As a creator I have often been drawn to the concept that noted director Peter Brook (amongst many other things known for being the co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and author of the key theatre text "The Empty Space") calls "the formless hunch" - it is that feeling that doesn't go away and though it maybe as vague and un-solid as a gentle waft of perfume in the air, something of it pertains and lingers. It is like something that you cannot put your finger on, but that will not go away.
For me, one such "formless hunches" is the presence of the horse. It makes little sense as I am not, nor ever have been, a rider - yet as a child as an avid reader I loved novels with horses (I seem to remember that one was of course Black Beauty by Anna Sewell).
Living in Aberystwyth (West Wales) from 2000, I was very lucky to be close to Equilibre Horse Theatre, a company founded by Jane Lloyd-Francis alongside the dressage company, Carreg. Equilibre Horse Theatre (which sadly is no longer running) was a wonderful experimentation with actors and horses that led to a production each summer. Regular actors were colleagues such as Ian Morgan who comes with an impeccable pedigree of years in the Grotowski Workcenter, and is a long term member of the "Song of the Goat" (just this week mentioned in the Guardian guide to 10 best alternative city breaks as one of the reasons to visit Wroclaw). Directors included Centre for Performance Research's Richard Gough, and designers like Simon Banham (co-founder of Quarantine) so the work was always highly visually, physical and filled with vocal colour and intensity.
This opportunity combined with my fascination of choreographers like Trisha Brown and the whole post modern dance movement which Sally Banes outlined and marked in "Terpsichore in Sneakers" where she mapped out the important shapers (such as Judson Dance Theatre, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, David Gordon, Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs, Meredith Monk, Kenneth King, Douglas Dunn and The Grand Union) and their steps to move through and beyond the restrictions of classical technique. Virtuosity for virtuosities sake was questioned and choreographers like Brown took to exploration of alternative performance spaces, and the lines between trained and un-trained movement, so that pedestrian movements such as walking or falling were equally relevant in a choreography as would be a jeté or arabesque.
In this vein, to work with horses that have an extensive movement training was completely intriguing. I began a brief collaboration in with Jane Lloyd-Francis in my site specific work "Seapiece" in 2002. In the spring of 2010, the Arts Council of Wales funded a period of research and development of a project that I called “What if? / Beth os?” so there was a chance to continue the exploration.
My idea was to investigate ideas about landscape and its representation in performance based around questions of how to make a song of a space, and how to make a portrait of a landscape.
I was returning to West Wales after a large amount of time spent in Argentina. So it was as if as well as the voice of Dylan Thomas in my head, I had added the labyrinthian words and world of Jorge Luis Borges. Thus I began this work thinking about the strange mirror that exists between Patagonia and Wales, where despite a separation of 13,000 kilometres and many years, there still persists a community of Welsh speakers. I was thinking of landscape and travel where the horse has been a key to our development.
During the working process composer Oscar Edelstein came up with the title “A Horse Bleeding Shakespeare” that perfectly captured the magical epic presence of the horse and its ability to be a macro or microcosm.
The final result of the research process that culminated in a day's filming on Ynyslas beach.
An exhibition is being planned in Buenos Aires for later in 2016 and at the end of 2016 there will be a full colour book.
It was a "formless hunch" that led to images that I had not predicted and was thanks to an incredible team of collaborators.
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Complete set of 55 images
The images in this series of 55 are available as limited edition fine-art archival prints sized at 375 x 500 cm each limited to 15 plus 5 Artist's Proofs. All prints will be hand numbered and signed by the artist. They will be also supplied with Provenance Certificates authenticating the type of paper, date printed and number in the edition. In addition there is a PDF explaining more about the work.
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