Moments of Movement
This exhibition is on the theme of movement and the moments which capture it. It contains written words, images, videos and sounds to convey what this means to each of the featured artists.
It seems fitting as the launch date of this exhibition marks exactly a year since (In)Space launched (1st March 2018). In that time, we have experienced change and growth as individuals and as a collective.
We are all constantly moving away from the past and towards the future. From something towards something else. This movement is rarely perceptible, though there are moments when it is.
by Kwame Lowe
I tried to kill myself in a dream
A dream is trying to kill me
I dream to stop myself from dying
I stop myself from killing myself
In dreams that reoccur
But I can’t run from myself forever
My dreams are catching up with me
And I’m scared of dying
But a part of me wants to kill
Another part of me that wants to live.
It is time to sleep
And wake up
Having died in my sleep
I remember seeing the caged bird shiver
limbs mechanically bouncing, buzzing.
Eyes wired. Fuzzy vision.
Sat in the corner of a county jail
genius cornered by addiction
trapped in a body
locked in a cell.
We attest to this being worse than hell
from hot to cold to quiet to bold
to shrieking with the madness
or weeping from sadness
What good are these hands when the piano is eighty-eight locks
and the horn haunts your waking dreams?
I’ll never forget seeing the caged birds itch
I chased a man once,
spent most of the day
trying to catch the hem of his hoodie.
He ran from everything,
as though his reflection might reach out
to trap him in the glass.
How does a running man forget about tiredness?
It’s in both the mind and the body.
I only caught him
when he stopped by a stream for water.
He wanted to scoop his face up out and drink.
He couldn’t, he saw me and was scared.
I told him drink anyway.
‘courage or not, yu haffi meet yuself at last.’ - Shara McCallum
and so over ocean hoping we go weathered by a toneless sky grey /
mulatto. i let my spine
be your deck and i stroke. the clothes from my back / your flag. you stand pointing new world i stroke listen to you promising ocean good blue.
i stroke i stroke slow
you promise stone into bread water from stone
into water we go
your voice it goes on
but there’s water in throat and there’s water
i stroke and there’s water we’re drowning and i
as a boy could not swim
still i stroke. your voice
now a nothing
the water it sings
and we’re drowning
1. Mum is shouting again this time cos
ive got lavender all over the place and i don’t know where it’s coming from She’s mad cos it’s all over my bedroom
apparently this is bad because i already don’t tidy up
and introducing plants to dirt is the start of an ecosystem There’s lavender blocking the shower drain
Lavender in all my coat pockets
Lavender in my underwear draw
But i think I’m being book of job’d
2. Certain habits are hard to break
Each time i put my hands down
my trackies for warmth
I come up with a purple palm
Feds see my hands down there
and think I’m stopping a weapon sliding
I can’t even take an empty bag to the supermarket cos it’s filled up with lavender by time I’m paying
that’s not so bad actually
3. They love it. I got lavender oil - lavender essence - shampoos conditioners air fresheners - fabric softener - lavender-infused CBD oil and vape cartridges - theres no gluten in it but ive got gluten free lavender too - lavender gin & ting - lotion, lip balm - got man on ends using lavender in their zoots instead of tobacco - got my retired friend margaret’s telling all her friends about my completely homegrown lavender business - courses in The History of Lavender - they love the exotic boy shotting lavender, the juxtaposition of nightmare and fantasy makes their pockets horny - Yeah some of em have pointed out that this isn’t the first time they’ve met someone like me to buy some potent flowers ha - On that subject, im in talks to start a show called ‘Don’t Ask Me For Any Grass, I Haven’t Got Any’
• Ask nan why she keeps so much junk in her room.
I think the biggest divide between myself and my nan who I write about in FEAR OF MOVEMENT – excluding the three generations between us – is the fact that she’s a compulsive hoarder. Anyone above 55 in my family seems to think that it’s a millennial / gen z thing to live like a “minimalist”, when in actual fact, I just don’t see the point in holding onto things like school ties or letters from crushes in year 4 (to clarify: the letters that I wrote, it’s not like I ever received any back.)
My nan has an abundance of things cluttering her room that she seems incapable of throwing away; when she turned 80 my mum tried to clear up her room as she entered this new decade, but nan really wasn’t about it. Everything mum had put in black bags in the front garden of the only house nan’s lived in since she came to the UK seemed to miraculously end up back in her room, positioned in exactly the same place it was just hours before. Each wall in her room is wallpapered in a series of floral swirls on a beige-pink background, tainted brown and peeling off in places by years of over-heating the house (central heating clearly gassed her), and off-white in other places where items have hung on the walls for so long.
There are calendars in that room going back as far as 2002, along with photos of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, some of whom aren’t blood related – my cousin’s primary school photo sits awkwardly next to a Daily Express-sponsored William and Kate stock photo –plastered across the room adjacent to ghost-like translucent bags covering suits and dresses that no-one has actually worn since the 80s. She sleeps next to crossword puzzles and remotes still in their plastic casing for TVs that she no longer owns, and is occasionally accompanied by her cat that she regularly misgenders. After spending a day attempting to declutter and being cussed out by nan, my mum realised she was fighting a losing battle.
When I asked nan why she hires a housekeeper to come once a week but cleans the house before they arrive she told me to mind my business. If anything sums up her pride, her resilience and how shady she’s become in her old age, it’s that. It was at that point that I became inspired to continue to question her while I’m blessed enough to have her in my life and note down the responses, despite the one-line answers I get from time to time.
• Find out more about Montserrat.
My nan came to Babylon after my great-grandad did, and he eventually “sent for her” and the children that she had at the time to come and join him. They’re both still very archaic in the phrasing of this expedition, and talk little of the journey itself; grandad will soon be 91 and his memory is going but he often used to go into tirades about the joys of Montserrat, his career there as a teacher, and the relationship with his parents. Nan on the other hand was always a lot more closed off, and often took coaxing with her favourite brand of brandy to talk more about her side of the family. It was only recently on one of these occasions where she started to open up, and I realised why she so often struggles to show affection beyond cooking for the family twice a week.
I know that she’ll buss a whine or a skank to some soca or reggae in the kitchen when she thinks no-one is looking; I know that she was orphaned as a child, with her dad dying at sea and her mum of a tumour in the throat; I know that she’s scared of planes, and hasn’t left the UK since she got here; I know that she has a fear of movement. I just don’t know the whys or the hows; I never know how she feels.
I try to allude to this in the poem, but to capture the complexities of my nan is a fool’s errand – I guess in that case I’m a dickhead for starting to write this poem. Please see below for a snippet of it.
I measure love in
the amount of silence we can carry between us
our arms faltering.
It was by silence that I knew
I could love.
I keep forgetting to edit the name of “The Family Group” on WhatsApp
in order to get rid of the
inverted commas – the only thing keeping us
is Nan’s Saturday soup
and the fragrance of basil in Sunday dinner.
she keeps trying to make the taste of death easier to swallow.
head thrown forward,
adopting brace position, her body is expulsive as
laughter hurtles towards the ground
in the hope that generations to come
can build on the foundations of her humour
instead of the underpinning trauma.
each chuckle reverberates around her body before
it leaves her mouth, rupturing the shell housing her decaying
sense of self.
torso stood to attention,
she lays with ankles ballooning across the bed,
caused by cooking dinners seven nights a week
for seven empty stomachs
for seven children starved of a mother’s touch;
reminiscent of the feeling in her throat
when waving a husband goodbye,
stood at the edge of that island,
chin held high – just like the British taught her –
as not to let the tears fall from her face;
protecting a brittle structure underneath,
deteriorating after six decades of bearing the weight of
sisters, and daughters and mothers. of women
whose journeys men
by Kwame Lowe
It’s a new year
But that doesn’t mean it is over
This bottomless pit
Of emotive motions
Swirling underneath a heretical mist
We gaze into a future
Just out of sight
Just over the horizon
Like currents over sand
Washing away the imprint
Of a past
Fossilised in shells
This shore so steadfastly saves
At the mercy of a tide
As long as the lightyears
Separating these eyes from those stars.
If only I could see tomorrow
But I can’t
Maybe I shouldn’t
The delight is there
In the unknowable
Like the shapes of the sand
Under the sea
For most of my life i could always answer when someone asked me where home was
Every time I thought of home it warmed me like my mother's Caribbean soup
And covered me in quilts of love
Home is boss man's 2 for 1 chicken and chips perched on my lips and the lips of my friends
At 4:00 after school at 14 years old
Home is community congregations in every residential space
Home is chipped and withered paint on every estate
Dispersed with infants clasping space raiders in their hands
Now i think of where home was before me and my mother
It burns my tongue to pieces
Divinity resided in my granny
She epitomised an embellished being
Every wrinkle which wasn't much retraced stories of England showered on her skin
And left marks around her eyes for me to see and witness
My granny would speak of her first encounters with England
Recollecting when this place first became her home
Her hands would move in performative gestures
Porridge and crackers were a substitute for
Dancing in her mouth
As it quenched her thirst and filled her belly
She would tell me family, friends and locals
Painted pictures with the tip of their tongue
Rumours spreading across the West Indies
That the streets were paved with gold
Much more Expensive than the one’s in their teeth
Coupled and compressed on ships
She brought home in her heart, soul and suitcases
Wearing colourful dresses enveloped by England’s gloomy weather
She would tell me this soil and its people
Were a doubled edged sword
Applying bruises to her ego and contorting her body
They threw up unwelcoming gestures and spoke words
From the bottomless pit of their gut
And like a baptism of fire
Bathing her and those like her in their saliva and sick
They told her this is not and never will be her home
My grannies life was not an example of lacking persistence
She did not waver and fluctuate like so often the direction of the wind does
Instead she rose like Lazarus
My granny found fruitful chimes of sounds and backdrops of light
In a and ridden with absence
They were eager to clasp the palms of their hands
Around her like
Inquisitive children playing with insects in the heat of summer
But was not to be tamed by mere mortal hands
Instead she languished in colloquialisms
Like she did back home
Plastic fruits perched in the centre of her table
As her kin were called for evening dinners
Like she did back home
Scriptures of the Bible placed around her bed
Embraced by the word of God
Like she did back home
Clasping prayers in the palms of her hands
Breathing them into existence
That England could one day be
by Hadiru Mahdi
Hadiru said “We had accepted a mission, now the final task - to deliver a photograph of 3 generations of family on the Sierra Leone/Guinea border to a daughter in Faranah and pass on news of a boy in Freetown, lodging with my grandfather. Plotting on how, he alerted first by our English, listens over the morning's coffee and greets us with an offer of assistance. He knows that family. Le Chinoise. So called because he studied computer sciences in China, lived also in Japan. Fluent in the tongues of both. A while back in Faranah to care for his ailing father. In between times he runs an Internet cafe and other services. The next days pass in episodes, motorbikes between scenes and moments. Some fall into others. Like how the mysterious sounds following us through the night of our arrival belong to the family of master drummers on the hill top. They invite us to a gathering of a bridal party. There we meet women who can fly.”
The train from Waterloo to Clapham Junction is leaving in 3 minutes, I decide not to run. I’ll walk and if I make it I make it. If I miss that train then I’ll get the next one, even though I’m already running late. I refuse to rush and bring undue stress on my spirit. Why should I rush to be on time for an event that had an unreasonable start time to begin with? I don’t know who told dem man to organise a get together that began as most people would be finishing work. No time given to account for travelling.
I languidly walk but still actually make it onto the train, it’s the longest 3 minutes ever. I am almost annoyed, part of me wanted to miss this train so I would be even later thus making a point on principle. Alas, here I am on the train scouting for a seat. It’s not packed, but it’s not empty either and there’s no seat that isn’t beside somebody. There’s a fat man who looks like he smells of old wet football boots that were never cleaned. He’s also spilling onto two seats meaning there isn’t really space next to him anyways. I leave the fat man in peace.
As I walk down the train I can feel the stress of several work days weighing on the carriage. I can also feel the relief that this is the journey home. There’s a mixture of resentment and contentment filling the air.
To my right there are two women sitting opposite each other, they’re friends or at the least they know each other because they’re talking. They’re both blonde and one is eating a burger from Burger King, a Chicken Royale, I sit next to the other one. I don’t know what possessed me to occupy this seat but as soon as I do I regret it.
The height of folly is sitting next to chatty drunk white people on public transport without headphones. The headphones don’t even need to work, so long as you have something over your ears so you can pretend not to hear them. I don’t have my headphones, I didn’t want to carry them. I don’t have my earphones either because one of the ears had stopped working so I threw them away. I’d forgotten that I’d thrown them away, and now I’m regretting not travelling with my headphones. These two women are going at it.
Part of me enjoys the drama, but when you sit too close you’re liable to be drawn into it. The better position would’ve been a few rows back where I could’ve listened from a safe distance. Anyways here I was.
I took out my phone because that might serve as a defence mechanism. If I look like I’m looking at my phone and not listening at all to what they’re saying, then maybe they’ll leave me alone. I know this hope is futile, the Burger King girl has a sequined dress on. Any intoxicated white woman wearing a sequined dress is definitely bringing a randomer on the train into their argument.
I’ve sat there for long enough now to know that it is defo an argument. Burger King girl, or Brooke, lets call her Brooke, is an emotional mess and is being scolded by the blonde to my right. She’s to my right so let’s call her Rebecca.
From what I’ve gathered in the space of time it’s taken Brooke to finish her burger and look hungry again (which is her own fault because I don’t know who told her not to get an Angus Burger) is that Rebecca is a good friend and Brooke is stubborn. Or perhaps love is a moment that stretches on forever, and as much as you can move on you can never really move out of it.
Their conversation is centred around a man because of course my train journey isn’t concerned about passing the Bechdel test. Brooke has gotten back together with her ex who broke her heart and Rebecca is not going to sit idly by. It’s an admirable love that Brooke is not sober enough to appreciate.
As the train rocks along on it’s journey I think about the ocean and how tides come in and go out. I think about how Brooke’s ex is like a tide and Rebecca is trying to move the moon. She has an impossible task and I can see in Brooke’s eyes that she wants ocean water to wash over her ankles. What I hear in Rebecca’s voice is the warning about how skin gets dry and itchy once the water goes away. It’s sad.
I’m invested in Brooke, and her ex and Rebecca, I care. When Rebecca’s voice breaks as she says “I don’t want to have to hold you together on my mums couch again” I can picture the scene. I can see the worry on Rebecca’s face, Brooke in her arms crying hard into a pillow. I can see how Brooke’s eyes would’ve looked red with tears and I imagine what her body looked like hollowed out from crying. I imagine her broken. I imagine the cuts on Rebecca’s palms as she held all those broken pieces together. It’s called friendship. And this refusal to let this man, let’s call him Richard, or Dick for short, back in is friendship too.
“You can’t let Dick back in your life Brooke! Dick is bad for you. Dick doesn’t appreciate you. Dick cheated on you so Dick shouldn’t get to come back. You need to let go of Dick Brooke, and listen to Rebecca.”
Brooke and Rebecca look at me, and in this moment I want to be invisible. I have no idea why I’ve opened my mouth. I was trying to be unassuming and not get drawn into their conversation but it happened anyway. Sometimes when you don’t talk you still become complicit, you can become invested by observation. I should not have named him Richard, Dick is an antiquated nickname for Richard anyways, I could have called him Rich or Ard, not Dick.
Brooke is looking at me, and I’m now hyper aware of how strange and threatening I could be perceived as in this moment. We’re a few minutes away from my stop so I don’t know whether to just wait it out or walk to another carriage. Brooke is still looking at me, and now I’m hoping she doesn’t know anyone that I do because that would be super awkward. This whole situation is super awkward and the silence is making it worse, but I refuse to say anything I refuse. And Brooke is still looking at me.
“I love Dick. I really love Dick. And I know he wasn’t the best last time out but-”
“Dick doesn’t deserve you babe.”
“He really doesn’t.” I say.
“But I love him, I love Dick.”
And in that moment as I say bye and wish them well I know what love is for her. Love is a moment of truth she wants to stretch over all the lies. I don’t know how big the tide is, and I don’t know how far her heart can stretch.
One said “sometimes a mood fits a particular moment. Sometimes an idea appears in that moment. Sometimes you just move on.”