calling tree



Calling Tree is a peripatetic performance project that engages with places, people and wild life and attempts to reveal complex webs of ecological relationships and atmospheres present through a series of performance residencies in significant urban trees.

Beginning in 2014 in a large sentinel oak tree in Betws Y Coed in North Wales, the work has subsequently readapted to trees in Bruce Grove Park, Tottenham for LIFT 2016 and most recently in a number of mature Plane trees in a former cemetry, St. Georges Gardens in Central London as part the Bloomsbury Festival, October 2016.

Through long periods of inhabitation, often seasonal, aerial performers, dancers and singers develop a language of movement, song and agitation in and around chosen urban trees. The work engages with the social and environmental realm of each urban space, inviting conversation and participation from local communities, both through spontaneous conversations and relationships with schools and other local agencies.

Through a daily presence, the performance is constructed and composed within a public space, in view of passers by and park life. The work is sensitive to its social context and also draws on research into the particular bird life of each park and borough. Many of the songs, by Barnaby Oliver, are composed of the actual bird names present in each locality, cut up and arranged into new languages they are called out at intervals from the tree canopies by megaphone. Occuring at intervals are a series of running passages beneath the trees and across the ground, by artist and wild life educator Ben Stammers (sometimes he has been accompanied on these runs by local residents). Attached to his back are 3 megaphones pre-recorded with bird calls, both from local species and migrants. The runs create energetic and often surprising diversions and occur at regular intervals through performances that can last up to 4 hours.
In each performance Ben also spends time climbing trees throughout the park, or public space, listening and calling back to singing birds, often engaging in prolonged calls and responses. In St.Georges Gardens in October, Ben initiated a daily twilight conversation with blackbirds, which often lasted until night- fall.
Choreography and direction: Simon Whitehead and Rosemary Lee
Composition: Barnaby Oliver and Terry Mann
Co produced by Artsadmin.

Studies for Maynard

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Studies for Maynard Developed over 2 years this solo piece marks a return to a studio practice and emerges from an extended period of working from home in west Wales. The solo is a meditation on dislocation, the practices of making home and sheltering; referencing the biography of an embryo, the Apollo 9 mission, the […]

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studies for maynard

SCAN0038Studies for Maynard
by Simon Whitehead

A live dance installation, with movement, sound, image and a table…
1pm – 4pm

Exhibition format, call in at any time

25 April 2015

Free/ Am Ddim
Neuadd Aberycych Village Hall,
SA37 0HB

Resembling ephemeral line drawings and accumulated marks, these studies emerge from gestures, voice, narratives and the systematic movement of an object(a table, on which is inscribed the name ‘Maynard’). This work will combine elements of dance, sculpture, drawing, film and sound and will involve long term collaborator Sound Artist Barnaby Oliver and a new commission from Film maker Tanya Sayed.

Evening Concert

With Music and Dance from:

Ceri Rhys Matthews and Julie Murphy of Fernhill,
Ceri Owen Jones and Elsa Davies of deuair
Simon Whitehead

£6 on the door, children under 16 free

Refreshments by Jade Mellor of Wild Pickings

7.30pm start
Neuadd Abercych Village Hall, Pembrokeshire SA370HB

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Coedmor is a place i pass through each morning on the way to my studio, either by bike, or on foot.

Coedmor is an area of woodland clinging to the banks of the lower reaches of the Teifi valley.
Dominated by sessile oak, the area is also patch- worked with mixed farming, sheep and cattle grazing.
It is a site of significant scientific interest and a National nature Reserve.

Coedmor is also a hymn by William Arnold.

These pages archive a series of responses, field recordings and drawings made over a year, from passing

Barnaby Oliver adds his live responses to the recordings.

Maynard, come home…

Maynard, come home… 11-12 May 2013

A dancer lies on the ground, looks at the sky and breathes in the clouds, a spacewalking Apollo 9 astronaut describes his view of the earth, an embryo performs growth gestures in utero, a raven flies the same territory its whole life. Home is a complex web of phenomena and reflects a universal and interspecies drive for safety and shelter. How are we adapting our relationships to home in environmentally and culturally contested times?

In a 2-day event in the village of Abercych, Pembrokeshire, a gathering of dance artists’ perform, screen and workshop their questions about Home and Homecoming.

(Maynard has no answers, but plenty of questions…)

With contributions from Simon Whitehead, Rosemary Lee, Henry Montes and Marcus Coates, Anushiye Yarnell, Bwyd Sonique, Ben Stammers, Siriol Joiner and Joanna Young.

With places for up to 30 delegates the £40 fee includes lunch on saturday and brunch on sunday, access to all presentations, films and workshops. Including entry to a Twmpath with a difference in Abercych village Hall, with social dances, music and dance interventions.

‘Dance embraces difference, creates new languages and narratives of the places we thought we knew.’ Simon Whitehead.

Curated by movement artist Simon Whitehead, Maynard, come home… is presented in his home village of Abercych as part of a Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales 2012-13.

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