BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO ALBANIA, ALASTAIR KING-SMITH HANDS OVER GIFT OF ALBANIAN
LANDSCAPE PAINTING BY ELLA SPIRA MBE TO ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER EDI RAMA
MARKING 100 YEARS OF UK-ALBANIA FRIENDSHIP
TUESDAY 5th OCTOBER 2021
Alastair King-Smith, newly-arrived British Ambassador to Albania, called today on Prime Minister Edi Rama. Commenting after the meeting, Alastair said “It was a great privilege to signal how we plan to broaden and deepen the UK’s relationship with Albania by handing over such a stunning painting of the Shala river by British artist Ella Spira MBE. The painting captures the beauty and attraction of Albania – a fantastic tourist destination that few have explored. It was gifted in recognition of how Albanians have shown such generous hospitality to so many people in need over the years, most recently those escaping violence in Afghanistan. I was honoured to explain to the Prime Minister how the artist and her business partner were planning to expand their ground-breaking Art in Nature Global programme to Albania, which he warmly welcomed”.
Spira, a British Grammy nominated composer, painter and co-founder of production company Sisters Grimm, created the painting ‘Shala River’ in situ in the Albanian Alps. “The purpose of the painting is to celebrate the natural beauty of Albania with an underlying message of environmentalism, providing a new platform to discuss political relations.”
In 2009 Spira co-founded Sisters Grimm, with former Royal Ballet ballerina Pietra Mello Pittman MBE, with the mission to produce work that is relevant, driven by social impact, cultural exchange, collaboration, equality, diversity, inclusion & environmental awareness
Spira’s work includes award-winning world touring live theatre productions, music videos with millions of YouTube hits, NFT’s and global landscape series.
Every painting is a celebration of a journey that has seen cultural explorations and musical collaborations. The artworks are intended to draw awareness to and inspire protection of natural landscapes.
The gesture of friendship is especially poignant to Spira, a third generation holocaust survivor who having been in Albania learnt of Besa, Albania’s code of honor, compassion, loving-kindness, hospitality and desire to help those in need, and the role Albania played in saving thousands of Jews during Nazi Invasion and the holocaust.
Spira is also honoured for the artwork to be included in the next publication of the encyclopedia, ‘Albanians in World Art’ by foremost Art Historian Prof. Ferid Hudhri who is also the head of the “Edward Lear’s friends” Association and a contributor to the Butrint Foundation archive.
Sisters Grimm intend for this to be the beginning of a life-long relationship with Albania:“Having discovered the magic of Albania, we’re already looking at musical collaborations and launching ‘Art in Nature Global’ here.”
To date, Spira has captured landscapes of countries including the UK, France, UAE, Indonesia, Brazil, Lapland, Russia – and now Albania joins the list of countries with whom Sisters Grimm are collaborating.
The UAE series titled ‘50 for 50’ was presented at Dubai Opera as a spectacular immersive Sisters Grimm production called ‘Daughters of the Wind Overture’.
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Grammy nominated British composer, painter and theatre producer Ella Spira MBE who was born and raised in Gloucester, England, comes from a long line of artistic heritage from her Grandfather, Emile Spira who was a Jewish refugee from Poland, a pianist and composer and both Ella’s parents being fine artists, her mother a landscape painter whose work has been exhibited in the West of England Royal Academy and her father who is an abstract artist and was a significant Senior Lecturer at University.
She 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 favour 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.
In 2009 Spira co-founded Sisters Grimm, with former Royal Ballet ballerina Pietra Mello Pittman MBE, with the mission to produce work that is relevant, driven by social impact, cultural exchange, collaboration, equality, diversity, inclusion & environmental awareness.
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 globall reach of 200million.
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.
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 7000 beneficiaries to date of their social impact and outreach programmes 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 2020 during the global pandemic, Ella created NFT’s and co-wrote and released 5 new music videos from Sisters Grimm’s new Arab World Show. These have now had over 9 million YouTube views.
This year Ella and Pietra were each honoured with an MBE in the 2021 New Years Honours List for services to International Trade and the Creative Industry.
This year on 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 olds be seen by 3.5 million people worldwide.