Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your involvement with The Derby Witness?
“My name is Dan Webber, I’m an LGBTQ+ poet, performer and events coordinator based in Derby and I’m the curator of ‘The Derby Witness’, otherwise known as the guy with the spray paint!”
How did you come up with the idea for ‘The Derby Witness’?
“Well, the work was originally commissioned as part of Derby Feste 2020 and my two inspirations for the piece were ‘The Witness’ by Jonathan Blow and ‘The Cloud of Witness’ as mentioned In Hebrews 12:1 which talks about this cloud of knowledge or experience which is built up by humanity as a whole.
I wanted to give people who maybe hadn’t had the chance to discuss their experiences of lockdown the opportunity to talk about it, and hopefully for people to realise that whatever they were going through that other people in their community might have been going through the same thing.
Lockdown was a once in a lifetime experience and even though every experience was different there was and is common ground between us.”
What line resonates with you most and why?
“I purposely don’t have a favourite in the text but what resonates most with me is the stories behind the lines, which people were kind enough to share with us during the preparation for the work.
Each line of text in the piece was submitted by a member of the public and the lines featured offer a glimpse or a snapshot into that person’s life or thoughts. I love how people instantly connect or are drawn to one of the lines included and interpret it in their own way.”
If you had to create your own line to sum up your experience of lockdown what would that line be?
“I’m actually writing a new poem as part of the residency as it happens, but I think the line would have to be something like, “reached new heights without leaving the house”.
It’s been a difficult year for a lot of creative people and organisations, but I’ve had some fantastic opportunities I’m very grateful for, one of them being the Cabin Fever Residency.”
What do you hope people will take away from seeing The Derby Witness at Artcore Gallery?
“We’re a few weeks into the residency now and the best part of being on site is seeing how people react upon first seeing the lines of text, we’ve had so many people asking questions and wanting to discuss the project and also writing their own lines to add to the work, we even had a poem written about the piece handed in!
The Cabin Fever residency has given people the opportunity to see the complete work for the first time in one location, and I really hope everyone who sees it is moved by it in one way or another.”
What are you most looking forward to about restriction being eased?
“Doing more things like this! Being back creating in the community and encouraging people to get involved with the arts.”
Where can we find out more about your and your work?
“You can find me at www.genrefluid.com or @Dan_Webber_poet on twitter.”
The Derby Witness is featured as part of the Cabin Fever Residency at Artcore Gallery, Derby until 16th May 2021. Image courtesy of J.J. Beardsley Photography