Project Title: The Pilgrimage Project: Exploring the creative potential of pilgrimage as performance and as a performance making approach
Supervisors: Dr Alison Matthews & Dr Joanne Scott
The Pilgrimage Project is a practice as research PhD exploring the universal practice of pilgrimage in relation to contemporary performance. The principal purpose of this research is to examine the creative potential of pilgrimage as performance. Will Parsons from The British Pilgrimage Trust describes pilgrimage as a ‘creative act’ (Parsons in McGreary, 2018) this is a description I am investigating during this project to identify where the creativity lies in the process and to forge connections between pilgrimage and performance.
Within this research I will be addressing the absence of pilgrimage from the academic literature that surrounds creative walking practice. I will explore how pilgrimage can occupy a position within that creative walking landscape and be understood beyond its religious and spiritual associations.
Pilgrimage will be the key method of discovery; I will engage with the practice in multiple ways to explore its potential as a form of performance. During my research I will be performing traditional pilgrimage routes such as Santiago de Compostela and St Cuthbert’s Way to critically reflect upon the experience of performing a public and private act of walking. I will engage with Ian Reader, Rebecca Solnit and The British Pilgrimage Trust writing on pilgrimage to explore its historical development as a practice and its function in contemporary society
I will be implementing performance, creative walking and creative writing approaches within the research to practically explore pilgrimage’s creative potential and examine its potential to intersect with re-enactment, autobiographical and remembrance practices. My research will engage with the walking practices of artists Simone Kenyon, Phil Smith and Ellie Harrison of ‘The Grief Series’. These artists work will inform how I examine pilgrimage as performance, develop a series of performing making approaches and locate it within creative walking practice.
I am a performance maker whose work is rooted in the approaches of walking, writing and theatre/archaeology. Within my practice I investigate places to unearth the traces of events embedded in landscapes, reassembling them into intimate poetical experiences. At the core of my performance work is an interest in exploring female history and paying homage to women from both the past and the present.
Previously I have presented my project ‘A Pilgrimage for Sylvia’ at a range of art festivals across the Northwest. Facilitated workshops and presented talks about walking arts practice and performance writing.
Last year I was a collaborating artist and researcher on Ryan O’Shea’s audio project 11 Minutes (Bristol Time)an Arts Council England & BBC audio commission which explored the history of Bristol’s Exchange Clock. Previously I have collaborated with Sheffield based artistic collective Vanitas Arts and worked with artists Nigel & Louise, Michael Pinchbeck.
Twitter – @emmie_alderson
Instagram – @emmieannalderson