Photo: Drew Tommons
Scension is an integrated creative project (sculpture + workshops + dance) 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.
Sometimes, what appears to be going up may be going down. And what appears to be falling may actually be rising.
The dynamic forms of Scension suggest decay and growth, though it is uncertain as to which parts are fading or emerging. They echo the circle of life; as one life form disintegrates, it serves to nourish another, promoting new growth, a fresh start, a new direction.
Do we nourish others as much as we wish to be nourished ourselves?
Named after an asteroid about 44 km in diameter
Asteroid description: a Main Belt asteroid. The Maria family (also known as Roma) is a collisional asteroid family (formed from one impact) and consists of thousands of stony (silicate) asteroids.
Named after an asteroid 490 metres in diameter
Asteroid description: a primitive rubble-pile asteroid, formed in the first 10 million years of our solar system’s history over 4.5 billion years ago. Up to 40% is empty space. It is a rare active asteroid, sending out streams of particles. Its high carbon content creates a surface that reflects only 4% of the light that hits it. The Earth reflects about 30%. Potentially hazardous, between the years 2175 and 2199, the chance that it will impact Earth is 1-in-2,700.
Named after an asteroid almost 60 km in diameter
Asteroid description: a large Themistian asteroid, found in the outer portion of the asteroid belt, orbiting the Sun mostly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The Themis family was formed by the break-up of a larger parent body about a billion years ago. It is probably formed from primitive carbonaceous material.
Named after an asteroid about 17 km in diameter
Asteroid description: a background asteroid from the central region of the asteroid belt. It orbits the Sun every 4 years and 8 months (1,697 days).
Scension Dance Day in Exeter Cathedral
I am intrigued as to how sculptural themes can move across different media, giving people a chance to access these themes through eyes, ears, touch, movement and conversation. As part of this experiment, I partnered with a young composer and vibrant dance company in an integrated arts outreach programme that explored 'hope'.
I commissioned Fionn Connolly to compose a dramatic dance track, echoing the theme of endings as beginnings, rising and falling.
Lead choreographer Daisy Harrison engaged a range of dance organisations across the South West and shared the soundscape with them for inspiration. After a selection process, 7 dance organisations received input from professional choreographers, to help explore the theme. On Scension Dance Day, we saw diverse groups (young, elderly, classical, contemporary) perform their responses to the public inside Exeter Cathedral.
Scroll down for the performance videos.
Photos: Drew Tommons
Scension Dance Day performance videos
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
But look around
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 tomorrow again
Scension is related to the multi-platform Resurgo creative project
Outcomes and impacts - Scension
The dance opportunity was over-subscribed and we selected 7 dance organisations to receive input from professional choreographers, to help explore the theme. This led to a day of dance in Exeter Cathedral with 14 performances. One group included dancers aged 5 and 80. This was the first time they had worked in an inter-generational way.
Two artist facilitators re-kindled their confidence to facilitate groups again.
One choreographer has been employed as a dance school instructor.
Two dancers from Exeter have been picked up by a London talent agency.
Two other dancers from Plymouth commented that they would never have dreamed of performing in such a prestigious location as Exeter Cathedral. Who knows where the boost of this experience will take them?
One dancer, in her 70s, commented that the last time she performed in public was when she was in school. This experience gave her a renewed appreciation of the 2-way dynamic between performer and audience.
An emerging textile artist took up the opportunity to design and make the costumes for the professional dance organisation, echoing the sculptures.
In a Headway workshop, when ‘making marks to music’, the group watched a film of the Scension dance. Support Worker Bex commented that “I wouldn’t normally search for that kind of film or dance online but that was really beautiful and absorbing – it’s opened my eyes.”
In all of the Creative Wellbeing Workshops, clients were totally absorbed by the process of mark-making to music. Some groups requested that this activity was repeated up to 10 times with different sound tracks.
Some Headway clients were insistent on having their Support Workers share their workshop achievements with their family members, so helping to bridge conversations to their home environments.
A PhD student at Exeter University wrote a paper for Cultural Geographies In Practice Journal: “Performative falling as ‘resilience in action’: reimagining choreographies of falling and rising through Scension Dance Day”.
The charities United Response and Headway Devon have been promoted to significant audiences, raising their profiles and supporting them with awareness and fund-raising.