Mapping a New direction in a Creative Journey: Follow the StonePart One
Then and Now
Here follows a series of posts reflecting on recent creative explorations I have been making.
These reflections coincide with a podcast I was invited to do recently for Per Stellas and an invitation to facilitate and direct students in a creative project we are calling Just Walk, at a time when I have been making my own walking project: Follow the Stone at home during the various stages of Lockdown we have been experiencing recently. Here is the first part of my reflection:
“Taking ‘change’ as home ground suggests an approach to life which acknowledges the potential for transformation.”
In 2010 I moved to Southport – it was a big change and meant having a reduced network for my creative work presenting me with a challenge to try to find new ways to work within different networks. Since moving and embracing that big move my creative work has consequently transformed considerably.
For a long time I have sought a relationship with this new landscape along the Sefton coastline, reminiscent of the flatness of Denmark from my Odin Teatret days, conjuring for me Dutch dyked landscapes in illustrated stories from early childhood reading. Now I literally live near fields of water, near the marsh, the amazing ‘green beach’, in Southport. As a child I lived near Wyken Slough – a pool of water created through local coal mining located just beyond the field where I played and began my first independent journeys solo with the family dog, Sid.
Almost 10 years in Southport after living most of my life in my hometown Coventry has meant much change: a different way of working, less formalised performance, a lack of knowledge of locally-based community participants to work with, becoming a Labour Councillor and a need to find the kind of relationship to place I had in Coventry.
In 2011 I began working alongside movement practitioner Sandra Reeve, and this led to the forming of Little Blue Man (2015) over a period of three years as I came to terms with my Dad’s death in 2009. The piece was finally formed from the Dorset landscape – the sea, the cliffs, the pebbled beach and the meadowland around Wootton Fitzpaine’s village hall where Sandra practices. Next to my studio piece My Sister, My Angel (1996) it is the closest to performed autobiography I have created. It represents a merging of the interior studio and the outdoor ever-shifting space. The two works have similar terrain: navy club, chapel, beach, home.
“What’s it about in 20 words? what’s it about in 50 words? What’s it about in a 100 words? Can you tell me in 10 or perhaps in 5? Tell me what it’s about. Tell me what it’s about.”
(Extract from ‘Follow the Stone’ 2020)
Change and home ground have been key factors for me during the Covid-19 lockdown; and the demise of the promise the Labour Left offered. I was one who threw my lot in with Jeremy Corbyn. The failure of this left me bereft, and all at sea. Also, Covid-19 cut me off from my poorly mum, which proved complicated as I learn to come to terms with her gradual disappearance through Alzheimer’s.
So during Lockdown I developed Follow the Stone created again on one of Sandra’s courses. It came at the right time. I had time to dedicate to it. I am repositioning myself. I am in transition. I am now consciously aware of the way I am working now.
I have questions: How do I keep my artwork alive? How do I proceed with the political work? How do I engage with my virtually new – in comparison to Coventry – home ground? I have long wanted to really connect with my ‘new’ home.
Feeling more acutely in transition and rootless here in Southport the question has always been: Should I stay or should I go? If I stay, which way should I go?
“Transition /position offered a way of exploring the difference between going and staying. Should I stay or should I go? Do I leave or do I put down roots?”
At the outset of the Virtual Strata course Sandra asked at the first session what we were hoping to explore. She asked if we had any kind of statement we wanted to make. I recall being quite straight to the point in not wanting to be airy-fairy but wanting to return to basics and to simplicity. I wanted an uncomplicated route through the course. I was resisting ‘performed’ performance and seeking a quieter expression. I had been running, walking and meditating a lot so I was keen that Virtual Strata would support that. I love the basics of Joged Amerta Movement.
Sandra also asked as part preparation for the course that we should write three times after moving.
I also wrote twice during the course.
 https://www.triarchypress.net/embodied-lives-prapto-timeline.html accessed 11 August 2020
 Reeve, Sandra Transition and Position https://www.moveintolife.com/thesis-transition-and-position.html accessed 14 July 2020