It’s the end of our first year of working together as sparky foursome Niels, Flo, Greta and Jo; a good time for some gratitude and reflection from our side.

Thanks to our amazing family of collaborators and supporters, we have worked on more than 30 projects this year that have allowed us to establish ourselves as a local creative studio and have all 4 of us on payroll (yay!). One of the main aims of The Amber Spark is to build a supportive structure for our own creativity and we feel that the decision to pool all of our work together and pay ourselves equal wages has been a main contributor to this stability. Moving away from the lone freelancer mindset to one built on collaboration, support and joint decision making has allowed us to increase our resilience and independence, develop our group process, learn loads from each other and make the most out of our diverse points of view and skills.

Screenshot - The Amber Spark

We launched our website www.theamberspark.com as an ongoing way of sharing our work and process.  Facebook and Instagram have also been part of our way of documenting work.

Workshops have been present throughout the year, starting off with a silkscreen printing session in conjunction with Te Fit-Tazza that led to us creating a video about their creative process.

Looking back at the year, the things we have worked on have been wonderfully diverse. Things like graphic design and choreography for Utopian Nights  and writing and graphic design with Fleeting Territories: Mapping Malta.

Fleeting Territories - Mapping Malta - The Amber Spark

We collaborated with artist collective Fleeting Territories on the production of three different A1 maps that shared a common back. The maps form part of the Valletta 2018 contemporary art exhibition Dal-Bahar Madwarha and were also pasted in public space as part of an outdoor intervention. Photo: Johannes Buch.

Dance Studies Tour Photoshoot - The Amber Spark
Dance Studies Tour Photoshoot - The Amber Spark

Niel’s photos for Third Year University of Malta Dance Studies Students’ Tour. Using a theatre space allowed him to play with light and shadows, to use the smoke machine to create an ethereal environment around the dancers as they worked hard to bring out the best shots. Photos by Niels Plotard.

The Amber Spark - Whatroledoyouplay with SOS Malta

There were also dance collaborations with choreographer Lucia Piquero including  #weSpeakLifeSir and Eigenlicht and video interview projects with SOS Malta, Friends of the Earth and Social Impact Awards. These have put us in touch with some amazing initiatives and people based locally which have energised us and helped us feel connected. We also really enjoyed being part of and facilitating panels with Time’s Up, Fashion Revolution Malta, St Martin’s College Sixth Form and Studio 18.

Niels and Flo in Eigenlicht by Lucia Piquero. Photos by Emma Tranter taken during rehearsal.
Niels and Flo in Eigenlicht by Lucia Piquero. Photos by Emma Tranter taken during rehearsal.

Niels worked on sound design projects for Antonin Rioche’s dance productions Oh Boy! and The Others in The Hague, WAYT in Geneva and Lignin Stories’ Sansuna and the Carob Tree. Below is Niels’ microphone setup for The Others which had dancers triggering actions in the sound, shown here on the main stage of Korzo theatre at The Hague. Niels was doing Sound Design and Technical direction while Flo was dancing.

The Others - The Amber Spark
Niels’ workstation at the room he was staying in while working on sound design for WAYT in Grütli, Geneva.
The Amber Spark - Vanishing Valletta exhibition
Instagram posts from the social media campaign for David Pisani’s Vanishing Valletta exhibition.

We’ve had long term and still ongoing projects with Romy Foods with Greta doing copywriting and consultancy as well as with photographer David Pisani working on his online communication as well as the campaign for his current exhibition documenting the city of Valletta over a 30 year period from 1982 to 2011 titled Vanishing Valletta.

The resulting collaborative zine from The Nightly Build: The Bridge workshop facilitated by Jo. Photography and gif by Manifold.

Workshops have been present throughout the year and we want to practice more of creative ways of teaching in the coming years. Jo collaborated with Manifold and Salt in Istanbul to create a mini zine workshop The Bridge (documentation in Turkish) as part of The Nightly Build during the closing activities of the series Jeff Talks. Another open call for Nightly Build just closed and the production of zine #13 is in the making.

Flo has been active with facilitating and organising a number of contemporary dance and movement sessions at Nicky’s Dance Studio, Moveo Dance Company, The Dance Workshop, Deborah McNamara School of Dance, Sanya Eco Spa and University of Malta Dance Faculty where Florinda holds regular sessions that are also open to the public (contact her to join). We ended the year with a final workshop on Animal Flow led by Julienne and Aaron with Niels providing live tunes.

Left: Keith, Jure and Flo. Photo by Niels.
Right: Flo with Moveo Dance Company
Right: Flo with Moveo Dance Company

The creative contemporary workshops were mainly geared at sharing tools to facilitate real-time choreography, a form of improvisation based on sequences conscious choices that allow dancers to recognise habits and inject a more varied movement vocabulary into their work. The sessions also involved composing choreographic events in solos, small groups and large groups, with a focus on tools for communication within these different scenarios.

Florinda did movement consultation for the filming of female rock duo Fuzzhoneys’ music video, Candy. The end result was a testament to the wonderful teamwork that happened, as well as Francesca’s spot-on direction and Jack Hayter’s impeccable cinematography.

Greta and Jo assisted artist Margerita Pule with her Cement Truck Procession

Greta and Jo assisted artist Margerita Pule with her Cement Truck Procession, a ceremonial walk leading a cement truck through the streets of Sliema on Sunday 4th November. Still from video documentation by Karl Andrew Micallef.

Looking back at all this, we’re extremely grateful to everyone who has shown so much trust in us and supported us to be part of such wonderful and worthy projects. We’re not going to lie, financially and logistically it has not always been easy and we have missed having local support networks for our work and have a long term aim of helping to build these. Having said that,  we are very proud of what we have contributed to over the year and look forward to building on this and using our experience of working on such diverse projects to be a little more strategic with our direction. We sometimes lose ourselves along the way and recognise this in order to bring ourselves back to our ethos: creativity.

Towards the end of the year, we have been recognising overlaps between things we are good at, things we love to do, things that are of benefit to us and the people around us, and things that bring us an income – helping us to move forward with these things in mind and build new goals for the new year.

Thank you so much for being part of this, we are very excited about what we can all create together.

The Sparkians & Minka the Cat

✨💫✨

Minka the cat - The Amber Spark