On Monday 2nd February, we started our second week of site specific. We were taken on a tour all around Steep Hill, Lincoln. After viewing the lovely sights it had to offer I decided to dig deeper and discover some of the history behind Ellis Mill.
After doing some background research, I have ascertained that Ellis Mill is the last remaining mill to operate and still produce flour in Lincoln. The mill has continued working after an incredible two hundred years from when it was first built. There is evidence that proves there was a mill around Steep Hill before the Cathedral (the main tourist attraction) had even finished being built.
Looking further into the history of the mill, I have discovered that in 1551, Lincoln suffered an absence of wind for five weeks. As a result of this, the mill was unable to produce flour. This left most of the people in the city deprived of food, as the whole population relied on bread, especially the poor.
History of Ellis Mill:
After investigating the historic past and backgrounds of windmills in Lincoln, it has now enabled me to appreciate how Ellis Mill is a major importance for the industrial history of the city. As Mike Pearson suggests:
“a visitor’s experience of the same place may invoke reactions and associations entirely differently from that of the inhabitants: it is possible to be in a place without realizing its significance for the groups of people who have historically inhabited it.[…] A pile of old stones to walk your dog over then, or the defeated hopes of a nation?” (2010, 24).
When I first visited the mill, I was not particularly captivated or interested by it, as I did not have a great underlying knowledge for it. Having a sense of understanding for this, has allowed myself as a spectator, to admire the layers of history attached to the site, offering more than what meets the eye.
Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/131412114@N08/
Pearson, M. (2010) Introduction in Site Specific Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Drifting, or ‘meandering’ is becoming ‘increasingly unfamiliar and regarded as aimless and wasting-time’[i] However, whilst strolling ‘one becomes aware of suburban details and social space.’ (Jones, 2010, p.87) During my own experience of ‘drifting’ this week I certainly became more aware of the architecture, history and atmosphere of our given site.
In Pearson’s chapter ‘Models and Approaches’[ii] he highlights the multiple ways in which one can experience and be inspired by a specific site, both as a performer and ‘audience’ member. The chapter made me think about the history of Lincoln, and the different perceptions and memories each individual will have towards the same site as ‘land itself is not regarded as separate from the lived experience’ (Pearson, 2010, p.19). I was interested by Claire Blundell Jones’ ‘Walking, the Western and the tumbleweed’ and the way she uses ‘drifting’ as a performance to ‘create a new playful space between themselves and the unsuspecting audience, who can potentially begin to imagine alternatives in their local environment’ (Jones, 2010, p.87)
The line ‘each surviving doorway was once entered, each window once looked through’ (Pearson, 2010, p.24) was my primary stimuli of inspiration whilst taking photographs around the top of the hill…
Whilst looking through my photographs I also spotted the Latin words ‘pereunt et imputantur’ on one of the sides of the Cathedral walls, which means “They (hours) pass away and are reckoned on (our) account”. This reminded me of Duncan Speakman’s audio walk ‘As If It Were The Last Time’ and again made me consider using audio or creating some sort of ‘spiritual journey’ (also similar to Robert Wilson’s ‘Walking) in our own performances around the Cathedral.
[i] Jones, Claire Blundell(2010) ‘Walking, the Western and the tumbleweed’, Visual Studies, 25: 1, p. 87-88
[ii] Pearson, M, Site Specific Performance (Basingtone: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
On Monday, we explored uphill Lincoln. The sites and views from there were absolutely beautiful and breath taking. When looking at these site’s many thoughts occurred to me about the history of the places and what meanings I could take from the place. As Govan states “In such work place becomes an important element within the artistic encounter and there is recognition that a space is not empty but full of meaning.” (Govan, 2007, 121). Some of the site’s came across as dull and empty, as nothing really stood out prominently to me in those particular sites. Other sites were full of life, history and horizon. The ‘fuller’ sites I am very much interested in working with because they have already triggered a lot of ideas. However, I am going to visit the sites again with a more open mind seeing if there is anything else that I can pick up from any of them that I perhaps missed before, as Govan quotes Wrights & Sites, that suggests “Allow yourself to be stopped and diverted as often as possible. Accept these delays for whatever they seem to offer you.” (Wrights & Sites 2003: 40). I did open my mind in some aspects – such as at the Windmill. I took a photograph of a water tap. To anyone else it could have just been an ordinary tap, to me the elongated, old look made it look like a face so I had a little fun when editing my photos.
The main things that stood out to me throughout the walk around Lincoln was the secrets it held and I’m sure that there are probably many other historical stories and values not yet explored. Lincoln is a very historical city and has a lot to offer when looking for sites for our site-specific performance. Everywhere we went had some sort of sign, portal or a doorway which hasn’t really got much information about them which stands out as a secret. I’m interested in looking at signs around the top and opening my mind to them. As Phil Smith points out in ‘The Devils footprint’s video’ that people take signs for granted they could tell us a story. Another thing that stood out to me was that Lincoln is a very spiritual city. I was very aware of the Cathedral when walking round as it was always in view. After the lesson me and a few other classmates felt the same about the Cathedral so we decided to take a look inside for inspiration. It was captivating and very inspiring.
I am going to further research into the historical stories and Lincoln’s secrets to develop some more inspiration ready for Mondays lesson.
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.
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): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9PPEbAU5z8
Link 2 (Foot-Washing for the Sole Mini clip): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_a8PDfErtA
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9PPEbAU5z8 [Accessed 2 February 2015].
TPAM (2012) TPAM 2010 (15 of 17) Adrian Howells. [online video] Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_a8PDfErtA [Accessed 2 February 2015].