The Listening Stick

    “The performance of The Listening Stick was magical.  It is a performance piece that is not only sensually rich, but uses this richness to draw the audience into a deeper experience of unity and diversity.

    Scientists and academics have been telling us for years that we must develop an ecological understanding of the planet and our place within it.  But that means a major cultural shift from our sense of being individual and separate.  It lies with artists such as Sally Stenton and Judy Nakazato to give us a glimpse into what an ecological perspective really means.

    In this performance, the audience alternates between being outsiders, listening to the overlay of voices that ebb and flow like waves on a beach, to being allowed inside the circle where individual voices suddenly become distinct and separate. It is the juxtaposition of these two experiences that allows us to appreciate both the individual and the collective, and the richness and potential of each.

    I felt privileged to be part of this event, where the subtle line between participant and observer is used to explore a deeper and necessary cultural sensitivity.”

    Julian Smith, Architect and Director of Willowbank Centre for Cultural Landscape, Canada

    The Listening Stick

    Feedback from performers, June 2016

    “Thank you for taking the initiative and enabling this performance to take place. This was the most fun I’ve had at any academic conference! I really enjoyed the experience of listening to my neighbours: it made me much more sensitive to the details amidst the cacophony of voices. I also liked the diversity of voices and accents: it made me appreciate the cosmopolitanism of the circle, and the different tonalities of voices.”  Dr. Nadia Bartolini, Research Associate, University of Exeter

    “Thank you for the chance to participate in this wonderful event!  Dr. Stelios Lekakis, Research Fellow, Newcastle University

    ”It was a real pleasure to  take part in the performance; thank you for the opportunity!”  Dr. Eirini Saratsi, Research Fellow, University of Exeter

    “Many thanks for the experience! It was a real highlight of the conference for me. Good to have this kind of thing in that context and challenge people in different ways.” Dan Lee, University of the Highlands and Islands

    Stone Paper Cloud

    “I just wanted to write to thank you for the very inspirational walk on Saturday as part of Stone Paper Cloud.  I really enjoyed the walk and it definitely got me thinking.

    I was particularly struck by the shift between different types of overlapping dialogues. The transition from the descriptive language used to explain each place into the personal perspective was really successful in making me question which place I found myself in, with elements resonating with the place in which I physically found myself in and at other times with the place I imagined.  It was very powerful.

    I thought the guided element of the walk worked really well in that it forced me to relinquish control reducing the sense of familiarity with Cambridge as I know it, particularly as the route was not one I would usually take.  I think being unsure of the route/destination also helped with the suspension of ‘reality’ for me.

    The progression of the walk from the more crowded to the more secluded was also very effective and resonated strongly with the way you described the difference between the areas of Aleppo.  The instructions for each part of the walk on how to behave/what to focus on made a big difference as it took me out of the act of walking autonomously and made me more conscious of my own presence in the place and the surroundings seemed less familiar.  I thought this was particularly successful in the silent part of the walk as every noise and happening becomes amplified.  It was quite overwhelming!

    I was wondering if the timing for the walk was intentional?  The atmosphere changed so much in that time frame with the amazing sunset like fire across the horizon.  It was also really interesting walking back into Cambridge along the same route in complete darkness as the place looked totally different and with reduced vision and my senses still heightened from the walk I was still imagining the scenes described earlier.  The rich depth and attention to detail definitely made the experience more believable.”

    Guided walk participant October 2016

    If the cloud allows


    Examples of postcards written after the walk:

    “Welcome my friend. I share my experience with you and I am so excited and I love this way of communication between peoples. It’s a telepathy….” Participant in Basra, Iraq

    “Thinking of you all so far away and so close in mind and spirit.” Participant in Cambridge, UK.

    “The moon circle was gathering us, and this beautiful chance. But the humanity and this experience are what connect us.” Participant in Basra, Iraq

    “As soon as we started walking round to the left I felt connected to you in Basrah, through the motion, through our decision to collectively  perform this act and every time I saw the moon I thought of you.” Participant in Cambridge

    The Listening Stick

    “A reflection …
    We spoke of
    perspective, perception, priority,
    perturbation, preservation, prevention;
    in cacophony, concentration and cooperation,
    with eerie illumination, inhibition, interruption.

    History retold
    in a world of post-history,
    where we create and forget;
    a world of hyper-history,
    where we can’t keep what we record,
    and we make more than we can keep.

    The archaeologists’ ask:
    to follow fate;
    to curate to conserve,
    to digitise to destroy?

    Participant in the first practice session (a cyber security consultant who wrote this on the train to London the next day!) May 2016

    Stone paper cloud

    “Working on this project was an extremely rewarding experience which led down many unexpected pathways.  It was intellectually exciting and broadening while also being, at times, a very deep experience.  I would be very keen to collaborate with an artist again, and would encourage others to try it.”

    Professor of Computational Linguistics, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. October 2016

    Invitation to travel

    Bridge Walk August 2017

    “Lovely experience, helping me see a place I thought I knew well with fresh eyes! Just the right level of difficulty and creatively presented. Thanks.”

    “This is the 2nd part of Invitation to Travel that I have been on! Just fabulous – the clues really made us look around St. Ives and notice so much more. Everyone was very friendly – the whole idea of reading memories was great. Well done!”

    “It was tricky, but I loved it!”

    “Best day ever!”

    “Well done for putting together such an innovative living exhibition.”

    “The event for Bridge Walk is really good and had lots of fun for finding the clues. My little girl really enjoyed it. We are in the group of 4 people who are new to us, they are so kind and friendly. Please let us know if you are having any future events.”

    “Worth braving the rain to take part in this fascinating project. Met some new friends and collaborators – a lovely family from China. Good searching and good conversations and surprises and a lovely cup of tea at the Guide Hut.”

    “Thank you very much! It was a great way to learn more about St. Ives and feel part of the community.”

    Invitation to travel

    Crossing Bridges  October 2017

    “Just so beautiful. Magic realism at its best and I love to see the way you are connecting with the community and turning the ordinary into a place for exploration. A new way of looking. Bravo!

    “Love the downstairs experience of going on the boat with the door! Mysterious.”

    “Totally unexpected! What a beautiful, peaceful place. Thank you so much.”

    “A wonderful, magical evening to complement your interesting and informative journeys around St. Ives. I saw places that I have never looked at before, only walked past!”

    “We look but do not see

    And see and do not look.

    Thank you for orchestrating wonderful journeys to look in places new and see from viewpoints old.”

    “Thank you. Excellent idea and learnt a lot about the town I have lived in for many years.”

    I would love to hear about future works.”