Written by Alice Poppleton, musician for Creative Encounters at Beaumont Court and RAM Open Academy Fellow
Who knew I didn’t: the deepest connections in London
The definition of encounter is an unexpected meeting. For me, my time at Beaumont court has been totally unexpected, continuously challenging my preconceptions, stretching my musicianship and turning creative encounters into creative connections. Last week was my final visit to Beaumont Court. Looking back to my first week, I couldn’t have predicted the momentous voyage we were about to depart on. It’s quite a leap of faith from all parties to work creatively together with relative strangers. We all face the same challenges, allowing ourselves to be equally vulnerable, equally open and committed to being totally present. Yet, from the initial shared sense of slight apprehension, the pace has quickened and there now exists excited anticipation at the start of the sessions and a readiness and willingness, and perhaps even urgency, to transform and transcend the activity room. As a group we are connected: in our mission, our ambition, our quest to learn more about ourselves and those around us, our acceptance that the traditional social interactions may not be the best currency. They say a picture paints a thousand words and so indeed can a pertinent look, a glee-filled glance, a swirl of ink or a gentle kick transmits a clear sentiment. As we dance and paint and improvise compositions with those whose name we do not necessarily remember, the connections grow sometimes emotionally, sometimes physically. As Henry weaved a snake-like stretch of cloth throughout the group, we felt the resistance, energy and intent of those in the group, tangibly uniting us. A finger twitching on a walking stick sparks a composition, a role of paper is kicked between residents before becoming a painted ribbon, a furtive look can lead to conducted prosody expressing something from deep within.
For me, my time at Beaumont Court has been all about human connections, evolving with the intricacy and strength of a spiders web. I have witnessed these creative connections emerging:
- between the residents and their present selves (embracing their current abilities, emotions and creative potential)
- between different residents who may previously have simply co-existed (with egg shakers being used as transmitters and drums being played across the room in poly-rhythmic harmony, yet with no particular outward acknowledgement of this)
- between care staff and residents (dancing and making music together, challenging and stretching the boundaries of the existing relationship)
- between the musicians and their creative selves (bringing their own musicality and meeting the creative energy in the room)
- between the musicians and residents (creating together as a group)
Each week as I walk away from the care home I have been struck by the real sense of aliveness I have just felt and the sweet irony of this. As I re-join the hubbub of London and descend to the tube, I notice our agreed etiquette of surviving rush hour public transport. As social convention dictates, we make little physical and eye contact, using tried and tested techniques such as headphones to distance ourselves from each other, doing anything not to be in the moment. From the cacophony of London we find the strange simplicity of the care home symphony. Creative Encounters has encouraged me to reconnect with myself and those around me. Being present in the moment, to create or simply share a cup of tea, has shown me how to be alive at 25 or 95.