Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Week 6 at Wooda

Elspeth Owen came to Wooda for the final week of the residency, as did Debbi Purtill. Each morning Elspeth, Max, Debbi, Riccardo and I meditated for twenty minutes.

Meditation has become a very important part of my life ever since taking a course three years ago on Holy Isle with Alistair Appleton. I have kept in touch with Alistair since then and the emails he sent me during my time at Wooda helped me to focus the meditation sessions during this final week. In fact, one of my main aims of this residency was to further explore the relationship between meditation and creativity. I and the artists that I regularly work with use personal aspects of ourselves as a creative resource - drawing upon life experiences and deep seated emotions, and it takes great skill to employ these aspects successfully - it is very easy to fall into self-indulgence. Meditation has given me more tools to tap into myself in order to more fully encounter what lies within and creatively use the energy that this provides whilst keeping a healthy degree of objectivity. And I believe that through my meditation, with its inherent personal exploration, I am becoming a better facilitator of other people’s creative endeavours.

We followed each morning meditation with yoga. The yoga prepared Debbi and Riccardo for a day of dancing.

The main focus of the final week was for me to choreograph a live performance piece for Debbi and Riccardo. During this process they found a special compatibility as dance partners - they moved beautifully together enhancing the choreography considerably. I created a dance work in response to my time at Wooda and staged it in the fabulous interior structure of the barn studio. The movement utilised the different levels of the counterbalanced rostra, the windows and the recess in the floor. I created a film to accompany the movement and this was projected onto a screen at one end of the barn. In the evening the film and the dancers were reflected in the glass of the large windows, which gave the feeling that what was happening inside was being pushed outside, beyond the confines of the studio. We created a very organic dance piece in answer to the environmental changes I had experienced in the six weeks I had been at Wooda. I was also keen to explore within the work how we occupy the same moments in time but have independence and often find ourselves in different places to one another - emotionally as well as physically. Whilst wandering around the farm or working in the stable studio at Wooda, I would periodically hear Max practicing his piano playing and loved the juxtaposition that this had with the landscape and the sounds of the farm. I asked him if he’d be willing to play for the performance; he agreed and improvised beautifully around a Bach prelude. This gave a special added dimension to the work - it is always such a joy to have live music.

At the end of this week there was a planned sharing of all the work made during my time at Wooda. So, I had to ensure that there was time to pull together the different elements of the project. In the stable studio I reinstalled Lane - the work I’d created in collaboration with Trish O’Shea with the addition of images that Trish had had printed onto foam board and sent to me. I also decided to rework three of the ‘Weaves’ I had created earlier (see week 2) by attaching them to two old wooden chairs and a small broken stool. I wanted not only to have the acetate printed images of the ‘Weaves’ on show in Perspex boxes but felt the need for some of them to be present in their original form. The walks I took to gather the objects for the Weaves were taken at specific high and low water times. I had been curious to know where the artists who’d be joining me at Wooda were at those particular times and so had requested this information by text message. It felt right that the chairs and the stool not only became a resting place for the objects but should also give reference to where Trish, Debbi and Riccardo were at the corresponding times. Elspeth suggested I stencilled this information on the chairs and the stool, which worked beautifully. I felt that by using the furniture I’d made resting places for these different elements all linked by specific moments in time. It was as though I had woven together time, discarded objects and different locations and events. I had anchored them to the chairs and stool and by doing so the chairs and stool took on a role like that of a meditation cushion - seats where we witness our take on the past and the future as we try to allow ourselves to experience being in the present.

Guests were invited to view the artwork on the afternoon of the 9th March - Lane in the stable studio, the Weaves (chairs, stool and images in boxes) and two films in the barn studio. As darkness started to fall it was wonderful to be able to observe from the stable the projected films in the barn framed by the doorway - a lovely way to link the different elements of the work and the two studios. At 7pm we prepared the barn studio for the live performance and despite it being such a wet evening about twenty people witnessed, in what felt an intimate setting, Riccardo and Debbi’s beautiful dancing to film images and sounds collected from around Wooda and Max’s piano improvisation.

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