Go see The Offering procession on Father's Day!
In this fifth insider video feature on Eyeview (extra)ordinary - 10 days of events, performances and activities in June - we speak to Shelley Castle, alumni of Central St. Martins and the lead visual artist behind 'The Offering', where audiences will witness a procession like no other through Torquay town and down onto Torre Abbey Sands to celebrate the wonders of local wildlife on Sunday 16 June from 11am-4pm. That's Father's Day sorted for the whole family!
“What an audience might witness is something that perhaps they haven't seen in Torquay before, so it'll be a very new thing of some kind that could be potentially the beginning of an annual thing.
My name is Shelley castle, and I trained as a visual artist. This project is called The Offering, and I'm working across Brixham, Paignton, and Torquay towards a procession in June.
I was trying to connect art and science together because of the issues around biodiversity loss and climate change, which I was interested in even at St. Martin's in the early 90s. That's why we're indigo dying, for me you can't make a project that's about the sea whilst using material that is going to - in the end - damage that ecosystem. And so this project - The Offering - is creating a ceremonial cape and the person wearing the cape will lead a procession from the Town Hall in Torquay down through where the river runs, but it runs underneath the roads now, and will follow the path of the river and we’ll follow the person in the cape.
The cape is being co-designed by students and teachers at South Devon College and what's fantastic with natural dyes is that they'll take on an older more worn fabric. Then you can bind it, and then you create the vat, which takes quite a few hours. It gets this extraordinary bloom, like it's almost like petrol. Then after about two hours you can start dyeing, then as you pull the fabric out of the vat you'll see that it's green, to begin with, but as soon as the oxygen starts hitting it, it has a chemical reaction to the oxygen and turns blue.
So to get the blues that we're after, we needed to use an indigo from India, but I am hopeful that we will start growing dying plants around Torbay… it's got a great climate for it. There's plenty of allotments and even in Brixham already they're talking about growing dye for the projects. So to create very hyper-localised textile project that could make quite high-end beautiful fashion pieces, as well as kick-starting a bit of social enterprise for people in the area.
When I looked at what species were in the sea in Torbay, there's this extraordinary area of seagrass beds. One of the things that lives in the seagrass beds are seahorses, and seahorses are quite extraordinary and magical creatures where the male carries the babies and gives birth to the babies; so it's quite good timing to be doing the procession on Father's Day.
I'm also interested in gifts, so The Offering isn't just to the sea, we'll be gifting people information and gift bags and objects that have been made as we process through town.
So there'll be music, there'll be flags, there'll be food on the beach, there'll be a spectacle.“
- Shelley Castle, Visual Artist.
The Offering | Shelley Castle is part of the 10-day Eyeview (extra)ordinary programme from the 7-16 June 2019. Free to visit. Everyone welcome. The Offering dance performance will take place on Sunday 16th June 2019. From 11.00am - 12.30pm Procession and then 12.30 - 4pm Gathering at Torre Abbey Sands with Sea Offering, food, storytelling and dance (continuing until the tide rises up the beach). No booking required. Free to attend. Bring yourself, father and family or gaggles of friends for a unique day out by the seaside. More info: https://eye-view.org.uk/extraordinary-events-listings/the-offering