Pippa Taylor & Jony Easterby Blog

Plants plants plants

Monday, March 11, 2019

The work has begun!
Arriving at Sura Medura and Sunbeach has been a wonderful experience.
We are now in residence with a fabulous group of fellow artists and our wonderful hosts with a wonderful group of locals supporting us, great cooks, gardeners and tuk tuk drivers abound.

It appears we are importing our habits and lives from back home.
A passion for music is now followed closely with investigations of the world of growing in Sri Lanka.

You are struck by the fresh produce all around you – fruits, vegetables and plants of unknown name and origin.
An urge to plant seeds on our arrival is perhaps reminiscent of the spirit of settler mentality, of wanting to see what will grow alongside the need to mirror the landscape of home, put down roots and create a secure space.
In Colombo we sought out seeds to plant from a local seed shop, some familiar names and some not so.
The first day of work also involved an exploration to a seed and plant centre some 20km from Hikkudawa, We discovered a garden centre and an agri supply shop where we could get an overview of plants and propagation kit. We loaded up with seeds, trays and potting compost for our experiments in growing.

The results are spectacular for our usual UK standards with germination happening virtually over night and growth rates beyond expectation.

The journey back from the garden centre was punctuated by visits to cinnamon plantations and an oil processing plant, lotus ponds and quite excitingly –  a mangrove forest.

The mangroves are an incredible and valuable ecological zone, an ecological edge between the sea and the land that have suffered from degradation (shrimp farming and development) and now full protection in Sri Lanka. 

The effects of the Tsunami along the coast was undoubtably affected by their removal as they form a natural  and soft edged protective zone. We decided to collect some seeds  and seedlings to see if we could create a nursery to help the regeneration around the edge of Sura Medura.

In the meantime we are exploring images  drawing symbols and ways of promoting Mangrove love.

We also decided that we might try to establish a Mangrove nursery in order to plant more trees around Sura Medura. In part to help with erosion, but also to help establish more habitat. Seeds were collected along with some young seedlings.
Sadly our attempts have failed due to some fundamental horticultural fuck up. The seedlings disapproved of being transplanted and have now all died.
The seeds are perhaps growing, but the sand and mud in the estuary my not be suitable. There must be a reason why not many are establishing around Sura Medura.

Mangrove ‘snorkels’ used for breathing by sub aqua magrove roots
Pippas drawing of Mangrove seeds and seedlings
Mangrove seeds and pods
Mangrove planting experiment. Sadly doomed to failure because of unsuitable soil

Beginnings in Colombo and beyond

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Colombo a city of endless tuktuks, roasting tarmac, honking buses and the occasional oasis of calm.
We decided to spend a few days getting to know the city and being inspired by its urban charm.
On the first day whilst looking for a ride we come across this bizarre site.

A tuk tuk seat cover with the bilingual NRW logo is parked on the side of the road with a smiling driver. This is a sign from the gods that we must use this tuk tuk for all our journeys! Vikramnathan the driver turns out also to be the sweetest and most generous of souls and speaks a fair smattering of English. He is now our guide in Colombo.

We explore the markets and cafes with him and also track down a music shop.We have proposed a two prong approach to the development of our work whilst we are here. The exploration of music and botany/ecology.
Before leaving the UK we started to research violin music in Sri Lanka and came across an ancient musical instrument, the fabled Ravanhatha purportedly the first bowed instrument in history.It is named after Ravana  (meaning roaring in Sinhalese) a devout follower of Shiva who plays the Vena (another Indian instrument) and has ten heads.


We looked to see if we could find a Ravan hattha in but could not find one, so we bought one from India and bought it here with us. The instrument turned out to be pretty hard work as it was so badly set up, but after a lot of faffing around with bits of bone, horse hair and strings its finally starting to sound oaky and pretty playable. It has 15 sympathetic strings that resonate when you play the single  rh horse hair string with a bow.

The Ravan hattha Dinesh playing the Ravan hattha

During our explorations we also tracked down the violinist Dinesh Subasignhe who is a bit of an expert on the Ravanahatha. He invited us to an exciting tour of the Sri Lankan Broadcasting (formally the Celon Broadcasting Corp) buildings and studios where he records a TV show playing  a mix of different genres of music. He has invited us to appear on a world music special where we will improvise together with some of our tunes….we will wait and see how that turns out!
The CBC building is an amazing throwback to the days of colonial broadcasting C1920 replete with corridors full of old recording equipment, big red lights to show the studios are live and an exciting canteen.

We also visit the archive and get a listen to the first ever recording made at the CBC in 1946 – seemly played on a turntable from around the same era. They have hundreds of thousands of recordings in the archive. We may return.

 The first ever recording in Sri Lanka

Residency Line Up Feb – March 2019

FEB – MAR 2019 Residency Line Up

For the 2019 Spring Sura Medura residency, we have invited 9 new artists to make new work, collaborate and be inspired by the beauty, culture, country and people of Sri Lanka.

Sue Hill  Sue is a WILDWORKS founding artist, who was born and educated in Cornwall. She has worked with many companies including Welfare State International, Emergency Exit Arts, Walk the Plank Theatre Ship, and the Royal National Theatre. In 1988 she joined Kneehigh theatre company, serving on their management team from 1994 – 2001 and helping to grow their distinctive style of theatre. From 2000 until 2006 she was Artistic Director for the Eden Project, developing their innovative interpretation strategy, commissioning artists, writers and performers to illuminate Eden’s ideas and messages. With her brother Pete Hill she has made many large-scale carnival images and earth sculptures, including the iconic Mudmaid in the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Imwen Eke Imwen Eke is a digital artist, director and creator. With over twelve years immersive theatre and multidisciplinary arts industry experience which include SHUNT, Punchdrunk and residencies with Blast Theory and Bryony Kimmings. Her practice explores social gaming, digital and live interactive performance combined with contemporary narratives that engage new audiences outside of the conventions of traditional theatre.  She is a LIFT Artist (London International Festival of Theatre) and creates work through her company New Party Rules. She is currently a resident of Pervasive Media Studios where she is developing “Blk Rooms” a new interactive participatory experience.

Pippa Taylor & Jony Easterby  Pippa Taylor is an artist and musician based in mid Wales.A multi instrumentalist playing piano, viola and fiddle. She is also an accomplished woodcarver and painter who has created both public artworks and exhibited internationally. Jony Easterby is an artist, designer, maker, producer, director, performer, a passionate naturalist and plants-man. Using both digital and analogue media, Jony investigates the boundaries between raw elemental materials, sound technology, composition, landscape and architecture.

Kathy Hinde Kathy Hinde’s work grows from a partnership between nature and technology expressed through audio-visual installations and performances that combine sound, sculpture, image and light. Drawing on inspiration from behaviours and phenomena found in the natural world, she creates work that is generative; that evolves; that can be different each time it is experienced. Kathy aims to create work that gives rise to a poetic and reflective experience that enriches an appreciation of the everyday, inviting a heightened awareness of the world around us.

Jane Pitt Jane Pitt is an artist based in Chatham Kent. Her work encompasses a range of disciplines including performance, sound, photography, animation and sculpture. After studying fine art at Brighton University she ran away with the circus where she learned to fuse her talents for performance and creating something from nothing, it is that fusion that forms the basis of her work today. Her work is influenced by live art, circus, illusion, itinerant showmen, magic, theatre, the natural and built environment.

Anne Milne  Anne Milne is an award-winning Scottish filmmaker. Her film María’s Way was nominated for the European Film Award 2010, and won a BAFTA New Talent award as well as playing at numerous international film festivals, and picking up more awards. After being awarded a WorldView Multi Media Grant, she travelled to Nepal to shoot Himalayan Sisters which later won an editing award at the 2011 Underwire Festival. Since then she has been working on a number of commissioned films. Into Deep Space, a short film about the search for exo-planets was shown at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York and Dublin where it was awarded a Special Mention. In recent times she has been producing short documentaries with the Scottish Documentary Institute, the most recent Swan (2016) was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Short film and shortlisted for a Grierson Award. She has also been co-teaching documentary workshops with SDI/British Council in Libya, Pakistan, and Jordan. Anne is currently directing a film, Adventures in Dementia commissioned by STV and produced by Scottish Documentary Institute. It is due to be broadcast in 2019. She is also co-founder of DocKlub.

Jamie Wardrop Jamie is a Glasgow based freelance theatre maker and designer. He trained on the BA Acting Course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He is self-taught in projection, sound, film, composing and 3d animation, as part of the Edinburgh Hogmanay Festival 2019 Jamie created live visuals for Capercaillie, Carlos Núñez and the 20 piece Symphonic Ibiza playing Ibiza dance classics in the McEwan Hall. For the Hogmanay street party, he created a celebratory projection mapped live visuals on to the Bank of Scotland HQ on the mound. Other VJ credits for 2018 include Basement Jaxx, Forth Awards – Usher Hall, Rozalla, Amy MacDonald, Go West and many techno djs as part of his residency at SWG3, Glasgow.

Alice Cooper Alice is an Edinburgh-based theatre maker, actor and clown originally from Sydney, Australia.  She makes work for all ages and is passionate about sustainability and making work that has the environment at its heart. Alice’s show, Waves (‘a miniaturist gem’ The Observer) has been presented extensively including to Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, Auckland Arts Festival and New Zealand International.

Pippa Taylor & Jony Easterby

Pippa Taylor & Jony Easterby  Pippa Taylor is an artist and musician based in mid Wales.A multi instrumentalist playing piano, viola and fiddle. She is also an accomplished woodcarver and painter who has created both public artworks and exhibited internationally. Jony Easterby is an artist, designer, maker, producer, director, performer, a passionate naturalist and plants-man.Using both digital and analogue media, Jony investigates the boundaries between raw elemental materials, sound technology, composition, landscape and architecture.