Take Five with Akila Richards
8 Mar 2022
Akila Richards is a Sussex-based award-winning writer, poet and spoken word artist, and one of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s In-House Artists. The scheme supports local artists develop their own creative work and provide input into Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival programming. We spoke to Akila about her latest work, Rest My Resistance, and plans for her In-House Artist residency at Brighton Dome.
Can you tell us more about the idea of Rest My Resistance and what plans you have for your residency workshops?
Rest My Resistance is a response to the impact of Black Lives Matter and Covid19 - how bereavement, isolation and overwork has resulted in physical and mental illness and utter exhaustion. Rest My Resistance believes that resting internally and externally is a portal into dreaming and manifesting a liberated future into the here and now. That leads us away from a ‘grind and dominant’ culture.
The range of events and experiences is for people of all backgrounds to find various ways of ‘Deep Rest’ by laying down, being allowed to grieve, experiencing physical and mental release via Movement Medicine and yoga, creating agency in artistic resistance, writing it all down and creating belonging with whatever emerges.
What do you hope people will take away from participating?
To recline, lean in, lay down and rest more. This is not an easy task once the intention that ‘rest is a form of resistance’ becomes clear. Resting as resistance has long been practiced by communities and individuals as a refusal in the face of deadly exploitation, hate and dominance. If people take away inspiration that resting saves lives and then begin to rest, then welcome to your freedom. Rest My Resistance is NOT about resting in order to grind harder – this is a false resilience. Rest My Resistance is a commitment to unravel and peel back the veneers in our lives.
How has Brighton Dome’s In-House Artists Scheme supported your work as an artist?
The scheme is a crucial opportunity to test out Rest My Resistance in artistic and creative ways, and in collaboration with a range of innovative artists and practitioners. It’s a wild ride and a full immersion into what started as a long-held idea. I hope that the hard-working staff of the Dome get to experience rest as their enormous support makes all the difference. Producers, marketing, admin and tech staff – I see and appreciate you! I love that I am part of a cohort of In-House Artists to bounce ideas back and forth and meet to inform and enlighten each other’s work.
What can people expect from the work of Akila Richards in the future?
To develop Rest My Resistance into more public and also private intimate experiences and events. I also have a ton of other ideas that will involve local communities and people and to work with local artists on these. I’d particularly like to develop some of the emerging strands from experimentation to build legacy and form deeply connected encounters in different settings. As I have international contacts, I would like to test out Rest My Resistance abroad to see how it resonates in different contexts. My eyes have been opened to the beautiful responses by the local artists and communities who’ve made it happen. I thank you.
Finally, can you recommend some of your favourite local artists we should have on our radar?
Bishop Tricia Hersey from Nap Ministry, based in the US, deeply informs my work and I bow to her practice and wisdom. The artists I work with and highly recommend are Adriana Lord, Josephine Hall, Theo Canham-Spence, Mella Wella, Olga Lidia Saavedra Montes de Oca, AmaSu, Tanushka Marah, Catherine Nana Yaa Appiah Lucktaylor. Also, Alinah Azadeh, Dulani Kulasinghe, Sheila Auguste, Jenny Arach, Yvonne Canham-Spence, Razia Azia, Mrisi Makondo Wills, Maria Amidu, Phati Mnguni, Sea Sharp, Edi Mandla, Amy Solis, Ouwafemi Hughes Jonas, Joyoti Grech Cato, Jade Hilton, Jenni Lewin-Turner, Ebou Touray, Sarah Lee, Georgina Park, Zaid S Sethi, Georgina Aboud, Jenny Williams…there are more.