Thursday, 10 March 2016
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
I can’t believe we’ve been RE: MAPPING at Hanham for six weeks! It’s gone so quickly yet we’ve achieved so much. Not least the amazing bonds and friendships that have emerged throughout our time together. And wow, this group know what they want! I was quite nervous about pulling all the work together this week and going forward with a plan for the residency sessions but I needn’t have been. We have a clear idea of what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve it. I can’t possibly give away any secrets but let's just say, if you join us on the 16th March for our showing of work you’ll be treated to glimpses of Things You Wouldn't Expect to See in the Library’....
For the next few weeks I will be in residency in Hanham library building on the work that we have created over the last six weeks.
Here is a visual taster of what we did this week!
Tuesday, 9 February 2016
We come up with a working title: Things You’d Never Expect to See, About Me, in a Library
The morning’s session is personal and intimate - the afternoon’s session is packed with people but contains unexpected insights too.
We start to think about the performance we are making together and about the upcoming residency. We make little books (one for each participant) detailing things we have loved seeing.
We wonder: How do we embed the performance so it has to take place in a library; What would happen if we played the “Tail’s Game? or re-staged some of the blindfold leading
Whether we could provide insight to “what I’m thinking on the inside”; is there something symbolic to stand if for something I’d like to do?
We’d like to see: the cookie monster; a mix of crazy subversive actions and personal moments (the pen, the chain)
We talk with Ella about developing a performative moment - might it be something in sign language (something we might not expect of her)
We discuss things they thought I’d never do: give up drinking, get married, work with the public, write a book
In the afternoon we share sage-like proverbs including:
When anytime you are feeling blue, look, no act, happy.
If I should get away I will happily run wild
A trouble is often doubled every time you don’t talk
We share unexpected things about ourselves firstly with each other and then we develop them into performances and conversations
I travelled to New Zealand on my own - it took 3 days to get there
I went to an international football match
I jumped off a cliff
I drove a racing car
I’ve saved someone from drowning 3 times in my life
I learned to drive at 13
I’m a secret poet
I play the cello
I sing kareoke - it’s like an old englishman’s sing-along
I like to bounce all over the place
I learned to drive in my late 50s - then I’d go anywhere
I used to be a bus driver - I wasn’t very well behaved - I liked to drop the oldies to their doors! There were 5 men and me on the test - guess who passed?
I take long walks
Wednesday, 27 January 2016
Hanham Blog Four
A cat’s whisker in a mobile phone case
A crystal with healing powers
A pen handcrafted by a late husband
A wedding ring
A set of keys
Last week I asked the group to each bring object of personal significance to today’s session.
Through a series of exercises we learned of their relevance and the stories behind the objects.
Tender, funny, sad; the group shared performance moments and again the participants grew in trust and understanding of one another.
In thinking more about our alternative tours we mixed fantasy and reality and explored questions of audience, shared experience and truth.
Somewhere in the library:
A woman searches frantically for her keys. They represent her freedom.
A man hands out homebrew to the audience whist reminiscing about mixing alcohol with cheap jam
A woman in overalls shouts from the roof where she is working
A man cuts out a pattern for short trousers as a wartime tune plays softly in the background
Our tours are intimate, otherworldly,anarchic and beautiful.
I can’t wait to see what emerges in the next two weeks.
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Hanham Blog Three
Creating work new work always excites me, it ignites my passion and curiosity. It is why I do what I do. Working with others in this process is the other reason. Glimpsing moments, possibilities and grappling with the seeds of ideas is thrilling, and a real privilege. Facilitating these ideas to develop, change and intertwine is even more exciting. On a project like this it is always hard for me to live by my motto of ‘Trust the Process’ as, well, people understandably like to know what they are getting themselves into (or funding, or investing in, or promoting etc) but yet again, this trust, sprinkled with a hefty dose of bravery, exuberance, trust and laughter from the groups has paid off. It’s week three and a corker of an idea for the year's work is shaping up in our collective imaginations!
I am always amazed at how quickly our RE:MAPPING groups come together and form a sense of togetherness. Strangers on week one, sharing secrets on week two, holding hands by week three!! Following on from the outrageous tour of the library last week (I’m not sure whether I am eternally grateful or bitterly disappointed that Vivi, our documenter was not there last week!) we began to think about other types of tour using the library as our site.
Inspired piece of work by Rosanna Cade called Walking:Holding
https://rosanacadedotcom.wordpress.com/projects/walkingholding/ we discussed our thoughts about creating personal material, respecting eachother’s contributions and our responsibility to eachother, leading onto and how we could present work in very different ways from what might be expected of us. On the impromptu suggestion of a member of the group I threw my notes for the rest of the session away and we did some Walking:Holding of our own, enjoying casual conversation, unexpected intimacy and joyful communication.
In the afternoon we each conducted mini tours based around items we had on our person, learning more about each other and what we might like to present at the end of our time together. We explored the library through sensory tours and discovered what surprising things happen when we slow down, use our senses to guide us and allow ourselves moments of togetherness.
Tuesday, 19 January 2016
We started the session with a few name games to warm us up and once everyone was laughing the performance began:
An un-named individual clad in metallic blue spandex raged through the library performing lewd sex acts, wrestling (in what can only be described as amateur in style) and littering, before storming out the building and setting off a dangerous weapon in the doorway (a glitter cannon none-the-less).
Liz and Lucy created this performative tour of the library (with Zoe's support and performance!) based on the list of 'No Ways for The Library' compiled by the participants the week before. There were hoots of laughter and lots of words of encouragement including (from one participant):
The library is often such a staid place it was great to see something risky it it
Inspired by last week - Linda shared some personal stories about what she enjoys doing at home to relax.
And then it was the participants turn to create a performative tour. This time it was to be a one on one sensory experience ...
The sensory tour created some beautiful and trusting pairings:
I wanted him to give me a tour as I wondered whether I could trust him [to keep me safe]. He showed me that I could and it was quite romantic ...
We reflected together and shared ideas for future sessions. Much of the conversation centred on the desire to continue beyond the scheduled six sessions as well as to be directly involved in a performance.
Could the sessions continue on Wednesdays? I can't make another day?
I'm so pleased that the sessions are on because I come to the library every day and usually on a Wednesday it's closed and I'm quite upset because I have nothing to do.
We started the afternoon sessions with gentle and complimentary games to remember each other's names and to help us warm up. During the mirroring exercise I noticed that participants enjoyed watching as well as taking part. We also challenged caring partnerships to explore working with someone else in the group.
After re-staging the performative tour (much to the delight of the the participants as well as the carers from a local day centre - who were not expecting anything of the kind!) the participants created a sensory tour (one on one) around the library. I really enjoyed watching the tours taking place. It was beautiful to see the role reversal of someone who is often told what to do being entrusted to take care of another. It looked almost meditative as they gently guided their eyes closed audience and instructed them to feel or touch particular surfaces.
We reflected together and it was lovely to hear what people had enjoyed spoken in their own words:
... the mirroring ... steering someone around ... the gestures and Chinese whispers I'm movement ... as we are in a library it would be nice to do something with words ...the performance and Liz in her funny costumes ... the story telling - fortunately and unfortunately - how random the stories were - how fun ...
We concluded the day by creating a playful incident report (detailing the performance) as an intervention into the library staff meeting (due to be held the next day).
Wednesday, 6 January 2016
Hanham Library - Session One
In the Morning: Working with people wanting to improve their Mental Health
After getting to know each other a little we toured the library searching out golden glittery bookmarks. We retrieved the marked books and ranged them on the library table - secretly selecting a book from the stash, we shared our preferences with a partner who communicated our choice to the group in words or occasionally a small performance.
[My partner] chose the map. As he’s feeling a bit lost in life at the moment.
Life's like a round about . . .
They've got sat nav now!
Taking inspiration from a display of objects including a blow up palm tree, pebbles, and lavender oil we each created our ideal place to relax (perhaps to relax and read or perhaps to do something else like watch a DVD, do some yoga or Cyroc dancing). Everyone shared their space with a ten second performance or description of them doing their relaxing activity in their space.
Our final activity of the morning was to create a list of 10 rules of the library and then more excitingly a list of 10 No Ways. Liz and Lucy promised they would create a performance out of the list ready for next week.
- No space hoppers
- No ducks
- No amateur wrestling
- No throwing books
- No porn
- No nudity
- No heavy machinery
- No antisocial behaviour
- No foul language
- No firearms
We started the afternoon retrieving golden marked books and sharing our preferences in performances and conversations.
Doreen chose the dogs book and Ken and Doreen shared stories of their huge dog “Our Tiny”
We talked for a long time sharing stories inspired by the books particularly the ones about sewing:
. . . there was no allowance for clothes but there was for material . . . that was the difference between girls and boys . . . there weren’t men around . . . . “I’d rather tackle a policeman than my mother”
I’ve known [him] for a long time and he's said more today than I've ever heard him say
Liz led us on a tour of the library and read out contributions from Library staff sharing their favourite place in the library.
. . . I like to imagine all the people who have handled the books in the decades before . . . . an ordinary bristolian . . . I want to dream of blue seas and skies . . . I envy them their freedom and guts to make the change . . . my favourite section is, always has been and always will be . . . the evolution of basketball . . . Friday film nights . . . old books into new crafts [Zoe shares her favourite section] . . . a moment in time, I wish we could capture it . . .
As in the morning we ended the day making a small scene of a place where we enjoyed reading: snuggled up on the sofa in lots and lots of blankets and miles high in an aeroplane looking at the world below.