At the beginning and end of our artists’ commission programme, we bring the partners and artists together for an away day to develop a sense of connection between all of the commissions. The final away day is also a chance to share stories from the commissions, and examine some of the challenges that arose from the work, as well as to see some of the final art work.
In 2013, we invited spoken word poet, Dan Simpson, along to write a poem in order to make one last piece of work from the process. Dan spent some time prior to the away day seeing work, reading the artists blogs, and the Arts and Kindness paper to get a flavour of the programme. He then spent the day with us, listening to stories and comments before finding a quiet spot to finish writing the poem.
Over pudding Dan read his poem Arts and Kindness out to the group. It was a terrific way to bring the commissions programme to a close and we all really enjoyed hearing our words re-imagined, re-ordered and brought to life.
Listen to Dan performing Arts and Kindness. The text is written below:
Arts and Kindness
“It takes guts to be gentle and kind”
and at first the term kindness
can seem rather lightweight
because it’s concise but ambiguous
a peculiar practice
like joy, happiness or wonder.
A leap of faith for
it’s the chicken that creates the egg from which it was born.
And then we hatched some of our own:
an act of imagining
exploring how the arts
can create the conditions for kindness.
Since ancient times human beings
have been driven by a curiosity
for how it is said
how it sounds and how it looks
for exploring key current issues through comedy
for who’s in charge? Who gets to speak?
for going on someone else’s journey
then having to figure out how to get back home
because of object and place
where we belong feels complicated:
a high street
an estate or a neighbourhood
online and off.
The courage in doing something
is rooted in a strong theoretical framework
and academic research
a source of fun, beauty, colour and relaxation.
A catapult loaded with all sorts of values
(that’s not technically a value
– it should be.)
These values underpin
a deep observation
of human interaction and relations
and fellow artists.
What joins these values together?
cooperation in flux
a community of empathy
these norms become highly internalised
from a very young age.
Plays, films, songs, stories:
the foundation stones
for which people make sense of the world
systemic and diverse
a grinning elbow match
creating a satisfying state of flow.
I didn’t want things to be too polished
but my blades are razor sharp
they trace a figure of eight
making the invisible visible
taking a moment of your time.
Seven o’clock in the morning
Their voices in the dark
As they spoke to each other across the ice
Coloured lights on their skates
Moving together and apart
Tracing their routes
from entry to exit points
becoming like one traveller
connecting ideas with people
science with art
research with practice
I didn’t want to interrupt their flow
and some days I didn’t want to talk to people
just stare at the sea
but “love has conditions that need to be met”
it’s a blind process
so focus on the commonalities
rather than differences.
Love and kindness is contagious
it dissipates out
out in the ether
Twitter without the technology
a lot gets said in what is unsaid
it speaks so clearly
it’s the difference between singing together
and singing alone
it’s a passion for building kinder
more caring communities
enabling us to be truly human.