Photo by Shahin Shahablou

Photo by Shahin Shahablou

Photo by Shahin Shahablou

Photo by Shahin Shahablou

Photo by Shahin Shahablou

Danger Deep Water


London, UK

Saturday was a busy day for art in Lloyd Park. The IdeasFromElse[W]here artists, who numbered many, took over the gallery, its forecourt, back yard, the paths of the park and its pond with a series of performances and interventions.

The first performance was by Ed Woodham […]. Entitled Danger Deep Water, Ed stood, for just over two hours, on a white plastic footstool in the dank basin of the Lloyd Park pond, dressed in white, with a white polystyrene tube over his head with only eye holes cut out. The pond is an enclosed no-go area, closed off by a wooden fence. It is a dry pond, save a small bog-like puddle at its bed. It has rolling banks on all sides, overgrown with grasses and meadow shrubs.

Personally I found this performance poignant and sad: the figure in the pond seemed lonely; abandoned maybe; locked in possibly; made insular by the fact of being mute and at a distance.

What it activated was an afternoon of questioning.

Kids came up to the fence and shouted questions to Ed, with Ed responding in a series of movements and gestures.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Why are you doing that?’

‘What’s your job?’

‘Are you getting paid?’

‘What’s your favourite shape?’

‘Are you lonely?’

‘Are you in love?’

‘Is this art?’

Other passers-by stood and looked for a moment or a while; some lingered and sat on the grass or stood at the fence; some talked to others; some sat on the benches nearby and watched on as they had a drink. When people realised that myself and others from the drawing shed team were there to invigilate, they came to us to ask questions.

Ed says that he didn’t have an intended meaning for this piece before he started, if there was any intention it was purely visual. What I witnessed and Ed experienced was the meaning emerging over the duration of the piece.

Some people found the piece confronting. Some, confusing. In some these responses engendered anger. Some walked away. Others laughed. Others let themselves be in the wonder of the moment. Others started talking about art, politics, space, the park, their lives. Talking about what the piece was, how it made them feel, if this was art (or not), how they thought the figure was feeling and what it was.

No one walked past as if this sort of thing happened every day. In some way, everyone that saw this was affected by it. Everyone questioned, articulated verbally or by gesture, what it was they were seeing.

This questioning carried on to the other interventions in the day. Artists and audience were merged in many instances and talk was of the ‘why’ of art. This why-ing for me is the purpose of the arts lab – to, through its process of investigation, exploration and creation, ask why. Ask why of art, of artist, of audience, and why not?

Cara Courage, Thinker in Residence,
IdeasFromElse[W]here, thedrawingshed
Curated by Sally Labern, Bobby Lloyd, and Jordan McKenzie