Three Things That Have Caught My Imagination…

An Abyss To Fall In


On Monday 26th January we were set the challenge to perform a subtlemob. We were given a list of instructions and included in this was to find ‘an abyss to fall in’. My interpretation of the caption is the photograph that I captured. An abyss can be perceived as an unknown quantity of space. I believe the photograph also has the power to portray this. The picture captures what is above the hole yet the space or what is behind it is left to our imagination.

Adrian Howells

During Wednesday’s seminar we briefly looked upon Adrian Howells work. Instantly, his work grasped my full, undivided attention. After the session I decided to investigate further into his work to gain a clearer knowledge and understanding of the performance techniques pursued. I discovered that Howells usually worked extremely close with the audience. The performance methods used present the audience making a show of themselves, urging for self-reflection by leaving them to question how they present themselves to the world. The aesthetics of the piece would derive from a personal one to one therapeutic session with the spectator; carefully enabling them to open up. Howells’ practice represents and demonstrates that “theatre is not just something to be consumed but a shared act” (Gardner, 2014) leaving us to appreciate the artistic value as a joint effort on equal parts.

An example of Howells’ most famous work would be Foot-Washing for the Sole, which he performed in multiple places around the world, exploring different cultures.

Link 1 (Foot-Washing for the Sole interview with Adrian):

Link 2 (Foot-Washing for the Sole Mini clip):


Site Specific!

As opposed to Howells’ work Foot-Washing for the Sole which categorizes under site generic work, site specific work is designed and created with one place in mind. Site specific performance links a close relationship between art and site, the particular location is completely necessary for the structure of the piece. “site-specific performance engages with site as symbol, site as story-teller, site as structure” (Pearson, 2010, 8)

After my first week and a half of being introduced to Site Specific performance I now feel more eased into the subject and have grasped more of a clearer understanding of it. I believe that keeping an open mind to the subject will allow me to appreciate the full beauty of it.

Pearson, M (2010) Introduction in Site Specific Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kilkenny Arts Festival (2010) Adrian Howells Interview | Footwashing For The Sole | Kilkenny Arts Festival. [online video] Available from [Accessed 2 February 2015].


TPAM (2012) TPAM 2010 (15 of 17) Adrian Howells. [online video] Available from: [Accessed 2 February 2015].

Week 1: Opening our eyes to the idea of ‘space’

Site-Specific Performance takes us from the comforting conventionalities of the theatrical world and encouragingly opens our eyes to all the spaces that we often seem to take for granted. Whilst conventional theatre takes a play and refines its meaning into the given space, Site Specific involves making a performance that ‘responds to a place from the perspective of an outsider’ (Govan, 2007, 121). Performance artists look at a space and draw meaning from it – whether it be cultural, historical, philosophical or more, it generates a narrative for new perspectives to arise. It can happen any where at any time and for any length. What I find most intriguing about site-specific performance, is the term of ‘space’. Before taking this module, if I were to think of the word ‘space’ I would immediately associate this as something blank and isolated; somewhere that has to be busy to have meaning. Henceforth when reading Mike Pearson’s Site-Specific Performance, I realised that spaces around us whether neglected or bustling, withhold meaning on their own. It does this by engaging with ‘site as a symbol, site as storyteller [and] site as structure’ (Wilkie, 2002, 158). Simple moments of a loud conversation, a torn up piece of paper on the floor or an interesting architectural design all have a story to tell. Site-specific performers can then take these as documentation and reinvent a new or reflective meaning for those who are visiting or those whom know it extremely well.

Linking this into our first week of workshops and seminars, it made me think back to our first year module of Reading Performance and how we actually define ‘performance’. Richard Schechner’s book Performance Studies: An Introduction suggests that performance ‘examines texts, architecture, visual arts … not in themselves, but as players in ongoing relationships.’ (Schechner, 2013, 2). Everything in our day to day life could be seen as performance: the way we act in front of friends and family, pausing at traffic lights, entering though a door way and so forth. Taking part in a subtle mob to create a new experience for not only ourselves to take in, but to affect the experience of others. Although it seemed a very bizarre idea at the time, it really made us observe all the little movements and gestures of people in the area and the purpose of the site. In some ways the site outside the library/LPAC is used as a liminal space (neither here nor there, a travelling space), whilst it could also be a meeting place for new students. Reflecting on this, it allowed me to realise that site’s may have more than one meaning and that is what can be incredibly special about a performance taking place in them. Whatever meaning we may find can be extracted from the space and applied specifically to the site, through the medium of performance. Having the opportunity to work uphill in Lincoln is incredible and I look forward to the journey we will experience!

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schechner, R. (3rd ed) (2010) Performance Studies: An Introduction. London: Routledge.

Govan, E., Nicholson, H. and Normington, K. (2007) Making a Performance. New York: Routledge.


Now you see me, now you don’t!

The first lesson of Site Specific Performance was pretty daunting to me, especially with the given tasks of understanding such a broad subject. A subtle flash mob was first on the agenda, and the last thing I expected, during which I became less conscious of myself and more aware of what, where, how and who was in my surroundings.

A particular quest took my attention during my time, in what I thought was a familiar space. ‘An escape to the roof’. I began looking for ways in which I thought my small body could clamber up to what I first envisaged as safety. I looked for a stepping stone pattern, a secret stair case (in case I hadn’t noticed one before!) and objects that I could move towards the walls to make me tall enough. I drew a blank. I gave up and went on to take a picture of ‘an endless horizon’ which made me look at edges and lines of buildings where the sky met them. Suddenly through the camera lens everything changed, the Library that seemed so tall and void to my project became a miniature playground for my NEW legs… my fingers! The escape to the roof was no longer about being safe, it was about having fun. Without my camera perspective, who would have known?

escape to the roof

The outcome I was so busy looking for was right under my nose, and arrived through divine intervention. In The Place of the Artist Govan explains that ‘Within contemporary performance, site-related work has become an established practice where an artist’s intervention offers spectators new perspectives upon a particular site or set of sites.’ (Govan, 2007, p.121) which was thought provoking; an artist’s intervention doesn’t simply have to be showing someone a new way of looking at something, it can be made through suggestion, timing and a sort of planned, hopeful coincidence of recognition.

A new found perspective can be continued through art. A new found favourite, and relevant, artist in mind is Slinkachu. Slinkachu is an artist that creates everyday tableaus of life size backgrounds with miniature people, here’s a few examples to enjoy!



Govan, E. Et al (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices London and New York: Routledge





Geographical locations are exciting!

This module wasn’t one that I was completely looking forward to I will admit. As I didn’t have a full understanding of what ‘site specific performance’ was, but after the Mike Pearson reading and the introduction to Site from Rachel; who is obviously passionate and experienced in the topic gave me confidence it would not be as bad as I had first anticipated.

In the introduction of Mike Pearson’s book Site Specific Performance, he describes and outlies what Site Specific Performance is and how many practitioners have different approaches and methods of practicing Site Specify Performance. Pearson uses Fiona Wilkes’ words here to show how non-theatre venues provide “an enquiry into what theatre is and might be” It also incorporates ‘a set of productive special metaphors, whereby practitioners use their focus on geographical space to explore a range of theoretical conceptual, political and virtual spaces” (Pearson, 2010, pg. 9)

I thought that this quote was relevant to the task we were given in the workshop, which was to create a subtle mob which we as a group were to perform but were also given individual tasks to follow. I found that the task reflected the idea of geographical space in relation to a theatrical space, which is interesting as at the top of the sheet we were given was the geographical location in full alongside the co-ordinates of the space outside the LPAC, Library and The Engine Shed. We then used this specific location to create our subtle mob. The idea of having a very specific location down to the geographical co-ordinates of say a five by five meter space is interesting to me, as it is so exact and confined yet it could be out in a large open space. So the idea of playing around with an extremely specific space is appealing to me and I am now really looking forward to our next workshop up at Castle Square.

Pearson, M (2010) Introduction in Site Specific Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Week 1

Pearson[i] describes calling site specific performance ‘that undertaken in non-theatrical spaces’ as ‘barely adequate’ (Pearson, 2010, p.66) and after my first week studying this module I have already realised just how accurate this description is. This week’s introductory workshops have demonstrated to us the vast amount of possibilities and complexities the experimentation with ‘site’ provides.

After practising Duncan Speakman’s ‘subtle mob’ outside the LPAC and watching a clip on his sound-walk piece “As If It Were The Last Time” I did some further research into the development and planning of this moving piece and learnt about the possible positive effects site specific performance can have upon participants and passers-by – with one Londoner saying how it had made them feel like they were in ‘a movie’. This research has also made me consider the possibilities of using audio in our own performances.

Furthermore, I also looked into the reading ‘Theatre and Architecture’[ii] that highlights how the relationship between architecture and theatre is often overlooked but for French Theatre Director Jacques Copeau ‘architecture is the most fundamental aspect of theatre’ (Harvie and Rebellato, 2015, p.2). As most of our possible sites are located close to many grand pieces of architecture e.g. The Cathedral, The Castle, The Gates etc I felt that this is a relationship that should be considered as we have the opportunity to incorporate these architectural pieces into our own performances; perhaps being influenced by their historical context, using them for aesthetic inspiration or for creating atmosphere. The extract also explains how we should consider that the site’s architecture may ‘establish a certain social code’ (ibid. p.5) and when staging a site specific performance it is also ‘about acting in architecture… it demands we pay attention to distance, scale, style… light, heat and sound’.(ibid. p.3/4)

Finally, after Wednesday’s workshop I was eager to look into more of Christo and Jeanne –Claude’s work and found this piece which I found particularly astonishing and worth sharing.

‘Wrapped Coast’

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia

Blog Photo 3, Blog Photo 2Blog Photo 1

[i] Pearson, M, Site Specific Performance (Basingtone: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)

[ii] Jen Harvie and Dan Rebellato, Theatre and Architecture, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)