22nd February 2017 12:00 am
Longmarsh Car Park
Undertakers and art are not often found together, but The Green Funeral Company from Totnes are different.
Ru and Claire, the husband and wife team who created and run it also perform rituals that involve Ancestral invocation, that attempt to blur the line between the living and the dead, the seen and the unseen.
As well as burying, cremating and eulogising the dead, they are also part of the shadowy art collective known as Ways with Weirds, a cheeky homage to the Dartington based literature festival.
Together with a mish-mash of writers, musicians, performance artists, tricksters, pamphleteers, poets and DJ’s, most wisely cloaked by anonymity, they have been behind a number of events and happenings in Devon and Cornwall, including the curating of a tent for several years at the Port Eliot Festival, considered by some to be have the most interesting concepts and the weirdest guests there, and was singled out for an interview by Radio 4’s flagship programme The World Tonight.
This August, between the 15th and the 19th, they are bringing to Totnes one of the most extraordinary pieces of art currently touring the country: ex KLF member James Cauty’s hauntingly cryptic dystopian model village, the one of the highlights of the Banksy creation ‘Dismaland’ which occupied a deserted funfair on Weston Super Mare’s seafront last year.
This exhibit was so popular it was shown again in London for three months, where it was expanded. The installation was subsequently divided into three shipping containers so it could tour, with one part now in the British Academy’s summer exhibition, and the others on a national pilgrimage of sites of historical social discontent.
Totnes will be curseblessed with the biggest section: ADP1, a 40ft shipping container version, which will be parked in Longmarsh carpark by a modified articulated lorry sometime in the late afternoon of Monday 15th August.
Ways with Weirds are unorganising a celebratory welcome, something between an old time Church revival and the Native American Ghost dance, a banned, defiant ritual designed to reunite the living and the dead to defeat the undefeatable White invader; a suitably chaotic welcome for a man who once burnt a million pounds of his pop earnings, then deleted his musical back catalogue worth millions more, and retired from the music industry at the height of his fame and success.
Jimmy Cauty was once a resident of Totnes, and still has many family here including his brother Simon, also an artist, so he will most likely receive a fiercely warm welcome from his old town folk, and maybe a few pity quids.
The tour has criss crossed the country to a fascinated and engaged public, old punks and primary school children, policemen and miners, old women and teenagers, visiting sites where civil unrest once raged, including Stonehenge, Toxteth, Brixton, Orgreave and St Pauls in Bristol.
It is coming to Totnes because of the Bread Riots of 1801, which spread from Dartmouth to Totnes, just one of 400 national riots related to the scarcity and price of staple grain products which were literally starving the rural poor to death.
It also promises to shine a light on some of the lesser known civil disturbances that have rumbled up and down the hill of Totnes. After all, history is written by them with the pen.
This dream-like glimpse of an uneasy future/past/present will be available to see from Monday 15th of August at Longmarsh Car park, Totnes until Friday 19th when it leaves, but if you would like to be part of the choreographed welcome party or help in any way, please see the Totnesians Facebook page for details on how to get involved. but ask nicely, they bite.