The Passing of the Butterfly
Lead artists - Gwyneth Herbert & Ogutu Muraya
The coming together of two voices from different places - Ogutu Muraya, Kenyan writer and storyteller, and Gwyneth Herbert, British composer and musician. “The Passing of the Butterfly” (working title) is an interweaving of memories, narrative, songs, mythologies, field recordings, soundscapes, multiple languages and an original score that reveals the historical, fictional and emotional journeys of two people caught between two wars.
Ogutu and Gwyneth’s research process started in February 2020 with sharing personal and family memories of conflict and colonisation, exploring archival material and myths and legends surrounding war and home. It has taken them to the port of Mombasa, onto the streets of Nairobi, into the Mau Mau caves of Karura Forest, through a storm of migrating butterflies, and across the Aberdares ranges of rural Kenya. Here, in Ogutu Muraya’s home, they spoke to people with lived experience of the struggle for Kenya’s independence and the Mau Mau Rebellion. Next, they plan to travel 50 miles up the coast from Gwyneth’s home in Hastings, to explore the testimonial archive of wartime Dover - to the ocean, the castle, the cliffs, the labyrinthine tunnels of the underground hospital.
As part of their “Various Stages” presentation, they share where they’ve come from, what brought them together, their discoveries so far and snapshots of their creative play. They invite you into their explorations of the relationship between occupation and sovereignty, planting and cutting, home and displacement, the real and the imaginary, the promise and deceit of “civilisation”. How do we acknowledge both responsibility and wounding, whilst finding a healing language, beyond the binary?
About the artists' work
“A remarkably gifted talent” - The Guardian, UK
“An exquisite wordsmith… both poetic and piquant” - Democrat and Chronicle, USA
“An athlete of the word… his idiom lives on poetry” - Republik, Switzerland
“Weaves a thrilling tale with a cathartic effect” - The Standard, Kenya