In the autumn of 2014 I came back from a summer of touring and working at international arts festivals around the globe with a big silly idea. I wanted to create a “walking stage” a big movable art piece with the ability to rig aerial circus on board.
I wasn't quite sure what form the ship would take but I was damn sure I was going to make it.
At a point in my career where I had built a multitude of art pieces on commission I was highly aware of the need to take back more ownership over my work and become more throughly creative.
As soon as I got back I took myself, my small dog and a couple of bottles of wine up to my best friend Juliet's house to catch up. We ended up having a mad, drunken and enthusiastic rambling session which resulted in the creative birth of the Marie Celestial concept.
Over the next 12 months we had an epic funding and development period, gaining help not just from our friends and supporters on Kickstarter but also achieving Arts Council England funding as well as funding from the Northern Festivals Association, Shambala Fest and Theatre and Circus at Glastonbury Festivals.
We built the ship, rehearsed and developed a show with directorship from the wonderful Sarah Fielding and toured to 7 wildly different environments.
And it worked! Better at some places than others — we soon learnt what our audience should be, but it was a beautiful,delicate and successful show.
It was incredibly hard, we pushed ourselves and our crew to our absolute limits to make it happen. We were very lucky with the people we worked with and for, but less lucky with our transportation and mechanical issues with the movement of a gigantic structure on a home-made trailer.
Most of all it was a steep learning curve. Neither of us had done anything near this massive before. It a terrifying but exciting step into the unknown. Both of us getting pregnant at different times in the tour added to our intellectual and emotional journey.
We ended with a massive sense of gratitude to everyone who had helped make this crazy thing happen. People are fabulous, supportive and brilliant. The crazier the plan the more people will back you!
By the autumn of 2015 we were exhausted. We found a safe place to store the ship (thanks once again for our fabulous friends) and settled down to hibernate for a year (and have babies)!
Now in the autumn of 2016 we are ready to start again. We have the ship but we need to rebuild and develop her to make her really work. She needs to walk to fulfil her full potential and we need to build a new more flexible kind of show to go with her new improved form.
We need a new trailer and plan for touring to make her practical (and affordable) to book and tour.
This time we will be bringing the knowledge and experience we have now gained into play from the start. We want to push the Marie Celestial to her full potential, both as a sculpture and installation but also as a show. She has so much still to give.
We want to document our journey to help others - We are so grateful for all the advice and support we were given that we are going to try and write it all down this time.
We want to help other people make their crazy ideas a reality. The world badly needs more eccentricity, ridiculous plans and beauty!
Watch this space for blog posts about our rebuild. Interviews with other companies about how they manage to make a living in the arts, and discussions into the practicalities of building unusual shows, immersive theatre and crazy kit.