Viewing single post of blog Ashleigh Griffith makes soft work.

By Tracing the Pathway member Joe Dunne:

I have never known a pile of soil to be so inviting to strangers. Well, strangers might be overstating it – that term evaporates the moment anyone comes over with a curious and occasionally cautious grin. As Mads, Cara and Ash piled up the soil whilst I read our opening statements the assembled group watching us flicked their eyes over our physical invitation. Something so simple as an invitation to speak with others and to plant seeds in a shared space cannot fail to plant choices in an audience’s mind: ‘Shall I go and speak?’ ‘When should I do it?’ And perhaps most provocatively, ‘What should I say?’ This question is running through my mind as well – Don’t worry, I tell myself, I have the photographs. Yes! I brought them to Helsinki believing they would activate my pre-conceived notions of what ‘type’ of conversation ‘should’ occur in a performance context. The images weigh like anchors in my brain, artificially grounding me in a protective cocoon I have spun around my nervous presence. Why artificial? Because after a few conversations I realise I have not brought them to enhance or even activate an encounter with all of those unknown artists I now sit before; they are for me alone, for me to feel as though I am prepared, that I am doing something (that dreaded word) useful. I come to this understanding mere minutes after we have begun: A man comes to sit with me and we talk. I adopt what I hope is a welcoming tone, but it feels surprisingly tense, and not as they say ‘in a good way’. I think he’s bored, which in my unrelenting critical mind I interpret as wrong. I offer him a selection of photos – they were taken two years during our Body-Site-Encounter workshop and show writing the group had generated. I love them, but why should anyone else? Or rather, why is the way that I am presenting them relevant here? The writing describes the life of a tree, but I don’t tell him this. In fact, I don’t tell him anything, I just ask a series of questions he feels compelled to answer. After our encounter I write on a cue card ‘The Tyranny of Photography’ and place it on the soil. Perhaps I have gained something from this encounter after all: That for The Hoppy Hoppy Sparrow to work it needs a generosity of spirit from us – from me – that perhaps I am reluctant to offer. But I persevere. I see how moved others are when they plant a seed with someone.


How complex we can make meetings; how utterly frightened new people can be to us, yet how resplendent it is when these encounters with ‘strangers’ bloom.

This post has been guest authored by Joseph Dunne from Tracing the Pathway