Potter’s mystery and Queen Anne’s legend

After some discussion, my group and I decided to organise a walk from Pottergate to the garden in Lincoln Cathedral which involved completing some tasks on route. One such task would involve a stop at Queen Anne’s Well (https://flic.kr/p/qQ4o7N), to perform the ritual which, according to legend, entails having to walk round it 7 times and then stick a finger in one of 6 holes in the door; a good person will feel the devil’s breath on their finger whereas a bad person will have their finger bitten off. When I tried this out today, I didn’t have a finger bitten off, so I rank myself as a good person. (Paranormal Database, 2014).
We were all of the opinion that it would spice up our walk if we were to pay homage to the numerous legends and folklore associated with the area between Pottergate and the Cathedral garden and that performing this physical ritual would add more interest to it. This was only one of many ideas we had but it led us to look more closely into the history of Pottergate only to find there is very little published about it. I delved into Nickolas Pevsner and John Harris’ book The Buildings of England; Lincolnshire, to discover that Potter’s gate stretched from the south east to the north east corners of uphill Lincoln near the cathedral and that the “stairway in the SW corner, now represented by the polygonal torrent,… allowed communications between the upper chamber and the gate hall” (Nicholas Antram, 1995, 484). This photo (https://flic.kr/p/r9UG9e) shows the tunnel which was used by those inside the city walls to shout down to those waiting at the gate.

Our discussions then led us to the idea that of course it was all about communication as it was one of the entrances into the city and people would have been obliged to state their business before being allowed in. On closer inspection, there has clearly been some vandalism over the years inside the arch of Potter’s gate such as this (https://flic.kr/p/r9LZrL) which was marked 1895. There are markings dating from 1895 to 2010 which just goes to show how our desire to make our ‘mark’ in history continues to fascinate us and that ‘old habits die hard’. Beth and I collected the markings so we can read and show how diverse they are (https://flic.kr/p/rrn5up). Doing this prompted us to come up with the idea of starting our walk at Potters gate and inviting people to add their ‘mark’ to it by sticking a post it onto the archway; we linked this to the manhole covers we saw inscribed with “post office” and “telegraph” which are also another form of communication. Rather than sticking notes on to the arch’s walls, our tutor came up with the idea of having a big piece of wood which people could sign before they started their walk; we decided this was a much preferred idea that allowed people to make their ‘mark’ without causing any damage to the building.

Work Cited:

Paranormal Database (2014) Lincoln. [online] UK: Paranormal Database. Available from: http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/hotspots/lincoln.php?pageNum_paradata=0&totalRows_paradata=30 [Accessed 2 March 2015].

Antram, N. (eds) (1995)The Buildings of England. Lincolnshire. London: Penguin.

Week 1: Inspirational videos

After our seminar session in the first week, I began researching into some of the performance works that particularly intrigued and engaged with me. The first performance pieces that distinctly caught my attention was that of using audio in a space which is inhabited by the public on a daily basis and where brief encounters may occur. In a similar sense to that of our SubtleMob experience, two of the performances: LIGNA’s Radio Ballet and Ratozaza’s Etiquette take place in public sites. Firstly, LIGNA’s Radio Ballet, is an ‘exercise in lingering not according to the rules.’ (Ligna Blog, 2009). It took place in a busy Railway Station in Leipzig, Germany; a place in which is under high surveillance by security cameras. With the sites architecture having dark corners and areas to hide in, any act (ie – laying down on the public floor) is deemed outside of the social norms and would result in being removed from the site. Due to its strict control, the Radio Ballet aims to pull various participants together in this site to do various deviant acts of behaviour. On 22nd June 2003, 500 participants ‘usual radio listeners, no dancers or actors – were invited to enter the station, equipped with cheap, portable radios and earphones.’ (ibid, 2009). Using these devices they could listen to a radio program consisting of choreography suggesting permitted and forbidden gestures (to beg, to sit or lie down on the floor etc.). By doing these specific gestures – pulling a stop bell on a train and imitating waving passengers off with a handkerchief, were acts in which made usual passers by stop and take in the unusual action evolving around them.

Radio Ballet, June 2003.

Radio Ballet, June 2003.

As seen in the image above, the participants were able to disperse themselves wherever they wished to within the location of the station to thereby let the events play out freely. They acted as ‘a free association, which transformed the coincidental constellation of radio reception into a political intervention.’ (ibid, 2009.) This performance shed a new light upon the busy site and perhaps even united individuals into moments of synchronism.

The second audio performance piece I found mesmerizing was Ratozaza’s ‘Etiquette’. They audience members of a generic public forum such as a cafe/bar are transformed into performance makers.The audio conversation interweaves with the objects placed in front of them; making what would be their everyday ‘small talk’ into a more fun and unique way of public interaction. Etiquette ‘exposes human communication at both its rawest and most delicate and explores the difficulty of turning our thoughts into words we can trust.’ (Etiquette2, 2010). As in the previous performance, the line between audience and performer is blurred – straying from what we see as conventional theatre.

One particular performance that sparked an idea is that of Ezra Dickinson’s concept: ChildrenDuring this performance, three adults are filmed walking a certain distance. The performance we as viewers are watching, shows them walking at normal speed with everyone around them at double speed. With this in mind, I interpreted their performance as a metaphor for a child’s mindset: everything is bustling around them and they are the ones who take in the little things that surround us. It is almost a day in the life of a young child and conveying this through the art of slow movements from the performers. It puts forward a question to an audience member of time and what would happen if we slowed this down? People walking by experimented with them – some joining in and some giving them things to hold. The performers could interact but their core was to ultimately walk from one place to another in a straight line. This piece has inspired me to perhaps consider the notion of time and its power to change perspectives and/or movements.

Works Cited:

LIGNA [online blog]. http://ligna.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/radio-ballet.html [Accessed 7th February 2015].

Etiquette2 [online blog]. http://www.rotozaza.co.uk/etiquette2.html [Accessed 7th February 2015].

The old and the new

Whilst walking around the Cathedral quarters, Castle grounds and the surrounding areas, I discovered a side to Lincoln I never knew before. Wandering off the beaten track, down alleyways and through hidden gardens opened my eyes up to Lincoln’s rich history that I knew existed, but had never witnessed. It was the architecture of the buildings that fascinated me the most. The clear contrast between new builds and old roman remains. However it was the blending of the old and new together that made me reflect on just how far Lincoln had come over time, and I appreciated that little bit Lincoln more. Within Phil Smith’s Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways, he stated that drifting through a city could allow you ‘to see for the fist time things you already know’ (Smith, 2010, 119). Although it was a guided drift through Lincoln, I certainly saw things that I’d seen before but never appreciated.

Below are some examples of the blending of old and new. The old roman wall which had bowed over the years with a modern postbox slotted inside its historic bricks. Old steal rods to help preserve the wall and to keep it standing throughout time. Crumbling brick walls in contrast to the fancy modern new build in the historic cathedral grounds.

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work is something that I find very interesting. The wrapping of everyday objects such as trees, and the walls of oil barrels, allows the public to see everyday sites in a new way. When the sun shines on the trees they take a new form, something mystical that distorts the assumptions of the everyday. Thus the public pause and acknowledge their surroundings. The wall of barrels does a similar thing. They create a block in a path or a wall so high and intimidating it makes the audience feel small. This alteration of journeys and physical perceptions also forces the public to acknowledge and appreciate their surroundings.


Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways. Devon: Axminster Triarchy Press.