I’m excited to be heading back into our Britannia Artists-in-Communities Residency with renewed energy! The fall and winter have been a real learning experience about entering into a new collaboration and new community setting. Ronnie and I have visited many of the groups that make up Britannia and been amazed at the warmth, complexity and diversity we’ve found. The network of relationships that sustains and holds up this community is palpable, and can only have developed as it has: over time and with the commitment and participation of countless people. We have a privileged role of moving between the different solar systems within the Britannia galaxy. There is a lot of light here!
With these initial months behind us, our project has taken shape. Each time we are welcomed into a group, be it the Seniors program or the Library Staff, the Board of Directors or the children’s Out-of-School Care program, we come out the other side having collaboratively identified something precious – an essence, usually in the form of a poetic statement, of what Britannia means to that particular group and what it, in turn, means to Britannia. We are looking forward now, in the coming months, to visiting more groups with a clear intent of distilling and collecting these essences. Then, we’ll share them with the wider community through a variety of media. We’ll make “Box of Light” displays for the Info Centre gallery space. Ronnie will create word clouds that show visually what the most important ideas are, and we’ll create projected installations with them. Mural painting may be in the works with the collaboration of a local painter. I’ll lead a group of community members in creating a movement piece that responds to the information collected. A chapbook is under consideration. All of this community inquiry and expression will culminate in a celebration in the Carving Pavilion in June – stay tuned for more details!
The best moments for me are when we are in that sacred space with a group of people when we all sense the presence of poetry. That’s the moment when the air is charged and something prickles the back of your neck. In addition, I am learning much from Ronnie’s ability to take what a community expresses about itself and hold it up in such a way as to honour it, and leave everyone in the room feeling as though they’ve been deeply acknowledged. This acknowledgement and poetic magic is what I want to cultivate over the next 5 – 6 months. It will be very rewarding to share what has emerged from these intimate processes with the wider community and have fun!
And of course, thanks to Ellen, our fearless and very patient Arts Programmer who has linked us with so many wonderful people and kept us on track!