Inspired by The Hold

Inspired by The Hold

Embrace, wrap, clasp, support … just some of the words conjured up by the name of Suffolk Archives’ new home on the campus of the University of Suffolk, ‘The Hold’. Its architecture, design and layout suggested a promenade piece, its benches made for a sitting down dance. Valerie Irwin’s sketches of the regeneration of Ipswich’s Waterfront that stretch the length of one wall highlighted a colossal artistic response to a momentous construction project and prompted play between detail and large sweeping movements. The slope below the wall leads to the Nest that was found, and saved from demolition, by builders. Created using plastic cable-ties with a few twigs, the Nest prompted us to make circles and curves from straight lines, remembering to tuck the ends in.

As part of the choreographic development project that included Lyn Matthews’ ‘Home’, Sue Sinclair’s ‘Turn Around’ and Andy Newman’s ‘Who’s viewing?’ (see ‘First Steps’ in Projects), we were inspired by The Hold’s physical space and objects, and the idea of a building created to hold an archive. Beginning work on Zoom, it was a joy to eventually be able to rehearse in real life in Holywells Park, and finally to take the bones of the piece into The Hold.

The physical aspects of the space generated ideas for sections and indicated a pathway between them. The concept of ‘archive’ is rich with possibilities. We ‘archived’ a treasured memory from ‘Focus’, the section that Alethia Antonia had made that became known as ‘Little Bird’. We did it on the slope up to the Nest, obviously. We embraced Pina Bausch’s ‘The Nelkin Line’ for its iconic promenading history and connections with performances in unusual places around the world. Sections were connected by emotions associated with an archive, such as care and protection, and our original ambition to make people smile.

Some people involved in the early stages of the project were unable to perform on the day and several others, including a couple of BA Hons Dance students from the University, generously and bravely stepped in. Those rehearsals made us all smile! Happenstance made new memories, of something intergenerational, accessible and relaxed.  The friendly, helpful welcome we received from The Hold’s staff reflected the sense of warmth, shelter and kindness that permeates the building. How could we not be inspired by such a special place?

By Jeanette Siddall