So, what is gather?
Essentially, gather is an idea I had and if you read my blog regularly, you know what happens when I have ideas!
The idea was based on a growing need to feel more connected with the events I organise. As they grew bigger and bigger (the last one had 13,000 people through the gates in 2 days) so my creativity became marginalized and I seemed to spend all of my spare time organizing events for other artists to share their work, whilst having no space to pursue my own journey. The balance had become unequal (again).
My view is that a large sector of society has come to equate 'success' with BIG but actually, through my MA, I have come to realize distinctly, that depth can be equally, if not more powerful and far reaching as breadth.
The first of my gathering experiments was in Burry Port this week, in a lovely little cafe owned by Alex Norton called The Surf Bar Cafe.
I live in Llanelli and I have been working in Plas Y Mor Day Centre for Older Folk as a Consultant for Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of the DEEP Project based at Swansea University. (Developing Evidence Enriched Research).
Using Storytelling and Poetry, Music and Song, I have created a self help CD to help people with dementia lead their own table top choirs, working closely with Betti Williams, a 96 year old woman living in Burry Port.
During my lunch break one day, I popped into the Surf Bar Cafe and got chatting to Alex who offered to help at the Day Centre. He was so kind and community spirited and trying so hard to make a go of his business in Burry Port, that I wanted to give him something back. To help him in some way so that his generosity was reciprocated. I talked with him about gather and asked him if he would like me to organise one for him.
I decided that the space lended itself well to a small intimate Spoken Word Evening where experienced, through to novice,performers could come and experiment or share their work.
Then I put a shout out on my facebook.
The following team were allocated spots:
I gave a Haiku or two about presence, experimented with a tibetan singing bowl to restore peace in the room & shared a song I had written with Betti about her time as a girl growing up in Parc Howard, Llanelli
Sam Collins from Llanelli
Gifted and experienced creative Artist Sam, performed her experimental Live Blog for the first time.
A Touring Actor from Laugharne gave us poems and monologues from his recent tour.
Ron Savory from Cross Hands
Known more for his vast experience and talent as a singer/songwriter, this was only Ron's 6th Spoken Word Event, we would never have known tho.
SJ Alexanderson / Arthur Pineapple
I hadn't met Arthur before in person but I knew his work from a facebook poetry gallery that we both belong to. I am so glad that he was able to come and share his 'poetry with social conscience'
Alongside these gifted & very experienced Artists, I created Open Spots for:
Marilyn Williams who read us her own story
David Wallington who took us back to the 1950's
Lee Weston shared his journal from a trip to Scotland
Kymer gave us a Spoken Word rendition of Jimmi Hendrix
Shelly Underhill-Savage sung us her beautifully crafted self penned songs
& Alex Norton shared the story of The Surf Bar Cafe
foto by Lee Weston
The evening was a resounding success on 2 very important levels.
First, because everyone had a fabulous time. I had tremendous feedback. Lee Weston said:
'Such a fantastic night, I hope the energy created seeps into every orifice of Burry port and it's neighbours, soul medicine!!'
The second level is the one that meets my core aim of gather, the reason why I give of my time to do it. Lee Weston and Alex Norton have decided to run their own gather Spoken Word Events on a regular basis at the Surf Bar Cafe and Ron Savory is planning to run a gather Spoken Word Event in Cross Hands, where he owns and runs his Music Shop Sticks and Picks.
Like I said on the night: 'You do not need a 'Cheryl' to run your own gather-ing!'
... on the night Ron said to me 'from little acorns...' and the end of that saying is ' big trees grow' but it got me thinking that actually, some really beautiful little and equally as important trees can grow from small acorns too.
My next gather event is on the land of the very beautiful Morfa Isaf Farm in May. I have invited 8 artists to share their creativity with each other and bring friends. We will promenade from the edge of Llangrannog, overlooking the sea, inland Kirtan singing with 'Louise Thorndycraft Blue Sky Yoga' and spend the day trying out new creative ideas together, building partnerships for the future.
In June, I am taking an inter-generational team of 12 Artists to the Promenade Festival in Tramore, Ireland having been kindly invited to put together a Welsh Team by Artistic Director Sean Corcoran & Tramore Tourism.
I feel that in Burry Port this week, I have begun to plough the land, planting the first of deeply considered saplings . I will smile knowing that they do not need me to grow but that I made them possible.
PS: There is no 'funding' for gather. I do this because I can. Thanks for reading.
PPS. Keep an eye on the Llanelli Star over the next 2 weeks. They are kindly accepting a story that will be written by Kay Owen who came along on the night.