Part Three: Follow the Stone
Root and Route
One theme that emerged while creating this work was the sense of ‘being present whilst collecting memory’. It placed the past and future in the vessel of the present. I explored running/walking routes and landed on a route from home to Marshside along the old sea wall and back through the streets where some of the oldest cottages in Southport are located. I discovered the location of a disused aerodrome, next to a golf course. I went down alleyways and cut-throughs, cul-de-sacs and locked-down playgrounds. I followed a stone that represented my current state and creativity. And of course the place that is home – my house – two rooms: the front room, which is my work and meditation room, and the kitchen, a daily routine room.
I considered working in the garden and I considered “The Strays” (residential woodland nearby) but I was happy to edit these sites out of the work this time around. It is important to note what is left out.
“Strata prioritises ‘location’ and recognises the different types of movement that different locations afford us: both in terms of our movement vocabulary and in terms of the memories and associations that each location evokes for us and how those memories may connect with our ‘here and now’.”
Objects and their symbolic power to whisper
In particular the work with stones created a structure that helps document my creative journey and assists the current creative state and statement. They act as physical instructors/facilitators/permission givers and help structure time.
Where did the stone come from?
There is a key work I think this piece emerges from which marked in 1996/97 a key change in my life moving from solo to collaborative work.
In 1996 I created an autobiographical work My Sister My Angel. This work was short-lived like my baby sister Melanie who lived just three weeks and who died in 1971. Her passing marked a rift between my mum and dad resulting in their divorce two years later. I talk about this in the podcast I did for Per Stellas. This work is a key touchstone for the current development. It featured sibling stones.
I am interested in the way patterns in our early relationships play out in life with institutions and with people. Through deep work I have begun to recognise relational patterning. The patterning in our relationships on so many levels is formed by those early familial relationships I have come to realise.
In My Sister, My Angel Melanie was represented by a large stone. Towards the end of the piece, I carried this stone on my back as I made a ritual on the sea’s edge which formed one of the imagined sites for this studio piece. Five other stones had represented my siblings and me. I was playing all my family members and various others involved in the story.
The small egg like stone I am working with in Follow the Stone, takes on the qualities, sensations and fragmentary memory from the autobiographical work leading back to that time of transition on and through Little Blue Man terrain and forward into ‘the now’ in Southport and particularly Marshside.
I find myself re-visiting old feelings, experiences and grief I thought I had put away. Since finding this route I walk it about three times each week and some weeks everyday. It forms an extended journey or a shortened version.
Throwing the stone
I have rediscovered hopscotch and skipping connected to my child self that was free of worry and family responsibility working with the stones in my room. I remember the children’s playground of my childhood, the pathway where hopscotch and roller skating worked best and my relationship with trees at that time, nature and walking – escaping home with our dog Sid early in the morning – disappearing for hours on end. I am amazed that still some 40 or so years later I still keenly sense this space in my memory and body.
Why does it always have to be about the past?
I have a habit of looking back, living and re-living past, remoulding past, revisiting past. My creative work has been full of past histories. I am obsessed with family trees and the potential of connections but I am finding this is reborn in listening and noticing connections when walking now as I am opening to other stories behind houses and between walls in this new place.
What emerges through this weaving and acceptance of memory is an acceptance of the present through route, location, transition, historical enquiry, layering the land, trespassing, confronting prohibition, following secret pathways, embracing fear of loss, just breathing, and strong sensations of anger and frustration. These things seem to form on-going way-markers that I find through throwing the stone rather than carrying it on my back as I did in My Sister, My Angel. The stone gives me choices and takes me out of myself towards a collision with chance and a quiet acceptance of now and then, past and future.
“I see transformation as a release from conditionings, which permits fresh choices rather than compulsive behaviours….
How each movement evolves in the present moment will condition each person’s possible futures. It is this attitude to the moving ‘organism-in-the-environment’ that informs my practice of ecological movement. Implicit within this view is transformation as an on-going process”.
 https://www.moveintolife.com/thesis-transformation.html accessed 14 July 2020
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshside_RSPB_reserve accessed 11 August 2020
[3 https://www.moveintolife.com/thesis-transformation.html accessed 14 July 2020