SPINE Festival Artist in Residence – Gemma Coldicott: Reflections on SPINE Festival

IMG_5618As SPINE Festival comes to an end, we catch up with Artist in Residence for Southwark, Gemma Coldicott.

‘What’s in the box?’…Wonder no more. Reflections on SPINE Festival.

The workshops are all over, the sharing shared and the solander box closed. SPINE was a brilliant 4 weeks, during which time I met and danced with 102 children aged between 3-10yrs old with and without disabilities. Oh, and there was also a cheerful (more senior) lady who occasionally joined in our warm ups.

The sharing was full of surprises, as the seams of the ‘emergent structure’ were stretched to the point of almost splitting. TIMG_5612urns out these children LOVE performing, so the group doubled in size from the previous week. As is often the case, we were not able to incorporate absolutely all of the lovely creative tasks we had worked on. However, the children were certainly able to display their skills of collecting, drawing and dancing. Oh, and also diving into piles of books to get the coveted copy of the Spain Lonely Planet. As we flipped between calm and organised chaos it was the opening and closing ceremony dances that really held us together as a group. The children certainly enjoyed performing these at a range of speeds — super fast was of course their favourite!

During the project the solander box became many things. A source of wonder for the younger children in terms of what was inside. A tiny stage for a solo performance. A seat between workshops. A way to link us to Japan (we set the box to 32° NE, the direction to Tokyo). It was also home to the objects we collected.

So what was actually in the box by the end of our project? Together we collected:

• Leaves, flowers and feathers from the Brandon Estate.IMG_5446
• A paperclip reconfigured into a bookmark.
• A small light grey stone.
• A lucky bangle that had given one member of the group luck with a maths test.
• A key ring from St. Lucia containing sand from the beach, given to one of the group by her Aunty many years ago.
• Postcards by the artist Yoshimoto Nara, purchased at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo.
• Train tickets from the UK between Croydon and Brighton and one from Tokyo Airport to central Tokyo.
• A packet of sweets (that remained unopened!)

It is really sad to see the end of this project, having worked with children who were so enthusiastic and so in need of these creative opportunities. But the box remains at Brandon Library, as an archive of the project and a reminder of the magic and wonderment we created during SPINE Festival.

SPINE Festival is produced by Apples and Snakes in partnership with library authorities across London as part of Apples and Snakes’ work as an Associate Bridge organisation. For more information visit the SPINE project page or follow #SpineFestival.