We are currently working in collaboration with writers, musicians and artists on a new international project examining the life-changing capacity of small stories.
Looking at how a single narrative possesses the ability to transmute into a multitude of possibilities, the project takes one unique story and asks other artists to interpret and elaborate upon it.
Written by Stephen Givnan, The ten human years of Preta Eshana chronicles the life of a female hungry spirit who is granted passage to the human world for one spirit day, (ten human years) to investigate how humans cope with suffering and loss. At the end of the ten years, she must report her findings to Abaya (Fearlessness)
Inspired by the 15th Century Morality Play ‘The Summoning of Everyman’. The story attempts to bring to light the tribulations of people whom society disregards. It also asks whether an adversarial approach to challenging the horrors of inequality is always the most efficient way to bring about lasting change? Finally, what role, if any, might spirituality play in reimagining a future free from the many horrors found in today’s world?
Contributing artists have been asked to use the story as a ideas platform, to communicate alternative ways of challenging oppressive societal norms. Artists will be invited to attend galleries, educational institutions, and community venues to discuss and workshop the process behind the project. One of the main questions to be investigated is how do we solicit curative ways of responding to age-old problems?
OVERVIEW OF PRINCIPLES AND OUTCOME OF PROJECT…
To produce a limited edition vinyl album. To create a book with contributions from writers and artists. To make an exclusive, crafted product, but for the content of the product to question and deconstruct the thinking behind a culture that frequently prefers spectacle over substance.
To make a documentary film that examines the importance of the role of artists in times of uncertainty and change. How, in our current ‘space between stories’ artists can navigate beyond constrictions of ego and elitism and act as enablers, encouraging others to become involved in socially engaged artistic processes that afford a congruent sharing of possibilities, beneficial for artists and participants alike.
Placing great importance upon ‘small stories’, we want to discover narratives that can nurture the ‘seed-like positive potentials’ we carry in our mind. We want the project to give agency to finding creative ways for transformation on a personal and societal level.
All profits from album sales will go to Bens Centre, a Sheffield charity that works with vulnerable street drinkers.
All artists have kindly offered their services free of charge. We would, however like to be able to gift all contributors payment for their skills, time and effort. If you would like to make a donation in order to help make this happen, please do so via the Paypal button below.
We asked musicians to look at the introductory chapters of the story (below) and to investigate what resonated.
We then suggested musicians placed self-imposed restrictions on the way they worked, to afford an opportunity to operate in ways previously unaccustomed to. This also provided a basis of continuity for collaborative practice on the album.
Eg. We suggested musicians might consider working with someone they have not previously composed with before, or that they disrupt their usual process of composition by starting in a way that is completely alien to them.
Similarly, we asked artists to read the introductory chapters of the story below and investigate and elucidate on themes it brought up.
For the project to possess continuity, we asked artists to place self-imposed restrictions on their work e.g. Limiting work to black/grey/manilla and cardboard brown.
We asked artists to consider creating a space (real or imagined) where they felt able to step outside the often isolating and competitive world of their respective disciplines to communicate ways of thinking conducive to fostering harmony and trust.
We asked writers to look at how a holistic relationship with the world can become a catalyst for change and empowerment. We suggested adherence to certain restrictions within the writing process, to help facilitate purpose and continuity of ideas.
We encouraged writers to find ways of injecting positive disruptions into collective self-limiting beliefs; the project also asked writers to discover means to connect to the ‘wholesome larger stories’ of discipline and tradition often displayed within past cultures.
Preta Eshana is born onto a small island where all material things, including food are painful to touch. Although every pain receptor in her body continually screams in agony, she is somehow able to see beyond her suffering and notices her son in the distance writhing in intense pain. She goes to comfort him. As she does, Preta has to walk past countless others consumed by the same fate. She develops a mind wishing everyone around her to be free from this torture.
The gatekeepers of the Island are incredulous, they marvel at Preta Eshanas ability to think of others despite her unimaginable suffering. They report their findings to the tutelary deity Abhaya who grants Preta Eshana one day (ten human years) to see if she can discover how people in the human realm deal with suffering and if it is possible to be granted asylum there.
She is told she must travel using her dream body, because of this she will remain invisible whilst in the human realm.
Preta Eshana spends her first year in the human dreaming world, she realises that occasionally humans experience a very deep feeling of peace but there is not enough awareness or control of the mind in order to retain that peace.
Preta Eshana sees that upon waking, many humans feel that the day ahead is already mapped out and that they feel obliged to engage in series of acts that are contrary to their wishes, this resonates with her as she has lived this same experience many, many times. It feels repetitive, stressful and life- denying.
Due to the familiarity of the spirit world, Preta Eshana spends most of her time where there is poverty and hunger, She grows particularly fond of a young man who reminds her of her son. The young man is homeless. He is timid, subservient and studious.
She watches in fascination as the young man experiences a growing realisation that his underlying feeling of unease is the result of being educated into accepting a frame of reference which is continually deferential to power and authority, she sits by him as he cuts out a quote by George Orwell and places it above the place where he sleeps…
“At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas of which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is “not done” to say it… Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the high-brow periodicals.”
Preta Eshana experiences increasing anger at how the humans she has lived with for the past four years have been exploited in both manifest and subtle ways throughout their whole lives. She becomes angry at the rich and powerful who orchestrate the ‘manufacturing of consent,’ and the ‘divide and rule’ of ordinary people. She becomes determined to do something about it.
Preta Eshana decides to fight back. Although the beings in her own world experience far more suffering, it is easier for Preta to clearly identify the main causes of people’s oppression in the human realm. She longs for a world where people are treated with dignity and respect. She develops anger on their behalf. Due to the power of her anger, she discovers she is able to manifest a form that becomes visible to human beings. Unfortunately, when Preta tries to encourage people to rise up against the status quo, they see only an angry monster and run away in fear.
She becomes increasingly isolated and depressed, as her heart sinks she becomes invisible again. She begins to walk…
Preta Eshana walks to places she has never been before, she walks over the seas, to different continents, she follows bright lights and ends up in a wealthy city, she begins to mingle with the rich and powerful.
At first, she is consumed by a mixture of jealousy and revulsion, later, she examines the lifestyles of the ruling class, she considers their inability to be content, their dissatisfaction with what they have, their continual craving for material wealth, power and status.
She realises a commonality; all living beings regardless of wealth or status experience the loneliness of separation. A loneliness that prevents them enjoying any good fortune that they may already have.
She comes to the understanding that all living beings, even those who play the role of subjugating force, lack any real freedom and happiness.
Preta Eshana realises that all living beings hold the same basic wishes: to be happy and to be free from suffering. She considers how living beings become more dissatisfied the more they consume. She understands that this holds true regardless of who or what they are.
Preta contemplates that all the harm in the world is the manifestation of living beings strong attachment and dependency to things outside of themselves for their own happiness and that this is one of the main reasons why living beings harm each other.
Preta sees that in order for there to any lasting peace in the world, a new story needs to found, one that understands that an internal revolution is intrinsic for any lasting external change. She visits several people on different paths to discover what this means to them.
After visiting several people, Preta begins a quest to find ways to dissolve the separateness of self.
Realising a new story of love, wisdom and interconnectedness, she begins to throw away her self-centered attachment.
She is told by Abyha, that due to her valuable discoveries, she may continue to live in the human realm. She declines Abyha’s offer, stating she would prefer to go back and assist the beings in the spirit realm whose pain is much more manifest.
As a result of her pure intention, she dissolves into ‘flow’, a refined energy that possesses the ability to plant seeds into people’s hearts. These seeds afford any living being a window to temporarily cease focusing on the suffering of self and to experience the world of other, thereby affording others the same opportunity as Preta had.
The ultimate aim of this project is to help people unashamedly reclaim important words such as love, compassion and wisdom. Hopefully along the way, knowingly or unknowingly, everyone involved can discover new ways to re-imagine our world, thereby strengthening harmony, vision, trust and direction.
Work has been accepted by G George for The Listening Booth Collection 2.
‘THE LISTENING BOOTH is an online listening gallery of contemporary sound based art and experimental music. THE LISTENING BOOTH is an opportunity to test the limitations and freedoms of using sound like a physical space.
THE LISTENING BOOTH hosts downloadable MP3s produced by artists, writers, musicians and performers. Each MP3 acts as a dedicated gallery space for each artist. The works can be listened to online or downloaded and experienced in the world. This allows the artists to implant their work directly into their listeners’ life, but also allows the listener access to art outside a traditional gallery setting.
The project also allows a space for musicians to share work which defies classification or is unsuitable for live performance with a wider audience. The internet was chosen the venue for this project because of its vast accessibility and inclusivity. It also reflects the manner most of us experience the majority of our sound culture. Listening to music or the spoken word online or via podcasts is, for the most part, a solitary experience. THE LISTENING BOOTH aims to make full use of the intimacy created between the artist and a single listener.THE LISTENING BOOTH is a G George project. G George is a curatorial project created by artist Katie Tindle, and is based in South East London.’
SURVIVING THE TEENAGE YEARS.
Can it be done?
Workshop for parents and carers exploring the myriad difficulties that many children face in todays world.
Promises to be a fun day with lots of opportunities to share and work on ideas that help us to overcome everyday adversities.
We will use a variety of different tools that enable us to share common frames of reference and find ways to identify and nurture the potentialities within children that are conducive to their well being and happiness.