Studies For Maynard: Simon Whitehead, 2013/2015

Simon Whitehead and Tanya Syed, ‘Airing’ 2013 image by Avi Allen

Studies for Maynard is a meditation on dislocation; the always unfinished practices of making home and sheltering; referencing the biography of an embryo; the Apollo 9 mission; the territorial behaviour of ravens, the writings and walks of Rajah Shehadah and Starman by David Bowie. Home here is more than a place; it is a network of resonances, as fragile and changeable as weather.

Resembling ephemeral line drawings, these studies emerge from gestures, voice, narratives and the systematic movement of an old school table, on which is inscribed the name ‘Maynard’. Over the last 2 years the work has been developed to form a larger dance installation, including sound and video, with long term collaborator Barnaby Oliver and film maker Tanya Syed. See below for more information about Simon’s and Tanya’s experimental time here at the Capel in 2013.

‘…Whitehead’s work resonates with complex and original ecological ideas. In it ecology is not simply about nature, but about how we exist emotionally and politically as human beings together.’ Carl Lavery. Writer and Professor of Theatre Studies, Glasgow University.

‘Airing’ in the Capel 23-24 July, 2013, Simon Whitehead and Tanya Syed.

‘We approached Avi to ask if we could have some time at Capel y Graig to begin a process of filming some dance and movement material developed this year in a small schoolroom studio in Llangoedmor nr. Cardigan.

We imagined a large, light space to film in, the work needed ‘airing’ in a different, generous space. Capel y Graig was the place…

Avi, her gentle and warm hosting and the uninterrupted time over 24 hrs in the Capel opened a productive, experimental space. How to create a relationship between the material and the space and the act of filming? Many questions asked and a lot more continue to emerge

We filmed in the morning light, in the dark, with lighting and outdoors. We slept on the floor and woke early to begin again.

The Capel, its strong context, a sanctum, offered an amazing resource for voice and sound. Surprising sometimes, a mix of sounds made whilst working and combining with sounds passing through from outside; traffic, birdsong, voices and aeroplanes.

Each day we began singing/ chanting in the Capel, it seemed like the natural thing to do, and there was a delight in how the space responded. Avi joined us on the second day and the space ‘rang’ with harmonics and distortion, In the discipline of archaeoacoustics it is said the design of high ceilings in old churches is there to conjoin single voices into a collective voice, an ancient practice, borne out of palaeolithic caves and chambers..

Tanya hopes to return to lead a sonic meditation workshop later in the year.

The time seeded some new approaches and has given us a momentum to develop some choreographic relationships between camera, dancer, object and space and to consider more the context we need to create for this process.

We are grateful for the time and the effect that the Capel has had on our process, we hope to return to ‘air’ the work as it develops…

Gyda Ddiolch’


















Performance July 2015