With an emphasis on the participatory and the celebratory, my work combines theatre festival production, social entrepreneurship, community activism and cultural commentary through writing and speaking.
Hard to put that down on a singing sixpence. Dougald Hine calls it ‘speculative culture’, Joseph Beuys called this ‘expanded concept of art’ - Social Sculpture - where working, with the imagination, society as a whole can be regarded as one great work of art to which each person contributes creatively.
I like John Fox’s description of applied vernacular art, and art grounded in human relations and their social and ecological context with a central role of collaboratio:
“a facilitator, fixer, celebrant, stage manager, visionary, linking past and future, a shamanic poet....the holder of what used to be called spiritual energy.”
This kind of artist he says “would acknowledge the artist in us all and offer testament to the innate creativity recurring in every generation and every community where the intuitive is given freedom. Where regeneration is of the soul and not of economics. Where a holistic way of being is given credence and where making art is a daily experience”.
Producing site specific shows with the London International Festival of Theatre for 25 years, I learnt one of the secrets of the universe: when you get close up to something that looks impossible, you find more things are more possible than you thought, but you have to get up very close to see the fine line between what is and isn’t possible.
At the outset, some of our plans were so far-fetched few would believe they were possible: lighting a giant flame from Bankside Power Station, building a seating structure in the River Thames. We believed in them and, over time, this translated into the energy to make things happen. It would affect the spirit of what each festival was preparing for. We put our faith in providence and courage. For me, these were rehearsals for what I consider very important now. Being involved at the heart of participative processes I create, gives me a unique insight into the discipline of participatory practice as practitioner and commentator.
In Spring 2012 I was writer and artist-in-residence at Battersea Arts Centre exploring Playing For Time, a practical hand book for the Head Heart and Hand of Transition and The Arts, which bring all these strands together. I would welcome your comments on any creative methodologies you’ve found that could be included.