ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

To pick up where I left off last time and to round off this ArtsLab blogging business.

It took six months to render A Feat Incomplete and like a scientific experiment I have it all catalogued and pinned to my insides.

It took two characters, seven basic plots, Colman Barks, Quantum Mechanics, 3 mushrooms, ox horns, many emails, pages and pages of writing, Aristotle, Barbra Walker, 20k of Vermiculite, half the furnishings of my apartment, at least 50 cassette tapes, amazing work by David Buckley, lots of coffee, many tearful nights, long long conversations with artist right across Sydney, five fellow residence and a total adherence to the things I cared about. ( Note: List of creation objects is incomplete).


It took a digging into two significant meetings in my life to really be honest about the phenomenon that occurs when two souls regard one another. One was brief, very dear but volatile the other a meeting-before-a-meeting and then slow burn towards well I don’t know what it still towarding. The performance carries the traditional rhythm of storytelling inside it but you wouldn’t know it. I chose to place to focus on the oscillation between two things and attempt to draw you along that way into a state of delightful uncertainty. Rather like falling in love but our character are not quite lovers they are also not quite the two things in me. Sometimes they are the present state of existence and the slow regarding of the pastfuture. You see even for me the metaphors, the characters identities within the piece and my expectation for the audience expectation slips

 -Light2dark, female2male, industry2nature, dream2reality, sicence2art, before2after-

It took a lot of bravery and one or two crushing mistakes to excavate all this from my inner landscape and render it for performance and it is still not finished. These two creatures and the rules that govern them do not remain fixed in orientation so how will they meet? If you know me you know my answer to this.

Actually I’m pretty sure I stated it quite clearly in the piece what happens to the two of them if not surely the title says it all?  It’s an ongoing conversation. And this is where I finish this blog and where I would like to end this year. (Apologies the end of this is a long way off)

Okay here goes. I leave ArtsLab with the tentative notion that the whole job of being an artist is for me a conversation. A dialogue. An Intimate transaction of ideasimagesobject between me and the wider world. And this is a vital job to learn. There is a wonderful passage in ‘Essential Rumi’ that talks about the Sufi term Sohbet. There is no English translation but roughly and privately adapted it implies enlightened and enthusiastic conversation with another. It is the highest form of communion and I love that it acknowledges the other in this act. The Beloved is the term Rumi often uses for the other but it is a fluid term. Sometimes he is speaking of his dear friend Shams of Tabriz, sometimes to his students, sometimes himself, sometimes god, sometimes to the whole of humanity, sometimes an actual lover. Often these tenses change within a single piece (or line) of writing. It is this fluidity of identity and the slipping of relationships that continues to draw me back to his work. Sohbet implies an acknowledgment of another thing in the world that is not you and then places worthiness on their otherness.

 I do not wish to liken an artistic career to spiritual practice but it is the act of communication or connection between me and the wider world (or other) that is at the centre of my continued investment in live performance. It is the movement from me to you that I am interested in and the creation of a joyful space to do that. An examination of the space between.

I have discovered this year that the most vital and interesting pieces of work for me (at least right now) are ones that adhere to central ideas (I dig the telling of a linear story) while allowing relationships and performance modes, to slip and oscillate. Perhaps fusing together but never too neatly that you can’t sense the joins. I like the feeling of revelation you or an audience can get in the movement from Inside2outside, dark2light, mundade2extraoridinary, tender2violent, personal2professional, private2public, you2me. Contrary to my statement above about valuing the other I believe that when this movement between is achieve (as I find in Rumis Poetry does exceptionally well) the ‘I’ become relative and so does ‘the other.’ This is because our focus is shifted from singularities of things to become absorbed in the thing that is neither, the thing that is between.  The connection. When I speak of connection, or revelation, or regard, there is a strong image of skin to skin, organ to organ, heart to heart contact and this bodiness of the feeling is important although it’s hard to say why. The main point I am trying to nut out here: this skin to skin, organ to organ, heart to heart place is where the slipping of tense and relationships occurs. It’s emotional and sensual and requires presence within the now and all these things are fleeting and transient by nature. It is a place of delightful uncertainty. But we fear uncertainty and so often we can fear the sensual, the emotional, the skin to skin, organ to organ, heart to heart because it is not fixed. It is not a singularity it is a thing between. I would like to try an aid a moving within fear while acknowledgement that there is joy and worthiness in the unknown, the uncertainty, the other. This is the conversation I continue to have with myself and the wider world, the Sohbet between Myself and The Beloved.

In the vein of my love of conversation and otherness please check out the blog/ partnership of dreams I am working on with Lucy Watson and follow our madness at It’s silly its barely running but it will be fun. But back to the sign off.

Shopfront Contemporary Arts and Performance (88 Carlton Pde Carlton) was the community that housed this mother flipping big conversation. Its walls infuse all those that walk through it with a sense of joy and love when you are face with the uncertainty, fluidity (and the other) that comes when creating.   It is infused with the energy of young people who rapidly grow, shift and change every day and embody the wild enthusiasm for life that is far easy to forget.  It is a big gorgeous suburban share house that nurtures the outlying groups of young people and Artists looking to explore creating away from the adrenaline hyped city centre. It says yes to your imagination and hands you all the tools and responsibilities to get it from the inside out. Any young artists who want to really test if they can focus on a singular (singular Erica?) thing for a long period of time should apply for the ArtsLab program.  If you do come here under it I cannot recommend enough that you keep other artistic commitments to a minimum. The wealth of opportunities that rest within its walls will keep you crazy busy and the chance to be present with yourself and a single idea for six months is a treasure and you will love it.

 Thank you Shopfront and the ArtsLab Team farewell and stay groovy I will see and speak with you again very soon.

Over and Out.

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