By Bev Adams, Faceless Arts
We have reached the next phase of our project – production – and are preparing our presentation for the Utopia Fair at Somerset House in London in June. The project is multi-faceted, as all Faceless Arts’ projects are, this time with the added facet of co-production with Leeds University TLANG. What will we present? It will include research findings; documentation from our “Welcome” workshops with refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds and Wakefield; a “drop in” workshop and a performance, called Driftwood, that will move through the Utopia Festival site.
The presentation is centered around a market stall. On this stall we will display the “wares” of our project. We will divide the stall in half – half for research findings and half for a “drop” in visual arts workshop. On the research half of the stall we will display the 5 wall hangings on the theme of “Welcome” created with refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds and Wakefield, along with a booklet explaining our research process, photographs from the visual arts and song workshops in Leeds and Wakefield, as well as a media player for the 3 minute DVD created by Paul Cooke. On the “workshop” part of the stall, we will invite visitors to the fair to make a “Welcome” sign, using silver survival blanket fabric to as a base and coloured adhesive vinyls for the lettering. We have also designed a “welcome banner” from the refugee artwork which hang from the stall canopy.
We have designed the puppets and the boat for the Driftwood performance. In brief the performance concept is that of a Driftwood boat with Driftwood puppets sailing through a public space. The boat will be constructed of a light material to look like Driftwood as Driftwood is too heavy at the 6ft size of boat we wish to make. We are also working with the idea of flotsam, so the puppets have driftwood arms and a plastic milk bottle head sporting scarves/hats made from fruit nets.
The idea of the production is that conversations about welcome and arriving newcomers ensue during the drop in workshop, with our artists paving the way for the workshop participants to welcome the refugees. The boat will then arrive at the workshop and we will facilitate participants and audience to provide a safe haven for the boat and its passengers. The participants can wave their welcome “flags” to guide the boat to shore and then use the survival fabric to help the puppets feel warm and safe.
- Our next stage is construction and final preparation. The “to do” list is as follows:
- Agree booklet content, choose and print images
- Print canopy banner
- Make 20-30 Driftwood/Flotsam puppets, clothe them and make life-jackets
- Make the boat to carry the puppets
- Rehearse the show – 3 performers
- Prepare workshop materials – for preview at Leeds University and a weekend of presentations at the Utopia Fair
- Site visit to Leeds campus for preview
- Pack for transportation.