Back on the farm with Rachel and Saffy, among the sheep, cows and horses!
This block of Unstrapped was exploring and discovering playful unexpected ways of using my splints and collections from the George Marshall Medical Museum. Taking the medical out of the splints and equipment, placing them in unusual environments to find curious moments that begs a question or shift a perception!
Rolling and moving in straw, choreographing a duet based on electrical impulses from my Functional Electrical Stimulation Machine (FES) was how we started!
The FES machine sends electrical impulses, “feels a bit like pins and needles” quotes Saffy, that stimulates nerves that supply the muscles that don’t work properly or at all. The impulses come in waves; one after another they build slowly, increasing in intensity then drops off quickly. Anticipation, know another is coming, watching the FES machine to start again, the small screen showing the building of strength. The impulse gradually creeps up, nerves and muscles twitch and dance around, filling up, coming to their full stop and then empting out suddenly. Anticipation again.
Finding the impulses in us, a movement that starts subtle, builds to its capacity, resonating from one point in us to another, finding that pull, the filling up and then a drop off, an ending before the waiting game starts. The sound track of the farm, sheep going through their full health checks, dogs doing their sheep dog duties of rounding up the ‘break for freedom’ group and bringing them back added a playful, light juxtaposition to some of the seriousness of what we were creating!
Stripping the cowshed back to its original look, removing the dance floor and the ‘dance look’ sparked us to fully embrace the farm, the animals in all their glory, I really mean that. I discovered over the next few days my internal compass pulled me towards any nearby animal poo and then straw or grass, thank goodness the farm has organic and free range status! This realisation was a welcomed turning point; the playful curiosity we were all intrigued by began to come alive!
Saffy started to dance with the splints, first my large white night leg splint, finding hide and seek moments of a duet, moving with the splint as a friend and then a foe, building a light-hearted relationship. While this was in full swing, Ruby was finding comical and touching ways of using the animals and the environment to show an entertaining side of the splints and equipment through photography. The day ended with photo shoot of some shoe insoles resting on a horses back!