Return to the forest

to this body
a vessel
In which I swim through the world
With childlike wonder
But not at all lonely
Rest assured
I care deeply from afar
The distance allows me to breathe

the single tree,
driven to a frenzy in the winter wind
Wild in the Forest
I belong
Moving in unison
Communicating beneath the soil

Stand fast
Against the odds
I can,
This rock,
toes curled
Clinging to everything I feel beneath me
I am precious, my fellow animals too
platform feet hold firm
Tensely gripping
talons pierce the ground
Drowning in the rarest of rainfall
Which feeds the forest
But prevents access
To this valley of mine

Persistent is the water
falling from the sky
Life giving
Holding on
for future drought
The cold
Bites at my bones
This body
Muscle clad
it droops and sags,
Awkward and asymmetrical
I strive,
to dissent

reflecting and reacting
a disciplined quest for perfection,
Futile in its unattainability

Your words
like the wind
cut through
Flooring me
I bruise like lichen
With unwanted growths
I pluck and try again

From this space
I connect with you
A new form of speech
A new way to reach you
With stretching arms to grasp hold of
I stand tall
YO, the forest

have patience with me
For I know not what I do
Only that it is something other…


As part of Chapel Arts Studios ‘Inside: Outside Laboratory of Disentir 2′ en la Escuela de Arte de Winchester, artist Maija Liepins invited me ‘into connect, digitally, through text. A poetic ‘conversational batonwas passed each morning for one week for more or less one hour between myself and Maija.

This invitation to collaborate over Whatsapp has explored themes such as self, belonging, migration, feminidad, research as practice, performer, audience and exhibition. For me personally, it has felt like a dissenting action to be using my words primarily, but also as research from outside the constructs of the gallery space and in a way ‘butting into an already framed project.

Excerpt from conversational poetry.

Sarah dice:

It is as if
By the mere act of typing
These words
I am defying
Those who always said
Could do better
A gifted draftsman
But not a natural writer
And yet,
Responding to you
Is becoming
A new form of expression
In which
YO, for now, belong
So thank you.

Maija would begin with an opening statement or phrase, then I was invited to respond. As, hasta ahora, a practitioner who works predominantly within visual based media, albeit muli-disciplinary, I have only recently begun to explore the written word and its unlimited potential for creative action and reaction.

The ‘non face-to-face connectionhas resulted in a series of free-flowing words ebbing and flowing as if chatting and challenging across the Channel, awaiting a new tide each morning bringing with it another verse.

Excerpt from conversational poetry.

Sarah dice:

the ebb and flow
of belonging
o no,
the administration of a normal life
as a dead weight
pulling at my ankles
I long to float
Like your lily pad
Skimming the surface but deeply knowing
What is not the way forward
With strong capillary action
o no,
depending on the day
I am precious, as all animals are
YO, a lone tree, within this forest,
In the November wind
For now,
but perhaps
not forever more
This valley with its trees,
abnormally large toads
Wondering the valley looking for their someone to save
And when I am on the rock
The soapbox
With nothing to say
I can merely respond
To your beautifully descriptive prose
Which seems
Conflicted, yes
Rightly demanding space
Not the physical jutting for the clinical
No, not the institutional
But the metaphorical
A harmonious co-existence
A balanced
Death and life
Do not search for resolution
Only the next question
In this series
Of existing
Ask the trees
Feel that wind
On your skin
Build the structure
Stand alone
They will listen
As will I.

The full conversation can be found here.

Featuring the resulting conversational poetry between Maija Liepins and Sarah Misselbrook, the full video/ installation entitled ‘Zeitgeist Non-Gratais on show at Winchester Gallery until Friday 6th December. Get along to see the works and talk to the artists, be part of it!

Fuera de, inside the Forest

As part of the Chapel Art Studios Inside/Outside Symposium for the Laboratory of Dissent 2019 in Winchester Art School, I was given the opportunity to ‘rantfor 5 acta.

The platform of a large, flat rock that juts into the valley provided (as it has done for previous performance works) the perfect ‘soapboxto climb up on to. It’s as if once my body is there, I adopt the role of performer, audience and valley. With the echoes of my voice shouting across the chasm bouncing back to me, I ask myself ‘is anyone there, are you listening, are we connecting?

Can you hear me? I was asking, shouting across the valley and across the channel to the UK symposium event. Sí, they were there, listening and connecting with me via twitter.

The audio was clear, as if amplified by the theatrical stage of the rock within the valley. The visual aesthetic was an unknown. A barely visible body dressed in black could be made out among the tall pine trees, gesticulating in a plea for connection and understanding.

My words were attempting to understand where I am, inside or outside, or was I both? In reality, I am off the grid, outside the system but with these connections are you every really outside? I rely on these connections, personally and professionally. It is again posing the question ‘is this a performance if there is no audience?’ which is fueling further investigation into social isolation, professional isolation and how to work outside the system. The Critical Moss publication will further explore this in early 2020.

My words were from the forest, with the origin of the word ‘forestbeing ‘foreignand ‘out-of-doorsor ‘exterior’, a play on my status as immigrant, a political and personal cry to those listening on the inside. A fantastically strong connection to the outside then materialises, as if no other can compete with the realisation that I AM the forest and the forest is me. And once this is known or felt then everything is made sense of.

‘I am man, woman, animalI am all and other.

Continued thanks to Capilla Arts Studios for the connection.

What we lose in the fire

A violent stab of loneliness,
swimming between spaces,
fuelling an insatiable hunger,
then out of the darkness
I return to the forest

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En respuesta a sus susurros

Intrigued by the imposed audio limitations placed upon your artist group, I can assure you that your whispers are coming through ‘loud and clear’.

Observing you on your ‘island’, your cell, I can connect with you from my ‘natural soapbox’ (a large protruding rock within the valley). I will respond with a ‘rantwith a self-imposed limitation that it should come from this place. Sin embargo, the quest for clarity of thought, of word, of action risks going unseen.

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En el interior del bosque

Junio 2019 saw the worst forest fire in 25 years in the Ribera d’Ebre region of Catalunya burning over 6000 hectares of pine, olive and almond trees. As part of a creative initiative entitled ‘Cendrart’ – ‘cendra’ meaning ash in CatalanI was invited to create a site-specific work for temporary exhibition within the cremated forest.

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incendio forestal

El fin de semana del 5 y 6 de de octubre de 2019 fue un período intenso pierde moviendo entre los árboles quemados de la zona de Maials de la comarca de la Ribera d'Ebre de Catalunya, una de las zonas afectadas del incendio forestal en junio de este año.

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purga II

‘Purge II’ is an isolated, secretive performance behind closed doors but to camera presenting the artist purging communion wafers in a silent attempt to communicate with the viewer. Requesting or demanding a ‘following’ of sorts, as if a move towards the environment the artist inhabits is an inviting prospect.

The wafers are continuously regurgitated and what once was ‘inside’ the artist’s body is now presented ‘outside’ upon a wooden surface forming words for the viewer to follow and read. Living within an alternative existence ‘outside’ a prescribed societal norm, isolated and disconnected from the grid, the artist attempts to persuade and to recruit by means of throwing up her once consumed communion wafers. As if rejecting one form of following and suggesting another, an ‘other’, other

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Musgo crítica

Estoy envuelto en un valle olivar privado, rodeado de las montañas catalanas con el pueblo más cercano poblada de Riba-roja d'Ebre más de 3 kilómetros de distancia. Visito el pueblo al menos una vez a la semana para absorber los rituales. El idioma catalán todavía me desconcierta, sólo tener española como mi segunda lengua. Catalán ha sido protegido dentro de la casa por las mujeres a través de las generaciones. Una fuerte identidad cultural impregna este rural, lugar poco poblado. mi estudio, en el olivar, es aislado, No tengo vecinos, no hay ‘transeúntes’. Mi familia está en el Reino Unido, donde soy originaria de. Mi práctica y la vida cotidiana en este salvaje, fuera de la red finca se funde en una. Corto madera, construir, restaurar, podar los árboles, paisaje, cosecha, en movimiento alrededor de este lugar como una especie de acto performativo. La supervivencia es una preocupación diaria, recoger agua de lluvia para el lavado, ceniza de quemadores de madera a residuos de compost, la mejora del suelo de arcilla seca para el cultivo. Mis movimientos y energías son específicos para este lugar. Una sensación de cercanía a la vida silvestre y el clima aquí en el valle crea a veces una sobrecarga sensorial que sólo se puede hacer sentido de esta conexión mediante la presentación dentro de mi práctica artística.

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Orden del caos

La investigación actual y la investigación de una existencia fuera de la red, que en esta época del año se siente como una especie de prueba de la supervivencia, incendios se convierten en un sitio de la ruina, pero ofrecen muy necesaria energía. La colección de los objetos encontrados que han sobrevivido al fuego luego se les da valor como un objeto de arte. Muestran la historia de la ruina, que cuentan la historia de la destrucción y luego se llevan a cabo en composiciones ordenados para presentar su nuevo nivel de importancia encontrado, categorizados en un intento de encontrar el orden del caos.

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