This piece about Sophie McKeand‘s Process (in memory) performance is part of the new Wales Arts Review ‘Artists in Residence’ line-up series. Throughout 2017 these artists, including Sophie McKeand will take a leading creative role in what Wales Arts Review publishes, centring their skills on a challenging project over the course of a month. We were inundated with applications, receiving hundreds of emails about the positions, and it was no easy task whittling down all that talent to this final eleven. Our team of six editors debated long into the night, and in the end, we decided on a collection of people who we most want to work with, and whose work excites us. We think you will be excited by them too.
Sophie McKeand is a writer of water and earth, of migration and roots. These threads of poetry are woven throughout McKeand’s life in celebration of the kaleidoscopic forces that make up the unnameable essence of being.
In December 2015 I won the OutSpoken award for innovation in poetry. I was so chuffed to meet Brian Patten as well as Joelle Taylor, Salena Godden and Anthony Anaxagorou – their performances were exceptional and made me really want to up my game with it all, in a good way. Fran Lock won the overall award, deservedly so – I am now a fan.
It took about a year to make a proper film of this poem that was originally written at National Theatre Wales Summercamp 2015 where I met so many talented and inspiring artists including the beautiful movement artist Eunjin Choi from Seoul, South Korea.
Eunjin wanted to create a piece of work protesting her government’s handling of a ferry disaster that had happened the year before resulting in over 300 deaths. It’s not usually a topic I’d broach but as we discussed approaches and collaborated further the framework came together. I wish you could see the movement piece she created for this.
People who don’t know the backstory sometimes think this poem is about the refugee crisis – which makes me realise how little control we have over our work once it’s out there, but also how universal art can be, even if the artist thinks they’re being particularly specific.
There are echoes with what we see and hear about refugees at sea: miscommunication, bureaucracy, and refusal of those in power to do anything other than to tell people to stay where they are. And then there’s the way in which these events affect the wider population – Eunjin is right when she said, ‘I search for the action in my body’. Huge thanks to Leighton Cox, North Wales Filmmaker for making a tricky poem look great. He’s wonderful to work with and it all came together so quickly and professionally.
Filmed at UnDegUn, Wrexham.
Process (in memory) by Sophie McKeand is available now via YouTube (the link below).