Here’s Matthew Evans of Gameshow who’s leading our project in hotels to introduce this week’s work:
I’m really pleased to be back working with Cardboard Citizens again. We have found creative ways to meet and work with new people, while staying entirely by ourselves. This week the participants, Jessie and I got to know each other a bit better, reflecting on the group’s creative ideas and experiences.
We are also getting used to a new way of working, exploring the potential for group video calls. I’m used to sharing physical space with workshop groups, which is not possible in the same way at the moment. But we have stumbled on unexpected bonuses to online workshops – our simultaneously being both in our own space alone and shared space together; allowing everyone to scrutinise images up close in their own time (once I work out the screen sharing function); even the enforced focus of the mute button.
This week’s challenge tackled scale – asking questions about the big and the small. As you can see, this prompted responses that took the form of poetry, prose, photography and collage. The enormous structure of a local roundabout features a couple of times, as do the tiny details of the hotel rooms. Participants’ imaginations spiralled beyond the challenge itself towards bigger ideas of silence, absence and a shared humanity.
I’m used often, but often forgotten,
I’m cleaned daily but almost absently,
I’m placed in a space and forgotten until called upon.
If you hold me under running water the wrong way I cause a Tsunami,
If you leave cereal stuck to me it creates a stain on my polished stainless steel,
If you dip me in sugar, I will make your life sweeter.
We are small, although we are big,
We are alone; however we thrive when integrated with others,
We are one, on the other hand we are different.
Be the spoon.
The Ancient Forest of the White Mountains
The Forest of Ancients, White Mountains, California. A dispersed forest of long-living, robust Bristlecone Pines. They need space to grow and respect social distance. Reproducing infrequently, every forest member is valued. At nearly 5000 years old, Methuselah is the oldest tree on earth.
Not too long ago, a new seedling germinated. Spring turned to summer and the older trees noticed a ferocious storm approaching. The White Mountains are a harsh environment, so Methuselah spoke to the forest. “Be ready, trees of the Ancient Forest, a ferocious storm is approaching. It will test your resilience and not all will survive. Be wise, be flexible, do not resist the winds. Bend to their power and death will not approach you”.
The rains started, big fat drops, the sapling felt afraid and alone. Rather than tense with fear, he observed Methuselah’s advice, and surrendered to the powerful winds ravaging the forest. As the veil of night lifted, the light of dawn crept over the forest. The sapling awoke, bruised and beaten, the young sapling was half drowned, but alive. It took weeks for the forest to recover. As the sapling came alive, so did his curiosity.
Pines of the Ancient Forest amass great wisdom with years: wisdom stems from a curious mind. Clothed in his winter cloak, the sapling realised that he was very small, all he could see was the forest floor. He shouted to great Methuselah, but his tiny voice could barely carry. Other saplings took up the call, through innumerable repetitions, the question reached Methuselah. “What can you see from your crown?”
Great Methuselah thought for a long time. Finally, recognising curiosity, he spoke in the language of the Ancients.
Be still my mind, meditate in this way.
Be still my mind, meditate in this way.
The universe plays divine music, when I listen from a place of awareness, sweet waves of melodies and emotions flow through me.
The wise one listens and instructs himself to meditate into infinity.
Meditate without meditating.
Let my soul be the vessel in which I collect sweet nectar.
The wise one drinks of this nectar and is sustained.
In this way, your body shall remain forever golden and death will never approach you.
Be still my mind, meditate in this way.*
*adapted from Ray Man Shabad performed by Snatam Kaur. Listen here »