a quiet example of clarity

I’ve been thoughtful about my work for the past weeks, particularly in the last few days.

I went to see three things last week; Mark Bruce’s work, Odyssey, for 11 dancers with maximum visual impact of set and props, to a rich soundtrack of multiple musical influences. A TEDx Exeter event; a day of talks, discovering the work of war photographer Giles Duley, buying his book, One Second of Light, being reminded of the power of a single gift, he described being given a book of war photography and a camera as a child, forming foundational and lasting direction for his life. His tenacity and commitment, humanity and intense dedication moved me enormously. Two days later, I watched short films, set to music, with exquisitely economically written introductions, made by Peter Hulton, a man who I met a few years ago, who I barely know. Each time I see him he is smiling, like a child’s smile stretched and perfectly fitting his mature face. During the work and afterwards I was in tears. I watched them alone, in his ‘Cart Shed’, the films timed to come on every hour on the hour, ‘open and close the door when you leave’. There was such simplicity and clarity, poetry, a direct invitation to experience the work with beautifully composed elements.  A grass stem with seed head blowing in the breezing, bowed, with mention of a man and a stroke, the introduction to the art of drawing, shadows burnt into stone, the portrait of a fading face fading on a pebble in a zen garden closeup to the music of John Cage. I thought cycling home ,when does one thing end and another begin. How connections are revealed but not over-stated, yet so present, not weighted but present, unashamedly referred to, humbly, with honesty. I felt, the kind of experience that either spurs us on or makes us give up.

I’m at the beginning of a new process, working with Astrid Schrader from the University of Exeter. She has written about care and responsibility, and time. These areas interest me too. I’ve been worrying about it. I find the early part of a process hard and lonely. I can become easily paralysed by what I don’t know, feeling inadequate at how to talk about things, how to frame an enquiry, how to ask or write clear questions. At the same time, I know I’m not supposed to know. It’s about how I organise my time, how I give shape and colour to a process that legitimises the finding a way through.

The reminder that simplicity is all I have do, frame what it is I’m interested in, make that clear and available to others and resource what I’m sensitive about. I’m interested in movement. Today I was helped again by Deborah Hay’s teaching, she says:

‘I’m looking for their attention, moment to moment to moment to moment..’

‘I want to see their dance’

A dancer says, ‘she’s asked me to be in touch with my own passion, that’s a lot of work’

I say to myself, don’t dilute it because of fear others will say I’m too earnest or too serious.

It doesn’t have to be terrifying all the time. Sitting in Peter’s ‘Cart Shed’ I felt like I don’t want to give up. I want to make things. I want to connect with others. I want to open up spaces to be with thoughts and feelings. I don’t have to pretend to have all the answers, or be gifted with the big questions. Sometimes, certainly after listening to many talks during TEDx back to back, I value opening up a different way of thinking and processing, and art, poetry and dance can do this.


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