I opened my book to find Clarissa Dalloway in search of flowers for her party. She's walking through the London streets, noting the sounds. She says she prefers walking in London than the country.
The invitation from the artist Ruth Maclennan to participate in 'Slender Human Islands', came with instructions that the location must be kept secret. Spread across a day in May, forty readers came to Granary Square in Kings Cross, London, reading many hundreds of pages of Henry Mayhew, Virginia Woolf, Friedrich Engels, Muriel Spark, Tom McCarthy, Stewart Home, Ali Smith, Aphra Behn, Hilary Mantel, and Maeve Brennan.
Reading aloud we inhabited the privately owned public square: walking, sitting, standing. In the evening, two dancers were inspired by the reading of 'Mrs Dalloway' to break into an improvised dance responding directly to the words, looking at the sky as Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Smith look up at a plane overhead.
It was great to feel the buzz of intense concentration and experience the enjoyment of reading aloud whilst being surrounded by the sounds of people in the city.
Experiencing the city, as part of a collaboration other artists, reminds us all of the importance of place-making for people to live, work and play in.
'Unannounced Acts of Publicness' is an ongoing testing of relations in contemporary public space, supported by Argent and Central Saint Martins.
Photos by Ruth Maclennan.