A body of work in the making, exploring stories and rituals around washing .
The simple act of washing – ourselves, our clothes – is scarcely thought of until something brings it to the centre of our attention. The same is true of cleaners and hygiene workers, who are often low paid and disregarded figures. However in many stories and folk traditions in Europe, the Washer appears as a wisdom figure, or a divine figure – making decisions in matters of fortune and jeopardy, life and death.
This work explores The Washers in their power as they enact cycles of renewal and embody creative and regenerative principles.
image – Sybil Hangs Her Wash by Meinrad Craighead.
An exploration of the Motherline in storytelling performance
In this ongoing body of work, I’m considering the traditional siôl fagu (nursing shawl) as a vehicle for powerful maternal narratives. Before the flint knap and the fire stick was the baby sling, in plant fibre or pelt, rewoven again and again, decaying and leaving little trace. But the child carried within is the holder of memories and imprints that connect past and future. Like matryoshka dolls, a woman pregnant with a daughter carries embryonic grandchildren; memory stretches backwards on a cellular level and forwards into the journeys we will need to take in the world. The siôl fagu, passed on through the generations, is like an earthly outer weave of this process, a first tender and robust sheath in and beyond our biological mothering. In the close-held bundle we negotiate the border of safety and jeopardy; our journeying begins on the hip, in the sweat smell, pulse, soothe-song and suck-song. Our vital vocabularies are intimately set in motion, the roots of our languages, our stories that speak of our individuality and bind us to our human belonging and our Earth.
The work began its journey in September 2019 as part of an exploratory workshop for Chwedl network of women storytellers, in the Atrium, University of South Wales.
Iterations so far have included a performative talk in the online forum PERFORMANCE AND THE MATERNAL , considering how maternal performance helps us to understand the lived condition of motherhood.
A chapter outlining this work is now published by Routledge as a chapter in Mothering Performance edited by Emily Underwood-Lee and Lena Simic and is freely accessible online, see Books page.
RETURN TO CRETE
Performance and Chorus in celebration of the ancient Goddess culture of Ariadnean Crete.
(This entry is in progress, please come back later!)