A PECULIAR SHADE OF BLUE
A FILMIC STUDY ON THE NATURE OF GRIEF
A PECULIAR SHADE OF BLUE set out on a year’s cycle of research and development in February 2021 to create a sequence of 6 short films (stanzas) to chart a spacious and rhythmic journey through the nature of grief in our times.
As of writing early October 2021, we have completed three out of the six stanzas (short films) as planned, (Hollow, Threshold and Snot), and are currently working on the fourth (Salt) - with a further two to complete (Rain on Earth and Stars).
An important part of the creative process follows an unfolding journey through the mirror the earth provides us in real time. While ideas seed each stanza, once work begins its trajectory often takes us into unexpected corners. Overall, we are excited with results. Each stanza, as hoped, expressing a distinct 'world' within the journey of grief.
Here follows a short breakdown of each stanza's progress -
go to the side menu to jump between stanzas.
HOLLOW reached completion within for this cycle of R+D in March 2021.
While Spiderflower works with earth-engaged performance research, HOLLOW is the only stanza set within an entirely human-made environment specifically devoid of any natural connection. On purpose.
It carries intent to explore the top layer of how we, as a western culture, largely present and deal with grief. Which is, for the most part, to pack it away and not express or talk about it.
HOLLOW journeys into that state of being, making thorough exploration of both the tension and polarisation held between internalised sorrow and veneer of held expression. HOLLOW is dedicate to where we are disconnect and grief is actively suppressed.
HOLLOW, as all stanzas have proved to be so far, is complex and holds many layers. The piece reflects how isolation, separation and suppression impact us. It looks to the issue of connection vs disconnection and how this in turn effects our experience and behaviour as human beings through the journey of grief. How, over time, the disconnect environment contributes further to that state of separation and goes on to create an ever depleting spiral.
I wanted the set for HOLLOW to reflect a combination of confinement and stagnation, and found my way to work an outside alley - which was perfect. The creative process was gruelling, yet rewarding - as hours without sunlight or any contact led to that strange, 'unreal' space that can come with repressed grief finding its way into the piece, allowing us to explore how reality can warp within the emotional and mental state both within the movement and editing process.
THRESHOLD ran from April 1st and completed in late June 2021.
Stanza 2 explores the nature of the threshold (the place between two worlds or realities), our relationship with it and how it exists within different time frames (eternal or momentary) with particular reference to grief.
Venturing into THRESHOLD, I found myself frequently 'lost' and 'wandering'. Emerging from the repressive space of HOLLOW, searching and disorientation played a big part in the real time reflection received.
Now in dialogue with the natural world, the expanse of open space at Loe Bar saw THRESHOLD move onto explore edges and moments of tension and transition, experienced either internally or externally, as the passage of grief makes its way through a certain 'no-mans-land' in relation to those we have lost and long for. THRESHOLD explores that state within grief where we experience a loved one there - but not there, felt - but not seen.
After HOLLOW, it was huge relief to be out on the land, yet wild weather conditions over April and May delivered some perishing temperatures and extremely high winds making THRESHOLD a tough journey. Nevertheless, the mirrors the natural world delivered put pace to the work, bringing a unique atmosphere and language to the film.
SNOT began July 1st and completed late September, 2021.
In all honesty, this stanza could probably roll forever.
Each stanza marks a moment in the journey of grief that has a clear sign post rooted in the body - be it sensate or biological. As a movement practitioner, my intent is to anchor into the story of how grief expresses through the physical - rather than follow any kind of 'idea' or 'analysis'.
This is particularly true for SNOT, where I have needed place my trust in the motion of bodily fluids, and how, in griefs journey, if I am to follow beyond the point where its expression is usually shut down, continue to chart its natural motion along a course into the unknown.
When we move through HOLLOW and THRESHOLD into actively grieving, the body will, when we cry, produce and let go of snot. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. SNOT is obvious and is universal to us all. Something we all do - but never talk about. Fascinating as it is gross - the subject matter evokes a fairly wide spectrum of reaction - from shock, disgust to humour and giggling - a kind of morose curiosity usually follows whatever the case and people are, on the whole, interested.
On a social level - it is outlawed. Viewed as revolting, quickly wiped away and hidden (again) . . . but it serves an important purpose in the most immediate sense as when we are snotty, we are shedding and clearing our physical system, plus the substance protects us biologically.
Additional, on looking into the dynamics of creation, SNOT as a form of plasma has an important role to play in the creation cycle as a substance important to life in its pre-form stages. Dig a little deeper, and you will also find it has an important place in creation myths where it too is honoured as a life-giver, and essential for renewal.
So, it's extremely important to open this out as it is dynamic within the realms of grief. The question; 'what happens within grief when allowed to follow the course it wants and needs to?' leads the way.
SNOT pierces the membrane of what we know around grief to dive into the hidden and unseen. Raw and honest, our journey took an unexpected turn and was drawn into new terrain to work in a system of truly ancient caves (for there is the matter that grief as an emotion is indeed ancient too). This has been a deep and involved stanza to work with, taking that much longer than others. Venturing here has opened out such richness, and although accessing the caves has been hard work over an extended duration, it has been well worth staying with the story as it evolves from this place.
Stepping into SNOT, has been revelatory. The magic of the filming process has really come to the fore, resulting in some incredibly interesting cinematography where the eye of the camera has delivered an entirely different perspective to what we may perceive as humans, opening out Snot visually for us as many unexpected nuances within the expression of grief at this depth deliver a storyline that intertwines grief as death, as birth, as pain yet euphoria - then takes a nose dive both back and forward in time, with particular reference to our relationship with the future, the children to come - and this, the earth our home.
I most certainly did not experience getting 'lost' in tracking this stanza as I did with THRESHOLD, but am simply challenged as heading into the unknown opens up a river that could run eternal and explode with endless layers.
With great thanks to the NATIONAL TRUST (Lizard Peninsular and Penrose) for their support.
The journey for SALT polarises between crystalline and liquid forms to explore both dry land and underwater worlds.
Watch this space for further updates.
RAIN ON EARTH
RAIN ON EARTH is interactive, and works to weave the human story of grief throughout time with the emergent story of this stanza.
Due to begin early November, 2021 and complete December 2022.
Currently resting in the unknown. To end.
BOOK OF POETRY
All scenes are initially written in poetics. As story translates into imagery, vast swathes of poetry have to be cut during edits. Original text is being preserved in a 'Book of Poetry' to offer a window into initial translations of dialogue between body and earth.
THE CENTRE FOR EARTH-ENGAGED PERFORMANCE RESEARCH
Is building alongside the project, ready to launch in a basic on-line format alongside the films.
Go here for details of the UK Film-share:
Dive in here for more on the project's intent and deeper detail: