Sat amongst the climbing roses with the distant rumble of the M40, and a closer ringing of zen bells, I’m enjoying a place of stillness amidst all the ‘art in action’ at Waterperry House, Oxfordshire.
I am a volunteer here for their 40th event, and very sadly, the last.
On arrival yesterday morning I met up with the team Id been allocated to work with in the Performing Arts area and the amphitheater. This visit I’m going with the flow and was happily allocated where I’d be for my two days.
Our first instruction from Julian, a gentleman dressed in white with an aura of calm & great wisdom about him, was that ‘everything we do here, comes from a place of stillness’. Although from my first experience here in the early 1990s, I knew that this show was different, even I wasn’t expecting that. During yesterday’s duties preparing for and clearing up between performances, our team reminded each other of these words when we were tempted to let stress or worry take over!
Anita, another wise soul, who was responsible for our team held regular ‘stillness’ moments before we started and at key moments through the day.
At 8.40am each morning before the show opens, volunteers and exhibitors are invited to congregate in the large exhibitors refreshment marquee for a ‘dedication’. Someone reads a passage about non duality or inspiration and creativity and as a group of several hundred, a silent place is held.
I do believe that this background is what makes Art in Action such an incredible event, like no other I’ve ever been part of or visited.
Everything here is about excellence but coming from a pure holistic source, not competitive and totally in tune with nature. Not only fine artists but sculptors, ceramics, textiles, glassblowing, calligraphy, wood carving, and of particular interest to me, Bee guardianship with the Queen of natural Beekeepers, Heidi Herman. I’ve known of Heidi for a few years now and it was an incredible joy for me yesterday to share lunch with her!
In our performing arts amphitheater we had Seamus Heaney’s ‘The cure at Troy a version of Sophocles’, classical Indian music with Shiv Shankar Ray, Odissi and their classical Indian dance, Flamenco by Viva Flamenco, and a fabulous lecture by the head of Plymouth Art School. Today I’m looking forward to hearing Jekka McVica.
There will also be Gregorian chants in the chapel, numerous practical classes and the most amazing an varied ‘Art Market’ with every conceivable art & craft and the materials you’d need to create yourself.
I have visited this show many years and it was the highlight of my career to be invited to exhibit and demonstrate in 2009. Tragically, that was the year that I was too ill no attend and it broke my heart to have to pull out. That’s why I’m volunteering this year, part closure and part gratitude. In some small way I have been a part of this special event. My ‘Forty flowers ‘ book was published to coincide with my demonstrating here in 2009, it didn’t get here then, but I’ve brought copies this year and distributed them to my fellow volunteers, each with their own Art in Action tale to tell.
I cannot stress enough what a wonderful event this is, and it’s with such a heavy heart that it will be the last.
If you can come, just do, you won’t regret it!