Breaking the silence – big, empty, noisy, cluttered

I have been very slack about writing. For those of you who follow this blog, my apologies. Every week for about the past two months, ‘write blog post’ has been on my ‘to do today/this week’ list. And that blog post has remained rather invisible…however, we have been working! ‘Is this a Waste Land?’ (ITAWL) seems to have gathered a remarkable collection of people towards it. Nearly two weeks ago 8 of us came together for a few days to explore some the ideas that have come up so far and bounce them around.

We talked, moved our bodies, played with rope, built things, climbed on them, fell through them and pulled them down. The crashing sounds still ringing in my empathetic body. We walked and ran and walked and held hands and realised how fun it was. We were reminded that working with the body is pretty profound.

We looked at abandoned sites and wondered about all the stuff that’s happened, all the people and their stories of those places. We watched the birds and the foxes and noticed what thrives in these left behind places. We thought about waiting for low tide to sneak onto the site of Convoy’s Wharf. According to the security guard, that’s the easiest way to get in. And then we spent a day in the forest (The woods where Stour Valley Arts will sadly soon cease to exist). We were silent a lot. Sometimes we closed our eyes and listened. It was the day of the Spring Equinox and although it was overcast, the birds knew that something was up, they were silent too. The space overwhelmed us and drew us together. We wondered why we are allowed on a tree farm but not any other kind of industrial site without permission?

Petra and Stephen and Kirsty built a little sitting room in the woods. It was all comfy and cosy and we didn’t want to pull it down. Kip and Tom and Bruno made some thing big and bold and boyish. Ben worked in the in between places. We didn’t want to leave. The emptiness and scale of Convoy’s Wharf felt similar to the clearings in the woods. It was like entering a void. A no man’s land.

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There is much much more to say. It has been hard to process and articulate, but there is more coming, from me and from some of the others. ITAWL seeks to embed it’s audience in the midst of the work and draw those people into close proximity with the space, themselves and everyone else who comes. As we start to mark out the terrain of ideas, activity and spaces that this venture might exist in, we are immediately considering how ‘audience’ is weaved through as an essential component, not an afterthought. It is a complex and inter-related but highly fascinating web of relationships.

The back bone is a quiet but persistent voice from within me asking, ‘yes, but where is the body in all of this?’, ‘what about embodiment?’, ‘what about the importance of touch?’, ‘what about the simple joys of running and feeling connected to others in your running?’

On which note, I am soon off for some cycling up and down the mountain roads of the pyrenees. Cycle Stories still ringing in my ears and urging me away from the computer to take up a life more lived outdoors.

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