July 8th – Edge & Shore – a conversation with Helen Carnac and Laïla Diallo

Iain Biggs 1-1

(detail of one installation of Terra Infirma – all grass is flesh from the touring exhibition Drawing, Permanence, and Place) 

Yesterday I spoke at length on the phone with Helen Carnac, whose various activities exemplify the way that imaginative work constantly mutates and is reconfigured so as to find new ways of feeding our need for balancing imaginal engagement with, and active reflection on, the contingencies and astonishments of our lifeworlds.

Helen describes herself as “a maker, curator and academic” and is involved in “drawing, mark-making, the explicit connections between material, process and maker and an emphasis on deliberation and reflection”, which she sees as constellated by her work as a maker and thinker. She runs: “an environmentally grounded practice, developing projects using design methodologies that are rooted in an acute awareness of physical location, place and working practices. The populated environment is of key importance to me and through my practice and projects I aim to bring people together, creating social and creative engagement and collaboration in an open-ended design process”. (For more information on her work, see her web site – link below – from which these quotes are taken).

The reason we where speaking together is that on July 8th Helen, the dancer Laïla Diallo and I will be ‘in conversation’ at the Arnolfini, starting at 6.30pm. This relates to their collaborative work Edge and Shore: Acts of Doing 2, a performance residency there. (Please see http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/edge-and-shore-acts-of-doing – you need to book to come to the talk).

I know Helen as an innovative maker using enamel, through our both having exhibited in a PLaCE-sponsored international touring show (Drawing, Permanence and Place) which owed a great deal to the inspiration of our mutual friend, the enamel artist Elizabeth Turrell. However, we also have common interests in thinking about an expanded, not exclusive aesthetic, and in creative practices such as attentive walking. You can find her web site, which gives a very good sense of the breadth and depth of her concerns and activities and is well worth a visit, at https://helencarnac.wordpress.com  I have yet to meet Laïla Diallo, a dancer with Siobhan Davies Dance, and am very much looking forward to doing so. I know from Helen that they have been working together since 2012 when they were invited by  to work alongside each other in the residency ‘Side By Side’, having never met before.