Moonshine Walk, as part of Foreign Investment (2008)
Performance, Sutton Manor, St. Helens
In 2008, artistsí group Foreign Investment that I co-founded in 1996, was commissioned by Arts Council England to deliver an £8,000 project to celebrate Jaume Plensaís new public artwork Dream, funded by Channel 4ís Big Art Programme. The project, entitled Moonshine Walk, was curated by Paul Kelly of Liverpool Biennial and Helena Housing Trust and engaged a former mining community from St. Helens in participatory artworks that heightened a discursive understanding around contemporary art. I was Lead Artist on Moonshine Walk, responsible for the research and development of the overall concept. Moonshine Walk was the first art event of its kind in this locale and brought performance art to a completely new constituency. We developed an original model for engagement that was also sustainable, based on school workshops, artistsí choreography and developing community assets. In the context of public art and regeneration, for example the work of Jeremy Deller and Thomas Hirschhorn, our research specifically questioned artís ability to engage with local culture to create sustainable new folk traditions. Scoping workshops indicated a strong desire for one ambitious communal event for all ages, rekindling the spirit of May Day processions, that created a sense of community and instilled hope for the young people who had only known a post-industrial community. This research informed Moonshine Walk as a four-hour choreographed event culminating with an evening candlelit procession for around 350 people. The event was significant in the context of Dream but also inspired our collaborators to repeat Moonshine Walk as a community-led venture from 2009 onwards. Documentation of Moonshine Walk was further disseminated at Deptford X (London, 2008) and art in the cities (Liverpool/Shanghai Seminar, 2010) and directly led to two further Foreign Investment commissions in Immaculate Conception (Liverpool Tate, 2009) and Topping Out (Arts Council England offices, Manchester (2010).
Website: art in the city, Skype Seminar with Shanghai University organised by Philip Courtney (eSpacelab) at the Bluecoat Gallery with speakers Laura Peake (Liverpool Biennial), Paul Domela (Liverpool Biennial), Brigitte Jurack and Wang da Wei (Metro Public Art, Shanghai) focussing on public art practices in both cities, 2.2.2010.