Nature, People and Place

Sarah is a writer of oral history, myth, story and poetry, and a community playwright, delivering socially engaged arts projects with an established track record of working with landscapes and seascapes and with multiple partners, artist collaborations and organisations.

Sarah at Cyprus Well, Lanson

what is black ven?

A huge mudslide. Mass of cliff. Blue lias clay layers. The dark place where ammonites wake after millions of years…transformed to stone…snakestone once known as…shifting moving landflow between Charmouth and Lyme…underwater later and very slippery.

what is black ven here?

Landscape writer, creative project designer and facilitator, writer of oral histories and community playwright, sometimes known as Black Ven. With a proven track record of experience delivering socially engaged arts projects from small to large scale immersed in landscape and communities. Always environmentally themed because this is the time we live in. Delivery includes activities such as outdoor walks, workshops, retreats, visual and performative arts that invite active participation in response to site/place or nature and seasonal themes. But in all of this, I’m interested in language, orality and process towards generative change and personal and communal growth for individuals and the health of  wider community, and all things relating to deepening connection to the land for change-making, joy and wide-awake passion to be present in this moment. I take my work outdoors in nature where ever possible, and I’m currently exploring ancient and modern live oral storytelling techniques.

Projects (creative facilitator)

I have been lucky in the scale and number of high quality projects I’ve collaborated on over the last ten years, with frequent commissions from Dorset AONB and Stepping into Nature and long-standing partnerships with local museums, Dorset libraries, and Alzheimer’s memory cafes. The live events, exhibitions and resources encourage embodied engagement with nature outdoors, and have involved collaborations with musicians, visual artists and theatre-makers to work within and with communities to guide creative flow and nature connection within us all. The work is immersive and may include performative voice and sound games, prompts, walking meditations and play, to encourage creative expression and inspire liberation and freedom to speak, act and write without fear of the unknown within and without. Disrupting creative blockages, and building confidence in creative writing, together with time spent outside in nature, shifts energy, breaks the chains that bind potential, and can transform expectations, and hold confidence to grow.

PERSONAL STATEMENT

A wanderer over many miles. My writing explores the journey of the heart in its quest to find a way home; always tracking the sundial shadow of belonging and love, venturing a course towards true north. Learning  the ways of the seafarer.

Meanwhile as I study (artists, thinkers, storytellers and poets) to remember what it is to be human in a more than human world, to honour dead languages and sleeping warriors, lost species and old names. Silence and listening. Listening for the music that carves beauty from chaos in its reverberation, and combs the mundane from the everyday in trembling dawns of birdsong. Certainly I find solitude in rock and stone, read and attend the teachings of live and dead poets, stories and myth, sit at the feet of great trees, navigate by the sky-dictionary of clouds and winds.

This is what I believe: I am for writing and activism that serves with humility and beauty, crafted for the purpose of sharing, healing, teaching and tendering fierce boundless kindness and love to the earth, community and self. I am for creative process as an essential means of communication and expression in the deep “heart-work” (Rilke*) that connects us to what really matters, especially now.

So somewhere there is always hope, somewhere there is a always kingdom to defend, a battled-sword with a big story to tell, and a star to navigate by. And love. And love. And love.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other, William Stafford

“And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.”

 

Sarah Acton, 2023

*“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”  (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Oral history research with former quarrymen Rab Stone and Trevor Mccolm
Heart of Stone Portland community play 2021
On the Fleet Seining along Chesil book

performances, voices, stories shared Bard by Nature and Taliesin Lives

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