Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Walking a story into itself

And so, after much driving and walking around West Yorkshire, I think I might have found the route for my commissioned walk for the Bear Hunting Festival. Obviously the process of decision making can't be completely smooth: we're still waiting to hear if the final section will actually be open to walkers at the end of October...

I ended up having quite a stringent set of criteria for it: a wish list I couldn't really expect to be fulfilled, that seemed to get longer every time I thought about the walk and the accompanying narrative that was building in my head. And while I vaguely knew West Yorkshire from previous work - Poet in Residence for Calderdale Libraries and my stint at Arc in Todmorden - there's nothing like peering at the contour lines and dotted lines on a map and then walking them to really get to grips with a place, and an idea.

I don't want to give too much away at this point as I'm not quite certain how the narrative will be told. Possibly as a series of poems, or prose poems rather than a continuous story, possibly through found objects, possibly as small spoken word performances...

What I do know if that I'm going to have to walk the route many times to get a feel for it in all weathers and light, to feed the story idea, to embed the story in my footsteps and the landscape, so that for all its rather fanciful potential the piece gains authenticity, roots in the valley, becoming a possibility, a likelihood rather than a bonkers flight of fancy. I'm sure I've said it on here before, but I love the Tibetan view that what can be imagined can also be true...

 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Come, Sit and Investigate

Work is progressing on the Time and Tide exhibition piece: a bureau acting as a memorial to those who died on the home front in Morecambe during WW1.

There'll be copies of a coroner's report we used during the project, people's written and spoken responses to the reports, maps, objects from the archives, casts of other objects and a commissioned poem from me. All these things will be tucked into the nooks, drawers and cupboards of the bureau for people to explore and consider the lives of those a hundred years ago. I went round to see what Lisa (of Two am press) had done so far, with a degree of nervousness - we had talked a lot about the project and people's writing and what we wanted to capture from it, but this would be the first time I was going to see her thoughts manifest into objects.

What I was most taken by - beyond the intimacy of the bureau - were the casts she had made of the some of the objects detailed in the reports.

What I love about these pieces is the stillness and peace that they conjure. Amongst all the objects, creative thoughts, words, stories and fragments of lives are these solid blocks of whiteness, that will provide the space for the explorer of the bureau to come to their own thoughts and feelings alongside everyone else's.

We're launching the bureau (and accompanying chair for the full experience) at the West End Festival in Regent's Park, Morecambe, this Saturday, 18th July, 12 - 4pm at the back of the cafe. I don't know how we'll fit with the energy of the festival, but I hope we will provide a small space of respite and meditation as well as celebration of all the work and energy that has arisen from the project.  

If you can't make the West End Festival, the bureau goes on tour around Morecambe Bay until Christmas this year

Venues / Dates
Heysham Library: 20th July-26th AugustMorecambe Library: 27th Aug- 30th SeptemberHest Bank Memorial Hall: 1st - 15th OctoberLancaster Library, Local History Section: 15th October- 14th November
Lancashire Archives, Preston: 16th November - 20th December