West Tanfield is the kind of church you'd imagine a bonnet-ed Austen heroine to emerge from, clutching a posy of myrtle, having just married the scarlet clad officer by her side. It is beautiful as a building and set in a breathtaking location. This traditional English identity made the installation that greeted me as I stepped through the doorway all the more surprising and wonderful.
Eduardo Niebla is Moroccan born, exiled to Spain at the age of five, now living in North Yorkshire, and widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists and composers of his generation. He describes music as 'the ultimate tool for sculpting feelings and thoughts in any imaginary landscape, real or unreal', and says, "for a long time I have felt that art is a universal language with no barriers to humanity".
'The Seven Colours' is a sound installation consisting of a composition about community, beginning with those drawn from the village of West Tanfield and moving gradually outward to embrace a global community, the sentiment being that mankind should celebrate communities of every kind across the seven continents. The first sound is one of a train, reflecting the fact that a railway line used to run through West Tanfield, supporting local agriculture and industry, and transporting soldiers - some of whose names are listed on the church walls - to war. Running water is recorded from the River Ure which flows through the village, symbolic of the connections it gathers as it meanders on its way. The children of the school, the church bells and the braying of the village donkey are woven with indigenous chants of tribesmen far away, music of different cultures, orchestras, rainfall in Amazonian forests, welsh choirs and much, much more, filling the amphitheatre of the church with sound that spoke of diversity and yet deep, deep connection; of the local and the global and the richness of community that unites us.
I'm not a person for whom sound is an easy medium. I don't often get it. Yet, as I explored this lovely church, the soundscape following me, it filtered into my spirit and moved me greatly, until at one point I found myself joining in the swell of a large choir singing 'Cwm Rhondda', and at another sobbing quietly to a stick tapping lullaby.
The church itself has gorgeous woodcarvings to discover, a very different kind of cross to most and, whilst those soldiers who didn't come back are listed, so also are those who did, celebrated with pride and dignity; the setting echoing that sense of deep community and place.
It was a reminder of diversity, of richness of culture and tradition, of how the past can inform the present and the global can enrich the local, but it also spoke deeply of the potential inherent in each one of us to reach beyond the edges of what we know and ever extend our borders to embrace new knowledge and people who are different to us, but can teach us much.
As I collected my postcard to mark this stopping place on my journey, I felt genuinely gathered in a global community in a way that had both provoked and soothed me.
Now on to Well...
This part of my site isn't about me at all.
It is about watching, observing and reading the work of others. Those who know what they are about, who have honed their crafts over many years and for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration.
I have learned, and continue to learn, so much from each show watched, each book read, each art work discovered and each person encountered, and I am humbled by their generosity of spirit in giving so much.