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photo by Karen Christopher

After our performance as part of Open Schoolbook we gave a short talk about our experience of the workshop over the three years.

Karen spoke in three sections followed by three students each time.

The Dove, the Ghost, the Handkerchief Tree
Year One:
Tom & Alfie, Gionna & Katerina, Billie & Kalila, Matthew & Henrik, Harriet & JoJo, Ben & Tom, Chloe & Adrian

I thought of landscape as a memory container, landscape as a deeper anchor for being, and the object of an enduring love.

I thought about what the end of Dartington might mean to a group of students who would spend 3 years there and then leave for other parts. How or why does it matter to them?
How do I feel that I can never revisit the house I think of as my childhood home? A home I lived in for only 3 years @ ages 10, 11 & 12 which nonetheless bears the weight of the idea of my childhood. Knowing it has been demolished feels different from when I imagined it still existed. It remains a place of solace. As a child, the kind of attention and time I spent focussed on it marked it within me, ground out a foundation from which spring ideas about my own place in the world. I fixed on the idea of solace, of finding ways for those first year students I began working with 3 years ago (in the hexagon, in studio 33 and in the abandoned grounds of the long-empty Dartington Hall School) to imprint the contours both interior and exterior, the landscape of Dartington, the essence of its placeness.
We wanted to make of it a container. We held bits of it in our hands and we allowed those bits to determine our partnerships.

photo by Benjamin Thompson


Tom shouted “Falmouth you stepmother!” Kalila brought something inappropriate to the meadow. I said: discover or invent a history for a plant in the garden, memorize a path. We named or re-named favorite spots. We sang farewell to the land, buildings, place, to the feeling of being there.
We waved our handkerchiefs. We surrendered to goodbye.
Karen Christopher

photo by Ben Thompson

(yet to come)
Kalila Storey

Remembering when. Getting closer, stepping forward, stepping back, stepping forward. Getting to a point where I could have chosen to go up some stairs, over a bridge, or carry on with the path I was already on, And at the time only really considering the stairs or the bridge, as if I had forgotten that I had a third option. Breathing heavier, breathing lighter. Counting 61 steps. Attempting to lay a potentially ephemeral foundation whilst wondering how to look back.
Laura Doherty

(yet to come)
Josephine McCourt

Year Two:
Rachel & Matthew, Harriet & Jess, Sophie & Laura, Ben & Gionna & Kalila, Adrian & Tate, JoJo

To forget is human. Perhaps the essence of being human is not that we remember but what we forget.

We devised disappearing acts. We demonstrated laws: of nature, of physics, of performance, of society, of art, of the state. We contemplated what is affected by water, what is worn down over time. We contemplated the idea of giving ones life for one last glance back at a beloved home. We turned into rivers of salt. We regarded the horizon. We demonstrated the last gesture we would perform at Dartington and the first we would perform at Falmouth. We designed a walk. We memorized it.

We envisioned dear old Dartington alongside JoJo’s Nan. We adopted the postures of rock stars to prove we could take it. We could take all the salt water we had to. We stood there and wavered.
Karen Christopher

photo by Karen Christopher

This is an invitation to be yourself. Whoever that might be. It’s an invitation to show somebody a side they never saw of you before, whether that is real or imagined. Whether based on fact or fiction, be yourself. Or at least pretend to be.
Rachel Gibbens

When I was 11 I found myself to be in the final year that would go through my primary school. The school would relocate to a new site, the other children would move with it, but, as members of year 6, we would have to move on. On the last day my classmates and I stood on the school stage, and we cried. We thought that something would be forever lost.

On the last day of the last Dartington festival I found myself on stage again, and yes, tears were shed, but mass hysteria did not set in this time. This time hugs were exchanged, hugs of relief, hugs of grief and hugs which simply said, I’m here with you, in a way that words could not.

Each year this project has come like those much needed hugs. It has taken care of us, it has tended to our wounds, and somehow, it manages to soothe our constantly breaking hearts.
Matthew Smallwood

(yet to come)
Adrian Spring

photo by Lucy Cash


Year Three:
Alfie, Gionna & Harriet; Kalila, Rachel & Laura; JoJo, Matthew & Adrian

We walked in silence for 90 minutes. I neglected to stop. So long leading the march forward, so dogged, I couldn’t hear the closing bell. We found the grotto, we read the stone. We regarded our surroundings. the scales fell from our eyes. A meadow. It used to be a meadow. We drew a map of this moment (again). We found that each question had many answers. I prepared with a focus on the creative act of composing performance directives.

A performance directive is a written inscription, composed or constructed from gathered material. One of the particularities of a directive is that it is a suggestion towards a possible future or a possible performance. A performance directive is not written in anticipation of a right or wrong answer. Rather than telling how something should be done, it is an invitation. An invitation to be translated according to and depending on the person responding.

A performance directive is a creative act. It is an invitation to respond with care, to lift from ‘casual’ to ‘eventfulness’. You may want to consider it as a system of limitations that supports proliferation.

Notice there is permissiveness inherent in every directive.

Take a moment to remember a successful directive you’ve been given in the past or maybe you need to remember when you made something you loved and think back to what the initial spark was, what was the first act that lead to the discoveries that became something you were happy to work on?

Make notes on what qualities a successful directive should have.

Write a directive to bring in to the first day of the third section of The Dove, the Ghost, the Handkerchief Tree. Your directive should address three elements that make up different aspects of material to be generated: duration, speed, rhythm, content (subject), body part, materials, color, text, etc.

A performance directive is:
a form of future building
a runway for take-off

There’s a load of gravel and we are taking off our shoes.
Karen Christopher

photo by Lucy Cash


The first time I went to Dartington I fell in love, I wanted to run away to be part of what was there. Falmouth was, for me, tainted by the loss of that. I wasn’t in love with this place and I felt as if I was watching the death of someone close to me. Even as I was saying goodbye I was resisting that I had to. I’m still not in love with Falmouth, maybe I never will be, but I’m choosing to take this opportunity to help others find here what I found in Dartington.
Gionna Rose

(yet to come)
Alfred Heffer

(yet to come)
Harriet Couzens

photo by Lucy Cash

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photo by Ben Thompson


The first year we started with solace;

the second year we started with salt and a demonstration of a law: of nature, of
performance, of physics, of society, of art, of the state and we thought about the perils of looking back;

this year we started with the creative task of composing performance directives, a way of thinking about how to direct the now and into the future. A performance directive is not written in anticipation of a right or wrong answer. Rather than telling how something should be done, it is an invitation.

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Inventory of material to choose from make additions if anything is left off:

The “_____became_____” lines

Gravel piece without knees
Gravel piece with knees

Sock hand coffee story
Tiny thank you letters
Translated gestures of home (group of eight)
3 significant places from walk
your leg of the walk text
memory palace pieces
walk memories and gestures
Father James Lynch & Mary & the Daughters of the Cross
Ghosts (elements from the past two years)
Hankies
Texts written on walk (including answers and questions)
Simonides
Video messages (MOT/no sound)
Possible: dialogues

Props:
orange bucket
thick black rope
gravel
shoes and socks
Hankies (also video screen, does larger white cloth break down and become handkerchiefs?)

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Paternity search text:
I am looking for my biological father who was stationed in Penryn, Cornwall, England in 1944/45. My mother was Mrs Queenie Eustace who lived at the Kings Arms Hotel, Penryn. I have been told that my father was a US naval officer stationed at Tremough, Penryn. Can anyone help me find which units were stationed in Penryn at the time. I have tried for years but keep hitting brick walls.
I have found a beautiful grotto at Tremough Convent which was built by the US Navy in which there is a plaque bearing the names D Helie R King K Radley F Pilling R Haskell J Fransisco USN 8-12-44. The US chaplain was Rev. J Lynch. Does anyone recognise these names? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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A workshop led by Karen Christopher

The Dove, the Ghost, the Handkerchief Tree is a three-part workshop taking place over three years involving students from Dartington College of Arts and interested members of the surrounding community focused on generating performance material through collaborative devising processes. Focus will be concentrated on the ideas around the last days of the Art College’s residence at Dartington. Each of the three parts will involve participation in workshop activities culminating in the presentation of performance material. The first part of the project is a one-week workshop beginning March 9th, 2009. Participation in this week does not necessitate participation in following years nor does non-participation preclude future participation. It is expected that, though a core group will follow through all three years of the project, some people will come and go after each segment.

Goat Island film project, super8 film still--Lucy Cash

Goat Island film project, super8 film still--Lucy Cash


The performance-generating activities of this workshop will focus mainly on the body as a site of information and expression. Using research methods from both studio experimentation and field or book study, participants will make short, time-based compositions in collaboration with others. Through writing, moving, and gathering, both solo and group work will combine to provide a textural latticework of interconnected ideas in proximity to our central focus on departure.
During the first year’s week-long workshop participants will focus on generating material in site-specific locations. In the second year we will involve members of the Dartington community who will be asked to make creative responses to public presentations of works-in-progress. Some of these responses will be chosen for inclusion in the next phase of the work. In the final year, the workshop events will culminate to combine material from the past two years’ workshops taking it into a new location and a final presentation. In this way the number of participants changes with each phase of the project.
Goat Island film project, Super8 film still--Lucy Cash

Goat Island film project, Super8 film still--Lucy Cash


As a member of Goat Island, a collaborative performance group currently in the process of touring our final work together, I am focused on ideas of lastness, ending well, lasting, and legacy. Considering the historical context of the Dartington estate and the changes it is going through at present and Goat Island’s years-long engagement with both Dartington Arts and Dartington College of Arts I am interested in further study of ideas around ending within the context of the final days of the art college’s residence at Dartington and the effect of its relocation on students and the surrounding community. In Goat Island’s work we are finding positive, creative ways to address change, interruption, and finality and I would like to expand on these ideas within the context of Dartington.

We all have a place in our hearts that provides sanctuary. It may be a house we knew as children or a tree or a corner of a street in a particular town. The garden at Dartington is such a place for many people who have been here over the years and especially to those who have studied here and afterward had to move on. As part of this 3-year project various activities will be undertaken in workshops with students drawing consciousness toward how the history of a place influences the present and how we in the present can make a lasting imprint for the future, as well as how one takes a place away with one, or documents it, or finds a way to memorialize it to protect it as a site of personal solace or inspiration. Workshops will focus on generating performance material and writing with a focus on lasting, ending, absence, residue, leaving, and surviving death and change. Performance elements will be focused on the idea of leaving the garden, leaving a part of the self behind in the garden, and keeping the garden with you when you go.

Click on this link to a downloadable PDF of the workshop description:
the-dove-the-ghost-the-hkrchftree-descrp

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