Siobhan Davies Dance

In the garden with Entelechy Arts and Siobhan Davies Dance at the Garden Museum.

In the Garden

I'm finally getting around to writing about my collaboration with Entelechy Arts in Deptford in 2014.

 This amazing experience ran along side my exhibition Lines, Levels, Layers
Which was part of the year long Human Nature season at Siobhan Davies Dance.
Both myself and Christian Kerrigan separately worked with Entelechy to produce a movement based performance accompanying our indivdual work shown at the the dance studio in Elephant and Castle. 

Entelechy Arts works from the Albany theatre in Deptford South London and run a programme of weekly workshops such as ambient jam working with the elderly, people with varying levels of disability and the local community. 

'Entelechy Arts is a participatory arts company based in south east London. Entelechy
works with people of all ages, abilities
and backgrounds to produce high quality theatre, music, dance and video events
and performances.'

From entelchy arts website

I was initially working along side Rebecca Swift to discuss how we could approach this and met a few of the dancers and volunteers including Shane Waltner a weaver who had also exhibited at Siobhan Davies in 2012.

I attended a ambient jam session one afternoon to get a taster and a greater understanding about the approach and more importantly get to meet some of the regulars attending these sessions.

For me this was one of the biggest steps I made out of my comfort zone.
I went along with notebook and pen in hand. Expecting to be quietly observing from the corner of the room.

Instead the reality was quite different I was encouraged in to the centre of the action. Boxes of props came out including paper brightly coloured fabrics, musical instruments, sounds, dancing, movement, colour and and most importantly happiness.

This group varied from people with profound physical disabilities, sight and hearing impairments, some of the participants were in wheelchairs others had come along with family members and carers so I had to think on my feet, throw all inhibitions aside and just get stuck in the best way I knew. 

Visit to the Garden Museum

Our first visit to the Garden museum in Lambeth took place very early on in 2014. 
The museum was set up in 1977 on the former site of St Mary's church which sits next to Lambeth Palace and has this small but perfectly formed garden at the back. In the centre is a fine example of a knot garden.

'The church is the burial place of John Tradescant (c1570 – 1638), the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history. His magnificent and enigmatic tomb is the centrepiece of a knot garden planted with the flowers which grew in his London garden four centuries ago.'

From the Garden museum website

With a couple more visits and then some group meeting we all came up with a  a copy of our working score before the event. Where our thoughts, observations, ideas and plans all went down on paper to share with the rest of the group including the musicians and volunteers. 

Soil was one of the key elements, the ground, being rooted, attention to the nuanced moments, allowing the performance to naturally unfold as Entelechy always do with such elegance. This experience was about surrendering control and allowing the senses to lead the outcome. 

The day of the performance 

The performance at the garden museum on Sunday 6th July 2014 
These wonderful images taken by Gorm Ashurst really capture a sense of openness, happiness, and freedom to explore. 

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and unfortunately I was unable to make to final performance as my dad had so sadly passed away four days earlier. 

Although I wasn't there in body I was certainly there in spirit and finally feel I am able to reflect back on this experience with great fondness and thank Rebecca for subtly encouraging me to step out from being the observer and becoming immersed. 

Edge and Shore at Siobhan Davies Dance

On Friday 26th September Edge and Shore: Acts of Doing took place at Siobhan Davies Dance. 

This collaborative piece of exploratory work involved Helen Carnac a visual artist and dancer Laila Diallo. Together they have been looking at edges and boundaries.
This work was an extension of Side by Side (2012) initially a six week residency based around ideas of cross disciplinary making. 

During the afternoon two performances/ process presentations took place through a series of    movement, mark making, performance, communication and exploration. 

I arrived within the first 15mins and stayed throughout the two hours.
At the beginning of this piece I entered the top dance studio where large pieces of paper were laid out across the floor. 

In another corner was a cluster of different materials waiting to used in some way.

As an onlooker or viewer to this experience you were free to sit and observe from a distance or roam around the space as Helen and Laila were working through various processes, ideas, movements throughout the space. 
People were entering and leaving the studio throughout this time frame.

The work was set up in such a way it wasn't necessary to sit down and watch in the same way we are often used to a conventional theatre setting. This wasn't a piece of theatre it felt very much like an insight in to a contemporary collaborative practice.  

Where ideas were unfolding through the act of doing. 

There were moments as the viewer that you felt that you were involved in something quite precious. 
I can only liken it to being observed within your own studio during periods where you are immersed in problem solving and the work is unresolved.

As time passed the work felt as though it was building in momentum, movements became more energised. Mark making at times became more fraught the sounds of working became slightly louder and everyone looking on became quieter. 

I found the entire afternoon fascinating to see how two people work together with very little verbal communication but it was also clear to see that much communication was taking place through subtle changes in working methods and the rhythm of layering, gathering, tearing... 

More work can be seen at

Lines, Levels, Layers Installed.

Lines. Levels, Layers opened on Friday 18th July 2014 at Siobhan Davies dance in South London.

The week leading to this date was dedicated to the installation one of the hottest weeks to date this year.

Day one was really taken up with painting and positioning the five shelves. There were to sit across four locations. 

 Location 1: The process wall 

The purpose of this collection of images text and objects was to contextulise the body of work it's positioned in the parlour a space for gathering working or to take a moment.  
It was the perfect place to allow the visitor to quietly read through the material before embarking on the journey throughout the building. 

Lines: Positioned in the reception area.

This took a fair amount of time to lay out as it had to be perfectly positioned. 18 small rectangular containers hold every soil sample collected from Southwark. The precision to this piece was so important to the over all aesthetic quality. Ideas of order and chaos run throughout the exhibition. This installation had to mirror it's title and the relevance of the grid had to be prominent and this is conveyed through the perfect linear quality 

Drawn plans for Layers

Erik was at hand to help me all week this was the first panel to be mounted onto the wall on the 1st floor as part of Layers this space spans approx 6.5 m long this piece of work took an entire day to hang. Despite having four different hanging plans the layout did change during the process slightly. There was more overlapping that happened towards the centre and as we moved to the edge on the far end the panels needed a little more breathing space. 

Levels: This was the final piece of work laid out on Thursday afternoon. 

Levels the second of the four installations and the purpose of this piece of work was to show  a clear break down of the materials, including a geological map a handling station with fired and unfired tests, small glass jars diluted with soil and water. Giving a clearer idea and understanding of colour before moving on to Layers 

Mounted on to the wall are three boxes the first one shows found objects that have been extracted from the ground and soil during the collection process.
A wonderful collection of items ranging from London brick, bones, old soda or salt glazed ceramic fragments, glass, rusty metal screws and nails, roof tiles, broken shards of ceramic pipes... 

The second box has been filled with soil collected from Peckham this has been left completely unprocessed and the third box is the same soil but sieved and watered down to a slip consistency. Over time the water residue will evaporate and this will begin to dry and possibly crack. 

The Handling Station gives the visitor the opportunity to handle the materials there's a combination of fired and unfired samples showing the transformation from clay soil to clay and also the dramatic change in colour. 
The bottles are filled with the same samples exhibited in Lines downstairs but have been diluted with water once again it shows the change of colour beginning to happen in preparation for Layers in the next room. 

Layers: Positioned on the 1st floor 

This is the first time you encounter the material that has been used as a drawing or mark making tool. Each piece of canvas has a distinct smell, texture, colour, tone to it. 
I think the only way to fully appreciate this particular piece of work is through experience. 

I wanted to keep this body of work tightly associated with the local area for many reasons. One it has lead to a more focussed enquiry but most importantly it was always about the entire Human Nature season at Siobhan Davies. A years worth of projects collaborations that have encompassed local groups such as the Mobile Garden in Elephant and Castle, the local schools planting for the living walls, the Mobile Meadow, walks in and around Southwark, Dance performances along the Southbank.

It also makes us look at what is below our feet, a material we all come into contact with every day but in most cases it's just ignored. 

Without soil nothing would grow. Gardens and green spaces would not exist. It's a simple acknowledgement to a material that provides us with such wonder.