Ellington Park - 23rd March 2014
Resting Place in Ellington Park: The Performance
Ellington Park was the ancestral home of Clarice. It retained for her and her sister a sense of belonging and ownership despite becoming a public park in 1892
In developing the movement for the performance, it was important to get to the heart of the connection Clarice had to the space. How would she remember the shape of the landscape, the trees and paths once she was far from home? How might she have experienced the push and pull between the adventure of going to help the war effort and the familiarity of home?
The performance was not a literal interpretation; rather it allowed the words of the diary to exist alongside a dance of leaving from a park that was home to Clarice.
The early 20th century saw a resurgence of English Country Dance as a popular pastime, with Cecil Sharp seen as the founding father of the folklore revival. He collected traditional English songs and dances and founded the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), with summer schools in traditional dance being run across the country. Clarice and her friends may have been familiar with these dances. Sharp’s work is preserved to this day at Cecil Sharp House in London and passed on through teachers, some of who have generously dedicated time to Resting Place.
The EFDSS have also revealed connections between country dance and the war effort: In 1917, dance teacher Daisy Caroline Daking travelled to the war camps in France and began teaching country dance as a form of entertainment and recuperation to the forces — another kind of nursing.
The comments that the men made were illuminating.
The big, rather solid man who said, after going through two or three longways dances, “I’m going to take this up, it will keep me off the booze.” The little group in that other camp who said it had felt like paying a visit to Blighty… No.5 said he had enjoyed it ever so much. He wanted to apologise for his bad dancing, but he had had a toe amputated, and was still in bandages, and his boots were new.
D.C. Daking, 1918
On Wishing Her Goodbye
What would you say to a young women heading off to a war?
People were invited to participate in the first of our Resting Place events by creating a piece of bunting expressing what they would say to a young women heading off to war.
On September 28th 1915, Clarice wrote in her diary:
"Left home at 8am having been seen off by dad and Lionel...'
Clarice was a young woman going off to France to nurse during the First World War. This entry marks the moment she left home, not knowing when or if she would return or with any idea of the horrors that awaited her.
It is well documented that soldiers leaving for France at that time were given a rousing send off, with bunting adorning streets, flag waving and bands playing. They were heroes before they had even left British soil. Yet there appears to have been no such send off for women.
75 pieces of bunting were sent, these were strung together and adorned the Ellington Park bandstand during the performance. Dawn Cole has since created a series of books of bunting as a lasting legacy to the event and to become part of the Clarice Spratling archive.
On Wishing Her Goodbye Bunting Gallery
Focussing on themes of mindfulness and the experience the biaural is a first person perspective recording of Niamh Lynam-Cotter's movements as choreographed by Roanna Mitchell.
Binaural recording is a sound recording method that consists of placing specialised microphones in the ears of the subject. By this method of recording we are able to accurately reproduce the sound as naturally perceived by the subject. For the first Resting Place we are able to hear the sound of the performance from the performers perspective, bringing a different vivacity of interpretation to the audience. Nathan Harmer
This recording is best experienced on headphones.
A Nominal Admission Charge
The term ‘to take the King’s Shilling’ (or Queen’s) dates back as far as the 18th century when a shilling was given in payment to recruits who joined the Army or Navy. This term was still used during WW1
Clarice writes in her diary, Sept 1915
A few days later we heard we had been accepted would we send the sum of 1/- to the Commandant for our badges and any little expenses during our correspondence
A woman giving a shilling and a man receiving a shilling, one to fight and one to save. Dawn Cole