Day 3 at the RDI Summer School 2013

Sun shining across corn field

Off for an early morning swim in the Dart

7am: ten of us met for an early morning swim in the Dart. The water was so cold it began to burn, but the sensation was incredible. Whether they had been swimming or not, by impression from the people I interviewed that morning was that everyone felt refreshed – charged with renewed energy.

The instructions were to continue the journey begun yesterday. Unlike the day before, there seemed to be a greater feeling of coalescence in each of the working groups. Perhaps a trust was forming; people began to be quite secretive. I decided it would be difficult to learn about what was going on by skipping from group to group so I joined one.

Stratocumulus Dartington Park

Stratocumulus over the tilting field at Dartington

For several hours, we walked and explored the gardens. The brief remained wide open. Ideas emerged and disappeared just as quickly – but without judgement. We found our way to High Cross House, and it was there that, like the fleck of dust that is needed to begin the crystallisation of a solute from solution, something stuck around which ideas started to emerge. We wanted to create something that responded to the landscape – a giant puppet or mobile suspended from one side of the tilting yard to the other. We needed a rope, but all the rope had been taken by other groups.

We decided to create our own rope from the only remaining material in the stores, gaffer tape. Then began wonderful process of collaboration and learning as we crafted our own 25m-long rope by spinning the tape around itself. Engaged in this physical task our spirits were soaring. The storm clouds that had been threatening all weekend finally broke, but we stayed out in the rain, spinning our rope.

Gaffer tape rope

A rope hand-woven from gaffer tape

When the rain stopped we tested our idea – to explore emotion by creating a giant tug-o-war spanning the great valley of the tilting field. It didn’t work – the rope failed under the stress of two people pulling – but it drove us to something better: to create a giant skipping rope. The next hour was brimful with joy as we leaped in and out of the skipping rope. We showed each other how to do it, we created games – we played. We returned to dinner with spring in our step aware that we had touched upon something profound, perhaps the satisfaction of craft…the beauty in simplicity…the joy in play.

Later we returned to the wish sculpture begun on the day two. Here is what Co-Director Chris Wise had to say about he happened.

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