Hand To Mouth

A little while ago, we connected with Aleasha Chaunte, a highly talented artist from the Liverpool community with a background in Drama and Voice. After her experience of surviving cancer of the throat, which then affected the way she sings, she conceived a community art project entitled #thehandlessproject. Based on the story of The Handless Maiden, an old German folk tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, about a miller who is offered wealth by the devil if he agrees to give him what lies behind his mill (it turns out to be his daughter). To summarise, tragedy ensues and the girl loses her hands (only to have them restored in a fashion because she is pure of heart and undeserving of such a fate).

The unique thread of this project and the story focusing on people who survive tragedies of whatever nature. Given that Fallen Angels Dance Theatre is a recovery based charity, it made sense that there was an opportunity for us to collaborate.

Aleasha kindly took one of our classes at the LCI Studio in The Bluecoat, where she shared with us her experience in the realm of voice. She also facilitated various exercises, including massage, relaxation techniques and a beautiful hand-washing and hand-binding ritual she had conceived, using a bowl of rose water she had prepared with rose petals, glycerin and rose oil. It really was a sublime experience.

We had already had some exposure to Aleasha via Mary Prestige and Jo Blowers’ monthly Contact Improvisation class and “jam” at the Bluecoat, another example of how the creative community here “cross pollenates” as it were, opening further doors and opportunities.

Off the back of this liaison, I had the privilege of lending my expertise in the realm of fashion makeup and print media, assisting her by doing her makeup and taking photographs which I then edited for #thehandlessproject. I have always been fascinated by visual communication, having a very visually-oriented creative mind myself. I knew I wanted to present Aleasha in a powerful fashion, after all, this is a project about survival rather than tragedy. As such, I looked to strong black women in popular culture such as the supermodel Iman and singer and actress Grace Jones. Grace in particular is something of an enduring icon, having collaborated with some the most inspirational artists of our times, including Andy Warhol and most notably the graphic designer Jean-Paul Goude, who created some of her most memorable images.

It is worth noting, that part of Aleasha’s research for her project brought to her attention “Kintsugi”, the Japanese art of embracing damage (specifically relating to ceramics, where broken pieces of pottery are mended with gold). We re-interpreted this by painting the scar on her throat gold, using MAC gold pigment and mixing fluid.

There is much truth to the old adage that “a picture speaks a thousand words”.

Ian Brown






‘Ways in, ways out’

“The chains are locked and tied across the door”

A lyric line from the song Helpless by Neil Young. That locked door is something heard and spoken about a lot when people talk about their stories of alcoholism and drug use. Locked in, locked out. Safe, isolated. Paranoid of the knock on the door.  Arriving at the door and buzzing in on the intercom to score. Maybe even to make amends to a person. Heart pounding, time stands still and is still an eternity.

William Blake wrote about cleansing the doors of perception in our mind.

A lot can change passing through a doorway.

As Ali remarked when we were considering it in the LIC rehearsal room, It’s a portal in and out, into and away from.

A juxtaposition of film, sound and light.
3 Nokia phone video recordings, kept brief and unrehearsed.
A recording from the writer William Burroughs talking about ‘dreams in correspondence with the future’, (1986).
Moving a camera through the space and rhythm of the rehearsal room at Liverpool Improvisational Collective.
First thoughts recorded about using the space and frame of a doorway. Tuesday July 21, 2015

The music at the end is ‘Butterfly Blood’ written, performed and recorded by Andrew Millar.

LINDA LEWIS, Poetic sketching

I have been mulling over our theme “Adrift Together” and the images that come to mind. At first I let the ideas free flow onto paper, without any attempt to edit them because I wanted to get them all down. Following that I wrote the poem.

Linda Lewis  July 18th 2015

Millions of broken pieces cast into space.Tumbling, twisting, turning, plummeting, plunging, swirling, sparkling, glittering, shimmering.

Lights like fireflies on a black canvas.

Blobs of mercury splitting, separating, adrift and apart; falling through darkness, melting away from each other, swelling, malleable, breaking off from each other, coming back together, bonding, coalescing.

Shoals of silver fish, like small darts/arrows. A shock, like a bomb, from the world above, scatters them, throws them apart, hurls them into oblivion, into isolation, alone and dark and cold; then, pinpricks of brightness through the turbulence and the blackness, the churning sea, converging, joining together for safety, a light in the dark.

An explosion from a well of pain, deep, deep down inside……….casting out, settling and coming back together.

Metaphors for recovery…..

Adrift Together

a blob of quicksilver

on a frozen wasteland of oblivion.

Cast out –

for wearing the wrong shoes in primary school,

and saying the wrong things to the wrong people

at the wrong time.

For not looking right.

For being ginger,

with a big nose

and a farmyard of freckles.

For wearing specs with a patch.

Cast out –

for being afraid –

unable to look people in the eye,

to say who I am.

For not knowing who I am

and for needing a drink or a drug

to hide – to be seen –

to  be heard.

 Cast out –

alone and blind,

hurled amongst a maelstrom

of lost souls, searching,

shimmering dancers

on a black canvas,

not seeing,

not knowing,

splitting, drifting, glowing,,

shining, fading

then coming together,






Adrift together.

Linda Lewis  July 18th 2015


RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (20)