.

“A copy of the badges was bought by the museum, too. So then it becomes a historical event that can be redisplayed, or makes a comment about a certain moment in time.

“They’re a relatively disposable thing, and that’s another part of our work and our approach.

“We’re not making bronze statues or massive paintings that you then have to look after for a really long time. We’re making things that are temporal, they’re happening in time with other people.”

HR: ‘Often we’re thinking about how the work meets people within a real world context, outside of a constructed space for art.”

Low Profile at Plymouth Art Weekender 2020 at The Box. Picture by John Allen

DRUMROLL is an audio artwork LOW PROFILE made with drummer Richard Sharpe, who also composed the work. It was released on New Year’s Eve 2020 as a shared but distant listening experience.

‘The idea for DRUMROLL goes back to 2015. We made this work called Impromptu with  a Freddie Mercury impersonator called Gary Mullen. We were interested in the call and response that Freddie would do at Queen concerts, where he would sing and the crowd would sing back to him. We spent a long time researching footage and made a score from that,” adds Hannah.

Rachel and Hannah were interested in what it meant to come together to make a voice louder or work in unison. 

“We were also watching videos of people at football matches and stadium concerts doing different types of percussive noise-making through voice or drum, or sending waves through the crowd.

“In about 2017 we came up with the idea of a simple drum roll – which is usually something that’s performed solo, it’s not a thing that’s done en masse.

“So we were thinking, what if we take that one small musical flourish and amplify it to where that becomes something that is group effort, where people work together.”

Play Video Play Video

During a period of crowdfunded research and development, LOW PROFILE put out a call for drummers and Richie got in touch. 

“He’s in the military band and he’s amazing at what he does. As soon as we got him and his colleagues together, suddenly we were starting to see exciting things happen. 

“Initially we’d imagined it to be a live performance, but even pre-COVID there’s loads of logistics to manage. We started to think, what if it wasn’t live? 

“From that we got to thinking, it doesn’t even need to be installed, it could be online. Sharing it as an audio work would have a much broader, wider reach – which is what we ended up doing.”

RD: “Although the past year has been really disruptive and taxing, it’s also opened up a different way of doing things. We began thinking about how to create an event in a time when it’s impossible to get together.”

Rachel and Hannah could see that there would be this time when people normally get together on New Year’s Eve, so that set of circumstances opened up a time and a space for them to make something.

“We worked with a whole network of galleries, radio stations and other organizations around the country to reach strangers, people who had never heard of LOW PROFILE, who wanted to do something at this turn of the year time.”

People signed up to an Eventbrite event, and on New Year’s Eve, the artists sent out a link for people to download the audio of DRUMROLL along with an audio introduction.

“We had tons of people get back in touch, telling us that they felt it was important to know that there were 300 other people listening. Doing something at the same time as others became really meaningful.”

HR: “We’ve just commissioned Richie to make a score of the piece, because we want it to exist as a piece of music that could be re-performed. 

“In years to come, we might decide to present it as a live work and go back to that original idea with 8 drums in a room. That could happen now, because the documentation is there.”

For their year ahead, the artists are focused on nurturing their practice.

“We’ve been having mentoring with Ceri Hand, who’s brilliant. We want to take our interest in centering audiences across all of our outputs, including our website. And we’re making some smaller self-initiated work, predominantly for our artist shop.”

Looking to Plymouth’s future Hannah points to a need for affordable studio spaces and, critically, better support for grassroots activity in the city.

HR: “There’s work to do with infrastructure and how we can improve that to make it an easier and a more attractive place for people to be based.

“There’s a lot of precarious grassroots activity in the city that’s essential for the ecology of culture and needs supporting. Things like Contemporary Art Membership Plymouth (CAMP) and Visual Arts Plymouth.”

RD: “There are empty buildings in Plymouth that could be really well used by artists and people in the community – that would be another great thing. 

“And it would be amazing to see people who represent Plymouth really shouting about the talent that grows here in national situations and see the city demonstrate its pride for what happens here, too.”

HR: “A lot of residents in the city probably don’t know that there’s many artists or much culture here. Having better ways to communicate the cultural offer in the city is so needed.

“But people have become excited about Plymouth, the perception around the city is changing.”

What is it about living and working in Plymouth that attracts/keeps you here?

HR: “We’re really invested in this place, this is our home and we really love the city.

“There are amazing people doing stuff at grassroots level and within organizations. And a collective will to make stuff happen. Plymouth is just the right size that you can do that.

“We’re always encouraging people to move to Plymouth, that’s our ongoing quest! It’s just a great city. I mean, who doesn’t want to live by the sea and the moors?”

What’s the one thing you would recommend to an outsider visiting Plymouth?

HR: “Get some food from The Plot or The Clipper on Union Street and find out about the great work Nudge do. Once you’ve been there, you’ll find the other cultural offerings around that part of the city. 

“We’d be pushing any artists towards finding out about CAMP and encouraging them to join that network. It’s become an essential resource for artists’ professional development in the city and an amazing way to feel part of a network that extends into Devon and Cornwall.”

During a period of crowdfunded research and development, LOW PROFILE put out a call for drummers and Richie got in touch. 

“He’s in the military band and he’s amazing at what he does. As soon as we got him and his colleagues together, suddenly we were starting to see exciting things happen. 

“Initially we’d imagined it to be a live performance, but even pre-COVID there’s loads of logistics to manage. We started to think, what if it wasn’t live? 

“From that we got to thinking, it doesn’t even need to be installed, it could be online. Sharing it as an audio work would have a much broader, wider reach – which is what we ended up doing.”

RD: “Although the past year has been really disruptive and taxing, it’s also opened up a different way of doing things. We began thinking about how to create an event in a time when it’s impossible to get together.”

Rachel and Hannah could see that there would be this time when people normally get together on New Year’s Eve, so that set of circumstances opened up a time and a space for them to make something.

“We worked with a whole network of galleries, radio stations and other organizations around the country to reach strangers, people who had never heard of LOW PROFILE, who wanted to do something at this turn of the year time.”

People signed up to an Eventbrite event, and on New Year’s Eve, the artists sent out a link for people to download the audio of DRUMROLL along with an audio introduction.

“We had tons of people get back in touch, telling us that they felt it was important to know that there were 300 other people listening. Doing something at the same time as others became really meaningful.”

HR: “We’ve just commissioned Richie to make a score of the piece, because we want it to exist as a piece of music that could be re-performed. 

“In years to come, we might decide to present it as a live work and go back to that original idea with 8 drums in a room. That could happen now, because the documentation is there.”

For their year ahead, the artists are focused on nurturing their practice.

“We’ve been having mentoring with Ceri Hand, who’s brilliant. We want to take our interest in centering audiences across all of our outputs, including our website. And we’re making some smaller self-initiated work, predominantly for our artist shop.”

Looking to Plymouth’s future Hannah points to a need for affordable studio spaces and, critically, better support for grassroots activity in the city.

HR: “There’s work to do with infrastructure and how we can improve that to make it an easier and a more attractive place for people to be based.

“There’s a lot of precarious grassroots activity in the city that’s essential for the ecology of culture and needs supporting. Things like Contemporary Art Membership Plymouth (CAMP) and Visual Arts Plymouth.”

RD: “There are empty buildings in Plymouth that could be really well used by artists and people in the community – that would be another great thing. 

“And it would be amazing to see people who represent Plymouth really shouting about the talent that grows here in national situations and see the city demonstrate its pride for what happens here, too.”

HR: “A lot of residents in the city probably don’t know that there’s many artists or much culture here. Having better ways to communicate the cultural offer in the city is so needed.

“But people have become excited about Plymouth, the perception around the city is changing.”

What is it about living and working in Plymouth that attracts/keeps you here?

HR: “We’re really invested in this place, this is our home and we really love the city.

“There are amazing people doing stuff at grassroots level and within organizations. And a collective will to make stuff happen. Plymouth is just the right size that you can do that.

“We’re always encouraging people to move to Plymouth, that’s our ongoing quest! It’s just a great city. I mean, who doesn’t want to live by the sea and the moors?”

What’s the one thing you would recommend to an outsider visiting Plymouth?

HR: “Get some food from The Plot or The Clipper on Union Street and find out about the great work Nudge do. Once you’ve been there, you’ll find the other cultural offerings around that part of the city. 

“We’d be pushing any artists towards finding out about CAMP and encouraging them to join that network. It’s become an essential resource for artists’ professional development in the city and an amazing way to feel part of a network that extends into Devon and Cornwall.”

read more...

Untitled design (31)
Kate Ferguson is a singer-songwriter from Plymouth, who combines fingerstyle guitar with her unique soprano vocal range; resulting in an easy listening folk-pop inspired sound. On 17th July at The House in the University of Plymouth, she will be performing songs from her latest EP ‘The Liminal Lady’.
Untitled design (30)
Sue Lewry is a well known face in Plymouth; a printmaker, artist and educator. She is also known for making screen prints live at events inviting passers-by to jump into the print run, using her digitally fabricated and handcrafted mobile screen-printing workshop called Colossal.
Untitled design (17)
Jeremy and Grace are the newest members of a team of Music Ambassadors recruited by Plymouth Culture and tasked with developing a Music Action Plan and piloting music activity with the aim of making Plymouth into a gigging city.
Untitled design (30)
Dr. Smita Tripathi is a lecturer in Leadership and Human Resource Studies, Academic Lead of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Plymouth Business School and long standing Trustee of the South Asian Society of Devon and Cornwall and Member of the PTFA at DHSB.

Could you help Made in Plymouth?

Do you want to shout about the brilliant things you see in Plymouth?

Made in Plymouth wants you to share your stories.

We’re looking for paid Freelance Writers and Content Creators to contribute ideas and content to our platforms!