“…she’s such a mistress of precision mis-timings”

yournamelitupinneonlights (2006)

Stop-motion animation film work (6 mins)

An Arnolfini Breathing Space Commission.

Made in collaboration with filmmaker Graham Clayton-Chance.


yournamelitupinneonlights plunders children’s television and picture books, circus animal tamers, the Dadaist and Surrealist movements, silent films and amateur pantomimes. Surman places herself prosaically in a world of constructed make-believe, leaving parts of the set unfinished, and holding on to a childhood excitement of dressing-up.

Locating herself as the subject and object of her work, in the tradition of Bruce Nauman, Cindy Sherman and Yoko Ono, she places equal importance on the audience’s direct experience of the construction of the art object, as the constructed object itself.

I’ve for some time been making work which has attempted to examine the child’s imaginative world of play, and to mark it’s importance, loss or difficulty once we reach adulthood. In my earlier performance work, ‘White’, I spent a good deal of the process trying to find the concentration of children playing in their imaginary worlds. I think this naivety juxtaposed with knowingness is the delicate territory I hope to tread with the viewers of my work.  In ‘yournamelitupinneonlights’ I’m drawing on my experience of performing in the local panto, from age six to sixteen. I held small parts such a 2nd mouse, dragon and fairy to more substantial roles, peter pan, snow white and the wicked witch. The psychoanalysis needed to decode these influences is too complicated to go into here, but the suggestion that we cling to a scrambled reading of childhood stories is the point I’m interested in pursuing.”



yournameliteupinneonlights  yournamelitupinneonlights yournamelitupinneonlights


“Here Surman for the first time seeks to relocate the performing body in video, exploring ways of displaying her work in ways more akin to a gallery setting to which the audience can return over time.  In the making of the work, Surman performed to camera for over 50 hours. The resulting stop-frame animation gives the impression of the body striving to leave the screen. This tension between live and filmed performance will be explored by Surman throughout her BS commission.”

Helen Cole, Arnolfini/In Between Time


Director of Photography/Editor/Digital Post Production – Graham Clayton-Chance
Animation Supervisor – David Griffin
Sound – Alfredo Genovesi
Set Realization – Stacy Matthews
Gaffer – Simon Ross
Set Painters – Catherine Hoffman, Amy Marletta, Gary Winters
Carpenter – Stephen Murray
Make-up – Maureen Manley, Lee Wilson
Runners – Kevin Wrattern, Silje Silden, Meryl Gilbert, Sarah Little, Amanda Neill, Shannon O’Neill and Sharon Wilson