FEATURING WORK BY CHRIS WATSON, ELLEN GALLAGHER, MARC REES, CLAIRE CUNNINGHAM, INGRI FIKSDAL, ONE STEP AT A TIME LIKE THIS, JONATHAN ANDERSON, PLUS MORE ARTISTS TO BE ANNOUNCED
A COMMISSIONED TEXT BY PHILIP HOARE (WHICH FORMS A CHAPTER OF HIS NEW BOOK ‘RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR’) PROVIDES THE INSPIRATION FOR THE ARTISTS AND THE JOURNEY IN BETWEEN THE NEWLY COMMISSIONED WORKS
THE TALE RUNS ACROSS THREE WEEKENDS: 8th to 10th SEPTEMBER, 15th to 17th SEPTEMBER, 22nd to 24th SEPTEMBER
TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE WWW.THE-TALE.CO.UK
Internationally renowned producer Situations (Theaster Gates’ Sanctum for Bristol and the 100-year Future Library in Oslo) has developed a new type of arts event for the coastal bay area of Torbay in South Devon. The Tale will take place over three weekends in September 2017 and invites the audience to undertake a journey across three towns in the footsteps of writer Philip Hoare, encountering artworks and performances inspired by Hoare’s writings on the untold stories of this place.
Situations is known for imaginative public art works that take visitors on extraordinary adventures such as Folkestone Digs (where German artist Michael Sailstorfer buried gold under the sand on Folkestone beach and invited members of the public to find it). For The Tale, the exact locations and timings of the performances and installations by renowned artists such as Chris Watson, Ellen Gallagher and Claire Cunningham are unannounced. Rather, visitors are encouraged to start their journey of discovery at Torquay Museum and let the experience unfold over one or two days. The artists have worked closely with local residents and young people in the Torbay area over the last two years to create a diverse range of artworks including sculptures, installations, performance and dance, sound-works and guided explorations.
In Hoare’s text, the writer refers to the iconic figure of Icarus as a recurrent theme in which he explores his own associations with Torbay as a boy and teenager, the multiple lives and losses woven into the history of the bay (particularly those transgressive individuals who appeared, like Icarus, to fly too close to the sun) and the associations with glamorous distant places that the name itself – English Riviera – conjures up. The Tale will examine these ideas as incidents in landscape, often alien and out of place, sometimes subtle, at other times theatrical.
Torbay Culture Board’s Executive Director, Kate Farmery, said:
“The Tale is a key element of the cultural transformation underway in Torbay. With support from Arts Council England and a recent grant of £1.2m from the new Great Place Scheme, we’re putting the Bay on the map as a great cultural centre, brilliantly communicated; growing our reputation for innovative, community-driven arts and heritage in unusual places and spaces and helping our heritage venues to thrive. I can’t wait to experience it.”
Philip Hoare said:
‘Having published books on the 1920s aesthete Stephen Tennant, on Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde in the first half of my writing career, I have turned to the sea with Leviathan or, the Whale (winner of the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction) and The Sea Inside, I found the prospect of The Tale a fascinating one. The text I have produced, and which has become the basis of the project, draws on my love of the sea and its natural environment but also the human stories the sea provokes, most especially in places such as Torquay, Paignton, Brixham and Berry Head.
From the ancient associations – three species of human have lived here – to their re-invention as Romantic sites and resorts, they have drawn poets and writers such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, and Wilfred Owen. That air of faded glamour and decadence became implicit for me as a young boy, spending my own family holidays here in the 1970s, when the escapism of the place summed up my own dreams: of David Bowie and Bryan Ferry, and an impossible yearning for the future that every beach seems to represent. Arching over these dreams is the idea of Icarus, the boy who flew too high and, his waxen wings melted, fell back to earth and into the sea. This image, of dreamy ambition and airy and watery myth, links to one of the first publically demonstrated flights, enacted in Torbay in 1911, by the dashing tweed-clad aviator, Claude Graham-White, who flew over the King’s ship to demonstrate the future of the century.
All these ideas, I hope, are summed up in The Tale. The nostalgia we all feel for the sea, such a vivid element in our lives; the sense of everything old and everything new, renewed by the tide and what it brings; the licence allowed by being near or on or in the water. What histories it holds and what possibilities it offers. Most of all, I think of a remarkable Pathé newsreel from the 1930s, which shows a 13 year old girl diving off Saddle Rock in Torbay. In the moment that she leaps into the air, we are not sure whether her arching body, in its swallow dive, will fly upwards like a bird, as much as it will plunge down into the turquoise blue water. In that freeze-frame is caught everything that The Tale aspires to: transformation, in one brave, fantastical leaving of the land.’
Philip Hoare’s books include biographies of Stephen Tennant and Noel Coward, the historical studies, Wilde’s Last Stand Spike Island, and England’s Lost Eden. His book Leviathan or, The Whale won the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. His last book, The Sea Inside, was published in 2013. His new book, RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, is published by Fourth Estate on 13 July. An experienced broadcaster, curator and filmmaker, he wrote and presented the BBC Arena film The Hunt for Moby-Dick, and directed three films for BBC’s Whale Night. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton, and co-curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read, www.mobydickbigread.com
Situations, based in Bristol, is an arts organisation dedicated to commissioning and producing compelling and imaginative new forms of public art. For over a decade they have been supporting artists to make extraordinary ideas happen in unusual and surprising places across the UK and internationally. Recent projects include Theaster Gates’ Sanctum (2015); Katie Paterson’s 100-year Future Library and Amy Franceschini’s Flatbread Society for the city of Oslo (2014 onwards); Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad; Owen Sheers’ performative declaration at the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta; Michael Sailstorfer’s Folkestone Digs and the year-long One Day Sculpture across five New Zealand cities. www.situations.org.uk
The Tale is produced by Situations in association with Berry Head National Nature Reserve, Curledge Street Academy, Paignton Picture House, Play Torbay, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, Torbay Culture and Torquay Museum. The Tale has been made possible through the generous support of an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence grant, Australia Council for the Arts, Ernest Cook Trust, the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Norwegian Arts Council, The Space and Unlimited Impact.
Situations is supported by Arts Council England, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, John Ellerman Foundation and the University of the West of England, Bristol.Follow