All information is provisional but is intended to give you a sense of each of the workshops. There are three groups of workshops so you will be able to choose ONE from each group. Descriptions will be revised as production details become clearer for each workshop. Online booking is no longer available.
For the outdoor workshops please be prepared for the weather and conditions – this is England in June and we can expect anything from pouring rain and wind to warm and sunny conditions. So it’s a good idea to wear sturdy shoes or wellies and layers of clothing including something waterproof. You might also want to bring an umbrella, bottle of water, and a blanket or cushion to sit on.
We aim for this workshop to be accessible to as many people as possible, but some will include walking on rough terrain, up hills, and in mud. If you think your preferred workshop might present a physical challenge for you please contact us before you book.
Group A (June 8, morning)
Deborah Black: Viewpoints Improvisation: Postmodernism and the Landscape
[Outdoors]Viewpoints is a post-modern theory and improvisational practice originated by American choreographer, Mary Overlie. in which encounters with the materials of space, time, shape, emotion, story, and movement encourage somatic knowledge.
Usually Viewpoints is practiced in a studio to encourage performers to notice their assumptions about these materials. In this workshop, we will practice the Viewpoints outside for the same reason. What are our assumptions about our relationship to nature?
The materials of space, time, movement, and shape will be examined through improvisations. The participants will attempt to juggle the relationships between working with the materials and the influence they might receive from the other people and landscape around them. This will help them to encounter the reality of observing and participating simultaneously.
Additionally, Overlie’s theory of the original anarchist will be discussed and practiced as a principle of care and co-existence.
At the end of the workshop, participants will create instant compositions based on the materials in a group. We will watch one another interact with the materials and perhaps relationships and stories to the land will be revealed.
Deborah Black was based from 2013-2016 in Europe teaching physical theater and dance and collaborating with two interdisciplinary companies: the Tuning People (BE) and YMIST Company (NO). While previously living in NYC for nearly 15 years and working with Deborah Hay, Siobhán (Karl) Cronin, and the SITI Company, she began her current research of collective and individual daily practices, conflict management/creativity, and ecology.
Black’s teaching and performance practice includes Viewpoints improvisation, Suzuki-based acting training, and post-modern movement and dance styles. Currently she is working with Artists Rise Up New York, creating theatre for social change.
Camilla Nelson: Exploding Human Language
[Outdoors]This workshop explores continuities and differences between the sounds, marks and movements of humans and trees. This workshop asks participants to embody what it is to make a sound/mark/movement like and tree and then with a tree. We explore the differences and similarities of getting to know a tree through mimesis – translating tree marks/sounds/movements into human marks/sounds/movements – and collaboration – a working with a tree to create marks/sounds/movements. What do we learn about ourselves and about these trees through this creative process? After this initial exploration participants will be invited to devise short performances combining sound,movement and mark-making with a tree to share with the rest of the group as they feel comfortable. Participants will then be invited to pair up to develop their work collabroatively. We will end with a sharing of work and a discussion of the way in which these processes of encounter are able to deconstruct our understanding of language as the sole repository or defining feature of human being and consider to what extent our collective performances might be regarded as a form of interspecies language-making and/or communication.
Mobility is required either by wheels or on foot. Some experience of writing and/or performance would be useful but not essential.
Camilla Nelson is a language artist, researcher and collaborator across a range of disciplines. Her current work includes Reading Movement, a series of movement language works including collaborative and solo performances as well as page-based publications (long-listed for The Leslie Scalapino Award 2016). Camilla has two collections out this year, Apples & Other Languages (long-listed for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize) with Knives Forks and Spoons and A Yarn Er Narrative published by Contraband. Camilla is founding editor of Singing Apple Press. Her research uses an entropic approach to language to investigate and reform human and other-than-human relations.
Group B (June 8, morning)
Tony Whitehead: Other Voices
[Outdoors]Tony Whitehead has been running a series of listening and stillness walks (Other Voices) in the build-up to the conference. These have been held at a secret location on Dartmoor. Read about them here. He will lead a listening event to introduce and re-connect you to the diverse voices of the birds and other animals we share our days with, but often pass unheard.
Tony has had a lifelong interest in birds and wildlife. He has worked for RSPB for over twenty years in a variety of roles from managing nature reserves, running environmental educations projects to managing the charity’s communications in the south west. His passion is for the sounds of birds and how people can be encouraged to connect to nature through listening to and learning the “language” of wildlife.
John Hartley: NONLINEAR RIVER
[Outdoors]A collaborative, floating reading of the Dart, that attempts to register a crowded and ever-changing environment of ‘strange strangers’ (Morton, 2010) including the river and the event’s participants.
The event, or act is intentionally pitched into a mode of ambiguity (or indisciplinarity after Ranciere, 2006), that entangles arts practice with academic paper, collective investigation with artwork, the social and the formal, study and play.
It is also draws on the creative reading method of ‘interscription’ developed through the research group Sensing Site. Interscription doesn’t seek an objective, unchanging space from which to securely ‘read’ environment, instead insisting that every reading is implicated in changes to that which is read. It is also intentionally builds in redundant space, eddies and sudden changes of state, in contrast to modernist behavioural geometries of efficiency.
Inhabiting the river as a starting point, practices (including meditation, swimming, looking, reading of scientific and theoretical texts) will be deployed in situ to engage with and entangle waves, oscillations, turbulence, flow, accretion, erosion and collapse. The event will move through a series of stages that encompass directed and directionless, inviting reference and resonance with nonlinear behaviours of different scale brought to visibility by the group.
Rather than a metaphoric device (acting in the place of something that it is not), immersion in the river will be used as a way of reading ways of change that are common to human experience, social and economic structures and more-than-human occurrences.
John Hartley is an artist and researcher based in London and Devon. His artworks explore creative ecologies and apparatuses including urban and marine locations, floating devices and collapsing technologies. He completed a PhD at Falmouth University on interdisciplinary understanding of sustainable arts practice and previously worked on Arts and Ecology at Arts Council England. Currently his is working to develop the Arts and Cultural offer of University of Exeter.
Silvia Battista: Writing with/in the body/flesh/landscape
[Outdoors]This workshop will engage with writing as a collective effort that includes human and non-human influences, with a maximum of nine participants.
Creative writing, when orchestrated collectively via a set of instructions aimed to embed it in the surrounding landscape, it becomes a method, a strategy for accessing and narrating perceptive experiences that hint toward the more than human.
Here, leaves, grass, trees, meadows, insects all contribute to the activity of writing as a collective human and non-human possibility. By playing with timely alternated instances of silence, listening, writing, reading, touching, smelling, gazing, writing and reading again perception is manipulated, manifesting its performative qualities.
This method gradually embeds writing into the landscape of the senses, attuning it with the pluralities of sensations traversing the permeable confines dividing the self from all ‘the others’ into a continuous exchange between inner and outer sensitivities of human and non-human voices. The fixity of the written word is therefore exchanged for a processual collective reinvention of writing as a creative, imaginative channeling of the pluralities of whispers coming from a landscape which exceeds fixed physical and biological boundaries.
Participants are required to adhere to the given instructions and at the same time to be able to experience creative freedom within the limitations that the instructions provide. Therefore, some degree of experience with meditative and contemplative technologies of the self is expected.
Silvia Battista holds a PhD (2008-2014) in performance studies (Royal Holloway University). She is interested in areas of research engaged with perception and identity; with all the processes, discourses and practices that affect the way we see ourselves and others. In 2006 the Italian Studies Collective of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures of the University of Chicago regarded her work ‘InnerVisions’ as one of the best outcomes of Italian/English hyper-poetry of the year. The same year she won the first prize of the Oberon Book Competition. At present she is a lecturer at Liverpool Hope University.
Richard Lewis: genius loci: connecting with Dartington’s ancient woods
[Outdoors]It is perhaps one of the ironies of conferences such as this, that whilst discussing our experiences of connecting to non-human nature, most of us have had to leave behind the places where these connections are most fully developed – our homes and the landscapes, communities, places and organisms that we engage with daily.
This workshop offers an opportunity to connect more deeply to the non-human nature of the Dartington Hall Estate, our temporary home for these three days. We will use a balance of intuitive and rational knowledge to explore the complementary ways these sets of information can help us to build a deeper connection place.
In this workshop we will:
- Walk to a patch of ancient woodland on the Dartington Hall Estate.
- Take time to engage our senses and connect intuitively with this special place.
- Hear stories inspired by research about the wood’s geology, ecology, history and pre-history.
- With this information fresh in our thoughts, we will once more take time to engage our senses and deepen our intuitive connection.
- Share our experiences with each other and reflect on the roles of intuitive and rational knowledge in creating a connection to the Genius Locus of this particular wood.
- Walk back across the estate to the main conference venue.
The walk to the woodland is around 20 minutes walk each way (a total of around 40minutes). This will be outdoors on paths that may be muddy, steep or uneven in places, and may also involve crossing a stile. We will also spend about 90 minutes standing still or sitting in woodland, whatever the weather.
Please come prepared for the weather and conditions. You might want to wear sturdy shoes and warm, waterproof clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy. You might also want to bring an umbrella, bottle of water, and a blanket or cushion to sit on.
We aim for this workshop to be accessible to as many people as possible. Please let us know ASAP if you might not be able to easily walk this distance, so we can make other transport arrangements. Please also get in contact if you have any other accessibility concerns and we will try to find workable solutions.
Richard Lewis is a botanist, ecologist, basketmaker and activist. He has recently moved to the Southwest and is happily settling into life in the South Hams. He is a member of the Estate Environmental Conservation Group for the Dartington Hall Trust.
Stuart Mugridge: running a #DartingtonLangscape
NOTE that this is you are participating in part 1 you should be fit enough to undertake a four-mile run on uneven terrain. We will post additional information here once it is available.
The workshop comprises two interlinked parts:
1) a four-mile (6.5km) run on trails and paths within the gently undulating landscape surrounding Dartington Hall (max. group size 6);
2) 30-minute post-run performative participatory activity (max. group size 15).
[NB the run will be taken at a gentle pace but it is not necessary to participate in the run to be part of the post-run activity.]Embracing the Cynic doctrine of “defacing the currency,” this activity will explore how physical exertion and landscape can alter our language and words. This is not about (necessarily) communicating with landscape as in a conversation but instead is talking with landscape where the “with” becomes a form of through (with-of). Much maybe lost or altered in translation but that is part of the commitment.
In a local sense the run (in particular) will explore the language of a Dartington landscape, wherein toponyms become material for exploration—Thistlepark, Stillpool, Staverton Ford—and are enmeshed with the language of running and the patterns of breathing and speech brought about through exertion.
We will trade in homophones, neologisms and repetitions as language and words get broken down and re-conglomerated with the Dartington topography.
These actions return a sensuality to the language—the sensuality of the tongue (fr. langue) is re-inserted into language—as the distance between language and landscape is at once exploited and dismantled. The post-run activity (allowing non-runners to participate in the work) will extend the run’s work into a form of group langscape shaping.
Stuart Mugridge is an artist. His work utilizes words and plays with language. In 1993 (whilst at Exeter School of Art) he produced Walk to Mamhead Obelisk. He continued to make artist’s books (inspired by landscape) through the late 1990s and early 2000s. From 2001 works such as Media Village Panorama (2004) signaled a shift into public art. In 2012 he completed an MA in Fine Art at Birmingham School of Art. He is currently undertaking a practice-led PhD entitled –and-being-of-the-flows-[fold here]-running-Romantically-a-#BritishLangscape- where he is utilising the malleability of language and landscape to explore the creative act.
Group C (June 9, morning)
Patricia Brien & Tatia Nichols-Arlès – Writing and Being Written
a text(ile) workshop in 2D and 3D
We live immersed in our environment through an interface between our inner and outer experience of the world. Our daily confrontation with multiple subjectivities (current political populist politics, etc) may be potentially coaxed into a broader ‘objective’ or open space as we shift between the seen and unseen that defines our experience. The experience of being ‘caught in the fabric of the world’ (Merleau-Ponty) may be woven into our consciousness – our ‘flesh’ through a dialogue between 2D and 3D in text and textile play.
By exploring place, found artefacts and experimenting with text in a writing and making process, this workshop aims to explore our connection to the larger scale of weaving ‘spiritual warmth’ (Beuys) between our textual articulations, the notions of 2D & 3D junctures, the subjective/objective journey within a textile storytelling context.
Patricia Brien is the Principal Lecturer and Academic Manager of Fashion & 3D Design at the University of South Wales, Cardiff. She focuses her research on the connections between clothing and textile artefacts, people, environmental issues, place and eco-spirituality.
Tatia Nichols-Arlės has a BA in Creative Writing from University of Gloucestershire and a MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She is primarily interested in experimental or intertextual writing where the boundaries between genres, media, rules and limitations is blurred or transgressed.
Laura Cooper & Hermione Spriggs – Underwood
Underwood explores what humans can learn from forests as interconnected systems. Based on pioneering research exploring the idea that trees in a forest relate and communicate with each other through a complex rhizomatic network of roots and fungi, through which they share resources and are interdependent (Suzanne Simard, UBC). Their survival, and the entire ecosystem, relies on this underground “web” which is virtually analogous to maps of the human neural network and the internet. We propose to delve into this physical underground consciousness and use it as a model for the way we make decisions and react to others.
The workshop taking place in woods onsite, is both a performative experiment in group dynamics and an attempt to make a physical map of a section of forest. We will work as a group to collaboratively produce a “map” of the dynamic underground root network through movement drawing. The act of mapping, of manifesting the underground world above ground, is here inseparable from the act of walking – the movements of the group will trace out an imagined, intuited set of lines, connections and nodes that reveal much about the ways that knowledge is embodied and enacted in people’s movements through, and shared experience of, the forest space. As a group we’ll consider the ways that hierarchies, power dynamics and collaboration can be compared between human and forest communities with a heightened degree of physical sensitivity.
Laura Cooper and Hermione Spriggs are individual visual artists who come together to collaborate on special projects, they share an interest in the complex relationship between humans, nature and other animals in an increasingly homogenized ecosystem. They are both experienced leading performance workshops with local people that are based around observation, exploration and movement. The two artists met in Mongolia as part of Land Art Mongolia 3rd Biennale, where both were collaborating closely with local nomadic herds-people and their animals.We draw from our hybrid backgrounds including ethnography, drawing, medical hypnosis and horse whispering.
Laura Denning: Primordial Soup
A variation on the theme of the workshop with conversation at its heart.
Having worked at Cleveland Pools (Bath) in 2016, I am now developing new work in response to the site which considers how humans and other species relate to water, and to each other through water. The semi-circular lido is believed to be the oldest public outdoor swimming pool in England (1815). The pools were built next to the river on the site of old marl pits, between the railway and the canal. The pool closed in 1984 and was used for a short time as a trout farm before falling into disrepair. It was originally filled with water from the river. Some believe that the Ladies Pool was originally used as a Mikveh by the Jewish women of Bath in the 1800s. More recently, the upper pool was used for immersion baptism by Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are still random trout in the water, which is overgrown with thriving aquatic flora. Water itself has no intrinsic DNA. I have access to the DNA data of the water through recent surveys, and intend to use this to create a geo-narrative using Augmented Reality. Others will be able to access the work using mobile app technology to link to sound, moving image and other media.
We will walk, in pairs and threes, across the estate towards Aller Park and back. Before we start off, each couple will be given 2/3 short paragraphs taken from current literature about the more than human, and about interspecies relationships, and asked to chat in their pairs as we go, responding to the texts they have been given.
Once we arrive at our destination we will spend 15-20 mins sharing our thoughts with the wider group.
We will then spend 15-20 mins exploring my artwork Soup. This will require access to the Layar app on smartphones (link below). By pointing the app at ‘portals’ provided by the artist, sound and video works will become available on your phones which will unfold as a digital exhibition which is intimate yet transportable. We will then walk back to the Symposium.
https://www.layar.com/mobile-download/ PLEASE DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL THIS APP IF YOU ARE PARTICIPATING
I work in moving image and sound, creating films and sonic drawings. I also working with augmented reality. I am currently working as a commissioned artist on Daisi’s Art Machina project, and have a 3 month residency in Burry Port, Carmarthenshire. Recipient of the BSU Research Centre for Environmental Humanities inaugural PhD Studentship, my practice-led research asks – what are the parameters of an arts practice which seeks to articulate located subjectivities that can disrupt dominant discourses surrounding climate change?
Special: Overnight Sit with Tony Whitehead
Day 2: 23.00 to dawn
Join sonic artist / naturalist Tony Whitehead and sit in silence by the River Dart. Come and go as you wish: join in for an hour… stay all night… greet the dawn. A rare opportunity to embrace the river, the night and the silence. Write, sing to yourself, meander in your mind, or gently snooze.
In this immersive overnight event you’’ll start by listening to the dusk chorus, then spend time tuning in to the sounds of the night. Then settle down, spend quiet time, maybe doze, awaiting the first song of the morning.
You’ll need warm clothes and a waterproof layer, good shoes, and a torch.