Ensemble : A Poem about the beginnings of Performing Research

Ensemble : A Poem about the beginnings of Performing Research

Ensemble

In darkness, we gather at St Luke’s
on Claremont. Light shines
from mullioned windows.

Strangers, we search for a way inside
(outside our normal spheres.)

Known only by symbols:
we do not speak, yet we say so much.

We move alone
before we group and clump,
divide and separate.

Making mirrors of each other’s bodies.

We Stop,
We Go,
Jump Up,
Crouch Down.

Go back then forwards.
Or is it just the reverse?

We make eye contact,
then break away.

Only to look back over our shoulders
(before doing it again with someone new.)

Nothing here is proper:
we are no longer comforted by fact.

Instructed we form a circle.
Move closer, closer,closer
until our bodies touch.

Shoulder to shoulder,
arm in arm,
holding ourselves and then each other.
Palm to palm,
flesh pressed into flesh.

We move,
always some part of our body in contact
with another’s.

Out of curiosity,
and then in anger.
Through mud and water
we make connections.

Breathing, sweating, limbs entwining,
clamouring to the compass points.

Repelled and attracted in equal measure.

Neither death nor gravity can part us:

We Move Together
As One.

Words Copyright Eliot North 2014

 

I read this poem after the Performing Research show at Northern Stage on 27th March 2014. We then had a panel discussion about using performance and theatre to engage the public and explore our different cross-disciplinary research and teaching interests throughout Newcastle University.  It was a fabulous night and has been a hugely successful and enriching experience being part of the Performing Research ensemble guided by Cap-a-Pie.

A Curious Art: The Evelyn Tables

A Curious Art: The Evelyn Tables

A Curious Art:
The Evelyn Tables

Four wooden boards,
bodies splayed out.
Engrained into knots;
Italian pine.

Spinal cord draped,
melted branches.
Soft varnished hard;
invisible ink.

Arteries glow red,
injected pigment.
Thickly voluptuous;
pulses bound.

Sympathetic starburst,
nervous system.
Innervate our organs;
liver and lung.

Veins hang limply,
cut the strings.
Movement arrested;
no return.

Evelyn’s tables,
Hunterian Museum.
Seeing wooden eyes;
ancient dead.

Words Copyright Eliot North 2014

With thanks for the inspiration to The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of surgeons.  Check out their twitter feed: @HunterianLondon

http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums/hunterian

Check out this fab video made by The Royal College of Physicians with information about anatomical tables.

The Story Behind ‘Curious Anatomys’

I love the Hunterian Museum (at The Royal College of Surgeons: Holborn, London) and the good news is it’s open to the public. On both of my visits I haven’t been able to move past the Evelyn Tables at the entrance to the museum. Something about their solid but other-wordly presence arrests me every time I walk through the door of the museum. I think this might be because they are one of the very few displays made of wood. Glowing,  eerie wood with human remains artfully displayed, almost melting into the grains and knots.

So that’s where this poem came from. I find the Evelyn Tables arresting in a way that is difficult to put my finger on, so the poem is an exploration of that as well as an attempt to put into words what they look and feel like to view them. The above poem is part of my collaboration with artist Rachael Allen. We secured a collaboration bursary from a-n: ‘Lessons in Anatomy: Dissecting medicine and health through visual and literary arts collaboration.’ For more information please click on this link:

http://www.a-n.co.uk/artists_talking/projects/single/4000721

 

 

 

 

The Gordon Museum of Pathology

Gordon's Museum of Pathology

Dare Quam Accipere*
The Gordon Museum of Pathology

Walk up to the black door
in Guy’s Hospital, London.
Enter by appointment
read the Latin written there.

Inside lies a chamber,
to which few are invited.
Three floors of human specimens
span four hundred years.

A museum hung and quartered,
opposing segments yellow, blue.
White painted balconies
repeat the hospital crest.

Explore each section slowly,
tread soft on spiral stair.
Lean against wooden rests,
gaze on rows of jars.

Note how the unborn lie
right next to the dead.
Body parts coded, organised,
chaotic disease made good.

*Better to give than receive

Copyright Eliot North 2014

I wrote this poem after being lucky enough to go to The Gordon’s Museum of Pathology at Guy’s Hospital in London whilst on a weekend of collaboration with the artist Rachael Allen.
We have been given a collaboration bursary by a-n (artists’s network) to work on a Project called ‘Lessons in Anatomy: Dissecting Medicine and Health Through Visual and Literary Arts collaboration.’
The weekend in London visiting the Royal Colleges of Medicine and Surgery, The Gordon’s Museum of Pathology, Wellcome Trust and British Library was the start point for us and it was fabulous.

This poem is one tiny start to what I imagine will be many months ahead of creative dialogue with Rachael that I hope to post about on here.

The Gordon’s Museum of Pathology you can read about by clicking this link. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/gordon/index.aspx. (The image is copied from their website)

Also Rachael has written about our collaboration on the a-n blog here: http://www.a-n.co.uk/artists_talking/projects/single/4000721

Enjoy! xxx

The Jackdaw – by Fiona Campbell

I found this stop-motion animation video clip on Rachel Poliquin’s fantastic website ‘Ravishing Beasts’
http://www.ravishingbeasts.com/

Her book ‘The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing’ is also an excellent read.
The only people who perform human taxidermy as far as I can see are anatomists. The only anatomists to display human bodies as we have been accustomed to seeing animals is Gunther von Hagens in his Body Worlds exhibition using a technique called ‘plastination.’

http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/gunther_von_hagens/life_in_science.html