I CARRY YOU IN MY EYES,  process and engagement,   Residency with Kestle Barton,  2018

A residency and public programme, creating exchanges between Syrian refugee families and Cornish residents 

Kestle Barton 2018

Supported by Arts Council

 

We were invited by Kestle Barton to do a residency that would explore how our methods of working with residents on a London Housing Estate would situate themselves within a rural context. We were especially interested in exploring working with marginalised communities and made a connection with Cornwall Faith Forum.  Through this process we decided to work more closely with a group of Syrian families re-settled in Cornwall. 

To begin the process, we headed into the Cornish landscape to discover the embedded messages hidden in the trees and the creeks, translating what we found into a series of ceremonial workshops with the families. As the process went on, we also began to interpret a series of Arabic phrases, such as 'I carry you in my eyes' (meaning thank you) and 'peace to the hand that serves' (thanking someone for making food) into a series of gestures that we then performed within the landscape. Also in response to our evolving exchange with the families, we created a series of objects, including a felted portal.

 

The portal was initially imbued with the story of seven swans that appeared to us one day in Frenchman's creek. The portal then became a symbolic object  that we used as a 'gateway between worlds' and always featured as a central object of our gatherings. The myth of the seven swans was later translated into arabic and performed collectively as a way of connecting ideas of territory and arrival between cultures. The Swans became an analogy of the syrian families having arrived to the cornish land with gifts of sacred knowledge and wisdoms to share. 

This project also weaved connections between local craftsmen and fishermen learning a range of traditional craft process. These sessions became an alchemy of exchanges between cultures, forming trust and respect between groups who could otherwise have not have met. 

The residency process led to the development of a summer public programme 'Chant of the Whaleswan' hosted in and around our public sculpture 'The Whaleswan'. 

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