“Who Do You Think You Are?”
“I am a curious artist:
I am a facilitator;
I am a coach;
I am a wilderness rites of passage guide;
I am a celebrant;
I am a mentor;
I am a workshop leader;
I am a craniosacral therapist;
I am a performer;
I am a documentary film-maker;
I am a theatre director;
I am a woman in a continuous state of evolution.”
I am an experiential ritual artist. I see ritual as ‘the art of arts’. My art practice involves me collaborating with space, place and time to create unique indoor and outdoor events and rituals. I generate and am open to collaborating on creating new projects on Creativity, the Embodied Imagination and the Art of Dialogue.
I co-founded Volcano Theatre Company in the mid 80’s and along with Paul Davies performed in, directed, and led company workshops for 25 years. Below are a few images from my involvement in those magnificent Volcano early productions. I have always been interested in theatre and the arts as a powerful medium for transformation – both inner and outer. In 2010 I began to focus more on the role of the imagination and creativity in moving towards a life-sustaining future. I stepped away from Volcano and developed Emergence during this time to explore this more deeply.
In 2017, I was awarded a Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales. The award is intended to give space and time for an artist who has already had career achievements to undertake creative experimentation and research to inform their future practice. This opportunity led to a radical re-thinking of my art practice which reflected my ongoing questioning of the role of the artist in these turbulent times. My art now is primarily focussed on ideas involving ‘the art of living’ and posing creative questions. How can I live life as an art practice? How can I live “deliberately” and consciously, and walk lightly on the earth in doing so? How can I support myself and others to be of service in these times of collapse and renewal?
Practising the Art of Living
I believe that all the strands of my work – as celebrant, craniosacral therapist, facilitator, coach and rites of passage guide are ultimately works of art. Sometimes I also create art which is based on place, time, and ceremony, and interacts creatively with the natural and living world. Sometimes I create or undertake walks as works of art. Sometimes I create spontaneous gatherings with people involving ideas of prayer, intention-setting, gratitude and re-enchantment.
7 Sundays in Spring
In 2017, I created a ‘theatre residency in my own life, involving all the women I’d ever met’. This became known as ‘7 Sundays in Spring’ and involved women from all over the UK gathering in 7 different locations to participate in 7 creative actions: Women Making, Women in the Woods, Women Walking, Women Remembering Women, Women Dancing, The Rite of Isis and Women Making Vigil. The Sundays took place in 2017 and marked the passage from the first Sunday in Lent to the dawn of Easter Day. You can read more about this work here in the Emergence blogposts.
‘Women Dancing’ combines renegade pop-up installation, movement, prayer, and celebration and involves Women Dancing to Patti Smith’s album ‘Horses’ at dawn on the Sunday closest to the Spring Equinox. Women Dancing has taken place annually on beaches, castles and mountains. All women and those identifying as women are welcome to join in or create their own Women Dancing in parallel. Below is a short clip of Women Dancing at Cadair Idris in 2019.
My ‘Walking & Talking’ artwork combines connecting to heart and to nature. I love making projects which create space both outside us and in our own imagination to reflect and surrender into the mysterious creative process, and which call forth the work we were born to do. Designing a walk is an art-form in itself. Walking the walk is another art-form entirely. I have collaborated on and organised long-distance land-journeys and short day-walks, including the Emergence Land Journey, Station to the Sea Peace Walk and The Walk That Re-connects .
In a sense all of the work I create has dialogue at its heart. One of the most powerful things art can do is to create a space in which dialogue and change can happen. ‘Conversations Before the End of Time’ & ‘Doin Dirt Time’ (with Philip Ralph) are ongoing projects about the role of art during a time of ecological collapse and spiritual crisis. This involves performing transcripts of dialogues between author and ecological art pioneer Suzi Gablik and philosophers, writers, and activists from a quarter of a century ago published collectively in: ‘Conversations Before the End of Time’. We are open to invitations to perform and to facilitate conversations on the themes arising from the performances. These performances are suitable for festivals, arts venues, colleges, conferences and gatherings.
Read ‘7 Conversations Before the End of Time’ at Small World Theatre Here.
The documentation of an art project, interaction, or intervention is always part of the ritual process. The writing comes in different forms according to the form, function, and audience. This might be texting, blogging or using social media to publish long form reflections and essays.
I am an occasional but energetic blogger,writing mainly about art, walking, ecological collapse, renewal and emergence. My partner Philip Ralph and I have written a series of blogs reaching thousands of people. Read the blogs here.
I have been commissioned by Arts Council of Wales to document how artists in Wales are responding to sustainability. Both documents are available here: Culture Shift and Culture Shifters.
I am very proud to have be one of a cohort of artists invited by Lucy Neal to contribute a number of articles to her book ‘Playing for Time: Making art as if the world mattered’. You can buy the book here.
If you are interested in Conversations, Walking Art, Women Dancing, or collaborating with me on a new project, contact me on email@example.com and let’s have a conversation
Being an Earth Pilgrim
I co-produced with Philip Ralph a landmark 6-hour DVD series on the life and work of peace pilgrim Satish Kumar. This was crowdfunded with the assistance of many supporters worldwide. Being an Earth Pilgrim was an Emergence collaboration with Culture Colony, Resurgence Magazine, Schumacher College and Volcano Theatre. You can buy it here as a DVD or download.
Emergence is a collaborative art project and CIC initiated in 2010 to connect people, support dialogue, host events and make art which supports, ‘the art of living well within the ecological limits of a finite planet’.
I loved the Saying Grace night. Being involved with Fern’s ‘Who do you think you are’ project was liberating, nourishing and affirming. These days, it is easy to get lost – burnt out even – in the journey towards a sustainable and fulfilled life. I find Fern’s approach – her willingness to side-step the normal and take unexpected paths – incredibly invigorating. She has an amazing ability not just to involve people but to support them to take big steps to change. I certainly felt this in taking part in the Seven Sundays in Spring and witnessed it in other participants.
Audience Member & Participant
I have been so affected by my engagement with your work, Fern, both creatively and personally. You have helped me to find a voice for my creative practice, something that I have been struggling with for a long time. Thank you.
In the last two days, I’ve taken the time to watch the first two parts of the documentary and I’m delighted!!! I love the calmness of the conversation, Satish´s enthusiasm which shines through every word he speaks, and the quiet warmhearted strength with which Jane Davidson leads the conversation. As you promised: it’s really a landmark documentary, and I’m sure that for many people it will change the way they see the world and their place in it. I appreciate your work very much and thank you once again for realizing this inspiring project.
Congratulations for the work! I just finished watching the 6 episodes of the Satish Kumar documentary: ‘Being an Earth Pilgrim’. Such an inspiring work. It is riveting! Thank you so much!
I was so pleased to be invited to take part in a number of Fern’s Creative Wales activities and events, particularly ‘Conversations Before the End of Time’ which came at a very beneficial time for me, giving me an opportunity to take another look at and share my practice and to learn from that of others, making and strengthening connections, an experience I value deeply. Thank you, Fern.
The Conversations Before the End of Time were such an engagingly facilitated space to listen to ideas, reflections and concerns from a broad spectrum of artists and thinkers. I loved the encouragement to respond through drawings and this whole event was such a good environment in which to take my practice of listening through drawing into new places – thank you!