Its now June 3rd, one could say the Summer has come and gone and this skills exchange blog post comes out again, months after the doing.
James King who I have known a number of years – and whose work I have seen and attended workshops with in Northern Ireland – was in Dublin last Winter when I think I might have suggested I was available for travel as I now have a free bus pass which includes Northern Ireland!
So, I was invited by him to come up for a ‘gig’, an outdoor, impromptu, live Art Performance session with himself and Chris Gillen. So I found myself on the bus heading North.
A cold day with threats of much rain was in the forecast.
It was to be in Ebrington Square which was once a military marching square but now an open public space.
I was met by my two gentlemen friends and had a cup of coffee in the bus station before crossing the Peace Bridge (a really beautiful structure over a very wide and strong flowing river Foyle). A first for me against a wind that was trying to pull off my beret as we walked.
We briefly discussed what we hoped to do in the space.
I planned to circumnavigate the space, merely walking around the perimeter and then maybe be drawn into the centre gradually.
James had discussed how he was interested in the maze structure and shape and hoped to navigate from the centre outwards.
The local county council were placing some sort of plastic hedging into a maze like structure so our space use was overlapping theirs but seemed like all was well.
We started working. I set out on my plan but I found the material was tugging to get away from me as now and then high gusts of wind were whipping up across the space from the river.
I enjoyed ‘playing’ the material a bit like a sort of long kite, it was even trying to rip away from my hands so at times I needed to wind it about myself and lean away from the wind while it flew high up in the sky and I could lean my body like a sort of human flagpole watching it dance up behind me. I was fascinated with my own new work but was aware of the other two as well.
James was under some blue covering and slowing crawling around making marks in the sand as he went, making some low grumbling growling noises?
Chris was walking slowly with a pink balloon tied to an upside down umbrella both of these objects also seemed to take off on their own, he also was involved with a spool of thread.
So all three of us worked away, people came and went across the space about their business, one child asked me “What was I doing“, I said “Playing with the wind”
He watched me for some time and then went off after his mother going around the corner of the square.
A man came up to me to ask had we got permission to be there.
I was reluctant to tell him to go to James, but he was very ‘officious’, he was the ‘Site Manager’, so he went to James who ignored him and continued to shuffle across under his blue plastic shell, later another man joined and I did not know what ensued but saw both men huddled under the plastic talking to its occupant.
We were there for maybe two hours and then stopped, it was not till then did I notice how cold it was.
There were no ‘art’ people around, no ‘invited public’ but the hedge makers came up and two said to me, “That was really beautiful, you made my day, thank you.”
So an other cuppa coffee and away home on the long bus ride back to Dublin, feeling tired but content.
This piece of art was good, it worked well in the space, it allowed people to interact harmlessly as it floated over peoples heads. That’s enough for me.
I hope I can invite James to Dublin for some more performance, street theatre, gigs, public interventions, whatever.
James King has been doing spontaneous street art activity for over twenty years in Derry, Belfast, Omagh and London.
He writes bulletins with sketches relating to this work which recently has been compiled into a wonderful book, ‘Moving Pitches’ by James King.
Well worth looking into if you are interested in this playful way of traversing space, time and place.
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