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.

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