Cheryl Beer

Cheryl Beer
Award Winning Creative Director making social change through the mediums of sound, story & mantra

Thursday, 12 June 2014

the art of being a human being

Today, I became part of the exhibition in my piece:
'the art of being a human being'

Photo Kindly by Paula Savory

Ron Savory supported by his wife Paula, work tirelessly to push the perceived boundaries  of The Arts and bring together the local Arts Community across genres.

Ron's new project The Toolbox Rhymes held a 2 day Exhibition at Creative Bubble in Swansea called Open ... all ours'

I spoke to him about bringing an experiment that I wanted to do in preparation for my Final MA Drama piece at The Atrium, Cardiff, later this year, informed by the work of Marina Abramovic


How would it be if I removed all of the performance elements of my usual performance and focussed on being present with each person who sat with me, responding to them in that moment?

Once the person had left,  I switched off my head, almost not knowing what I was writing, just letting my inner self be poetic. These would be my notes to myself to use when I went back to the work, informing my Major Production for my MA Drama final in August/September

I was booked for 25 minutes.
I found myself in the first 5 or 10 minutes in between interactions wondering how long I had been there. I realised that my mind was drifting to time, taking me out of the present. I had purposely not worn a watch to distract from thinking of time, but still I wondered. 

I focussed completely on now.

When I finished it transpired that in fact I had been present for an hour.

Fellow MA Drama student, my friend, Artist, Writer and Director Denis Lennon monitored reactions for me, took photo's for my portfolio  It was so very beautiful. I felt his pride, his love and I don't think I could have done it without his support.

Above photo kindly by Paula Savory

The reactions from people were so very interesting
'Is she a psychic?' 
'I feel like she was reading my mind'
'It's weird'
'Is it a staring game?'
'Is she allowed to move'
'It's so powerful.'
'It's very emotional'
'I could really feel her'
'It's like she was inside my head' 

3 teenage lads stopped to look. They were laughing and goading each other, but they were intrigued. 

One of them sat with me. 

Within seconds his whole body language changed. 

This is so interesting to me because I work with young people funded to 'engage' them and the perception is that we need to offer things to them to see what they would like, but here was I, sat in the exhibition window, and this young lad took time out of his life to sit and connect. He smiled and when I smiled back he said, 'I knew I could make her smile.' and then left. I smiled because he did.

So, what preparation did I do?

Having watched hours of youtube clips from Marina, I decided not to eat the day before or the day of the performance. She suggests much longer, but I decided 2 days. I understand why. I switched off from thinking about food. I am certain that this did help me to focus.

I practised sat at home in front of a full length mirror sitting for half an hour being present with myself and then without the mirror, having no need to see myself to get the same sense of whole.

What should I wear?

At first I thought I should wear a long red dress like Marina's. I trawled ebay putting bids in to no avail. So, then I started to look around second shops and lo, I found the perfect dress. But was it? Id the purpose was for ME to BE why would I dress as someone else. I did not buy the dress. Instead, I decided that I would look for my 'best' dress in my wardrobe. Marina had the best dress for her, and I would wear the best dress for me.

Then I needed to consider what to take.

I decided to call the piece 'the art of being a human being' as opposed to a human doing. I bought some very lovely card to put it on. But then I saw my paint pallet on my craft table. I always use cardboard as it's a cool way to recycle. How apt! I would stick the title onto the back of my pallet.

I placed next to me a bag from The Arts Council of Wales with a quote from Dic Jones in Welsh which translated means:

'Who has art has all'
'A feddo gelf a fydd gwar'

I wanted a bi-lingual aspect to the presentation. I think it is very important to include welsh language although I do not speak it.

I also decided that because this was essentially research and development for my MA, I needed to make immediate notes to recall for later.

I have been working for my current MA piece RP2 looking at Ethnographic poetry and re-read Frances Rapport's work only last night. I decided to write poetic thoughts just as they came into my head. Not to think about them, as such, but to let them just flow from the pen. I didn't even know what I was writing to be honest, not until afterwards. This I felt, would capture and essence of the moment.

I took this writing book because it has the word write on it, almost like a command. This is the kind of command an audience gives while they  wait for the performers to 'perform'. I thought it had an irony about it. 

I could feel myself replying to the book ... 
yes, I will thank you, when it is right to do so..

And this what came out ...

What if the art of
Being an Artist
Is the Art of being
A human being
A human, being?
We are, we be

Watching you
Watching me
Watching you
Watching me
Watching them

Waiting ...

Waiting for the Artist
To DO something
We are humans 
on the same planet
We are

We are so consumed with doing
That we fail to 

Can you see inside me
As I see inside you?
Am I a being too?

The first poem below was written after a woman had sat with me for a short time and had spoken the entire time. She had been very nervous about sitting but obviously wanted to. She had sunglasses on, took them off and was quite uncomfortable. 
'This is wierd' she said. 

I could sense  her body language through the glass window. 

She kept asking me questions. I answered her. 
'I must rush now,' she said, 'Thank you very much.'

You need to talk to me
To fill the space
This weird space
Cram it, filled
with words

The second poem, I scribbled after Paula & Ron's little daughter, probably about 6 or 7 years old, had finally plucked up the courage to come over. 

She had been watching me from the bus stop seat.
It was such a beautiful connection. I mouthed the words to her that she was very beautiful. I felt it so strongly in my heart. Not just to look at but her soul and it dawned on me how children are so much more open to simply being. 

When the interaction ended and she left, I noticed I had tears running down my cheeks .

Photo kindly by Paula Savory

the child
the innocent child
the beautiful child
the open child
the smiling child

i grieve, in this moment
that you never came to me

in these eyes
you were with me
you are present with me now
through these eyes

for this emotion
i thank you
blessed Mother 

Ron tapped his watch. I came to the front of the Gallery and read the poetry I had written, seeing it for the first time. I had been in the Gallery window for an hour. I felt so emotional. I wanted to cry.

Ron said it was extraordinarily powerful and more than he had imagined. He said they have had bands and poets and all manner of things happening in the Gallery window and people have walked past smiling, but in this quiet stillness of presence, the general public had been compelled to stop and look and sit.

Tonight there will be the humans who were looking out of their office windows across the street, humans who passed in their cars, the humans that got off the bus and peered  in, the humans who sat with me, the humans who made it so ... questioning themselves about the woman in the Gallery window. Maybe they will talk to other humans about it. Such is the nature of Art.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Postcards from Louie: Children's Story Trail

After such a moving and wonderful afternoon at Greenspace launching the Book and CD as well as Sharing the Work in Progress, I'm now getting ready for the Postcards from Louie Story Trail 
on June 25th.

Sorry folks The Story Trail 
is a Private Booking and is full.

Tomorrow, Theatre Technician Steph Jezewski is very kindly coming up from Cardiff to my place to show me how to upload my sound and use my new bluetooth mini amp. Then I will be able to take Louie's voice onto the beach and in the woods for the children to hear.

Then at the weekend I'm having a meeting at my house with Jill and Alun Davies who will be helping out behind the scenes. We will also be putting all the story maps into 100 books with golden ribbons.

So, we have walked the trail, designed the trail, printed the trail ...

All I have to do now is learn the songs & stories!

Postcards from Louie Book, Story Map & CD Thank You Gallery

I gave all of my time to 'Postcards from Louie' without funding.

I pulled together and managed a team of wonderful people who came on the journey with me ...

Thank you to:

Rachel Murphy & Chris Ryan for believing in my artistic integrity

The Baring Foundation &Arts Care Gofal Celf  for covering some of my travel expenses

Jodie Boyd for working with me on funding and submitting the bid application to:
Gwalia Community Chest who subsequently covered the cost of printing and duplication

Melanie Philips BA of Pet Portraits who sat for hours with me in her studio with my designs
while we translated them through photo-shop with her Graphic Design Skills 
& was on the end of the phone.

To Jeff Beer for sitting with me for hours in my studio to engineer and translate my vision into the recording of the CD

To Dorothy Morris from Greenspace Gallery for trusting my creativity and welcoming us into her 
My Favourite Things Exhibition

To Lottie from Uncle Albert Drawers who paid for the cabinets. I found them in The British Heart Foundation, who kindly delivered them to my house and then Pedro, Lottie's husband, picked them up from my house in his van and took them to the Gallery.

Thank you to People's Collection, Wales for lending me the Digital Storytelling Kit

Beacon Printers, Penarth for giving me such a good price for the Book, Story Map, CD & CD cover

Thank you so much to Jill and Alun Davies for welcoming me into their home and really getting behind the journey. For setting up Louie's cabinets in the Gallery

But most of all Thank you to Louie
For her generosity in sharing her story
And her wisdom in asking me
For teaching me, ironically, that you can make a difference in this world without necessarily 
making a song and dance 

With Much Love
Cheryl Beer

Postcards from Louie Book & CD at Private Viewing of 'My Favourite Things' at Greenspace Gallery

 After all the hard work of collating Louie's stories, ethnographically writing poems and stories of her memories, designing the book, recording the songs, going out on location to record environmental sounds, editing and liaising with the printer, I am pleased to say that the launch of 'Postcards from Louie' was a calm and beautiful oasis of loveliness! 

 Here I am with Dorothy Morris next to me. She owns Greenspace Gallery. I went to visit her to tell her about the project and ask her if we could be part of her Favourite Things Exhibition and she very kindly invited us to be the heartbeat of the exhibition, giving me the opportunity to perform the songs and talk about the work in progress.

Also in this photo are Alun & Jill Davies, Louie's son and daughter in law.

Here I am singing the songs

Talking with Hazel Thomas from 
The People's Collection, Wales

And talking with all the guests

Louie's artifacts from throughout her life that informed the ethnographic poems and songs at the heartbeat of the exhibition

A Month in Literary Paradise : Artist / Poet in Residence

Here's an insight into my month as Resident Poet/Artist at The Dylan Thomas Boathouse

Thank you to everyone who came to visit throughout the month ...

 Hannah & Charlie: 
Dylan's Granddaughter & Grandson

 The BBC Crew