Love & Death at Walcot Chapel: Flight

Flight is an installation created by Fiona Egglestone and Sophie TwissFlight was an installation created in collaboration with visual artist Sophie Twiss for Love and Death at Walcot Chapel, an exhibition curated by Geoff Dunlop as part of Fringe Arts Bath (FAB) 2015 , which ran from 22 May – 7 June.

Flight explores the theme of loss (in both a personal and environmental context), the importance of remembrance, and transformation. The poem that inspired the installation tells the story of a girl who is haunted by dreams of birds and mourns the loss of something she cannot describe, but knows is missing from her life. She longs to escape, to find a new way of living. The birds encourage her to face her fears and find her voice, thus bringing about transformation and release.

The installation grows out from an altar; at its centre is a bowl made of feathers, the container symbolising the fragility of our hopes for the future. The bowl can also be seen as a receptacle for memories, an invitation to call to mind that which no longer exists, yet still resides within heart, soul and mind. It is a space dedicated to the memory of lost places and species as well as loved ones.

We invited visitors to join us in remembrance of what has been lost, and to add to the collective store of memory by writing their own memories or dedications on paper birds. The idea was that the installation would grow over the course of the festival if people chose to participate. I was overwhelmed by the level of engagement from both adults and children. The range of written responses varied from single names to mini-stories focusing specific moments in time. Some were confessional, others incredibly touching.

I’m currently working on a series of short poetry and prose pieces inspired by the memories people chose to share.

Flight will be exhibited again at Falmouth University’s MA/MFA Show, 26-29 August 2015.

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I dreamed of birds again last night.
Of beaks and claws and feathers.
Voices whisper to me, calling me home.
It is time, they say.
But I have lived too long amongst strangers
and I have forgotten how to fly.

Each day my cage shrinks.
I collect my tears in tiny jars
and lock them away out of sight.
Feathers caress my face
there is a way, they tell me.
Remember. You must remember.

I am afraid, I say. I cannot do what you ask of me.
But you must, they urge.
You are the only one who can do this.
I start to sing, hesitantly at first,
then louder and louder
until there is nothing but song.

I am drowning in memories.
How have I forgotten so much?
I see forests burning
and men with guns,
the scent of death on their skin.
The song takes over; I surrender to it.

One by one they come.
I am lost in a snowstorm of feathers,
beaks and claws tearing at my skin.
It splits and comes apart,
thin and translucent.
I shrug it off, cast it aside.

It is time.
I stretch out my wings and take flight.