Joseph Morgan Schofield, with bare feet touching the sky I yearn, ICA 2022. Photo by zack mennell.

Future Ritual presents a collective performance 


A collective performance initiated by Future Ritual, ‘A Felling’ explores ideas of death, remembrance, transformation, rebirth and the transferrance of energy between bodies and between the body and the environment.

Artists Ash McNaughton, Joseph Morgan Schofield and Marcel Sparmann co-create an immersive work, inviting audiences to step into a space of contemporary ritual, activated through intense embodied practices and characterised by expressions of compassion, vulnerability, strength and ethical exchange. Through this future ritual we may temporarily inhabit time in a different way, engaging in individual and collective experiences of processing and communion.

A Felling was first realised in November 2023 at IKLECTIK (London). Further performances took place at Experimentica Festival (Cardiff) in April 2024.

Videography and editing by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi.

Ash McNaughton

Ash McNaughton (b. 1990, Scotland) is an action-based artist currently situated in Folkestone, UK. Their practice is a process-led exploration of materials, gesture, movement, and sound. Site-responsive, durational and ritualisic in nature; Ash implements methods of endurance, repetition, and resistance to access altered states of being while reaching out into the spaces in-between. Their actions encourage a synergetic exchange between their physical, psychological and spiritual body and the environments they inhabit. This practice is an attempt to articulate that which escapes us. A poetics of a fluid presence in a fixed world.

Ash is an independent artist, producer, and project manager. They are co-organiser of SITE - a platfrom for collective site-responsive art interventions - and a member of the international Anam Cara Collective. They are programmes manager at ]performance s p a c e[ and the Folkestone Local Associate Producer for New Queers on the Block.

Joseph Morgan Schofield

Joseph Morgan Schofield (b. 1993, Rochdale, UK) uses performance, moving image, writing and curation to create future ritual. Joseph's queer ritual actions foreground desire, grief and wildness in the context of queer and ecological futurity; their acts of gathering and communion articulating a deep yearning - for both that which is lost, and that which is yet to arrive.

This ritual/performance/magic  is relational, emerging through encounters between their sweating, wanting, sensate non-binary body and a host of agents - human and otherwise, including memory, geology, weather and myth.

Joseph has engaged with the South Pennine Moors as muse and collaborator for a number of years, and they also work responsively to other sites and contexts on different time scales. Through practices of channeling, duration, exhaustion and divination, Joseph’s works hold space for acts of mourning, yearning, processing, dreaming and communing.

They are the Creative Director of Future Ritual, a non-profit entity which holds their collaborative contributions to the emergence of new and more attuned cultures.

Marcel Sparmann

Marcel Sparmann is a German visual artist, working in performance art, theatre, dance, public art and installation.

“I consider myself as visual based artist, experienced in theatre, dance, installation and performance art. Therefore my understanding and awareness of communication, exchanging and sharing is primarily image and action based. I'm cautious with verbalised language, but like to disintegrate the complexity of language, into poetic artistic expressions. The unfixed metaphors, the fluid mutations in the realm of deconstruction. Surrounded by visuals and their narratives, we think, speak and relate through images, identifying ourselves by codes and navigate them in cultural environments. Change is permanent. Therefore my practice follows the concept of fragility, expanding over various ideas of appearing and disappearing, traces and memories.

My artistic interest focuses on the creation of intense collective situations, compressed and formed in emotional and spiritual landscapes, in resistance. I'm interested in the exploration of a more profound understanding for compassion, kindness and bravery in the light of an unfolding vulnerability. I believe in space as an emotional and ritualistic environment and in the negotiation between the collective and common urgencies and their representations through out performance. A fertile way of manifesting the future. I’m searching for simplicity and actions which carry a pure aesthetic and oscillating temperature, maybe comparable with recent natural phenomenons.”

Photos: Future Ritual, ‘A Felling’, 2023. Photos by Fenia Kotsopoulou.

Funders and support

A Felling’ is initiated by  Future Ritual and commissioned by IKLECTIK.

The performance is co-created Ash McNaughton, Joseph Morgan Schofield and Marcel Sparmann.

An Eternity of Nothingness or The (Im)possibility of Living On

Martin O’Brien

Images: Martin O’Brien, An Ambulance to the Future  (The Second Chance), 2023. Stills from video. Videography and editing by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi.

Many people who weren’t thinking about their bodies and the possibilities of illness and death are now forced to ... I think my work can offer a space for people to sit with images of death, and not in a morbid way. Those of us who have lived in zombie time know death in a different way, and now is a good time to open up the conversations around mortality through art.

Across 2023, Martin O’Brien was  ‘Writer in Residence’ at the Whitechapel Gallery. Martin’s work is continually exploring the politics of illness, death, and the undead. For this residency, Martin worked through writing and performance to consider ideas of immortality. He explored the ways in which writing and actions towards immortality might help to articulate something about death. Through his writings and performances during the residency, Martin explored spirits, ghosts, afterlives, undead creatures, cryonic preservation, rebirth, new lives, transformations and other fictional and imagined possibilities for immortality. Over the year, Martin created a collection of works in different mediums: performances, videos, short stories. The residency involved three live events and three published texts. Together they made up a series that playfully ask questions about the potential for immortality, and imagine a future without an eternity of nothingness.

Performance, Thursday 18th May

An Ambulance to the Future (The Second Chance)

The grim reaper stood there, finally I saw him. His skeletal form sparkled in the moonlight and nothing else existed. This was the deal. He reached out and wrapped his cold, bone hand around my skull. I was lost in the darkness of his cape. He drew me near and kissed me. He tasted like death, and I loved it.

Mixing video, live performance action and parables, this performance imagines a world in which immortality is possible. Drawing on stories of immortal people, it paints the picture of life lived over and over again, a life that doesn’t need water or oxygen, a life without the promise of an end point. It is a meditation on endings and new beginnings. With his usual intensity and wit, this work continues O’Brien’s explorations of the politics of death by asking what the idea of immortality can help us understood about being mortal.

> more info

Further performances of ‘An Ambulance to the Future’ were presented in Copenhagen as part of Managing Discomfort, a collaborative curatorial programme by Live Art Danmark, Toaster and Warehouse9.

Photo by zack mennell, 2023 

Performance, Saturday 22nd July

Overture For The End (An Ashen Place)

Bodies crawl through soot covered landscapes. A ghastly figure looms, unearthly sounds emanating from her mouth. A funeral procession for the living marches by, trumpets sounding, and the mourners weep but they don’t know why. A group of skeletal forms sit at a dining table as if awaiting a feast.

A spectacular exploration of death and immortality, Overture For The End (An Ashen Place) transforms the gallery into a place of decay, part hellscape, part apocalyptic landscape, filled with strange bodies performing deathly actions. The performance imagines repetitive cycles of life and death, an eternity of continuation with a promise of death that never arrives. Taking on the figure of banshee and crone, legendary Los Angeles artist Sheree Rose watches over the actions and intervenes in the cycles.

> more info

Photos by Fenia Kotsopoulou, Whitechapel Gallery, 2023

Performance, Thursday 14th December

Fading Out of Dead Air (Transmissions for the Necropolis)

A scratchy sound of white noise emanating from a small radio fills the dark room. A faint voice comes through. It sounds like nothing from this world, as if death itself was speaking.

Somewhere else, sickly patients lay in hospital beds in hell. They don’t understand why they are still sick. They listen to the hospital radio, but it doesn’t play their favourite songs. Instead, they listen to the sounds of a life once lived. 

Drawing inspiration from hospital radio and stories of ghosts heard through analogue technologies, the final instalment of Martin O’Brien’s performance trilogy explores the human desire to communicate, and record. In a strange and eerie landscape, O’Brien shuffles around, recording and playing half heard voices and unholy sounds.

The durational performance-installation is open throughout the day from 11am-9pm.

> more info

Photo by zack mennell, 2023.

Creative Engagement Project

The Last Breath Society

A series of gatherings exploring how performance art can be a way of processing mortality, illness, grief and loss. We are inviting queer people impacted by these conditions and experiences to join us in this process. Sessions will be held in person across the winter months in London.

> more info (deadline passed)

Martin O’Brien, The Last Breath Society (Coughing Coffin), 2021. Photo by Holly Revell.

Symposium & Performances


A one-off event of difficult, radical and marginalised performance work. Curated by artist Martin O'Brien, DISCHARGE embraces the endless possibilities of the performance space for aesthetic, physical, and political art and experimentation.

Saturday 24th Feb @ Ugly Duck
> more info 

Funders and Support
Commissioned by Whitechapel Gallery. Funded and supported by Arts Council England, the Leverhulme Trust, the Greater London Authority and Queen Mary University of London. Produced by FUTURERITUAL.

Lead artist ~ Martin O’Brien
Project Coordinator ~ Zack Mennell
Project Assistant ~ Ewan Hindes
PR ~ Abstrakt

Videography ~ Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi

a participatory live art project about living and dying queerly

The Last Breath Society

(Applications Closed)

Photo by Holly Revell, 2021.

The Last Breath Society is a creative engagement project led by artist Martin O’Brien. The project explores how performance art can be a way of processing mortality, illness, grief and loss. We invite queer people impacted by these conditions and experiences to join us in this process. Sessions will be held in person across the winter months in London.

If what we are offering resonates with you and you feel able to commit to the process and our requests around care and responsibility, then there is information below on how to join the Last Breath Society.


Medicine is keeping me alive and it’s amazing, but I have to give full control to the doctors so I can continue living. Illness and its treatments strip you of agency and it feels like art is a place – maybe the only place – where you can regain agency over your body.”

Martin’s practice is concerned with death and dying, with what it means to be born with a life-shortening disease, and with the philosophical implications of living longer than expected.

Across the autumn and winter we will meet for four weekenders. At each, we will focus on different creative methodologies drawn from Martin’s practice to explore our experiences of mortality and grief. Currently, we are thinking of working through image making, writing, site-responsive and time-based practices.

As a participant, you will be guided through tasks and exercises by Martin and others, hear from artists and thinkers engaged in this work professionally, create and share your own work or creative responses, and have the option to exhibit something made during the process at a closing event.


That so much of this legacy also carries the mark of trauma reminds us that live art, at it’s best, places itself on the frontline of life itself, where loss and death reveal themselves as the ground from which creativity and love grow.
Peggy Phelan, Live Art in LA

The deeply emotional nature of the topics we aim to explore means that personal and collective risk will be present during the process. While we welcome risk as a necessary condition of being alive, we ask potential participants to read this information fully and carefully consider if this process will be appropriate and beneficial to them at the current moment, and if they can in good faith commit to supporting their own wellbeing and that of the group.

As facilitators, we commit to leading the process with artistic and human compassion, but we cannot commit to offering psychological or other professional modes of care. While we will co-agree practices of accountability and care within the process, ultimately each person’s psychological wellbeing is their own responsibility.

The Last Breath Society should not be understood as a therapeutic process and those receiving therapeutic care should seek the advice of their therapist, doctor or counselor before applying.

The Last Breath Society should be understood as a primarily artistic and creative space, where we will explore what performance art can teach us about living, dying and grieving.

Prior to beginning the sessions, participants will be invited to complete a ‘Braver Spaces’ survey, helping us to understand how best to facilitate access and care in the process. In the first meeting, we will co-agree a set of working practices to support wellbeing. While we hope that everyone is able to stay the course, we understand that people may have to leave the process and this is OK.


The Last Breath Society will take place in wheelchair accessible spaces.

Information and discussion will be held primarily in spoken and written English.

We have a modest discretionary fund to support accessibility within the process. We will connect with participants around this in advance of the process.

Please email with further questions to


The project is facilitated by Martin O’Brien and Joseph Morgan Schofield. Guest facilitators will join the process.

Martin O’Brien is an artist and zombie. He works across performance, writing and video art. His work uses long durational actions, short speculative texts and critical rants, and performance processes in order to explore death and dying, what it means to be born with a life shortening disease, and the philosophical implications of living longer than expected. He has shown work throughout the UK; Europe; USA; and Canada, and is well known for his solo performances and collaborations with the legendary LA artist and dominatrix Sheree Rose. He was artist in residence at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles) in 2015. His most recent works were at Tate Britain in 2020, and the ICA (London) in 2021, and Whitechapel Gallery (London) in 2023. He is winner of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Visual and Performing Arts 2022. He is writer in residence at Whitechapel Gallery throughout 2023. Martin has cystic fibrosis and all of his work and writing draws upon this experience. In 2018, the book ‘Survival of the Sickest: The Art of Martin O’Brien’ was published by Live Art Development Agency. His work has been featured on BBC radio, The Guardian, and Sky Arts television. He received a PhD from the University of Reading in 2014. He is currently senior lecturer in Live Art at Queen Mary University of London.

Joseph Morgan Schofield is a curator, producer and maker. Through their company Future Ritual, Joseph works with artists to create contemporary expressions of ritual, in service of a new and more attuned culture. Future Ritual leads curatorial projects - most recently at the ICA (London) - and produces unique artistic projects - such as those by Anne Bean and Martin O’Brien - which explore belief, land, mystery and death. Joseph’s own artistic work is concerned mostly with bearing witness to loss though within this there is room for explorations of kinship, desire, eroticism and connection.

Joining the Last Breath Society

The Last Breath Society is open to queer people who consider themselves to have an active relationship to mortality, illness, loss or grief, and who are interested to explore performance art as a mode of ‘being with’ these experiences and conditions. Sessions will take place in person in London and we will give priority to people living in London to join.

The process is open to people who don’t consider themselves professional artists or creatives, as well as those who are exploring these themes professionally. You do not need to have experience of a performance art practice, but we ask that you approach the process with openness.

If you are interested in joining this process we ask that you:
  • read all the information on this page carefully and that you consider whether it would be beneficial and appropriate for you to join the process at this time.
  • commit to the published dates & published care information
  • research the facilitators and understand the nature of the practices we are interested in
  • complete this short form which asks about your reasons for wanting to join the process. There are written and spoken options for long form answers.

We anticipate that there will be strong interest in the process and we will not be able to offer a place to everyone who wants to join. In assembling the group we will prioritise those who articulate the clearest reasons for wanting to join this specific process.

(Applications closed)

Funders and Support
Funded and supported by Arts Council England, the Leverhulme Trust, the Mayor of London and Queen Mary University of London. Produced by FUTURE RITUAL.

Future Anatomy, VestAndPage, 2023. Still from video, courtesy of the artists.

Artist Lab with VestAndPage

Future Anatomies: 

Exquisite Corpse, Exalted Flesh

26th & 27th September, VSSL Studio

Please join FUTURE RITUAL for this two day lab facilitated by the artists VestAndPage considering artistic reimaginings of the body.

Sold Out

Received social and political understandings of the body are demonstrated, unceasingly, to be weird and obsolete. Though we remain committed to the immediacy and centrality of our sweating, sensate forms, we desire to imagine new anatomies, new functions, and new modes of embodiment.

We will watch, read and discuss the work of artists and thinkers engaged in similar lines of enquiry, develop our own texts and scores, and explore performative strategies for reimagining the flesh. Informed by queer theory, ritual practice, post human phenomenology and dis/ability arts, the lab is a space to think creatively and fluidly into these new possibilities.

Key Info

Tues 26th & Weds 27th September 2023, 11am - 5pm, 
VSSL Studio, Resolution Way, London, SE8 4AL

£30 (Concession) / £40 / £60 (Solidarity Ticket) 
> Sold Out

Deptford Railway station, served by Thameslink and National Rail, is a 1 minute walk from the studio. New Cross and New Cross Gate, served by the Overground and National Rail, are also within walking distance.

VestAndPage’s trip to the UK is supported by the Italian Cultural Institute.

Under Scars, VestAndPage, Venice International Performance Art Week, 2022. Photo by Lorenza Cini.


The studio is accessed via a raised, fenced path. Step free access can be found via the carpark on Tidemill Way.

The studio has a wide door. There is an accessible toilet within the studio block.

Please email with any queries.

About VestAndPage

Since 2006, German artist Verena Stenke (b. 1981) and Venetian-born artist and writer Andrea Pagnes (b. 1962) have been working together as VestAndPage and gained international recognition in the fields of performance art, performance-based film, writing, publishing, and with collective performance operas and temporary artistic community projects. Since over a decade, VestAndPage have been exploring performance art and film as phenomena through their collaborative creative practice, as well as through theoretical artistic research and curatorial projects. Their works – a celebration of life – have been presented in museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas and a variety of sites worldwide. Their writings have been extensively published and translated for international readers.

VestAndPage's art practice is contextual and situation-responsive, conceived psycho-geographically in response to social contexts, natural surroundings, historical sites and architectures. In their works they move between the unseen and the unforeseen, the unsaid, the forgotten and the repressed. They inquire performance art as an urgency to explore the physical, mental and spiritual bodies, where moments of crisis or extreme situations often see the crossing of boundaries by the break with norms and known orders, to interface with the ephemeral matter of art and existence.

On December 2012, VestAndPage conceived and initiated the live art exhibition project VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK. Between 2012 and 2016, the project showcased in the Trilogy of the Body historic pioneer works on exhibit in conjunction with live programs of durational performances, presenting over 120 international artists and an ongoing educational program. Since 2017, the project presents in the new format Co-Creation Live Factory an international educational platform with residential and collaborative nature.

Besides sharing their pedagogy on collaborative performance making in intensive workshops and co-creation classes. Since 2019, they are tutoring guest artists at the Master of Performance Practices at ArtEZ University of the Arts, since 2020 at MA Performance at the Norwegian Theatre Academy.

In Search of the Miraculous

Curated and convened by Anne Bean
Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2023
Anne Bean, Drop and Flame, 1990

The village of Walsingham in North Norfolk, known for a miraculous happening, provides a unique context for artists. Across the Spring Bank Holiday works of painting, moving image, installation and sculpture will appeared at sites in the village. Seekers and curious folk were invited to join us as ‘pilgrims’ led through Walsingham, encountering performances, actions and demonstrations. This special event sought to create a basis for shared dialogue, conviviality and reflection ‘in search of the miraculous.’

The event and exhibition featured works and offerings by Anne Bean, Anna Brass, Ansuman Biswas, selina bonelli, Oona Grimes, Poppy Jackson, Joan Key, Scilla Landale, Helen McIlldowie-Jenkins, Reverend Gyoro Nagase, Holly Slingsby, Filipos Tsitsopoulos, Candide Turner Bridger and Richard Wilson RA. Further information on participating artists and their work can be found below.

Ansuman Biswas, Before, During, After, 2023. Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou.

Videography and editing by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi, 2023.

Oona Grimes, Wool and Water, 2023. Still from video. Image courtesy of the artist.

Joining the pilgrimage

Our day-long pilgrimage ‘in search of the miraculous’ took place on Saturday 27th May. We met roadside, by the 14th century Slipper Chapel, located within the Catholic National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady.

We embarked on the Pilgrim Way, a one mile path between the Shrine and the village of Walsingham, led by Reverend Gyoro Nagase and his walking drum. Along the way we encountered performances by Holly Slingsby, selina bonelli and Poppy Jackson.

Arriving at the end of the Pilgrim Way to St Seraphim’s Chapel, an Orthodox chapel housed in an old railway cottage, we explored the works of painting, ceramics, installation and moving image by Anne Bean, Anna Brass, Candide Turner Bridger, Joan Key, Filipos Tsitsopoulos and Richard Wilson. These were to be found in Walsingham’s religious and civic spaces, as well as in the windows of houses and shops in the village.

Refreshments were available from St Seraphim’s beutiful Quiet Garden, in which ‘pilgrims’ also found a performance by Ansuman Biswas and a demonstration of Icon Painting by Elenis Icons. St Serpahim’s Icon Gallery will be open, alongside an installation in the Chapel.

We reconvened at the Parish Hall for ‘The Miraculous Story of Walsingham Seen Through Glass’, a talk by Scilla Landale, and films by Oona Grimes and Anne Bean. From 6.30pm there was  food, drink and conviviality in the Parish Hall. Some aspects of the programme remained open acoss the weekend.

Closing Event

We held a reflective closing event, hosted by England & Co at Sotheran Building in London, on Thursday 7th September. The documentation by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi was shown alongside films by Anne Bean and Oona Grimes, and further works by Joan Key and Richard Wilson.


‘In Search of the Miraculous’ is convened and curated by Anne Bean. The project is produced by FUTURE RITUAL, and funded and supported by Arts Council England, East Anglia Art Fund, Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Norfolk County Council.


Image: Haukebodde Hacoud Hacwod Aukud, Anna Brass, 2022. Still from video. Image courtesy of the artist.

Bios and Works

In Search of the Miraculous -

Anne Bean 

In 1973, Anne Bean cut through the book 'In Search of the Miraculous,' by the philosopher, P.D. Ouspensky who was writing on the early teachings of the seeker George Gurdjieff. This rectangular void that she created inside the covers, allowed one to peer through the entire book to see two halves of a photo that she had glued in, as though looking at both ends of a tunnel simultaneously. That photo related to her thesis 'what is art and what am I doing in it?' Ouspensky wrote: "the undoubted fact that beyond the thin film of false reality there existed another reality from which, for some reason, something separated us. The ’miraculous’ was a penetration into this unknown reality.” Fifty years after the original intervention with the book, Anne Bean's film and action 'In Search of the Miraculous,' probes this penetration

Her ceramics, 'the visionaries', shown in the window of 'Read and Digest Tearoom', partly arose from seeing a small bust of a three horned Roman deity, found at the Walsingham Roman temple site.  This deity’s horns brought to her mind the notion of antennae reaching backwards and forwards, probing the world, whilst concurrently emitting ideas and visions into it. The horns also strongly suggested the jester, a word derived from the Anglo-Norman word 'storyteller.'  The jester could tell the truth that could not otherwise be told. The Pilgrim badges, available for this pilgrimage, are based on this Roman deity.

Haukebodde Hacoud Hacwod Aukud - Anna Brass

Anna Brass is an artist and filmmaker based in Norwich. Set in late medieval Italy and Essex, Brass’ short film explores earthly bodies and celestial realms. Brass draws on a diverse imagery to depict a world populated with strange objects: an oversized pilgrim badge, talking maiolica pots, and a dazzle camouflaged cathedral. Shot on 16mm with a cast of non-actors, the film presents a rich series of tableaux dense with the artist’s sculptures, backdrops and makeshift constructions. ‘Haukebodde Hacoud Hacwod Aukud’ is supported by Stuart Croft Foundation.

Before, During, After - Ansuman Biswas

Ansuman Biswas works in a wide variety of media, but his central concern lies between science, work and religion. He is interested in traversing, transposing and translating across many different kinds of border. To paraphrase the 13th Century Zen philosopher Dōgen: “Before my search mountains are mountains and streams are streams. During my search mountains are no longer mountains and streams are no longer streams. After my search mountains are mountains and streams are streams.”

Biswas’ performance “Before, During, After” reflects on Spiritual Materialism within practices of pilgrimage and on the search for the miraculous as a kind of yearning for something out of the ordinary, something more than mundane.

"They do come to you, but you do not hear them. You have not sat in the field in the evening listening for them. When the angelus rings, you cross yourself and have done with it. But if you prayed from your heart and listened to the thrilling of the bells in the air after they stopped ringing, you would hear the voices as well as I do.”
George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan (1923)

covered, dys-covered, re-covered :: a process of gaps and revelations - selina bonelli

selina is currently exploring abandoned post-conflict architecture through performance and sound. they hope to develop an affective trail of embodied witnessing of marginalized voices through the borders drawn into the landscape around these structures. they seek to explore the spaces outside of language by expanding on a listening through what touch could be to uncover the resonances trapped in ruins, utterances and hauntings.

"i will not have the words for a type of loss that is so distant it is intimate."
ALOK, funeral in Femme in Public (2017)

Wool and Water - Oona Grimes

Oona Grimes is a London based artist, primarily a chaser of language through drawing, clay making & film. During Grimes’ 2018 Bridget Riley Fellowship at The British School at Rome she segued from thieving Lorenzetti tartans and cartoon detail from Etruscan paintings, to the appropriation of neorealist films - mis-remembered, imitated and low tech re- enacted: a physical drawing of herself captured on i-phone.

Grimes’ interest in the The Miraculous stems from a love of medieval manuscripts and early Italian votives, depicting the supranatural in the everyday.

“Wool & Water” is a Norfolk Miracle which introduces Lewis Carroll to Pasolini. The Sheep (a metamorphoses of the White Queen from 'Through the Looking Glass’) undertakes a quest for transformation and is finally granted sainthood.

Holy Marys - Poppy Jackson

Born in Norfolk, Poppy Jackson views performance as a potential entranceway to the transformative, divine, or miraculous. Through use of creative intent in sacred site, the artist works with ritual action, charged material, duration as a means towards altered states of consciousness, and pilgrims, artists and audience as witness and collective energy.

The native ladybirds of this performance have been raised by the artist from young larvae. In becoming an abject female body through their interaction today; the work addresses Christianity’s complex views of, discomfort at, and influence upon the mother’s body. These are exemplified by the paradoxical figure of The Virgin Mary - a traditional mother figure sinless of sexual experience.

Ladybirds were named after the Virgin Mary in Medieval times when farmers prayed to Her to save their failing crops and ladybirds miraculously saved the fields from pests. In early religious paintings, Mary was often shown wearing a red cloak; the spots of the seven spot ladybird were said to symbolise Her seven joys and seven sorrows. Worldwide, cultures attribute ladybirds with luck, connection to the divine, protection of faith, and as a bringer of gifts, messages or even children (being called ‘little midwife' (commaruccia) in some regions of Italy). In Christianity they are symbolic of the soul of Our Lady, standing for the Virgin Mary’s selfless compassion and sacrifice, and act as a mediator between earth and heaven, carrying prayers to the skies.

This mother’s body, barefoot along the ‘flight path’ of the Pilgrims Way, presents to us ladybirds’ cultural stand as a visual totem for the efficacy of prayer and connection to larger forces. ‘Marys’ encompasses the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, and also refers to the artist's matriarchal lineage through her Irish Catholic Grandmother, Mary Hennessy, who survived Tuberculosis and gave Poppy and her mother their middle names of Mary. The work takes inspiration from the performativity of intent of the walkers of this ancient path at the site of a Mother Mary Miracle, whose footsteps span centuries of searching for the miraculous.

16 Small Shrines - Joan Key

At first there was an interest in exploring the colours of red paint. This produced an association with Pompeian painting in which figures, now on the verge of ruin, can hold a cool presence, both mythic and fragile. That fleeting sensation of figural movement was more important than narrative recognition. It belongs to deep roots: what Abe Warburg refers to as ‘the fossil impressions of ancient energies’.*

In the studio, the cardboard shrines emerged during lockdown, which created enormous amounts of packaging for dispatch. Card was folded to protect contents, but once un-folded its shape was reminiscent of icons or altar pieces and their protective apotraic usage.  The red is a Cadmium Burgundy, an expensive colour which, in association with Golden Ochre, holds associations with value. The thin watercolour paint surface suggested the opposite: povera, associated with the cardboard’s loss of contents and destroyed forms.

The miraculous potential of the shrine’s iconic usage can be productive in the understanding of narratives: secular or sacred. The association with prayer and rituals that protect or bring hope, health and prosperity, may be magnificent but similar qualities may also be found in the road-side shrines or votive offerings to household shrines for small.

There is a memory attached to making these works, of visiting a tiny Orthodox church in a remote Greek village. The iconostasis contained icons of various styles and dates, but there were many humble additions of printed cardboard icons, some quite modern, some dating from the nineteenth century. These could be faded or damaged by dust and damp, but nevertheless their sense of worth, as signs of attachment, remained. Permitted to have a place, humble images elevated by their setting and the hope they might literally bless, cure or remember their patrons, and those who worshipped in this remote place.

Joan Key, London, August 2022 *Georges Didi-Huberman, ‘The Surviving Image, Phantoms of Time and Time of Phantoms, trans. Harvey Mendelsohn, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017, p.218

The Miraculous Story of Walsingham Seen Through Glass - Scilla Landale

Scilla Landale started guided running guided tours of Walsingham over 35 years ago. Scilla will offer a special presentation entitled “The Miraculous Story of Walsingham Seen Through Glass”. This talk will contextualise “In Search of the Miraculous” within the broader religious and historical context of Walsingham. Additionally, Scilla’s tours of Walsingham may be joined on Friday 26th May. (see above for details).

Icon Painting Demonstration - Helen McIlldowie-Jenkins

Helen McIldowie-Jenkins is an artist, iconographer and Secular Franciscan (OFS) who has undertaken numerous fine art and icon commissions since the early 1990s.

Commissioning bodies include Bristol Cathedral, Chelmsford Cathedral, Wymondham Abbey, The English College Rome, The Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, The Turf Club Pall Mall, St Mary's Harrow on the Hill, Holy Trinity Cuckfield, All Hallows Gospel Oak, The Oratory of Cardiff University Chaplaincy and several chapels of the Woodard School Corporation. Helen has also produced numerous bespoke commissions for private clients in the UK, USA and Australia.

Helen has given interviews to BBC radio and talks to conferences and groups. Her research into 13th century crucifixion iconography has also been cited in art historical papers.

Helen only uses the traditional medieval panel painting techniques of egg tempera and water gilding to compose original devotional art as well as archetypal Byzantine Greek and Russians icons. Her work also references early Franciscan and Italian 14th century Trecento painting.

Helen also has a passion for Clerical Portraiture and has recently painted His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Canon Bruce Ruddock of Chichester Cathedral.

Pilgrimage - Reverend Gyoro Nagase 

Reverend Gyoro Nagase first arrived in England in 1978 from Aichi prefecture, near Nagoya, in Japan, to assist in the construction of the first Peace Pagoda in the UK in Milton Keynes. In 1984 he moved to London, to construct the Peace Pagoda in Battersea park, which was completed the following year. Reverend Nagase makes pilgrimages to and from areas of social and political significance to promote peace, with just a begging bowl and a walking drum. Pilgrimages have included Brantwood (John Ruskin’s home), Coniston, Cumbria to London Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park, from Vienna Peace Pagoda to Oświęcim, (Auschwitz), from Ukraine to Russia to visit and pray at Chernobyl, and walk from Kiev to Yasnaya Polyana (Leo Tolstoy’s home).

Messenger’s Lament- Holly Slingsby

Holly Slingsby is a visual artist working in performance, video and painting. She studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University; and the Slade School of Art, London. Her visual language reflects a fascination with iconographic traditions, drawing on Biblical imagery, mythologies, and contemporary culture. Much of her recent work seeks to convey the often unspoken experience of infertility.

Slingsby’s work has been shown at Turner Contemporary, Margate; Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani, Girona; Tintype, London; DKUK, London; Matt’s Gallery; Spike Island; Modern Art Oxford; Freud Museum, London; CCC Barcelona; LABS Bologna; ICA, London; FEM Festival, Girona; Art Licks Weekend, London; and Barbican, London.

Dreams and nightmares made of sound and fury - Filippos Tsitsopoulos

Lady Macbeth, whose shadow precedes her down the castle stairs as she sleepwalks toward insanity, meets its male personage, Macbeth in a deluge of genre and symbolism of a Heideggerian dasein. He/She/Them is rubbing her/his/ their hands together in a famous line of regret: “Out, damned spot!” Her staff overhears this murder confession before both are returning upstairs with the chillingly fatalistic line: “What’s done can not be undone. To bed.” To dream no more.

And what if a dream can heal the myth? Macbeth plays a silent piano in the broken carcases of the airplane wings.

The riddle of Shakespeare in search for the miracle.

Filippos is using extraordinary and elaborately constructed masks as a form of protec- tion, disguise, identity, isolation, alienation, and human resilience. His work involves an exploration of authentic identity versus performed identity. He considers the often polarised fragmented identities that we perform and how to bring the interiorised au- thentic self and the exterior constructed self together. His goal is to examine socially constructed patterns of behaviour, create situations in which the participants break or transcend the internal feedback loops that control their own actions, and address the power structures we inhabit and perpetrate.

Talismans - Candide Turner Bridger

Candide Turner Bridger is an ecoartist and pigment maker, based in Walsingham. She works with the earth in site specific projects, using the soil to make rich and colourful pigments. Her work questions our relationship to nature by exploring symbols and patterns within.  

Candide researches the history and folk tales from a site she has taken the soil to make pigment from and holds workshops where the audience are encouraged to create a dialogue around our history with nature, and the importance of ecological and social justice. Her aim is to inspire care and respect for the world we live in.

Ecoart is grounded in ecological ethics; it encompasses the physical, biological, cultural, political and historical aspects of ecosystems.

Warship - Worship - Richard Wilson RA

Richard Wilson’s interventions in architectural space draw heavily for their inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction.

The ship (bark or barque, barchetta) was an ancient Christian symbol. It is the Church tossed on the sea of disbelief, worldliness, and persecution but finally reaching safe harbour with its cargo of human souls. “A ship carries the body and the church carries the soul”

It was also a great symbol during times when Christians needed to disguise the cross, since the ship’s mast forms a cross in many of its depictions. The term nave is from navis, the Latin word for ship, an early Christian symbol of the Church as a whole, with a possible connection to the Ship of St. Peter or the Ark of Noah. The term may also have been suggested by the keel shape of the vaulting of a church. In many Nordic and Baltic countries a model ship is commonly found hanging in the nave of a church, and in some languages the same word means both “nave” and “ship”.

Future Ritual: Land, Art, Faith, Performance CIC

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