In moments of change and transition, what supports us and keeps us afloat? A raft is the simplest and most fragile vehicle of survival on open water. Ancient as human language, rafts are still needed during urgent crossings. From the Abrahamic story of Noah’s Arc to the idea of Earth as a lonely life raft floating in space, the symbol of a raft has often represented the ultimate preserver of life.
– Rory Pilgrim
andriesse ~ eyck gallery is proud to present Rory Pilgrim’s new film RAFTS (2022). Developed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, RAFTS is an ode to human courage and resilience in times of crises. At the heart of RAFTS is a concert broadcast that interweaves stories, poetry, and reflections, narrated by the voices of Hugh, Carina, Liam, Butterfly, Katy, Dee, Mark, and Eddie, who are residents of the London Borough Barking & Dagenham and members of the Green Shoes Arts community. Each in their own way, they reflect on what the symbol of a raft means to them and what supports them in everyday live.
The personal and intimate reflections bring poetry, stories and animation that interweave around a seven-song oratorio that makes connections between work, mental health, home, recovery, and our environment. RAFTS is inspired by the original BBC’s Radio Ballads from the late 1950s and early 1960s, a series of ground-breaking radio documentaries weaving the voices of rarely heard communities with songs written from and about the recorded experiences of the interviewees. With RAFTS, Pilgrim has co-created a stage with some of the ‘greatest minds and biggest hearts in London’ that take you on a journey to contemplate what ‘rafts’ could be needed to navigate the future in times of change and uncertainty.
Alongside the film, we will furthermore be showing a series of new drawings and paintings by Rory Pilgrim, as well as some artworks made by Eddie Paggett and Mark Jones, two of the participants in RAFTS. Using drawing and painting as a form of visioning, the exhibition gives insight into Pilgrim’s personal iconography to develop a rich series of metaphorical anchors. With the recurring motif of a purse passing between generations, the falling of rain and the earth enabled rest, Pilgrim invites us to reflect on the ultimate preservers of life that carry us all.
RAFTS was commissioned by Serpentine Civic for Radio Ballads, in partnership with New Town Culture, a Cultural Impact Award-winning project, part of London Borough of Culture, a Mayor of London initiative. RAFTS was produced in collaboration with Green Shoes Arts (U.K), Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance (U.K), Project Well Being (Interfaith Sanctuary, Boise, Idaho) and the London Contemporary Orchestra.