Sensing & Seeing

Chalk Up

 

“Joanna led us on an extraordinary path along the cliffs to the newly un-earthed Fan bay shelter and sound mirrors. I’ve always been enthused with sound mirrors and discovered for the first time, the “sweet spot” of the mirror, the place where all sound bounces and meets at an amplified point just in front of the mirror. The night ended beautifully with film and music of the evolution of a painting”

“A transforming walk- we abandoned anonymity as we walked across the cliffs, descending through tunnels. The sound mirrors on the cliff edge picking up the whisperings not drowned out by the thrum of the engines of P&O ferries, the foreign voices from Sangatte signalling their warnings about other wars from across the seas. Debussy, Le Mer, 1066, 1914, 1941, 2015, Dover, sublime paintings, the terror and beauty of the world wrapped into one ambiguous experience, the blue moon was yellow, Debussy was brought to life… ” 

“…. an exciting and interesting evening, one of those special and unique occasions to store in my memory. Most of all the stunning and beautiful film was a magical conclusion to our Moon Walk. I can still hear the music and see the evocative images…….”  

” The film of the painting was a delight for our senses,  we watched whilst the painting was evolving, and the part of the film which has made a lasting impression on me was the development of the white paint with the texture of foam, just like a breaking wave at sea.  Amazing!”

“We thoroughly enjoyed the chance to investigate the newly unearthed Fan Bay shelter. The atmosphere was all the better for the torch lit descent into the belly of the white cliffs, and the sound of the humming on the return to the top. The gentle moonlit walk back to the visitor centre had a sense of peace and calm; just the right thing to prepare us for the beauty and energy of the collaborative artwork which fused painting, film and music….. a memorable experience which married nature, history, art, film, music and people.” 

125 steps beneath the surface, we weaved our way through a series of increasingly narrow tunnels. At one point somebody pointed their torch up towards the chalk ceiling and illuminated the ancient remains of an Ammonite, protruding ever so slightly from the surface above. To carry on past this point and reach the sound mirrors, we had to bend awkwardly and shuffle along the final stretch of darkness. As we moved slowly in single file, someone speculated that this section of the tunnel might have been left at this low height to preserve the fossilised remains that we’d just passed. That in the midst of war, the soldiers building this shelter had considered the importance of the fossil and decided to leave it there, no matter how inconvenient it made their escape from the tunnels. As bombs were being dropped all around them and they were tasked with anticipating another attack, perhaps the ancient form above their heads provided a reassuring link to another time, away from the madness of war unfolding all around them.”

“… a wonderful spectacular evening, finishing off with the wonderful art and music.
I don’t think we could improve on the comments already sent, but just to say it was an evening we will remember for a long long time. I have told everyone I know about it.”

 

Thanks to Sue Bradford, of the White Cliffs Countryside partnership, who had carefully managed the booking for this event, all Sensing and Seeing Moon Walk participants – the walk was limited to 25 – met at the National Trust White Cliffs visitors centre on Friday july 31st at 7pm.

Gareth Wiltshire welcomed everyone on behalf of the National Trust and the Up on the Downs Summer Festival team and introduced Joanna Jones.

She introduced Sebastian Edge who would be taking photographs and asked everyone to introduce themselves. A wonderfully diverse group had collected for the experience, some connected through Dover Arts Development’s previous projects: DAD feature documentary about Buckland paper Mill, Watermark 2011, a DAD mapping event at the Kent Association of Local Councils (KALC) AGM in July 2013, the War & Peace Voyagers project 2012/13, the Watercolour workshop at the Royal Cinq Ports Yacht Club and the Spontaneous Creativity workshop in spring 2015.

Participants from Dover joined others from Leicester, London, Whitstable, St Margarets and a family who had individually arrived from mainland Europe, London and Canada and had decided to spend the weekend together in Dover.

Everyone was given a torch that they attached to their wrists with the light turned off and set off on the cliff side track. This track goes near the cliff edge and some took the wider inland track and joined up again at Tilden Smith’s dream.

 It is 22 miles to France from here.

The Strait of Dover is the busiest seaway in the world, over 400 sea vessels pass through the Channel every day.

The cliffs are made of chalk which is 60 – 140 million years old, chalk is the remains of millions of tiny sea creatures.

The walkers continued in good spirit with lively conversation along the “desire lines”, the tracks that most of humankind have walked, to the Fan Bay shelter, where everyone was hard hatted by Keeley.

The shelter was unlit, we took our own light with us on our head torches on our hard hats. We went down 125 steps and into the tunnels that make up the shelter. They are 70 feet underground with a constant temperature of 10 degrees and were home to 200 soldiers in WW2.

Walking lit by head torches means that you can always see what you are looking at, as the light source moves where your head and therefore eyes turn. There is graffiti and carvings and a needle for sewing to be discovered in the tunnels. We emerged to a blast of  light with an orange red tint of a setting sun by the sound mirrors, built in WW1 as sound amplification devices to warn of planes and submarines approaching across the channel. 

We are now going to turn off our hard hat torches off and turn our wrist torches on to white light, with these only we  will light our way back along the tunnels and up the steps. We will hum the first line of “Au clair de la lune” by the light of the moon.”

 We are not going to talk again until we reach the National Trust visitors centre where we started our walk.

At the top of the steps we turned our wrist torches to the red light for the dusk walk back to the visitors centre.

The full moon was rising behind us and quite high in the sky by the time we reached the visitors centre approximately 40 mins later.

 46 years ago this month, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon.

Refreshments and the final sensing and seeing light experience, a preview of a collaborative work by Joanna Jones ,film‐maker Dominic de Vere and the Trio Apaches. Joanna’s paintings emerge through a process more sensed than seen, in this film the evolution of one of her paintings accompanies an interpretation of Debussy’s La Mer, in three movements, by Sally Beamish for the Trio Apaches. (25 mins).

Debussy started his work in 1903 in France and completed it in 1905 at the Grand Hotel Eastbourne on the English Channel coast.

Fleur Whitfield did a wonderful job of collecting feedback forms before people left on their various home journeys.

“Thank you everyone who made it possible to develop this event: sensing and seeing moving through different light experiences  with a group of  lovely people in amazing venues on an extraordinary night at a Blue Full Moon.” Joanna Jones