Sensing the City is a new Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project that will undertake a series of site-specific studies of the city of Coventry through the media of dance, theatre, film, and visual art. This project will explore the relationship between arts practice and urban planning, contributing to future plans surrounding Coventry city’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021. Natalie Garrett Brown and Emma Meehan from C-DaRE will deliver the dance micro-project within Sensing the City. The aim is to explore the ways in which dance practitioners and the moving body offer spatial, haptic and affective understandings of the city landscape, as an evolving and dynamic landscape. Specifically, the project will use dance to engage with those that inhabit the city of Coventry and those that contribute to the public planning and social policy of the City. In taking this approach, the project recognises both the legacy of the past such as the post-war Modernist architecture common to the city alongside the current situation and future potential of Coventry for example the state of renewal and envisioning currently taking place in its bid for City of Culture. The micro-project will include practice-based research laboratories with site-based artists and researchers, and walking interviews and debates with practitioner researchers, local inhabitants, and local arts organisations and policy makers. This will result in podcasts, a symposium and exhibition at the Mead Gallery at University of Warwick, and a contribution to the project publication with a focus on how to create cities for communities of the 21st century.
Sensing the City: Documenting and Mapping the Tempers of Urban Place (a practice-based case-study of the city of Coventry):
- Principal investigator: Dr Nicolas Whybrow, University of Warwick
- Dance Micro-project: Dr Natalie Garrett Brown & Dr Emma Meehan, C-DaRE, Coventry University
Image: Christian Kipp; dancers: Amy Voris and Natalie Garrett Brown
This year is both a reflective time and one of planning as yet unmade and un-curated events in late 2018/2019. It seems I am teasing out strands of research whilst at the same time weaving them together in a Penelope like fashion.
I am writing and thinking about Calling Tree created with Simon Whitehead – a bespoke durational performance in and for a mature tree(s) in an urban setting. I am contemplating the relationship the work and I develop with its context and audience of strangers passing by and how and why my daily practice of talking to everyone who looked at the tree was so valuable. My desire to place artistic process in the everyday, in a public space raises artistic, ethical, political and philosophical questions about its affects on the various communities that share the space with the tree. Colleagues Eline Kieft, PhD student Cathy Washbrooke (who both observed some of the process of creating Calling Tree for St George’s Garden, Bloomsbury) and I are collating our thoughts for future writing and presentations.
I continue my curiosity about the relationship between language and our sensory and physical experience of the world, and the role metaphor plays in my own facilitation and creative practice, and in the formation of language and articulation of abstract concepts. Coupled with this is my wonder about the significance of touch in both our understanding and discovery of the world. I will be making a presentation for the Dance & Somatic Practices Conference in July to share this investigation.
I am hoping to co-present and curate a series of events including performance or film, talks, discussion and engagement across the UK that investigates what it might mean “to be touched”.
Additionally ongoing ponderings with fellow makers Jonathan Burrows and Siobhan Davies continues to inform my research and raise more questions and include unpicking we what might consider political in our practice and how to articulate what is often unconsciously assumed or known.
– Rosemary Lee
Calling Tree in Bloomsbury. Photo Ray Jacobs; performer Milton Lopes