Supported by Arts Council England, IOU Theatre, and Super Slow Way.
Opal’s Comet is a short story, written by Sonya Moorhead in response to recent global events, namely the pandemic and climate crisis, as well as personal loss. The story takes an allegorical form and invites us to navigate the themes of grief, loss and transformation.
In Autumn 2021, a creative team of musicians, performers and artists explored ways to present this epic tale within the local landscape. The team worked at both IOU studio’s in Halifax and on the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Burnley, near where Mr Wilson’s offices are based.
Rather than present a literal portrayal of the entire narrative, Sonya decided to focus on two of the story’s motif’s; The Golden Barge and The Harbinger Fayre.
Artists, Steve Gumbley and Andy Plant were commissioned to visualise and create a sculptural response to the Golden Barge which was installed on a canal boat.
Much like an ancient relic or totem, this beautiful object is venerated by the crew whilst it navigates its course. A symbol of hope, the Golden Barge is somewhere safe and precious to stow away shared grief and celebrate all the beauty that still surrounds us.
This 2 day water-borne procession is a true “gongoozler” adventure, with the crew co-habiting aboard, overcoming the many obstacles their vessel faces, as well as performing to passers-by. The over-all effect is a slow and considered performative spectacle.
The journey takes place during The Harbinger Fayre; a fictional calendar festival. The Harbinger Fayre is both a celebration of the changing of the seasons and a warning to reflect on whats to come. Our musical crew composed a new song cycle of Harbinger Fayre Carols to accompany the journey and relate some of the story of Opal’s Comet through ballads.
The work so far, including The Golden Barge, the Harbinger Fayre Carols, a short film of our maiden voyage and documentation photography will be exhibited at IOU studios from the 10th December 2021.
As the work continues, we will produce digital materials such as a mini podcast series, to share the Opal’s Comet myth and songs with wider audiences. We are actively seeking partners and programmers who share our interest in local canals as an accessible, linear, green causeway.