Dudley Limestone Caverns
Wrens Nest Nature Reserve
Cavesong - Symphony in a Miner Key
Where it all began
In 2020 I received a Develop Your Creative Practice Award (Arts Council England) to support me to develop a better ecology of care in my practice, one that had an awareness of, attended to, and integrated the limitations I faced as a newly disabled artist. Cavesong - Symphony in a Miner Key was a live performance, engaging a international cast of singers and sound artists, that employed a core training of Eastern European Ensemble Theatre - a demanding physical theatre practice - to work in response to site.
However, the increasing instability and unpredictability of my pain condition was beginning to make it impossible to sustain this type of work moving forwards. But this grounding, of working with ensembles of performers in landscape, led to the development of my solo practice today. Now the 'ensemble' that I attune to is the more-than-human world that I share the landscape with. I no longer sit on the sides of rehearsal rooms waiting to get better, or lessen my involvement just to stay in the game, now my lived experience of disability is central the work I make.
It was the filmed documentation of the project that you see here which ignited my interest in working with film. Not only did it promise to help negotiate the demands of long rehearsals and live performance but, crucially, with film, I realised that I could take the audience into places and spaces beyond the live performance. Our audience saw the show stood on a boat as we performed live in the cavern, but in this film, which was only ever meant to document the work, there is a moment where you see outside the entrance to the cavern.
And so, from this work, I began to craft an invitation, an invitation to myself to work in a more gentle and responsive way with myself, and an invitation to audiences to join me in a deeper, more intimate, and sensory exploration of the landscapes I found myself in, spending time in places they'd love to go - but maybe can't.