The body in time and place

Through symbolic action Becky Bowley’s work evokes the relationship between the body and time through the medium of traditional making and the movement of the body within a place. Her interest lies in poetical dialogues between the memory and imagination of human feeling and experiences becoming an embodiment of dream, myth and the ineffable. Materials are composed as symbols of the elements that resonate with impermanence and hint at transformation - to move the body within time and space “To cross a territory, to walk, to open a path, to recognise a place, to comprehend symbolic values, to invent a geography”5.

The Humber Princess

If you are crossing the Humber Bridge, you might encounter something quite extraordinary at dawn or maybe dusk, the Humber Bridge is a dance partner for a discreet pedestrian endurance dance walk.

The Humber Princess is in resonance with the site as a place of suicide and performed for an incidental audience of commuters and travelers who use the Humber Bridge regularly.

"The Humber Princess is an onsite, site responsive endurance dance, a  home movie, a requiem,  an enactment and mark of quiet respect. Discretion, respect and sensitivity are required. If you want a day out by the bridge – you may just happen to see the Humber Princess"

Featuring Stuart Faulkner, Technician Mark Doyle. Visual and Sound Recording Longbarrow Press. 

The Mistakes I Have Made

The Mistakes I Have Made is a boat, it is the sea and a musical instrument.

It is an endurance piece set to a collection of writings accumulated through an informal call out in which people were asked to describe their personal experiences of longing and waiting. It dreams of times, people and places that you want to go to but can not, it carries and transports us to those places through aloneness, distance, dream and physical endurance.

The body becomes tired through rowing, rowing without physically being able to go anywhere, but rowing none the less, enduring the movement to enable the tired body to be transported as if by magic and child-like innocence to another shore where anything is possible, time stands still and dreams have no limit.

( 3 hrs, make shift boat frame, oars, white fabric, music stand)

Grace waves and cherry blossom

I have nothing to offer you except this small bowl of tea and a lotus flower

view video documentation here

Documentation by Charlotte Morgan and Mark Doyle, Painting in collaboration by Dominic Mason. Tea serving with thanks to poets Matthew Clegg and Chris Jones.

 (white china tea bowls, green tea with cherry blossom, kettle and tea pot)

Grace waves and cherry blossom (at the alter)

 Controversy amongst the congregation, tension growing in a sense of trespass and dis-belonging settled by Father David with his complete and unhesitant support. Standing ones ground with Grace waves and cherry blossom the rules of tea ceremony that take years to master in response to unexpected settings, sites and situations.

"The tea ceremony was a strange and beautiful experience; all of us sitting where the choir stalls had been for hundreds of years - brought on quite a time trip." 

Photograph by Dan Sumption
Here with particular gratitude to Rob Hindle's concern for tea serving.

Rise and Fall (one to one)

Come closer. I want to tell you something. I want to call it ‘Being Now’. I descend in to the cellar. It has a warm, calm stillness. We came here before when no-one was here to see us and we studied the traces. I hardly knew my companion. We were like two detectives and had the privilege of sharing thoughts. Cordially greeted and gently ushered through a thin curtain into a room I know and have seen in my dreams or suggested by old poems. Precisely positioned objects, silhouettes and intricate patterns picked out in earth and chalk with such a lightness of touch. The softly spoken word sounds the space – it gets into my bones, resonates down the very centre. We move and kneel to engage in the rhythm of near-ritual – the taste of ripe cherries and the stones dropped from our mouth. Can you tie a knot in a cherry stalk, just using your tongue? To an adjacent, darker room where water flows from jug to jug and back again…and back again. The focus is purely on the act of exchange. We concentrate. The significance is the artist’s but I feel part of it, as if I could understand. Material falls to reveal a symbol of a bird – a large drawing on a rough brick wall. And then the experience of this very moment, the phenomenon of a figure immerse herself in water before me – right there, so I can hear it lapping and sense the held breath. We had no idea this would happen here. It hadn’t felt like an arena, more of the aftermath of regular visits. I am blindfolded, led slowly and carefully down a corridor, up a flight of stairs, along a second corridor and up another short flight. Disoriented, the blindfold is removed and I blink in the light of a different kind of room, less intimate – again I feel I have been here before, or my mind has, and I am here now. (We didn’t come in here) I sit opposite a table, across the empty room, windows either side diffusing the early daylight. The performance continues as life, on the other side of the wall, continues. The window takes part of me outside, and brings part of that in, still in the moment Intensity grows to be more like a trance, as if the ritual is gathering towards a crescendo. Standing on the table, still wet, the wall is tapped with the palm of the hand, then higher and harder, faster and louder. And the inside drifts outside. In the last room we sit in a ring of scattered stones, some bearing single words. The taste of salt lingers - the sea, sweat, preservative - and we wash hands, and see the tiny bird motif dissolve. We turned left last time and got lost, do you remember? Leaving the building, turn right and into the city, contemplating what has been and how I feel. Lifted, lighter. It was personal and special. I’m jostling between trying to find connections in the elements, and just lying amongst them, swimming with them, and letting them make sense.

Based in the secrecy of the psyche and the cellar, led by the body’s interplay with found materials such as earth, fruit, water and site; Becky Bowley developed a series of intimate interludes from remembered and imagined personal encounters, leaving traces and interventions within the space accumulating during the residency as an archeological site. The audience was invited to participate in 25 minute one to one guided performance tours of the body and space.

Documentation by Mark Doyle

Patience (Mirror)

Patience, as a virtue and reference to the solo card game evokes the sense of extended time and endurance. Set to an ethereal play of voiced and embodied emotion the twelve minute performance is a story of an intimate and brief encounter with beauty, death and reconciliation.
"Through the 'negative space' a void exists so that the 'ingredients can be seen in a moving way or dynamic way"4
Photographed by Tamsin Drury (Green Room Arts)


The skin, bones, and landscape of our brief encounter.
(Twelve minutes; white satin, net curtain, white chalk dust)
Photographed by Mark Doyle.


Like a refugee, exchanging earth with earth, from one place to another 'to cross a territory' along The Hope Valley train line.
Transmerge is an artistic desire to merge body and land without boundaries. Prehistorically land art may have been used to define boundaries, and ownership of the land to indicate beliefs. These boundaries of land and people continue today causing global and personal conflict. Land and people are separated by differences that can be transformed into a merger of unique parts at peace with each other, ritualised in the performance of Transmerge.
" The impassioned inhabitant digs and re-digs, making its very depth active. The fact is not enough, the dream is at work. When it comes to excavated ground, dreams have no limit."3

(Two days; suitcase, dress, trowl, shroud and earth)

Photographed by Julian Hughes.

Shadow lands

A walk: 18 hours, from Brighton seashore to falmer manor house; Falmer manor house to Brighton seashore; carrying a body of sand in human size and heavier in weight. An act of letting go: the body arises from the seashore, is carried inland, reformed to a dance, carried back to the sea and reformed again before being washed away.
"A system of empty spaces (the sea of the archipelago) through which it is possible to drift"2
(Eighteen hours; blue dress, large suitcase and sand)
Photographed by Mark Doyle

Still Changing (window)

"It is as though something fluid had collected our memories and we our-selves were dissolved in this fluid of the past" 1
Still Changing (window), 9 hour shop window performance.
Photographed by Mark Doyle

Still Changing

Constantly knitting, the knit work dissolves into water. Sitting still, but for the hypnotic movement of working hands and of threads coming undone, dissolving into water.
With every line created, a line dissolved. Still Changing is an embodiment of impermanence and dynamic life cycles. An elusive labour of the psyche, it marks the activity of knitting as a reflection on the reality of the body, and the body as myth, referencing still life painting and subverting traditional images of work and making into a rite of passage.
(Nine hours, nine days performance; ash wood, glass, water, white slip and socks, soluble fabric, knitting needles)
Photographed by Julian Hughes

(Im) Material (Bath)

(Im) Material (Bath) is a twenty minute performance for video. The familiarity of the bath becomes another world whilst the body is carpeted within it, holding her breath as it fills with water. Her visual form fades in and out of the image as the water builds until the form starts to shift, and finally there is a tearing of the veil as the naked fiqure emerges from the deep red flowing pool.
(Twenty minute video performance, bath, water and carpet)
Video by Becky Bowley

Making Connections

Becky Bowley weaves a fine silk red cloth in silence but for the sound of the loom, thread by thread we're lead through the process of weaving in relation to the female form and psych... watching in on a dream. Once the cloth is woven the figure in the tale slowley takes the cloth apart. The threads dance and fall with the body, statically charged by movement, until the un-weaving is complete, and the figure fades out of the dream leaving a grave like image of red threads and figurative empty space.

(Twenty minute video, two week Performance; silk, harris loom, bobbins and mill)

Video by Becky Bowley