Residency @ Bank St Arts

I am delighted to be working as an Artist in Residence at Bank St Arts (Sheffield). I am working on a project called “Soul Seeds and Wrinkly Bellies.” This collaborative project explores the poetics and politics of pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood: subjects that have historically received little attention in literature. There are three related strands to the project: textual, performative, and a physical installation.

Rachel Bower 1015

Firstly, I am developing a pamphlet of poems on the politics of pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, and early parenthood. This includes work on the female body and body image, the aesthetics of birth, childhood, intimacy, and on gendered expectations of children. Performance and sound are very important to my poetry and I use the BSA space to experiment with sound and rhythm within the collection.

Secondly, I am collaborating with various artists to develop a performance or scratch piece, alongside the pamphlet. I am currently in discussion with one of Sheffield’s female choirs, Body of Sound – among other musicians and artists – about developing a collaborative piece which will layer lyrics, enabling my reading to be woven over and under the voices of the choir. I am working collaboratively with artists and workshop members who are involved in Verse Matters – the feminist arts event I run in Sheffield – and who react strongly to my poems. The aim is to craft connected and collective pieces for performance (and possibly recorded) at Bank Street Arts and in the wider region.

Finally, I am working with other artists to develop a participatory installation which will embody the poems. Visitors to the installation room will be encouraged physically to reflect on some of the issues and feelings raised by engaging with quiet rituals related to self-perception, mothering, and power. This will generate words and material that will then be woven into a collective piece.

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