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The Beautiful Journey

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In the dockyards of Devonport and the silent shipbuilding ports of Tynemouth, the water beckoned…

In 2008 we embarked on a Beautiful Journey. We sought out the spaces where once champagne smashed ships to life, fresh paint filled nostrils and hats were thrown high. Our ambition? To bring a world back to life.

Exploring the waters that bind past and present, we were looking for people whose memories, hopes and histories were bound tight to the docks of Plymouth and Newcastle, people whose memories were frayed or forgotten, and people whose memories were yet to be made.

We found them.

Boat builders came to construct but were compelled to perform, local chorus lines sang out strong across the shipyard, hoards of shanty children were eager to play and elderly onlookers looped yarns through each day. We brought together performers, poets and people of every kind.

Each journey took two years to tread. In that time, we held tea parties in schoolyards, made friends with ship-watchers, and invited one and all to Wild Workshops where we acted out the stories to shape our tale.

We dug out photographs from a Tynemouth market stall, created memory boxes from Darwin’s moustache and dallied with dockland pigeon keepers. We watched as monochrome sweethearts kissed goodbye.

Finally, in 2009, the waterside territory lost to time came alive once more, as our stage. With all our gatherings to draw from, and local life as our glue, the moment had come. Curtains up.

An unknown place, the not so distant future. Waters unchartered and feelings unknown. Here, cages flew treacherously above rivers and vessels were launched to sea. Fortunes were told in circus tents, and cut hair blew across the floor. Uncertain futures, a love undone and a tonne of ice thawing out promises of future hopes.

Together we stepped up, opened our eyes and saw a new world.


Beautiful indeed.