Last week I went to Art Language Location (ALL) a contemporary visual and performance arts festival held in Cambridge. I was photographing and documenting the day, as ALL had agreed to be part of my creative photography project 20in15. I had a great day at the festival discovering some incredible work and observing artists creating work. The photos I took can be seen here.

Walking from the city centre to the venue (Anglia Ruskin University) I crossed Parkers Piece. This is not a Charlie Parker tune, but a park. In the park I saw two blokes pushing yellow plastic dogs in wheelbarrows. Tom and Julian seemed friendly but didn’t say much. Continuing on to Anglia Ruskin University, I kept vigilant and alert for further arts discovery.

Upon arrival I was greeted by some very nice people in brightly coloured t-shirts. Organiser, Robert Good looked splendid in his. The university walls were adorned with information and messages. Some of it might be ‘the art’ I thought to myself. My suspicions confirmed when I caught Note Bard Jeremy Dixon red-handed intervening with a noticeboard. His black-out poetry was spreading fast. Prince Charles has to “get much better than this” whilst “In America all respect all fear none”. Informed, entertained and now with clarity, I moved on.

Upstairs there were students at computer terminals wearing headphones, more dogs in wheelbarrows, and a large white wall. This wall was the canvas for Kimvi Nguyen’s Dash. Kimvi, whilst balanced delicately on a small radiator planned to dash slowly for three to four hours. I promised to return later and applaude the finale.

Back downstairs I consulted my ALL schedule and went in search of room COS117 and a Poetry Film. Following signs down many corridors and staircases I came across After Fors Clavigera by Abigail Thomas. The sound of the projector’s fan and the clattering of slide selection drew me in. In the dark corridor it was comforting, like the light and warmth of a fireplace.  I stayed for some time, missing the Poetry Film.

Re-tracing my steps, I then crossed the courtyard to be greeted by Nadja Daehnke and her colleagues. Nadja invited me to sit at her desk. She was wearing a white coat. I knew I was safe in her care. Expecting a straightjacket and meds, instead Nadja offered me an eye examination. I tried not to look too disappointed, and obliged by sitting at the Look Into Your Eyes machine. I was then escorted to a lecture theatre where I was able to sit alone and look into my eyes, projected on the big screen. Nadja collected me after a few minutes and I asked me what I thought of the experience. I told her I thought I blinked quite slowly and definitely needed more sleep. She said she could help with that and pointed me in the direction of room LAB 006.

LAB 006 was dimly lit and circular. There were large bean bags around the edge of the room. On each bean bag there was an eye mask and a blanket. I wasted no time removing my shoes and lying down. Others joined in. Soon the whole room was full with weary arts explorers ready to snooze. Alison Carlier spoke in soft tones, leading us down the path to relaxation. Descriptive words, objects and materials. I didn’t fully understand the meanings, but that didn’t seem to matter as images started to appear in my mind. I drifted off. I most likely snored, although that’s not certain.

Awakening gently from my nap, reality gripped me and I knew at once I had missed Kumvi’s finale. I dashed there, but was too late. The Hare and the Tortoise I thought to myself.

On my way out I visited room LAB028 where Jonathan Rogerson was preparing for his piece Nobody Knows Where My Johnny Was Gone.  I was on a tight schedule, with a train to catch and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick around to see if he solved the mystery. I was lucky however to be in the room with Jonathan as he warmed up for his performance. The photograph I took of him at the piano with his back to the room before his show is one of my favourites from the day.


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