Tag Archives: performance

The Plight of the Bumble Bee

Phacelia seeds impregnated into hand made paper flowers ready for planting. (Tamar Organics)

Phacelia seeds impregnated into hand made paper flowers ready for planting. (Tamar Organics)

Bee is the new buzz word.  (as in Great British Sewing).  Our poor honey bees have had a dreadful winter with many producers opening up hives to discover dead bees.  With questions about certain intensive agricultural practices, indiscriminate use of pesticides, parasites, diseases and long, harsh winters, it seems our bee population is in crisis at the moment.  And that has consequences for us all.

thumb-print bees, part of the 'bee happy' collaborative community art project raising awareness of the declining population.  The kites became part of the 'swarm TV' project.

thumb-print bees, part of the ‘bee happy’ collaborative community art project raising awareness of the declining population. The kites became part of the ‘swarm TV’ project at AIR Pressure, (see below).

Spent most of last week ‘buzzing’ backwards and forwards from Falmouth attending some events at the AIR Pressure Conference at UCF, as well as catching up with some old friends from my days at Higher Spargo and revisiting familiar walks with dogs in between events.  This was a week of exhibitions and activities responding to and communicating changing climate with presentations from artists, scientists and academics on communicating green agendas.  I even managed to get a seat in the full house to hear Cornelia Parker‘s MA Lecture (not part of AIR Pressure) which was brilliant.  As weeks go, they don’t get much better than this.

footpath around Argal Resevoir

footpath, Argal Reservoir

Performance by Verena van den Berg (choreography student) in the old orchard, at Finissage event.

Performance by Verena van den Berg (choreography student) in the old orchard, at Finissage event.

“As we continue to listen to the stories of our bodies, we recognize both body and earth as home”.  Andrea Olsen


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Filed under my sketchbook pages, Nature / Nurture Project, Professional Development

Scratch Night

A great idea and good performance. I think the ideas could do with a little more development“.

rehearsing Transformation

When Anja said let’s do a version of Transformation for the scratch night at Hall for Cornwall, in a moment of blissful ignorance, I said OK, why not?  Then I was left pondering what on earth was a ‘scratch’ night.  Well, it turns out that this is an opportunity for writers and performers to stage an experimental piece of work whilst still in the early stages of development, in front of a live audience in order to test their performance and hopefully gain some sort of feedback, such as the above comment, one of several.  (For a short video clip of the event go to KerstenWoods Productions)

As our co-conspiritors who have been working with us on the Transitions project have melted away like snow, this left just Anja as our solo performer.  And it didn’t take long to realise that I would need to step in to fill the void.  Help!   You cannot be serious?  OK, so I’ve recently done a couple of workshops with Daniela Schlemm who has trained in the Laban method of physical theatre (that’s another story), but that in no way qualifies me in the fine art of performance.  I only took part in the workshops out of a curiosity to understand what ‘performance’ means.  I had absolutely no intention of getting up on a stage in front of an audience.  Having now done it, the best way I can describe it is like Edgar Degas’s (1834-1917) quote about art:  “Art is not what you see, it’s what you make others see”.  For me, performance is not what you see, it’s what you (attempt to) make others feel.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as agonising as I had imagined it would be.  There were 6 different performance slots scheduled for the evening, ‘Transformation’ being one of them.  The Assembly room was packed, punters were being turned away at the door, and the organisers were both encouraged and delighted by the turnout.    There were several moments whilst waiting our turn, prior to going on stage, when I wanted to flee or get drunk, or both.  A heavy weight seemed to suddenly descend on my bladder, and time itself seemed to be magnified during our brief moment on stage.  Despite the nerves, I’m pleased we did it.  We also got some useful feedback which ranged from “Brilliant use of physical theatre. Needs to be more engaging.” to “….. no intensity but at least it was mercifully short!

As the writer and art critic, Lori Waxman said performing for her is a provocative tension.   For me, it is a tension too far and not something I am gagging to repeat.  I am more comfortable being judged for the things I have already created behind closed doors having been through all the mental agony and ecstasy in the privacy of my studio.   I don’t even have to be present during an exhibition of work as what I have to say is communicated in visible form in the artwork.  Simple!   Having said all that, at times it is good for the soul to be taken out of our personal creative comfort zones, if only to appreciate what really matters.  I thank Anja for gently guiding me through the process and allowing me to do something I would never have conceived of doing without her help.   And I am just a little bit proud of what we managed to achieved in such a short space of time.

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Filed under Exhibitions, my sketchbook pages, The Art Business

60 wrd/min art critic 2: The Review


Light on a body of water needs no help to enchant even a jaded
eye, so the artist who takes it on as subject tasks herself
with improving on nature. In “dip to white” Caro Woods
attempts to do just that, with video editing software as her
magic tool. Alas it proves less than wondrous. But someone, or
something, spectral does emerge in “Abracadabra,” a haunting
young woman painfully stranded on the other side of a grimy
glass. The video’s clunky title and maudlin soundtrack don’t
do the girl’s delicately rendered plight justice, but it’s
there to be helplessly moved by all the same.
—Lori Waxman


(‘dip to white’ can be seen in a previous post Making Waves.   I don’t think Lori noticed that “….this is my first short experimental film which I have used as an exercise to get to know my way around some new editing software“…. and was indeed using some magic tools in a playful way, rather than trying to “improve on nature”.   I totally accept it’s not a purist’s version…hey ho.  If you would like to see the full text and picture version of my presentation as a pdf file, I would be happy to send you a copy if you email me via: caro@trezelah.co.uk.)

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Filed under Exhibitions, my sketchbook pages, The Art Business

60 wrd/min art critic 1: The Performance

Performance at The Exchange

Take one slender young gazelle of a woman who happens to be the itinerant, 60 wrd/min art critic, Lori Waxman.  Feed her some artists hoping for critical praise, and you have the ingredients for a performance like no other.   There are few clues to hint at Lori’s personality (note first name terms here), except that she is informally dressed and when she does speak, which is not often, it is with a gentle American accent.  But she’s over here, and in your area for one day only.  Give the critic an office desk with some real potted plants, an assistant receptionist who may or may not be open to bribes, in a room preferably attached to a public art gallery, and the stage is set.

The atmosphere is reverend and filled with a slightly awkward air of expectation that something, anything might just happen.   The artists and other interested people who stroll into this arena are not quite sure how to behave, and speak in hushed tones.  Some visitors may stride in confidently and greet the scribe to which they get an assured response hinting at a level of acquaintance already received.   Other visitors may either saunter over to read the reviews already posted on the board, look at the artwork on display awaiting critical attention, or stand and watch the screen as the words tumble out in sync with the letters tapped out on the critic’s keyboard.   Here, the very essence of Lori’s working method are publicly exposed: phrases are toyed with, arrested mid-sentence; reworked; checked; words looked up or rearranged in a different order, until finally the review is spat out, emerging in the form of a well-crafted critique.

For me it begged the question, why?  I wondered why anyone might subject themselves to such a public display of the often messy business of creative flow which to me would feel like spilling my guts.  Ms Waxman neatly summed up her answer in an email.  “…….. As to your questions, in terms of writing, yes, it does flow quite easily for me, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t very hard work. But just as you have your medium, I have mine, and mine is words. The composure bit is very natural — I’m an exceedingly, even excessively calm person. And the ‘on show’ business is, well, part of why I do the performance. I’m otherwise never on show, since writing is such a solitary art. Having an audience of the people I am writing about is a provocative tension for me.”  Ah!  I get it now.

Some artists, however, just can’t hack it and flee whilst their work is under such intense scrutiny.   Another artist hovers menacingly behind the wordsmith as she reviews the work.  I was curious and stayed to witness my fate, not only keeping a discreet distance but also careful to avoid eye contact in case I interrupted the flow of superlatives that my work was bound to invoke.  (Sadly not to be….the review I was gifted with will be published in my next post.  I believe all the reviews will be published in the Cornishperson soon).)  I was not alone, however, and despite my own wounded pride, I was pleased to have been a willing participant of this unique performance.   Thanks Lori.

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Filed under my sketchbook pages, The Art Business