Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Friend in Need: The Dream Catcher

Sam Collins: Creative Artist

Sam Collins

Fusion Inspire will give me the amazing opportunity to collaborate artistically with some of my wonderful friends. I am so blessed here in West Wales to be surrounded by a plethora of gifted people.

Friends are precious jewels, and I think we should treasure them. Sometimes we meet people and feel sure we have known them forever and my feeling is ....  that maybe, we have! You know, when we feel that instant connection with someone; like a recognition of a friend from a time when our energy was elsewhere, we call it the past or past life because we have learnt and been taught to be linear thinkers in our culture. Time is in lines for us.

Funnily enough, I feel acutely aware today of how linear our concept of time is. It isn’t until I have started to write this blog, that I have realised how often all of what I am, impacts on the here and now. What are usually my passing thoughts whizzing through my head in nanoseconds, are now written down for me to ponder and paw over. Through re-living and extending these usually fleeting moments, I have come to realise that if the past is so inextricably interwoven with the here and now, then so too, must be the future. And then I started thinking, hang on a minute, I’m still explaining this to myself in a very linear way. What if time is not in a straight line at all! And then I started to freak myself out and decided that was enough thinking for one day! But I am definitely going to come back to that thought on a different day.

Anyways, about these kindred souls: During my journey back to re-connecting with the part of me that is now able to believe it is possible to live the dream, waking every day simply to create, I was very lucky that the universe brought to me a guru, a guide, a person that I would describe as one of the world’s true Creatives: Sam Collins. She has been an inspiration and helped me to see how beautiful it is just to be. Sam is not simply a creative artist, a dancer, a musician, a singer, a poet, she is a creative aura. Her whole way of seeing and being is creative. She doesn’t just live outside the box; she tears it up and re-makes it into something far more beautiful.

Sam Collins

If Sam stood in a field doing her thing, it would not be long before that field was full of people. Not because she had shouted for them to join her, not because she had a big poster up, just because she has the kind of special aura that draws people to her.

She is a wise woman indeed in terms of offering advice and support to others, and yet I have heard her say, ‘Why can’t I advise myself.’ And maybe this is the most difficult thing to do.

Sam is currently studying with Positive Choices to deliver ASIST training across Wales, to groups, organisations and individuals interested in Suicide First Aid.  ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) is a two-day interactive workshop designed to help prevent suicide across Wales by training "gatekeepers" in suicide prevention and early intervention techniques.  It is suitable for all kinds of caregivers - health workers, teachers, community workers, Gardai, youth workers, volunteers, people responding to family, friends and co-workers.

If you are interested in booking training why not visit (National Office for Suicide Prevention)

So how lucky am I that Sam Collins is going to create a wonderful collaborative piece with me for Fusion Inspire. I want the piece to be something that reminds me of our journey so far, but is also connected to the now and the tomorrow.

So to do this, let’s have a look back at how we both met.

                                             Sound Of Music: Wales Millennium Centre

It was at The Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. A mutual friend of ours, Fiona Winter who lives at the beautiful Pen Beili Cottage mentioned in an earlier blog, had been asked to collect a number of dancers together and bring them to the Millennium Centre. I don’t quite know how I qualified! But I found myself back stage, in the huge studio, with 100 or so dancers, all learning a Flash Mob piece to be filmed and used to advertise The Sound of Music. Our cue; Doe a Dear.

Rehearsals @ The Wales Millennium Centre

I knew I liked Sam immediately. Bit like that first day in school when you just seem to migrate to like souls.

Once we knew the routine, we ‘dressed to blend in’ and arrived at the Capital Centre in Cardiff. We were to look like 'ordinary' shoppers, all 100 or so of us; no one would know our secret until the music blasted and we would emerge from nowhere to dance like a doe in the meadow. It was exhilarating.

When we were all stood discussing what we would wear in the foyer of the Millennium Centre, Sam said, ‘Shall I come as a bag lady.’ We were in fits of laughter, ‘Yes, why not I think that would be amazing!’ And I totally meant it. Break the stereotype, make people think, I loved that idea. When we turned up on the day and Sam HAD come as a bag lady, shopping trolley and all, I knew I didn’t just like her, I loved her to bits!

Flash Mob with Sound of Music @ Cardiff Capitol Shopping Centre

Video of us flash mobbing available at this link on youtube

I didn’t see her for a good 18 months to 2 years after this until I was Creative Director of Celtic Women in partnership with Community Music Wales funded by Big Lottery and Welsh Gov.t. The project enabled me to work with and bring together 370 women through workshops in song, music technology, creative writing, storytelling; recording, publishing ... and Sam became one of the central volunteers on the project. We were soon close friends. I talked about my need to return to my creative self, she spoke of her need to become more focussed on paid work, and between the two of us, we migrated a little closer to the middle of our creative continuum.

I managed to get a few paid contracts for Sam, one as a Dance Leader with older people who had come on a residential in St.David’s with me at The Cwrt House, to learn the songs of a re-write of Carmen the Opera based on their council estate in Trevethin, for a Community Production where over 300 people took part. I was Artistic Director. Sam came and devised the Dance of the Scarves ...  and the other was a contract delivering hands on crafts to young people who have exhausted mainstream provision and are said to be dis-engaged.

Making Dream Catchers

One of the crafts that Sam facilitated was making dream catchers ... she cut the willow from her friends harvested woods in West Wales and manoeuvred it as if it were part of her own body. And it is this, the creation of a dream catcher from West Wales nature, that I think is most apt for me and Sam to work on together for Fusion Inspire because she has helped me to catch my dreams, and many others to catch theirs, and by the same token, she is helping to keep away bad dreams by offering emotional first aid to those who need it the most.

So, during my travels around the coastline, writing and filming, I will collect what I like to call ‘treasure’ beach combing for nature’s trinkets. I will drill a tiny hole into these, and then film Sam weaving them into our dream catcher. I can see her teasing that willow in slow motion ... and with film cut ins.

The cut ins will be from a film shoot I have agreed in principle with the Deputy Head of Bigyn Primary School. I am currently contracted with Night Out Scheme funded via The Arts Council of Wales to deliver the Young Promoters Project, where children become the organisers and promoters for a professional touring theatre company. We’ve got Pickled Image: Wolf Tales coming on 27th March 2012 at 6.00pm to the school. The children are a dream to work with; bubbly, enthusiastic and good fun and the staff team are so incredibly dedicated, way beyond the call of duty.

We have discussed a Fusion Inspire shoot in the Spring, where I will film the children looking for ‘treasure’ on the beach, then they will come full frontal to the camera with their found piece ...  

In my mind’s eye, I can see the dream catcher hanging in the bay window of The Cwrt House at the Living Installation during the performances next Jan/Feb 2013.

Sam Collins

Only one last thing to say and that is...
                                                                 Thank You Sam Collins!

PS: I know I said that was the last thing I would say, but I do also want to mention and thank Amie Collins, Sam’s beautiful clever, funny daughter who always manages to make me smile!


  1. That is a most beautiful & accurate piece of writing about Sam & Amie xxxx

  2. So lovely to read our story so far, all spread out like this. I excited and honoured to be sharing steps with you on our wonderful Journeys. Let's dance xx


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