When we fly, we soar. Flying high. We adventure and invent. We reach for the stars. We gain new perspectives. We experience the magic and beauty, but also the thrill and even danger, of breaking through the cloud line and into the beyond. How high is too high?
But when we fly, we may also flee. Rapid movement motivated by fear. Our flight may not be a choice. A lesser evil in a ‘fight or flight’ scenario. And increasingly, we understand that a love of flying is not sustainable, that our journeys through the clouds make the world not only smaller but more fragile. We may also risk taking our destructive conflicts beyond the earth’s surface.
Flight may be literal or metaphorical. Real or fantastical. Human, animal, mechanical or even super-human. Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
For many years now, Lancaster Arts has adopted an annual theme which shapes and informs our work in our presentational programme, such as the concerts in the Great Hall, theatre and dance in the Nuffield Theatre and exhibitions in the Peter Scott Gallery but also in our commissions and residencies. In recent years we have explored themes such as Water, Age & Ageing and last year, Ritual.
In 2024, we’ll explore Flight through a variety of lenses:
Flight within nature: of birds and insects, habitat and species loss
Migration of people: interconnected lives, fresh beginnings, forced migration fleeing war, oppression, poverty or climate change
Exciting innovations in flight but also surveillance and colonialism of space
The embodied experience of flying, first experiences of flying, dreams and memories of flying, fear of flying
Flights of fancy, and the imagination
Geopolitical upheaval in 2024 in which there will be more elections across the world than ever before, resulting in an alternate view of flight from previous norms and systems.
Our themes arise through many different sources. Sometimes they come out of a series of conversations we find we keep having with artists and partners, and what is happening in the world around us. Often, they come from the work that artists are exploring at the time, well beyond Lancaster Arts. What always happens is that artists and audiences reveal aspects of the theme that we had not considered. Equally, sometimes the artists we are working with are surprised by the inherent connection to the theme in their work. The themes are not meant to be prescriptive nor restrictive, but we hope offer a reference point that not only cuts across our whole programme but also connects us to ways of relating to what is happening in the world.
For 2024, the theme of Flight has been inspired by a recent acquisition to the university art collection, Sena Başöz’s Forough (2018) which will be displayed at the Peter Scott Gallery from 9 February to the 28 March, filling the gallery space with the sight and sound of hundreds of birds. The title of the work refers to first name of Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad (1934-67). It evokes her enigmatic line: “Keep the flight in mind, the bird may die”.
Take a look at our spring programme and we invite you to join the conversation on Flight!