The following poem is inspired by the reactions of members of the public to ‘The Derby Witness’ at Artcore Gallery, presented as part of the Cabin Fever Residency, Spring 2021.Witness I can smell cigarette smoke Hear voices I don’t recognise Mouths hidden behind stylish face coverings No more powder blue PPI as standard Now, we strut, fashionistas The streets are our runway Rocking our lockdown bods and comfy shoes At a respectable two-metre distance I am blindsided by the sight of people Doing everyday things like they used to do before It seems normality has been restored In all it’s hideous, beautiful, mundane glory But there’s no pressure, Take your own time to step back into your spotlight We’ll wait Consider this a reset A chance for humanity to not to repeat the mistakes of the past But to heal and repair and to learn what’s really important Weep when you need to Dance when you want to Hold those long distance closer than before Raise a glass to absent friends Maybe it’s not the end of the world, but just the beginning A second coming of the roaring twenties Where we stand and roar together Our voices raised against injustice We come back stronger Like flowers from the soil, we too shall rise The heat of the sun on our faces As is for the first time An ordinary life, after extraordinary days Never taking anything for granted again.
4th May 2021
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 snapshotRead More
Over 20 people involved in 'The Derby Witness' came down to see the Cabin Fever space over the weekend, and after producing the work mostly in lockdown last year, it was great to finally meet some of the people involved face to face! Many of the people who's lines of text are included in the project are unpublished or don't consider themselves to be 'writers', which is one of the reason I was so keen to publish the work to give those who have contributed a publication credit to their name. Working in the Cabin has also allowed us to experiment with the lines of text, Nicki and I have begun spraying lines inside the exhibition space, and I have been spraying fragments of lines and single words on the bricks surrounding the cabin, as well as along the silver rim of the building. On Saturday I was presented with a new poem, which someone has written in reaction to seeing the work displayed (which is now being shown as part of the exhibition) and lines and reactions to the work have begun to come in via social media. Like flowers from the soil, we too will rise 19/04/21 Dan WebberRead More
The first full day of the residency has been amazing, not only as it was the first time meeting my Artist in residence partner Nicki, but also to see the artwork filling the space and people's interactions as the walk past the Cabin. This weekend I will be continuing to spray the lines of text across the Cabin walls, before 'bleeding them out' onto the floor surrounding the space over the coming weeks. I can't wait to see how the visuals shifts and changes over the residency! Maybe it's not the end of the world Dan Webber - 16/04/21 (Image courtesy of Sonia Burns)Read More
First commissioned as part of Derby Feste 2020, The Derby Witness is poetry and street art project created in response to the first Coronavirus lockdown. Comprising of 49 lines of text, submitted by Derby and Derbyshire residents, summing up their thoughts and experiences during this time. One line of text for each day of the first lockdown. The aspect of the project I proudest of, is shamefully the thing I have become most immune to, which is the impact of the lines of text included in the work. One of the joys of setting up for the Cabin Fever residency was seeing and hearing the reaction of people as they walked past the space, discovering line after line and beginning to discuss it, sharing their thoughts and taking pictures for their social media. The lines represent a snap-shot of a conversation or a fragment of thought, and during the residency these lines will be sprayed over and over again, spilling out onto the ground surrounding the space, building up ‘the great cloud of witness’ (Hebrews 12:1) which inspired the work. It is a divisive piece dealing with a difficult subject matter, but I hope during the residency people who see the work will find a line of text they can relate to, and hopefully be inspired to add their lines to the project. Care. Cry. Fight. Survive. #TheDerbyWitnessRead More