Thursday, 16 December 2010

'Don't Let the World Go By'

On the 10th of December I performed my first public aerial rope, whilst Matt Sage (founder of Catweazle Club) and his band played 'Don't let the world go by'.
Matt seems to be a gatekeeper to the stage for many people in Oxford and beyond.

Unfortunately there was no footage taken, which is a shame, as, after viewing the video in my last blog, I practised rather a lot and think I made a fair bit of progress...The performance felt much tighter, more fluid, and most importantly, very enjoyable.

I'm looking forward to doing more performances - ! - and am now full of ideas for new routines, costumes, music, lighting...A significant personal victory considering a lifetime spent feeling very hindered by severe stagefright.
There is always the possiblity of slaying demons, even ones which seem insurmountably strong.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Oxford Bookbinders

My prayers have been answered! I have found a space in Oxford where I can rig the rope I've burrowed from my teacher. It is called The Old Bookbinders, just off the cowley road, and is currently inhabited by Inevents.

Initially I thought the height was going to render it far from ideal, but the lowness of the beams have two advantages; firstly, that I can train alone(ish) without too much fear for my safety, and secondly, that it means I have to think creatively about routines, moves, etc. This creative need has meant that I discovered a new move - new to me at least - which you can see in my training video at about 2.43... 

There is also the possibility of a gig, space logistics allowing. Even if it does not come to pass this time, I am pleased by how my excitement has outweighed my nervousness. Aerial has been quite a solitary thing for me, but I find I am increasingly eager to share it.
The rest of the week has been dominated by essay writing and Christmas present drawing. I am very pleased with the results of both and so am feeling in an all round triumphant mood, however small (or low) the triumphs. 

Saturday, 27 November 2010


This image came from a conversation with a friend about striving for perfection, and the multiple ways in which that can be a trap...Striving is a powerful thing, but a fixed notion of perfection, being the best (rather than the best you can be), seems to me a good way to loose the joy one had in any craft to begin with.
My friend compared it to collecting butterflies; catching something, presenting it, preserving it, only to see, with dismay, how one has destroyed the thing which made it beautiful.

(Once again, I'm sorry about the dark of my uploads, I don't have a scanner and have to use a rather arcane camera!)
In other news; I've been working on a rope routine I can do from a rather low beam in the space I've found in Oxford. It still strike me as silly that in such a city of vaulted ceilings I cannot find a higher space willing to let me rig...But it is a start! I've been really enjoying training in Brighton with Hazel (in between lectures) and her class. I am delighted to report that I can now do four long arm straddle climbs - that may not mean much to most of you, but if I tell you that I kissed my own biceps when I landed, you'll understand how happy I was. I'll try and get a video up to demonstrate...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Looking Glass

Tarn is off on an adventure to find Kangaroos and sunshine, but luckily for me I was able to see her before she leaves and have some time rope-dancing. So here is a video of the routine I've called Looking Glass, unfortunately without the skip drop which finishes it. I had an attack of air-born self-doubt demons which meant I had to come back to earth, ponder and share a few tears. Fate has blessed me with the perfect teacher and after some kind words I found my wings, muscles and confidence again and practiced some delightful swinging movements.
I feel that any art form which steals your heart opens up the way for great growth and self knowledge. This means that all ones shadows also wake up, come crawling and clawing to have their say. They will all be there, the shadow-audience, and it takes faith and strength to keep going, to send them packing with a stern word.
I have yet to work out how to lay the music over the video, but I want to use a Satie piano piece for this routine...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Day of the Dead

Tuesday night was the second Oxford Day of the Dead. The idea to have our own Day of the Dead came from my partners celebration of May Day, (every year at 6am on the steps of the Bodleian Library) which I thought could do with its counterpoint at the opposite side of the year. On May Day we all don green clothes, bring our instuments and dancing shoes to the steps and the Hurly Burly Whirly Band play in the Spring with folks tunes, old and new.
Day of the Dead sees us don black, bring our instruments and dancing shoes to the steps at 6pm in the evening and a far more somber incarnation of the Whirly Band play out the Summer...

For me this time is to remember Death, the one certainty of existence. A time to remember our ancestors, near and far, and any who have died.
In honouring Death, we remember that we are alive. The dancing is therefore of sorrow and fear, but also of a deep, burning exstacy.  

All photos by Kate Raworth

Sunday, 31 October 2010


I've been very busy these last few weeks, reading lots of exciting books on gender, sexuality, desire and all for the Masters, investigating the possibility of a space to train in Oxford (also very exciting, watch this space for pictures of a delighted me dangling in my own home town!) and being an extra in a new film by Robin Hardy of The Wicker Man fame. Not to give away too much plot, this involved outdoor Autumnal nudity and being covered in fake (and real) blood. I am hopeful that my naked self might make it into the final edit...

I did find the time to do a strange drawing which I then painted in watercolour. It was definately ill-advised to paint by the orange glow of a single lamp, but I blame the influence of the season for how oddly the thing turned out. Not sure where this character and her rabbits came from... 

I also noticed this little collection of objects on our mantle, framing a rather beautiful photograph of a gargoyle, and felt pleased that I still have time to peer closely at things...and find unplanned and unexpected pockets of art.

Monday, 18 October 2010


Drawing people

Not as they are...

As they are...

And as they appear in daydreams...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Silks, trees and longing

In August, Brighton was host to the first European Aerial Dance Forum in England. This was an amazing opportunity to train all day in various disciplines, several of which (harness and cocoon) I had never tried before as my focus has been on corde lisse. The teachers were fantastic, encouraging and clear, and my strength was at an all time high by the end.
The most satisfying part for me was improvising (French teacher and perforer Fred Deb had us imagine we were surrounded by mosquitoes) on the rope during create lab sessions. Often confidence is just as important as muscle and technical ability. Feeling free enough in the air to begin to create...what a gift!

Later, in the Lake District, I was able to practice some cocoon moves on my straps (which are actually for rigging, but prove a useful, if slightly painful, training tool as well) which I looped over a tree branch. Oh, to have a tree outside my flat! (the sound half way through is my husband nearly slipping into a brook...)

It is strange where the paths of life take us - we choose them from a mere glimpse, from a small longing in the heart which whispers and will not be silenced...No matter where this path leads, the path itself is strewn with remarkable things - dreams realised, amazement at ones-self, transformation - however tiny - and the dappled happiness which comes from knowing we listened to the longing.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


The invitation which I drew and designed

Wire wool and feather necklace which was made by Facets of Avalon in Glastonbury.

Photos by Raworth and Raworth

Friday, 8 October 2010


My interest in aerial circus (or aerial dance) was from the first about its potential as a form of moving sculpture. I became very excited about the possible images, moods and stories which could be created by using my whole body in a new way. To claim the air as a new space in which to explore is not a quick process - much like drawing and painting it takes a great deal of time, patience and hard, hard work. I have been incredibly lucky to find just the right woman to train me, someone who inhabits her body with a depth of grace which still astounds me. I only hope that one day I can find that fluidity in myself!
Until then, here is what I have been working on this week.
I see myself in the air here as a fledgling, a creature still very much in the process of finding its place, but filled with excitement and amazement at what its body can do.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Kit Williams and herb paris

Some months ago I met the artist Kit Williams ( who made and buried a golden hare then created a painting puzzle book which was a key to finding it) who asked me to model for Titania in one of his paintings. I said yes, of course, Kit having been an artist who inspired me as a child and Midsummer Nights Dream being my favourite Shakespeare play.
The experience was a very delightful one as Kit is full of stories; myths meeting memories, ancient characters re-imagined, the collision of disparate tales and characters forming something new and wonderful in his work.
After I had moddled the BBC made a documentary retrospective about Kit, which he asked me to be in. Filming is a strange process, very repetative, but fun nonetheless.

One of the stories Kit told to the filmmakers involved his decision during an early stage of the Titania (and Bottom) painting to use herb paris as the plant used to bewitch  Bottom. He had always hoped to find it growing in the wild and in true Kit-style found it for the first time shortly after his decision to include it.
After this I began exploring the relationship between people and plants in my drawing, our preferences for certain ones, the magic stories surrounding others, the effects they have on us...

Our (mine and my partner's) involvement with the documentary also granted us a childhood wish when, whilst at the London exhibition of Kit's recent work, the BBC team unexpectedly unveiled the long-vanished Golden Hare. Through our adventure of meeting Kit we had found it! Well, sort of...

Monday, 4 October 2010


This Autumn brings many new beginnings for me; attending Circus Space classes, the starting of a Masters Degree on Wednesday, my marriage on the 24th of September and now beginning this travelogue.
It is my and my new husbands (!) honeymoon which is at the front of my mind this evening.
I am already missing the Lake District - the deep quiet, the lack of people, the lack of anything to do except walk, climb and scramble up mountains, eat good food, play in trees, drink fine mead and other traditional Honeymoon activities...

What will become the wedding thank you card..

Aerial practice in the cottage garden


The cottage we rented