At first, it was just a gate in a hedge, leading to a field with cows grazing. But they carved it out. They strengthened the ground with hardcore. Soft earth became solid surface, trapping water below and insulating against water above. It began to look less like a field. Vehicles could park, and a site hut was erected. Truckloads of crushed bedrock came through the gateway. The hedgerow was dug out. The shape of the bell mouth was outlined, the gravel laid, the asphalt spread.
At first, the women watched, from the other side of the road.
The Yellowing, Part 2 (Bell Mouth) is a new audio-visual performance, that brings the architecture and history of the Swiss Church into dialogue with the current life of a bell mouth intersection on the A583 in Lancashire. This bell mouth, as the gateway to a fracking site has, over the past two years, become inhabited as a place of resistance, reflection and togetherness.
The performance takes as its starting point the history of female social support work at the Swiss Church. It connects this to the activities in the bell mouth on Preston New Road, Lancashire, where the local community, particularly many older women, have held vigil since the fracking commenced in January 2017. During these two years, the site has played host to silent contemplation, knitting circles, speeches and song and dance, against a backdrop of frequently violent intervention from the police and security staff.
The Yellowing, Part 2 (Bell Mouth) is a chapter in Birch’s wider project, The Yellowing, which connects women’s histories, landscapes and sub- surface geologies. The Yellowing, Part 1 was shown in May 2018 at The Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, as part of Fig-Futures. The project also includes a forthcoming feature-length film, Undermine, that follows the daily lives of the community of women affected by fracking in Lancashire, investigating the psychological implications of being undermined, environmentally, democratically and emotionally.
The Yellowing, Part 1 was commissioned by Fig- Futures, and supported by Art Fund, Arts Council England and Outset. The sister feature film currently in development, Undermine, has been supported by Arts Council England, FLAMIN (New Approaches) and Lancaster Arts.
The Yellowing, Part 2: Bell Mouth is part of Being and Appearing, a programme of contemporary art curated for the Swiss Church in London by Kirsty White.
Kindly supported by The Swiss Church in London, Arts Council England and The Elephant Trust.
Performances last approximately 25 minutes and will take place every 45 minutes. Admission is free but please book here if you would like to guarantee entry for a particular time slot (5.15pm, 6pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm, 8.15pm).