Hinterlands

Sheffield, 2019 – Current

Dramaturg: Malaika Cunningham

Writer: Joseph Houlders

Creative Producer: Linda Bloomfield

Community Producer: Sally Proctor

Set Design and Puppet-Making: Sarah Lewis-Cole

Sound Design: Lee Affen

Video and Lighting Design: Will Monks

Community Events Producers: Saada Osman and Valentine Nlebedim

Foraging / Permaculture Specialist: Aimée Georgiou Lormand  

Co-created in collaboration with community partners including Darnall Wellbeing and The Manor & Castle Trust.

Supported by The Canal and River Trust and Arts Council England.

The canal is an industrial, green, lush, polluted, strange, and beautiful place in Sheffield. It sits along the edges and in between many communities, and like many things at the edges, it is fruitful, but often forgotten.

 

Along its towpaths there are hundreds of species of edible, magical, and medicinal plants. Like the communities which border this space, these plants come from all over the world – some were brought as crops, others by mistake as stowaways on barges, or as flowers to be planted in the gardens of the wealthy. The species here hold many stories (both real and imagined) they are the ones you remember using as itching powder from childhood; they are the leaves used to ease stomach aches; the ones which begin to glow purple when the moon is full; and the dangerous red berries best left untouched. These stories are ancient, global, and as important today as ever.

 

 

Since 2019 The Bare Project have been gathering stories about humans of the canal, as well as plant folklore. They have been leading craft, storytelling, music, and animation workshops with young people; leading foraging walks along the towpaths; and working with local community producers to put on multicultural dance, music, and food events. This work will culminate in September 2022 with a large-scale carnivalesque event, complete with film screening, dancing, performances, and a big ol’ feast. 

 

 

We believe that there are great storytelling opportunities to be discovered in plants and our relationships with them. They can tell stories of great journeys, mythical heroes, or great healing. This has guided both the form and content of this project, and all this work has been designed around the permaculture principles of:

 

    • Observe and interact: it is important to know what is around us before we seek to add to it or change it. This is as true in gardens as it is within communities. To create this work we have sought to listen, look, and ask questions as a key part of our design.
    • Catch & store energy: there is a lot of energy in nature and communities – what is growing well? How can you support this? With this guiding principle, we hope that this project will help to build local capacity after our own time along the waterways has ended.
    • Value the edges and the marginal: we aim to celebrate the spaces in between us, as sites to gather, create, and build connections. They are exciting places for biodiversity, as well as stories.
    • Use and value diversity: this edgeland space, this ‘hinterlands’ is rich and diverse in terms of both plants, animals, and people. From using and valuing this diversity, we are all much richer

 

This builds on our pilot project with the Canal and River Trust Everyday Myths (2018), and forms part of a national arts programme promoting wellbeing and connecting communities with participatory arts events in urban & suburban waterway corridors around the UK.

A large-scale processional performance and carnival along the length of the Sheffield-Tinsley canal, co-created with participants who live and work there. The performance will take place in June 2022 and is being co-designed with people of all ages through community organisations and groups, schools, and businesses. It will include film, puppetry, live music, story-telling, and more. The visionary performance, and the three-year programme of workshops and events leading up to it, are a collective act of futurology, asking: what might the next 200 years on the canal look like?

 

This builds on our work with the Canal and River Trust on Everyday Myths, and forms part of Hinterlands, their national arts programme promoting wellbeing and connecting communities with participatory arts events in urban & suburban waterway corridors around the UK.

Director: Malaika Cunningham

Writers: Joseph Houlders and Zelda Hannay

Producer: Linda Bloomfield

Set Design and Puppet-Making: Sarah Lewis-Cole

Sound Design: Lee Affen

Video and Lighting Design: Will Monks

 

Co-created in collaboration with community partners including Grimm & Co, Sheffield Music Hubs, SADACCA, Darnall Wellbeing, and The Emmaus Trust.

 

Supported by The Canal and River Trust and Arts Council England.