The subject of home seems to be a somewhat troublesome topic of late. When we see the streets of London, Manchester and Birmingham littered with glass and looted shop items, it does not inspire an idyllic impression of English life. However this is just a passing phase of troubled unrest (we hope), and thankfully doesn’t reflect what home is, or could be. On The Landguard Point by Pacitti Company as part of the Cultural Olympiad is all about home; what it is to us, to others and how we host people within it. It does so by reaching out and inspiring people and their communities through large scale performance art and community events.
Cad Taylor is the Engagement Officer for On The Landguard Point and gave a clear insight into what the project is about for the Pacitti Company and those involved: “It’s really vital. It’s a project about home, the main outcome is a film next year. Every step along the journey is about engaging people through participation roles, opportunities to follow through their interests, to be involved in the project.” The project itself is based in the East of England and is part of Artists Taking The Lead, a Cultural Olympiad commission funded by Arts Council England.
On The Landguard Point features a host of events and sub projects for local residents to get involved in, as Taylor explains: “One of the big things we’re doing is a People’s Encolopedia of East England. We’re asking everybody and anybody to submit knowledge, folklore, facts or quirky information about where they live, which will be permonenatly archieved and made available online.” Some would say that this notion of exploring knowledge of home, be it facts or folklore, is becoming diluted. “The region has had the influx of people and changing of communities. What the Encyclopaedia has room for is not just the fokelore but opportunities for people to say ‘my very personal view of home is I moved here from Poland three years ago’. We’ve had people telling us that level of entry. I’m very aware that we couldn’t get a more diverse community.” In a country which represents many different cultures and nationalities the importance of knowing what home represents for young people is just as important as for adults. It’s really important to ask, what does home mean to young people?, which will be explored though the People’s Enclopedia.
It’s not just about building up an archive of stories of home. On The Lifeguard Point also has a wealth of entry levels for people of all ages to get involved in the project. From volunteering resources, time or skills, as Taylor explains: “The important thing is the ownership belongs to the region. So far we’ve got over 1,000 local people in the region who will be in the film. We’re really proud of that. Hopefully we’ll be able to provide those young people getting involved with opportunities. We’ve got a special programme with Creative Arts East, where they are doing an events management course within our programme. So anyone 18 upwards can be involved in the project. They do two weeks comprenhensive training on how to do events management and then we work with those people to come and help work on our festival weekend in Felixstowe. They get this free training and it sits nicely for them to put it on their CV.”
Whilst the film of On The Landguard Point is the outcome of the project, there are numerous other areas from performances, feasts and flag flying to enchant the regional audience. It’s as much about the people and the events as it is about the land we live upon. “Another area of the project,” Taylor tells me, “Is inviting people to sign up and host an excravation in your local area, on plots of lands across the region. We’ll have 205 test pits reflecting the number of nations in the Olympics. Domestic sites and front gardens. People will be able to upload what they have found onto the website. We’ll become a portal for people to link up. It’s a huge region and there are not many opportunities for people to link up like this – so this is a big call-out.”
The work of the Pacitti Company, which in recent years has focused on the Spill Festival bringing international companies and artists exploring live art to London’s Barbican Centre, is a body of work dedicated to exploring the possibilities of live art. When asked about the concerns of bringing some of this work into the regions, Taylor assured me that it would be possible: “This project is a good stepping stone for people to explore live art as a concept. We are working with people at the extreme end of performance art, but also artists who are bridging the gap. We have these flag flying events which are for the film, so if you happen to be outside you might notice these extradorinary events and wonder what is going on in the beach near you. We welcome people to come along and watch what is going on. It’s more accessible.” Bringing such a large-scale project to the East of England is not an easy task: “There is a pre-conceived notion that it is tricky, but I stand by the fact that it is a lot more accessible. People are up for it, they have proved that. Obviously Robert Pacetti runs the Spill Festival in London and it’s now due to come to Ipswich next year onwards. There is a lot of faith to take the leap and bring the work to regional areas. It happens on small scale, there are really incredible happenings and inventions.”
It’s great to be able to hear of the work that Pacetti and his company have been producing outside London. It’s a testament to the arts that we don’t always look at the capital as the sole place for some of the biggest artists to be creating work. With recent events of the rioting around the country affecting our notions of home life, On The Landguard Point explores this in a completely open format for people to get involved. “There is room for your voice in the project. It’s very much about people saying ‘This is my story,'” Taylor states. Now all the project needs is your voice to join the hundreds of people who have already been involved.
Events for On The Landguard Point continues for the rest of the year. See the website for more information on how you and your local community can get involved.