Avenue’ Chateaux De Bosmolet, Normandy, France – West Beach, Newhaven, UK

Photography credit: Mac Praed Media, Diep-Haven Festival 2018

Creating avenues of trees is one of the oldest ideas in landscaping. The etymology of avenue originates from the French word ‘Venir’ meaning ‘to come’, it emphasises arrival; a clear route, a path, a trajectory.  These lines in the landscape are both static and signal movement, when surveying an avenue your eye travels along its axis from one end to another, there is a start and a finishing point, in this way it is transportative, a journey from one part of the landscape to another.

 

These lines in the landscape are literal ancient traces of history still alive today. Lime trees in particular were used to plant avenues due to their quick growing capabilities but also because of their long life span, the lime trees at Chateaux Bosmelet were planted by the great Le Nôtre’s gardener, Colinet, around 1718 and form the longest avenue in Europe.

 

This form of landscaping were first planted to frame the landscape in a way that emphasized the prestige and grandeur of man-made architecture, however as a consequence of war and revolution, in many cases this architecture no longer exists. While the avenues remain very much the same as they did hundreds of years ago, many lines of trees now end in space.

 

To explore the line as both a drawing and a journey, ‘Avenue’ was created simultaneously in Normandy and on Newhaven’s West Beach along a laser axis between the two countries, so they were both disconnected and connected. ‘Avenue also explores the historic connection between the French and English landscape through an exchange of local material – chalk – between the two coasts. The line follows the exact trajectory of the proposed path of the V1 missiles that were developed and built by the Nazi’s at Chateau de Bosmolet as part of an uncovered plot to bomb Britain.

 

There is a long history of association between war and tree avenues. Across many countries avenues of trees (in particular Limes) have been planted to honour the fallen in war. In 2016 there was much controversy in Sheffield when the council ordered the 96 Lime trees planted in 1918 to commemorate the soldiers lost in the 1st World War to be cut down.

 

In a letter home during the 1st World War, the English officer A.D Gillespie proposed an avenue of trees be planted along the Western front in commemoration of the horrors of the Great War, this idea was positively received but never carried out. Gillespie proposed this as both memorial and also pilgrimage, emphasising the idea that an avenue of trees functions both as a physical trace (a monument, a drawing) but also as conduit for movement

 

I wish that when peace comes, our government might combine with the French government to make one long avenue between the lines,’ he wrote. ‘Then I would like to send every man, woman and child in Western Europe on pilgrimage along that via sacra so that they might think and learn what war means from the silent witnesses on either side.’ A.D Gillespie

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Dark Steps

A Clog dance interpreting the financial trading data of BREXIT

A filmed performance of a clog dance performed by the Seven Stars Sword and Step Dancers, Wigan, 2016

"Clog dancing originated in the North of England over 200 years ago. It is thought to have developed in the Lancashire Cotton Mills where wooden-soled clogs were preferred to leather soles because the floors were kept wet to keep humidity high, an important feature in cotton spinning, as the nails in leather soles could cause sparks, which could result in risk of explosion.

 

The Clog dance steps were inspired by the rhythmic sounds of the textile machinery, and it is said to have first been danced by girls working in the cotton mills. They would beat out a rhythm with their wooden clogs to keep in time with the shuttle flying backwards and forwards across the loom. They would also sing choruses whilst stepping to the rhythm of the machines.

 

There were a variety of machines in the many mills of the Midlands and North West, each machine built for a specific function. There were many rhythms, and as the girls clog danced it is said that those watching the dancers could tell which machines they worked at, and from which mill"

 

 The Rhythm of the Mills: Clog Dances from the Lancashire Cotton Mills

Grafted Chorus

A public commission with Future Perfect for Whitchurch and Hengrove community orchard, Bristol.

Local residents were invited to create a series of songs in response to their community and orchard with composer Tina Hitchens. These were performed together, by the residents, in a continuous 'graft' on the 1st of July 2017. All photographs by Ellen Wilkinson 2017

Swansong; From Dawn Till Dusk

 

From Dawn until dusk on Sunday the 28th of October, 2014, people were invited to sing unaccompanied from the hole at D.I.G Collective in the Medieval Garden in Hackney, condemned to demolision.

Each performance had two witnesses, one person viewing from atop the Medieval Tower that overlooks the garden, veiwing the spectacle and listening to the singer stansmitted live via headphones, while the other witness was placed in the garden and recorded the performance.

Each track is a testimony of a song sung, a walk through a garden, with all of its own noises and birdsong, a time, a place, a passing moment.

The work plays on the notion of a Swan Song, based on an ancient belief that swans were born without vocal chords and remained silent throughout life, only to emit a beautiful, magical song in the moments of death. I wanted to give the garden its own voice in the wake of imminent demolition.

 

Singers:

Sophie Mason, Richard Evans-Lacey, Marie - Pascale Hardy, Nick Hunt, William Bock, Emily Hughes, David Hughes, Gen Doy, Caroline Williams, Robert Cervera, Anouk Cervera, Lucia Thompson, Luara Burns, Anna Ling, Kimberly Arms, Greg McLaren, Edward Harkness, Kenny Westell, Jamie Routley, Dom Kinsky, Will Sykes, Ross Thomas, Andy Caruso, Vesta Kroese, Katie Hefford, Freya Gabie

 

Witnesses:

Marie-Pascale Hardy, William Bock, Sophie Mason, Freya Gabie, Nick Hunt, David Hughes, Emily Hughes, Alba M, Charlotte Starkmann, Bernard Starkmann, Robert Cervera, Gen Doy, Charlotte Emma Onslow, Shavie Amber, Rob, Charlie Godet Thomas, Zoe Grey, Tamar Hpkins, Sam Coles, Kimberley Arms, Ting Cheng, Julie Yip, Jack Rumbold, Luica Thompson, Anna Ling, Anton Mirto, Naomi Wood, Isobel Wohl, Jamie Routley, Jennifer Evans, Andrew Coombs, Marella Bonacops, Will Mason, Emma Blackman, Dom Kinsky, Cara Ephson, Jessica Shepherd, Bevs, Ross Thomas, Will Sykes, Miriam Hindley, Tobias Gabie, Gloria Aura, Eleise Nelson, Jonny B Smith, Katie Hefford, Alida Sayer, Stewart Jenkin, Hattie Coppard, Chris Meade, Luke Roberts, Kate Bryant, Dean Bowman, Sally Roberts, Carrie Rutherford, Domenica de Ferranti, Laura Burns, Nicki Weiner, Patrick Hamil

Coalhole A Capella. Flow my Tears

 

Site specific performance in Central London

Singer Dario Dugandzig sang Lachrimae from a coal hole under the pavement, up, onto the street above to passers by.

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RED

Looped video, USF, Norway 2016

Till The Music Stops

 

Site Specific Installation in a Disused Dance Hall

Shown as part of a collaboration with Composer Nick Rafferty in the concert 'In Praise Of Shadows' Blackheath Hall 19.09.2013

 

Mud Hole Kareoke

 

(Still from Video)

Live Performance at Franconia Sculpture Pank, MN,USA Over the Summer 2013

People were invited to climb down into a six foot hole and sing unaccompanied. Parts of this performance was recorded as a film