My first forest

Beatrice Leal unfortunately had to defer her SOAS talk about the glorious mosaics in Great mosque of Damascus. But when I took the opportunity to find out as much as i could about her work – some is here and here – she asked why I was interested.

So I am revisiting my first forest here – my first artistic forest that is.
This was initially shown as part of Jewyo Rhii and Jihyun Jung’s ‘mobile theatres’ at the Showroom.

I wanted to tell the beautiful story of my father’s death. Of course I love my dad very much – he was always an expert at living – and it turned out that he was an expert at dying as well!
So I started by sharing his last Black Run:

On the left, a woman faces away from the audience and towards a projection of a man skiing fast

and how he stood up from his deathbed to ski in my arms.

This digital collage of Deathbed Skiing shows me talking into, walking and standing alongside one of the Korean ‘machines’ that underpinned ‘Dawn Breaks’ (the ‘story bus’).
I told the story of how when my dad was so near death that he’d stopped talking, he got out of his bed – and stood up as if he was skiing.

I wanted to underline how we are all in a cycle of life. So I showed my dad’s heart as an acorn (they look kind of similar, i think!)

Here’s Victory Milentijevic-Goodfellow on the left, clapping my dad’s heartbeat before it stops and me on the right in front of the acorn – before it germinates

The acorn-heart cracked open to germinate with my tears as his heart stopped.

Far left are the soundwaves of the clapping, then Afri Harry actually doing the clapping. Centrally are images of the germinating acorn. On the right, I am reading about my dad’s heart stopping and the acorn-heart germinating. Far left are the sound waves of my voice.
I’m including two performers, sound (of words and clapping), plus the lighting and projected images over time – in this 2d image.

This is where the Damascus mosaics come in
The acorn-heart geminated into a ‘tree’ derived derived from the superb Damascus mosaics.

Here I am ‘drawing’ the growing fantasy forest.

And then, with all that warm water when I washed my dad’s body, the acorn-heart-Damascus-tree developed into a luscious fruiting forest.
I had immediately thought of the mosaics at Damascus as a perfect source for the most perfect forest – of course i wanted to make the best of all forests for my dad.
So I ‘borrowed’ some of the Damascus trees – and added some firs, to commemorate my dad’s great love for skiing in the Alps.
The last touch was to add some fruit from Iran – persimmon, pomegranates and dates

My fruiting forest projected up in the Showroom. Another artist is helping to ‘draw’ the fruit

But I only had one projector at the Showroom, – when a wrap around forest (like i wanted) obviously needs more.
So I managed to make a bigger and better version in the Wandsworth Fringe 2019 – with projections to the front and both sides of the lovely Tara Arts

I managed to give my dad a posthumous present – his last Black Run is actually a video (with permission, many thanks!) of a Graham Bell black run.
Graham was in the Olympics, and presented Ski Sunday – my dads fave TV viewing.

Here’s me ‘talking’ to my dad as he finishes a Black Run
And here are my tears germinating the acorn
And here I am standing in the Luscious Fruiting Forest of Dreams

With a version of one of the mosaic trees in the glorious glorious Great Mosque of Damascus behind me

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.