Is this a Waste Land? Research starting…

I have embarked on some research for a new performance project – Is this a Wasteland? The ideas are rooted in journeys, places, thoughts, tastes, images whilst cycling in 2013 with our project, Cycle Stories. We wove our way by bike through all kinds of spaces that usually get by-passed by motorways, railway routes and our general haste. Observing the spilling of cities and their waste and that meeting point with nature triggered the idea for this new project. Last winter I sat with these new thoughts quietly in the mountains in Spain and wondered what to do.

Projects seem to make themselves known to me slowly; long gestation before much activity or enough conviction that this might be a good idea. I had hoped to make a solo or a duet. Something really tiny, intricate, simple. But apparently artistic ideas can’t be packaged so neatly against economic requirements. The idea came wanting 7 maybe 8 performers, a big abandoned site with interesting architectural ‘stuff’ on it and a pile of rusting waste. The idea asked a really huge question that I don’t how to answer. 

And so I sat on the fence for several months, feeling tired at the prospect and half hoping that the idea would go away and that something neat and lovely and small would come in its place.

It didn’t.

So with the persuasion/encouragement from Liz Lerman and a wonderful bunch of artists gathered at The Point in Eastleigh last July, I realised that I just needed to get to work. The idea wanted me to work on it, and I passionately cared about the idea.

I started talking about it and writing about it and fundraising for it, and now the research has officially begun.

I am still trying to convince myself that this research, is just for research sake. And that our conclusion at the end of it might be that the project doesn’t make sense, has failed, is crap, won’t work etc, that I’m not already imagining how the final work might be. But naturally my head has already leapt ahead not knowing quite where it’s leaping to. I’m in for the long haul – let’s hope it’s good!


How can we live with simplicity in these complex and interconnected times?

What about

It can be overwhelming. I’ve started by making maps and building things and sharing a studio with Antonia Grove so that I have someone to talk to, compare notes with. She’s also just started a research period for a new Probe Project. We’re both at the beginning and it’s less lonely, less scary with someone else’s presence.

Creativity, community, sharing, re-skilling, simplifying, finding new economic systems of exchange and resource are repeating themes in the quest for possible futures in times of environmental crisis. Is this a Waste Land? seeks to become an active contributor of that quest.

Pictures coming soon…

The Supper Room

It was a real pleasure to be invited by Greenwich Dance to curate the first in their new series of Supper Room evenings, and it provided us with the opportunity to share the experience of our project, Cycle Stories from 2013. Several people told me that The Supper Room at Greenwich Dance on 17th January felt like a wedding. I think that’s a good sign! I wanted to created an informal atmosphere of exchange, celebration and playfulness – I think weddings have many of those qualities. Lots of friendly familiar faces arrived mixed in with plenty of new ones, combined with delicious food, great music and a touch of the extraordinary. Little clues took people to different parts of the room to investigate, explore, perhaps discover something new.

Tristan, Tom and Bruno played live music all evening, Janine Harrington and Elodie Escarmelle did a remarkable job of keeping time throughout the evening with Janine’s human clock installation and Alex Moran served up close to 80 plates of food (without a kitchen!) with an army of serving helpers from Greenwich Dance. People looked like they were having a good time (but perhaps they were pretending!). We all watched Cycle Stories – the film, on a big screen, for the first time. I know that it was a little nerve-wracking for David (our filmmaker) – I guess a similar sensation to watching the first public performance of a new choreographic work – it’s surprisingly hard to watch and relax… But I, for one, watched it filled with happy memories and nostalgia for that wonderful, exhausting, crazy project that it was. That evening was the first time that all of the CSP team who worked on Cycle Stories were in the same room together again, and it reminded me how privileged I was to have had such a talented and committed group of artists working with me.

I think that is plenty of gushing for now – it starts to sound like an emotional wedding speech, so I will stop and save that for a different moment! Thank you to Kat Bridge and everyone at Greenwich Dance for having us. I think I can let Alicia Clarke’s pictures tell the rest of the evening. Until next time…


Dear UKBA – from Jennifer

Dated: Future-ly, 21.07.13

Dear UKBA, Home Secretary and minions of:

I have been a virtual traveller for the past 3.5 weeks.

I know that you have prohibited my travel outside the UK by ‘retaining’ (greedily keeping it for yourself, ahem… don’t you have enough passports in your collection yet?) my passport; however, I am pleased to announce that I have now mastered the art of astral projection and have been maintaining a steady presence through France these past three weeks.

Mainly, I have been taking up a very small amount of space in a camera. This is ideal, as I then don’t have to deal with the inevitable explanations regarding my lack of visibility in the images themselves. I am of course somewhat at the mercy of David’s curiosity, interest and skill (! really, he should stick to the poetry), which means that I miss the other’s perspectives – but perhaps everyone would have wanted to document the different spiders at close range. As well as the close-up with the cow… well. I had never imagined their breath would smell so sweetly!











There are a few drawbacks: I’m afraid I don’t feel the same weight of work in my legs as the others… and given the tenuous position of my immigration status in this country, similar to finding myself on a tightrope stretched over an abyss, I do miss the earthiness and heaviness 6 hours of cycling brings. I feel I need heavy legs at the moment. Maybe if they get heavy enough, I’ll be earthbound forever… no plane will fly me and boats will sink under my tread, thus ensuring my continued residency in the UK.  But perhaps I need to be lighter, nimble  enough to dash across the rope to the other side… or back the way I’ve come (even though I don’t fancy my chances doing an about-turn on such a narrow platform, ballet school notwithstanding).

I had tried to mirror the efforts of the group from afar, cycling from London to Cambridge (68 miles) and Cambridge to Peterborough (39 miles). This was very successful in creating shared space in different places, via SMS – but also, simply trusting that we were each doing what the other was from afar – a potent psychological space. For reasons specific to my situation (that of not-knowing my fate and wanting to be available should I need to access the many documents necessary to help determine it), I took the train from Peterborough to Leeds to be physically present with the tightrope, keeping tension on the line.

I feel a certain fragmentation: this is clearly part of the astral projection, but also to do with my projection into the camera. I am not privy to the whole of the landscape, its integrity, the roundness of 360… the aperture here is made up of 90 degree angles. I wonder if you can relate to this in your roles as caretakers (cartographers) of immigration? How do you feel about the aperture of ILR Form Set(O) as a way to understand my desire to remain in the UK? Does it give you enough scope? I fear it might be flat, in the way two-dimensional things are. I fear it fails to account for the roundness of my existence here. I fear it fails to address the roundness this country is for me.

I suppose this notice of refusal shows that it has failed; hence I will plead my case in the full three-dimensions. Hopefully, when we see each other face to face, rather than through these 90 degree angles, we’ll be able to reach an understanding.

Video from The Point

A little video edit made by the team at The Point, Eastleigh – quick glance at the project so far – what’s been happening… Cycle Stories and Walking Stories in process! Take a peak


Walking Stories

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