As a socially engaged artist with a history of working in carnival and puppetry for the last 20 years I am delighted to have discovered that I made a successful application to The Artists International Development Fund supported by The British Council and The Arts Council. I will be working with ‘Processional Arts Workshops (PAW)’ in New York as a host organisation researching storytelling through procession.

I have been following the work of PAW since 2005 and have always been impressed by the photography and documentation of their pieces and am very excited to be able to witness two of their events up close.

The first event will be the opening of Astor Place in New York. I will observe research & participate in workshops leading to the Astor Place Opening celebrations. Enabling me to learn about the history of the East Village and how activists and artists influenced it. Workshops are structured as a communal build: It will enable me to research how PAW work, respond to place and make a story through processional arts. I will experience every element of making and production.

Immediately following this I will be researching the 5th annual Morningside Lights procession in Harlem NYC – an ongoing collaboration with Columbia University. Morningside Lights is a lantern procession that starts in Morningside Park and ends on campus of Columbia University. Each year a new theme is developed, people are invited to make lanterns according to various tech specifications and the theme.

One procession will be celebrating the reclaiming of public space by artists over a long time period and the other is a pro-active regenerative intervention in the community (Morningside Park historically being one of the more dangerous parks in Manhattan.)

A career slow down while raising young children enabled me to reflect on where I could strengthen my practice for future work and think about how I could improve and develop this work.  This visit to New York City built by and home to many varied cultural influences to research how the city is reflected in its processional arts scene will inform my own practice in Bristol, UK where I live and work.

This research will benefit both my work on Church Road Lantern Parade and in the rekindling of the legendary ‘Goram Fair’ active in Bristol in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Goram Fair celebrates storytelling around the creation of Bristol and The Avon Gorge and it showcased spectacular arts of its day. The new ‘ Goram Fair ‘ aims to collect heritage around the old event and celebrate the history of celebratory/spectacular arts and culture within Bristol.

In the near future I aim to establish a new procession in Bristol which references its folklore, history and celebrates diversity reflecting the artistic influences which gives Bristol its current position as a major UK City.

I will be blogging my progress here…please follow me and ask me all sorts of questions in the comments box.

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