Scension Dance Day Exeter Cathedral

Scension Dance Day at Exeter Cathedral


Photo: Chris Nash

Scension willow inner form.jpg

Scension (ending=beginning)

Ambiguity is part of the natural state of things. An ending can also be a beginning. When something dies, it creates space for others to grow. When the great oak tree falls, it spawns space and light for a thousand seedlings.

I am curious about the natural process of renewal. Exeter Cathedral provides a wonderful space to explore this. At ground level, we see tombs and effigies, stone-cold memories of lives from previous centuries. Gazing upwards, the soaring arches point to the heavens and hint at a connection between the known physical world and the more ethereal spirit world. Scension experiments with forms floating, falling and rising. Ascension. Descension. Scension.

The Scension installation draws on Cathedral imagery as well as my work exploring the figure in space, to show something of the life-death-life cycle.  Seeming to float in the arches, we see willowy shrouded figures. Are these effigies rising? Angels falling? Freed shrouds blowing in the wind? On the ground, we see a 5-metre willow structure encasing another stretching form within. Is this a meteorite whooshing down to earth? An organic coffin encasing something that used to be? A flame erasing what was before? A larva hatching and reaching for the light?  What do you see?

I am intrigued as to how sculptural themes can move across different media, giving people a chance to access them through eyes, ears, touch, movement, conversation, etc. As part of this experiment, I’m excited to be partnering with an emerging composer and vibrant dance company in an outreach programme.

Asteria #1 #2 #3, goddess of falling stars

Scension – a poem

Dis - integration
Life springs from loss 
Ascension balances descension
Echoing the rhythms of breath
Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale
Collectively gasping a wind
Gaia breathes in and discharges
Expanding and contracting
Exploring and retreating
Like tides on the shore
And waves within tides
Sometimes, amidst the roar, it can be hard to hear 
Hard to hear self
I get lost, lose direction
I stumble
Feel alone
But look around
Look up
Explore a new perspective from below
When the oak tree falls, it spawns space and light for new growth
Death and decay: the seedbed for life
A shoots emerges
A new beginning
Reaching for the light
Self-doubt gnaws away 
But is overwhelmed by the sun's warmth 
I take power from the sun
I will rise again
And again 
And tomorrow again


Callout to join Scension Dance Day in Exeter Cathedral - Saturday 10 July 2021

Scension is an integrated creative project that explores building hope and resilience. It is inspired by the thought that what is now will come to pass… and that an ending can be a new beginning.  


Scension dance clipFONN
00:00 / 01:12

We’re looking for a diverse range of performers: Youth groups, elderly groups, classical, street, school groups, etc to each perform for 4-9 minutes inside Exeter Cathedral. We’ve commissioned a dramatic dance track for you to dance to. The ‘stage’ will be the stone floor inside the West door, 7.5 metres x 7 metres, with a thin vinyl covering. And we will help with travel costs to Exeter Cathedral (up to £100 per group).

If selected, you will have the chance to receive some free input from a professional choreographer for either:

  1. Our choreographer comes to your regular dance class in June and July for 3 x 2hr sessions

  2. Dance In A Day - we will lead a workshop on Saturday 3 July 2021, 10:00-4:00.

On Sat 10th July 2021, you’ll be able to perform your piece twice (morning and afternoon), and you will have an option to perform a separate piece of your own afterwards (5 mins max). Performances might be filmed and edited for sharing online.


Who is the team behind this?

Sculptor Martin Staniforth, choreographer Daisy Harrison and composer Fionn Connolly.


Take inspiration from the Scension dance track – click the link on the left to hear a taster. Apply by completing this online form by Wednesday 31 Mar 2021. Early applications are encouraged! We will let you know if you have been selected by Friday 9 April 2021. Download the flyer here.

N.B. (TBC) On the Dance Day, dancers will have free entry to the Cathedral, however all other visitors will need to pay the standard admission charge. Spectator numbers will be limited.

Join the Scension Dance Day - apply now!

Applications must be made by Wednesday 31 March 2021. We expect this offer to be over subscribed so early application is encouraged.


Scension is related to the multi-platform Resurgo creative project

© 2021 by MORTH
All rights reserved
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