Dover Arts Development ‘War and Peace’ Workshops 12th November 2012
Workshop led by Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Malene Sheppard Skaerved
On 12 November 2012 Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Malene Sheppard Skaerved led two workshops: the first at Dover College and the second at Church of England Primary School. These were very different environments, but each equally inspiring in their own ways.
“The Dover College Workshop focused on the links between composition, storytelling and performance. About 12 students, aged between 16-18, from a variety of backgrounds, took part. About half came from Dover, one from Margate, one from Canterbury. The rest came from, respectively Hong Kong, Mexico City, Venice, and Brazil. We were very grateful for the welcome and collaboration of the head of music, Paul Young BA, who took an active part in the workshop, as participant, rather than as a teacher. This is key, as a real impediment to young adults thinking creatively is too pedagogical and approach. The students were very vocal about how good it was to do something like this, outside the constraints of curriculum based activity.
We started by introducing the idea of travel – arriving and moving through Dover, either ‘taking in’ the place or bringing their own experiences. We talked of Paganini, Andersen, of nature, introducing voices from the past, still present in story and music. Malene stresed how myth lets us remember the past as a warning and guide of what might come.
Two strands emerged in the session-one of materials (stretching from raw musical materials, to the “Stoff” of storytelling), through to structure. The students proved very ready to improvise, and excited to go out of their ‘comfort zone’ – that is, into the language of contemporary classical music, where there is a permeable divide between what might be defined as music/as story, and what might be seen as noise. It proved unexpectedly useful that there were a number of guitarists in the room, offering the opportunity to explore delicacy of timbre, of line, of colour.
An interesting narrative of travel emerged: it turned out that one of the violinists was playing a violin by the emigre luthier Vicenzo Panormo (1734–1813) (The girl had been given her violin by her grandfather). Although born in Sicily, Panormo worked in Paris until the Revolution, before fleeing across the channel, to end up as a Soho-based maker. The story of this violin, its maker, and the ‘synching point’ of Dover in the story, proved wonderfully fertile.
At the end, after they had loved the sounds and the piece that they had made, one student said: ‘But would an audience want to listen to this type of composition?’ This allowed us to discuss the role of the artist: to look at the world and sometimes say what no one wants to hear – truthful, honest and spontaneous.
After this workshop we climbed the hill to St Mary’s Primary School, just beneath the headquarters of DAD! The staff were extremely welcoming, and asked that we see two sets of children – one group aged 5-6, the other the year above. Each group consisted of twenty children (roughly) with two or three staff.
The French link, established earlier in the day, continued, as on the wall of the assembly hall of this modern school, was a board recording a gift to the school from Napoleon III, who had visited Dover in 1855.
These workshops turned out to be very physical – Malene introduced the idea of story telling with music, the simple associations of feelings and description with sound and music. Initially the teachers were clearly concerned that we might want the children to be less responsive, but their charming (exceptionally polite) and spontaneous reactions became freeer as the classes went on. The most wonderful example of this was when the children heard Pietro Locatelli’s ‘il laberinto armonico, facilius adius, difficilus exius’. Their response to the gradients and swells of this bubbling piece was exactly graduated laughter, like the pealing of tiny bells, exactly matching the musical shapes. We encouraged them to move with the music, and the workshops turned into an unexpected expressive dance class. However, there was also small miracle. There was one shy girl, who began the class almost silent, but given the chance to interact with the violin at close quarters, found her voice, and spoke more and more. Afterwards, the teachers stressed that this was a child who never spoke, and that this had been a major breakthrough for her.
All in all, an inspiring day, from which we learnt a huge amount.” (Peter Sheppard Skaerved)
‘War and peace-soundpiece 1’Materials recorded at workshops on the 12th November
Transcript of written text for presentation given by Peter, Nigel and Malene at Dover Museum, 13th October 2012
Malene Skærved, Nigel Clarke and I come to War & Peace from three distinct angles. Malene is a Danish wanderer, who grew up in the Danish port of Svendborg, on Fyn, which is not so different from Dover. She drifted to Copenhagen, to St Paul Minnesota, to London. Nigel was born in Calcutta, but grew up on the Kent Coast, just around the corner if you like, in Margate, where his father was a volunteer lifeboatman…he now lives in Brussels. I am an East Londoner, I have spent the whole of my life with the salt stench of the Thames in my nostrils-my Hugenot forbears came this way in exile, in waves from the late 1500’s, and I have been floating away ever since.
Malene has been spending time listening to the voices of Dover, past and present-her impressions of this place are building. She points out that:
‘People feel and dream fiercely, in Dover….’ (MSS September 2012)
So lets begin with a tune of great significance, truly freighted with meanings, fraught…..revisited by the great British composer, David Matthews, who, for many years, has been associated with Deal, just along the coast.
The National Anthem arranged by David Matthews, 2007
Workshop recording 10th September 2012. Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin
All three of us have been thinking about Dover, of this extraordinary corner of the UK. It is, and always has been , a place of travellers, of arrival, of departure, of conflict..it has certainly rarely been easy. In 1499, the great Erasmus was the victim on the long-lasting English Embargo on the export of currency. Upon taking ship at Dover, he was horrified to find that he was preventing from leaving with more than 6 Angels.
[picture of Erasmus]
Malene has been working on a series of Fables, what the Danes would call Eventyrer .These are inspired by, and in counterpoint with her fascination with the voices , the stories, the traditions, of this place.
Lady of the Rocks
At the edge of the sea, near a small village, lived a great Giantess. The Villagers called her Lady of the Rocks.
The Lady was immense. Her head touched the clouds and lightning played in her hair. On her stomach grew th sweetest cloudberries. From her bellybutton flowed a fresh cool stream.
The Children loved the Lady the most.
She was beautiful and wild. They used her arms as enormous slides in the summer, right into the sea, and as ski-slopes in the winter. The Lady never grew tired of playing. Under her watchful eye, no child was ever hurt.
But more than anything, the Lady of the Rocks loved sunsets. On foggy or rainy days, when clouds covered the setting sun, her mighty breath cleared the horizon in one gust. The Lady and her Villagers had never missed a sunset.
“We will be back tomorrow,” they told her every night.
“I will be here,” she answered.
I am a travelling musician. I find that many of my forbears, the violinists of the past that I revere so much, travelled through here. I myself experienced this just once. The very first time that I played in Italy, I went there by train from Victoria. My impression of Dover was fleeting, but significant-the clank and rattle of the rusting carriages over the points as it arrived at the ferry terminal, the walk out to the ship, then, all of a sudden, the cliffs falling astern…the next time, I flew, but briefly, I had stepped in the shoes of my vagrant fiddler ancestors.
From 1831, an anonymous British newspaper clipping:
‘Paganini – this greatest of all imposters is travelling about the country ‘scraping’ pence, and swears he will not go to Russia so long as John Bull will throw a shilling into his hat. Is there no clause in the Vagrant Act that will lay hold of this fellow ? We thought that act was comprehensive enough for anything!’
Niccolò Paganini crossed the Channel on the Dover Packet on the 13th May 1831, arriving by stage in London at seven o’clock the following morning. On the way, he caused offence by refusing to play in Dover, and offence which would later be remedied. He was, however, apparently, most impressed by the Dover Laundrywomen, who did not charge extra for pleated shirts, unlike those in London. His travelling memorandum the ‘Red Book’, is peppered with expensive-looking laundry lists.
Eight days later, The Age, spluttered:
“One day we hear that the ‘talented Paganini’ and his secretary arrived safely at Dover-a fiddler’s secretary!!! Well, this beats a barber’s clerk!”
Upong his arrival in London, Paganini took rooms at the ‚Hotel Sablonière et Provence’ on Leicester Square. Sixteen years later, Hans Christian Andersen, crossed the same way, and found himself in the same hotel, on his first visit to London. He noted that he had a “room looking out on the Garden, but the windows were so covered with soot, that my arms were soon covered with soot.”
One of the most fascinating ways to trace intinerant artists and performers as they criss-crossed Europe in the 19th Century, is by hunting down the entries they left in the Albums and Scrapbooks of the salons that they frequented. Paganini left this little prelude in just one such-a batsqueak of a great artist, passing through.
Niccolò Paganini – Prelude
Back to Lady of the Rocks…
…. her villagers…
dug holes in her belly for her gold, silver and precious stones. The more they bought with her gold, the more money they wanted.
It was not long until the Villagers did not bother to plead with the Lady at all.
They snuck up on her in the dark and simply took what they wanted. They tore her apart piece by piece. They drained her stream to find the precious stones at its bottom. Soon, the beautiful rolling hill of the Lady’s belly, with its brambles of cloudberries, was nothing but a pile of uneven rocks.
When there was no more gold to be had in the Lady’s belly, the Villagers began chopping at her arms for the iron in her bones, her legs for copper and silver, they tap her veins for oil.
Finally, the Villagers came for the Lady’s eyes. These were her last treasure, opals the size of bowling balls.
With her legs broken, the Lady of the Rocks could no longer walk. She could no longer journey to cities at the end of the world. Without arms, she could no longer play with the Children. Without eyes, she could no longer see the red sun setting in the ocean amongst.
The Lady lay still on her beach. Her cloudberries had died. Her stream had run dr. The Lady of the Rocks was nothing now but a pile of rubble on the beach and the Villagers stopped coming to see her.
Many travellers, many musicans even, arrived as unhappy exiles. The great Giovanni Battista Viotti arrived at Dover in 1790, fleeing the wrath of the Revolution – he had made the mistake, as it turned out, of being Marie Antoinette’s Musicien de Chambre. Twelve years later, he would be back at Dover, taking eager advantage, albeit brief, of the first legal opportunity to return. Viotti was one of the tens of thousands of liberals, both French and English, who flocked to the celebrations that Napoleon put on to celebrate becoming ‘First Consul’. Many of these had arrived in England as part of the ‘third wave’ of emigration in 1792-3. The invitation to return followed Council of Malmaison of 11th April 1802 that followed the truce treaty signed at the Hôtel de Ville in Amiens, on the 25th March, This lasted for 14 months. The coaches were immediately filled; Viotti might have found himself on the boat with the newly elected Academician, Joseph Mallord Turner (1775-1851), raced to Paris to look at what he called Poussin and Claude’s ‘elevated Pastorals’.
The journey from London to Paris took five days; one day from Piccadilly to Dover, thirty six hours at sea, if the winds were favourable, and then two-and-a-half days before the London-Paris diligences arrived at the Rue Notre Dames des Victoires, where Viotti had lived during his tenure at the Théâtre Feydau. On April 26th Napoleon announced an amnesty for all émigrés.
The English visitors to Paris during the Peace of Amiens prefigured the hordes who arrived with the final end of the war thirteen years later, amongst them Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846). He wrote. “Everything was new and fresh. We had thought of France from our youth as forbidden ground…It was extraordinary. They absolutely had houses, churches, fields and children!” By the autumn of 1803, there were upwards of 10,000 English tourists visiting Paris alone, most of them taking the Packet from Dover.
G B Viotti Ranz des Vaches
Back to Malene’s story…
As the years passed, the Villagers took up their old tools; they harvested the land and practised their crafts. They did not become rich, but they had food to eat and houses to live in.
Down on the beach, the long green grass grew over the rubble and made the rocks soft and safe. Once again, children came back to play on the beach.
One day, a little stream broke through the rocks and found its way down the beach to the sea. With the help of the fresh water stream, cloudberries began to grow again amongst the brambles and the long green grass.
The Children learned to love the beach again.
In the evening, the Children sat down on the bumpy hills that had once been the stomach of the Lady of the Rocks and watch the sunset. In the quiet at the end of the day, they heard the voice of the Lady of the Rocks again.
She told the Children her story. She spoke of the sunsets of the past, when she could blow away the clouds with her mighty breath. She told them of how she had travelled with their grandparents and their grandparents before them.
The children came back every day. They called her the Lady of the Rocks.
One night, as the Children watched the setting sun, the Lady told them
how the Villagers had stripped her of her gold and gems. She told them how she ceased to be a giantess and turned into a pile of rubble.
“Didn’t they love you?” the Children wondered.
“They loved me very much,” the Lady answered.
The Children did not understand. They had never travelled. They had never left their village for another home. They had never known loneliness and envy.
“Watch the sun as it disappears,” the Lady said. “Or you’ll miss the green flash.”
The Children watched the sun disappear into the sea amidst a spectacle of light. Never before had they seen such beauty.
Just then, the Children heard a low rumble from deep within the rubble on the beach. It seemed that the earth had moved. For a moment, it seemed as if the Lady was trying to sit up.
The Children laughed. The Lady laughed with them.
“We will be back tomorrow,” the Children said.
“I will be here,” the Lady said.
Nigel Clarke and I have been thinking about finding new work in the small discoveries we have made travelling together. We have been profoundly influenced in our work in a place as historically war-torn as Dover, the Balkans, there as here, the most lyrical acts of memory are underpinned by the presence of conflict, be it ancient, or horribly recent. It seems appropriate to play a site-specific work which was inspired by a place as unlike Dover as it is possible to bee Urumqi, in the sands of Xinjiang, Northwestern China.
The experience of this extraordinary landscape, the desert, the profound melting pot of cultures, affected us profoundly. On the last night of the visit, composer and violinist were treated to an extraordinary banquet which included performances of many of the traditional musics and dances of the region. We took copious notes and drawings of the performances – these became the raw material for ‘Loulan’. This piece is not a synthesized version of the musics which Clarke heard, but a highly distilled response to the whole experience, one which manifested itself in new colours and timbres on the violin, and a profound simplicity of structure and utterance.
Nigel Clarke – Loulan
I will finish with Malene’s thoughts on the people here with whom she has talked:
‘They are not sentimental. They are realists, and they are dreamers.’
Perhaps this is best summed up in another 19th Century moment, the iconic E W Cocks painting of Blanchard and Jeffries’s balloon drifting over Dover Castle, arriving…leaving..
War and Peace-a collaboration begins
Day one. Dover 25th July – Workshop Day
Peter Sheppard Skaerved -Violin/Nigel Clarke – Composer / Malene Skaerved -Writer / Colin Still – Filmmaker / Joanna Jones Artist
‘As a man standing upon Callis fands may fee men walking on Dover clyffes, fo eafily may you difcerne heaven from the farthest part of hell, and behold the melodic and motions of the angels and spirits there refident in fuch perfect manner, as if you were amongst them; which, how it worketh in the mindes and foules of them that have no power to apprehend fuch felicitie, it is not for me to intimate, becaufe it is prejudiciall to our monarchie.’ PIERCE PENILESSE HIS SVPPLICATION TO THE DIUELL. By THO. NAFT, GENT. 1592
The team met up for the first day on the ground at the DAD headquarters on Victoria Park, under the walls of Dover Castle. Immediately ideas flowed, between Malene Skaerved’s powerful sense of the relationship between storytelling and migration, Nigel Clarke’s passion for grounding his music in place and people, and Joanna Jones’s unique sensibility for the integration of body, environment and meaning. Colin Still has joined us, bringing his filmmaker’s eye for the dialogue between literature, art and music.
We first visited Fort Burgoyne, tucked up on the cliffs behind the castle. To get into the fort, Nigel had to unlock a forbidding gate, to let us over a spectacular moat, into the complex.
In the centre of the 1866 ‘Palmerston Fort’, this spectular open space.
But then the real conversations start, and a theme for the day emerges, the timbres and textures of spaces which have been vacated.
The wonder of the intersect between various palimpsest of pigments, human and natural-worthy of Gerhard Richter.
Malene writes: ‘Our first day in Dover in search for places rather than people. Joanna leads Nigel, Emil, Colin, Peter, Marius and I around the city. The city is happier, cleaner than when we were here two years ago. Perhaps it is partially due to this being one of summer’s only days without rain. The sky is clear, the sea is blue. Nigel says it is a trick. He remembers childhood days in nearby Margate as grey and miserable with a murky sea.’
1914-war breaks out, and violinists Jelly and Adila d’Aranyi arrive at Dover: ‘They managed to get on the Channel Steaner and off at Dover. In those days British subjects entered Britain by one entrance and the rest of the word by another, showing its passports. No British government thought or dreamed of giving a British subject a passport, which was a thing for Russian serfs…Adila, knowing this, steered her party boldly in through the British entrance. Enemy aliens they were about to become, but they were safer in the Land they felt at home in, and much less confused than they might have been had the trains been running to Budapest.’ Joseph Macleod ‘the Sisters d’Aranyi’ 1969 Pp 89-90
Peter plays everywhere we go, if there are not too many people. It always helps; each place finds its voice. The ….. Barrack suddenly reminds me of a Roman shopping mall with stalls and is easier to imagine thousands of tropes stationed here. The colours here are beautiful, the greens I have seen on wood in workshops. Blood red on cupboards. And the doors are dove-blue, which might have faded like they did on Tower Bridge until it was painted.
We continue to the medieval chapel with the flint floor. That must have once been covered with stamped down earth and hay, now it is partial tiled. A couple of low windows which once must have opened out – leper windows perhaps. A room full of incense to fight the decease.
Dover had doctors early one. Necessary when many men of war gather.
The Wednesdays tea dance is in full swim as we enter the Town Hall. Several elderly couples are waltzing. The main hall is decorated by banners, one side clean, and one side dark. Did they dip them in enemy blood or was it stores just told at home to children and wives? These look brown enough to be the truth. The side room has been cut in half and made into two floors with extended prison cells. We are standing in what was once the ceiling. We are lead into the Victorian room which clearer was modern enough to have electricity. The chandelier is pointing downwards to show it has bulbs. We are let into the prisons cells and Peter plays. It is dark, damp and a very tight space and now holds wine. Time disappears down here.
As we walked down through the centre of town we see the old wealth displayed in the buildings on the main street. Now Joanna and Clare have hung it with two kilometres of wool bunting flags for the Olympics.
We see the Roman painted walls, passing through a city lots filled with the smells of grasses. Marius and Emil play a roman boards game, while Peter and Nigel imagines playing in the centre of the house. The roman plumbing is visible, that is enough reason to want to be Roman. A lack of disease. (Did they convert the cities).
Malene: ‘Then sea food on the docks, which is shipped into Dover from Billingsgate in London. I am still wondering what Dover food is. Or if there was any? Fish of course. Nigel suggests plain cooking; the food was good and fresh in Kent, there was no need to hide it with spices.’
‘If the traveller go on board at the quay, the men who place the ladder for his descent to the vessel expect 3d. for their trouble; or if he embark at the beach, he must give 6d. to the men who place a plank for him to get into the boat, and Is. 6d. for his conveyance to the vessel…There are excellent reading-rooms and libraries, where the London papers may be seen daily’ ARRIVAL AT CALAIS – By Edward Planta 1831
Lieutenant-Colonel William Twiss’s 1805 explanation of the purpose of the ‘Grand Shaft’, which was completed in 1807:‘…the new barracks…..are little more than 300 yards horizontally from the beach…..and about 180 feet (55 m) above high-water mark, but in order to communicate with them from the centre of town, on horseback the distance is nearly a mile and a half and to walk it about three-quarters of a mile, and all the roads unavoidably pass over ground more than 100 feet (30 m) above the barracks, besides the footpaths are so steep and chalky that a number of accidents will unavoidably happen during the wet weather and more especially after floods. I am therefore induced to recommend the construction of a shaft, with a triple staircase…. chief objective of which is the convenience and safety of troops….and may eventually be useful in sending reinforcements to troops or in affording them a secure retreat.’
Improvisation in the Grand Shaft
Prison Cell under the Maison Dieu
Discussions begin at D.A.D
Voices in the Grand Shaft-
The Chapel of St Edmund of Abingdon
This pilgrims chapel, graced with a fantastic 13th century wooden roof, a 14th century flint pavement, and the cist where the entrails of St Richard were buried, with a stake or sword impaling them, invited us to stop, to think and the walk the four corners. The North-eastern corner is the dampest place in the church, which is not suprising, as it is closet to the church. The Flint floor contains a couple of fragments of late medieval glazed tile. We talked of the wooden church at Greenstead, and the nature of pilgrimage-whether one had to ‘do the whole walk’, the pilgrims stopping here on their way from St James’s Garlick-Hythe in the square mile, to Compostella….and I played Locatelli’s ‘laberinto’ mindful of the great French pilgrim churches which offered a maze as the final test for their devotees.
Locatelli’s ‘il laberinto’ walking west, north, east, south, west, in St Edmunds Chapel
Responding to Joanna Jones
Ever since I was introduced to the stunning work of Joanna Jones by Garo Keheyan, her work has been a profound influence on my own-here is a piece I made after first getting to know her.
A VISUAL, MUSICAL AND POETIC REFLECTION ON PLACE
“For thousands of years, invaders and visitors alike have arrived and departed from Dover, leaving a unique footprint, ranging from the Roman lighthouse through to the Grand Shaft. “Hellfire Corner”, Churchill called it, this point of arrival and departure, of invasion and retreat.” (Peter Sheppard Skaerved, musician)
War & Peace is a major new programme, taking place from May 2012 to December 2013. Ambitious in scope and scale, it aims to deconstruct Dover’s multi-layered history as peaceful industrial town, seaport for generations of arrivals and departures, and defensive military stronghold in times of war. Over the life of the programme, six separate but inter-related projects will engage participants and audiences in a visual, musical, poetic and intellectual reflection on place.
War & Peace will bring international artists of outstanding calibre to Dover to make site-relevant new works, developing a narrative that meditates on journeying and return, the reciprocal generosity of relationships of exchange and connection, and the disruption of peace by war.
The programme includes a one-day seminar on the topic of Memorialisation, exploring the project theme and particularly relevant in the context of the current discussion around a new war memorial on Western Heights and the Dover Virtual War Memorial project. War & Peace will be captured in a 30-minute film for online-viewing made by Dominic de Vere, and is also providing a residency and internship opportunity for emerging artist Korinna McRobert.
“We are excited by the opportunity to work with artists we have not worked with before as well as to welcome back artists like Philippe Bazin and Dominic de Vere, both of whom have developed an interest in Dover – its history as well as its present. We are also interrogating our role within DAD as curators, producers and above all artists,” explains Clare Smith.
“Local historians and residents of Dover are passionately interested in the historical sites of the town, and we felt the time was right to turn our attention to this area,” says Joanna Jones. “Dover is the shortest crossing place on the English Channel, and so has always been a significant place of defence, and of exchange. It occupies an important place in my own story as an indelible memory informed by a feeling of excitement and freedom originating from leaving England for France via Dover as a child. War & Peace allows us to explore this personal and collective legacy as artists, and also as curators, working with astonishing artists who will create and add their own interpretations.”
War & Peace Projects (this list will be updated as the project progresses)
Re-framing: Korinna McRobert, July 2012, new video work: A performative and filmic exploration of trauma through visual and oral dialogue, from a female standpoint
New work: Clare Smith, September 2012, The Voyagers: shared making of two related pieces of work exploring memory and loss with workshops by textile artist Rosie James
Exhibition in the Bronze Age Boat Gallery, Dover Museum, 29 September-13 October 2012, featuring Clare Smith’s the Voyagers and Philippe Bazin’s “Un bateau albanais”
Symposium: 13 October 2012, a one-day seminar on the topic of Memorialisation organised together with Dover Museum
Residency, September/October 2012, Matthias Koch
New work, 2013, Joanna Jones
New work, 2013, Nigel Clarke, Peter Sheppard-Skaerved and Marlene Skaerved
Project film, 2013, Dominic de Vere