People. We need people.

David Boultbee

Well here we are!

Less than 48 hours to go before seeing almost a year of dreaming, planning and wondering actually take place on the streets of Lancaster.

It's been a joy to work again in Lancaster with the team at Lancaster Arts and continue to collaborate with Loz Kaye. I realised recently that Loz and I have been working on projects together for well over a decade now and I was delighted when he accepted our invitation to work on this project.

One of the things about working with someone over such a long period is the ever growing list of things that you have thought of together but haven't yet been able to do. In some ways it's a double edged sword. It's a brilliant way to kick things off, a great framework to discuss ideas within. Conversations go along the lines of "remember when we thought of that, could it work here if we thought about it this way..?", or "how about we try this like that?". We both immediately know what the other is referencing. Some ideas may be relevant, others not. And of course, just like the others, this project has also generated ideas that weren't right this time around, and so the list grows ever longer.

It's kind of the point, really. I've learned that, when developing a project, it's essential to distil it down to the core of the idea. It can be a brutal process at times, but it's so easy to over egg the pudding, to get distracted by something that's nice to have and, albeit for the best of reasons, neglect what's at the heart of the matter. Experience teaches you to keep an ideas fridge which, if your fridge is anything like mine, will grow all nature of exciting and unexpected things if left for long enough while you focus elsewhere.

So what's at the heart of this matter?

What, I hear you say, on earth is going to happen on Saturday?

Well, the Mill Race - the river that flows out of sight and often out of mind below Lancaster. The Mill Race that, although we can't see it, is responsible for so much of Lancaster from providing the source of power for its early industry, to the tragic consequences of the flooding in 2015, and to the imminent redevelopment of the area of the city to which it gives its name.

Flow is the first of a programme of art and cultural activities that will take place in Lancaster alongside the redevelopment. Right from the start we felt that it was essential that this work in some way exposed the actual route that the river takes. People. Lots of people standing above the course of the river. We had our seed. The embryo.

Loz and I talked some more. There's a lot going on in the world right now. Covid. Ukraine. Global warming. What relevance, we asked each other, does our work have in this context? We got to thinking about things that exist and go unseen. Issues we know about but choose to ignore. Consequences we have all foreseen but find it's more convenient to overlook. All of us. What will an art event do to change this? Nothing, of course not. But it does provide an interesting opportunity to do something in the micro environment of Lancaster while creating space to pause, consider and reflect on the macro global environment at the same time.

I have had the privilege to visit many places over the course of many projects. I always have this thing. When you first arrive somewhere it's new, alien, unknown. But through the course of developing the project you explore it creatively and begin to understand its detail, its character. This is why I'm so drawn to making things with people in places. I feel that, even if you know somewhere well, by doing something different and creative there, when you look back you find that your relationship with the place has irrevocably changed. It's really beautiful.

Much of this work has been developed in workshops with people from Lancaster. Why, I'm often asked, would you choose to develop a work in this way? But really, why would you not? How else do you find out about somewhere and understand it unless you spend time there with others trying things out, reflecting together on what you discover, observe and experience. The workshops in Lancaster have been a joyful symbiosis that have developed key elements and fundamentally informed our process of distillation.

So here we are! What else do we need to do?  The work fundamentally relies on people coming on Saturday and joining in. I really hope that you will be one of them and that you might even persuade some others to join you. It's a serious piece of work, don't get me wrong, but it will also be a lot of fun. Perhaps it's even an opportunity to be part of what will become a new Lancastrian tradition.

What will you need to do?

It's easy if you remember the key phrase. Take your cue from the person next to you!

Really looking forward to seeing you on Saturday 30 April 2022 and please register so we know that you're planning to attend!

Posted on 29th Apr, 2022