Chalk Fired: The Pavement Poet

Chalk Fired: The Pavement Poet

Thanks to The Pavement Poet for the second in our series of guest blogs. I’ve been aware of his work for a number of years but what really put him on my radar was the fact that Swindon specifically constructed a PSPO to prevent him perverting their wannabe sanitised dystopia with his dangerous chalks and free thinking. Here’s what he has to say.

“I remember the day i first put chalk to pavement. At the time i wasn’t hoping for more than a few smiles and the cost of getting myself to the next town. By this point i’d been wandering around for a few years and any plans i’d had when i first set out on my journey had long since vanished with the seasons.

From that moment came a lot, of which my first book “The Pavement Poet: Chalk Fired” is the latest byproduct. Reflecting the poetry led, architecturally inspired, chalk based art form that I have made my own over the last few years, I like to think that this book is much like my work on the pavements. More permanent maybe; but from the poetry, to the photography of my poetic interactions in towns & cities across Europe, right through to the occasional tale of happenstance from what has been a nine year long journey – It’s all there.

I remember well all of the places to have passed me by over the last few years. The pavements, the faces, the conversations. Almost as if this book could never have been but for the time I’ve spent wandering about with my chalk. In that much the streets have given me more than I had ever anticipated. Inspiring not just this book, but also helping me to detach from an increasingly maddening world and become more open to the vast patchwork of people, cultures & ways of being which make this life and this world so fascinating.

Not that it hasn’t been difficult. There can at times be a misperception of those who create in the public space. There’s been the good days, the bad days, the days when every anorak and whichever council official they have on speed dial appears to be against public art. But as always these are just moments and for those of us who do, it’s just another reason to come back the next day.”

You can find out more about The Pavement Poet: Chalk Fired by clicking on the following link or by following The Pavement Poet on Facebook:

http://danielmrowland.blogspot.com/2021/03/chalk-fired-available-for-pre-order-now.html

What do we say?

________________

 

What do we say when the chalken pen
Has marked The Way in ways unsaid?
A summer sunrise come to be
For those who choose to go and see.
What do we say when a winter sun
It marks the passing of the fun
Which found us on those summer days
When time and memory went astray?
What do we say to the autumn eye
For those who watch the forest die
Away until a coming spring
Brings warmer days and thankful grins?
What do we say to the spring time gaze
When feeling winter make them age
One more year closer to the end
Where life it rocks and rolls again?

__________________

Street Performer shot whilst working in Chile

Street Performer shot whilst working in Chile

 

Puedes leer el texto en Enpañol aqui: https://seekingcircus.com/2021/02/28/artista-callejero-asesinado-en-chile/ 

On Friday 6th of February 2021 in the city of Panguipulli, province of Valdivia, Chile, a street performer was shot and killed by a uniformed police officer whilst working a regular pitch. The street performing and artistic community has received this as a personal attack with deep anguish.

Livelihoods have been complicated. First through the social revolution that began October 18th of 2019 and then the global pandemic that followed in close pursuit by March 2020 deeply affecting the same artists that have worked tirelessly to support and maintain community whilst struggling to survive as the situation has risen to isolate and divide individuals worldwide in a place with sparse governmental support.

For those who are not accustomed to stoplight performers ‘El Semaforo’, is a popular part of South American street performing culture. When the lights go red and traffic stops, the artist will step out to perform predominantly to the rows of cars and but not excluding pedestrians. Timed perfectly, just before the lights change the performer will take a bow and pass by the cars hat in hand before ducking out of the traffic and returning to the crossing to prepare for the next show. Short, sharp and fast paced entertainment with an ever-evolving range of talents, costumes and artistic concepts are carried out in this way. 

 

Since the pandemic began a group called ACU ‘Artistas Callejeros Unidos’ has been working for the past year to create unity, strengthen street code of conduct and increase visibility of this highly marginalised part of the community.

I spoke with Mauricio Orellana, more commonly known in artistic circles as El Mao, a long time well respected street performer of both Semaforo and circle shows, educator and active member of ACU to find out about what has been going on during this sad and terrible time for the artistic community.

‘The police brutality has reached national news and has incited numerous protests for the dissolution of the organisation. The response has led to large support from the public as artists are speaking out and being heard as they express their marginalisation within society and their integral part within it.’

Since the incident on the 6th there have been other reports of street performers being persecuted by the police resulting in artists being charged with large fines and detained overnight in prison.

I also spoke with Andrea Verdugo, artistic name Petekia Rudelaris, clown, juggler, street performer, Master of Ceremonies, teacher and workshop leader and member of prominent organisations in Chile that aim to promote the support of artists and the importance of artistic outreach within the community.

She says ‘The Semaforo’ is the first stage. It is the first glimpse, opportunity when someone can try out, improve, hone their artistic talents with a live and willing public and be respectfully paid for their work.’ It permits a valid opportunity to generate income via the arts with many artists starting in the traffic lights and going on to gain the confidence to express their artistic findings in other areas of culture.

Others perfect their shows to such degree that it can become a primary source of income. Popular success stories such as ‘Juan Carlos Muñoz’ the first Chilean clown to grace Cirque du Solei who began with few opportunities available due to a country in the heavy recoil of a dictatorship, the traffic lights offered a place to work, express and lighten the load and after long and hard dedication eventually lead on to a prominent career in Cirque du Solei, which itself started out as a street show. All starting with stepping out for that minute to give it your all. To trial, to test, to fail and then hopefully succeed in unpredictable conditions to earn a crust alongside your self-worth. I do not believe in a challenging enough environment police brutality should be included in this unpredictability. 

I think there is a lacking in understanding in the nomadic artform, rich in hundreds of years of free  flowing history and of the importance of street performance as part of a shared worldwide culture. Often overlooked as a starting point for much bigger things and lacks respect within in its own right as a moving, breathing art form made by a community that in its essence does not discriminate its public based on gender, physical appearance, health or economic status, race, beliefs, preferences or age. It exists in the moment for the human being there to see it and is finetuned by the desires and needs of the very public it wishes to serve. 

So what can anyone do to help? On a larger and more immediate scale using #elartecallejeronoesdelito (street performance is not a crime) in social media which creates a direct link alongside #buskersunite and #savelondonbuskers to create solidarity within the community with any relative ways you wish to comment and show support to Chilean artists and street performers would be greatly appreciated. You can also get in more direct contact through artistascallejerasunidos@gmail.com if you wish to speak to a member of ACU, Spanish speaking will be necessary.  

 

The Arts Council England has recently released two reports commenting on the importance of Street Performance as part a thriving community and the growing evidence of its promotion of social cohesion and support of local economies to build civic pride and create an increased sense of belonging in communities through culture led regeneration. Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: “As we begin our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it will be vital to protect and rebuild public spaces and encourage people to get back out to responsibly support our local businesses, town centres and creative industries.”*

In the light of this terrible incident once can only hope that it serves to create greater unity in the street performing community that it seems is going through a worldwide test of strength alongside the public who we work for.

Danielle De La Wonk

Street Performer

Photo credits – Male artists – Jose Onetto https://www.instagram.com/foto.onetto/
Female Artist – Lucas Alvaro Paredes https://www.instagram.com/lparedes7/

Keep Streets Live presents…

Keep Streets Live presents…

Keep Streets Live is proud to announce we will be extending our partnership with Rainbow Junction in 2021.

Beginning in April we will be providing a regular musical backdrop to entertain and lift the spirits of visitors, customers, staff and volunteers at the project in Leeds.

Rainbow Junktion is a Pay-As-You-Feel community café based at All Hallows’ Church, 24 Regent Terrace, Leeds LS6 1NP

We intercept waste food produce to create healthy meals every Monday, Thursday and Friday for whoever walks in the door. Everyone is welcome.

We have 3 course lunch available, plus WIFI, phone charging and basic food shopping.

www.instagram.com/rainbowjunktion

An eclectic mix of buskers will be performing on the first Monday of each month. All are welcome to come along and enjoy some quality music and some tasty food.  Gigs will also be streamed onto our Keep Streets Live Streams Facebook page for those who are further afield to enjoy.

Acts will be announced in due course, with the first date on Mon 5th April.

Mon 5th April

12.00 Chester

1.00 Joseph Moore

2.00 The Burner Band

Mon 7th June 

12.00 Sean Harrington

1.00 Danielle De La Wonk

2.00 Jake Keating 

Mon 5th July

12.00 Cobalt Tales

1.00 TBC

2.00 TBC

If you are interested in playing we can make a small payment for expenses and you will be be well fed and watered. Please email contact@keepstreetslive.com to book a slot.

For those who wish to make a donation to support our artists and help to keep the program going please click here

We will also be continuing our summer gigs at Left Bank. More details will be available in March.