Opinion Pole, Pilot October 2020
To be realised in summer 2021
Commisioned by Bloomsbury Festival
Opinion Pole is a community maypole, which is rooted in folk tradition in Britain. Maypoles bring people together, which in the context of the unprecedented social separation of 2020, talks about the hope and potential to unite again, whilst at the same time highlghting what we have missed this year.
Our Opinion Pole has 30 ribbons, which have declarations for the future printed on them, gathered from local communities. In response to increased Covid 19 restrictions, we installed a static installation of this social artwork, and played a recording from songwriter and folk dancer Kevin Davidson and RADA Choir alongside the maypole, as a temporary pilot version for Bloomsbury Festival. They sang two folk songs rooted in protest; Where have all the flowers gone and We Shall Overcome which take on a new meaning in relation to the context of our times.
Through polling the communities’ opinions, the work gives the public a voice, where the Maypole becomes a symbol of intent and aspiration. Declarations on the ribbons range from the environment, race, war, and class to government. To create social change we need collective action, as we do to make a maypole function. Dancing the maypole dance is not about performing, but about taking part and working together, like slow form social action.
This work is intended to invite people to gather, and weave collectively through dance, and we will re-install a new bespoke maypole in Bloomsbury in 2021, when people can once again come together, with Kevin leading live maypole dancing for the community, with live singing alongside the RADA choir.