James Tovey Arts

©   James Tovey  2015


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By tov617, Dec 28 2016 10:17PM

Winter Solstice / Midwinter / Christmas 2016 to early 2017

Sea Plastic Torii Henge was a sculptural installation originally conceived and made for the Peterborough Environment and City Trust Green Festival 2016. The wood - branch framework has been developed and enlarged into a Torii–Henge monument at the Green Backyard during 17th and 18th December 2016, in time for the Winter Solstice on the 21st December 2016. Made from locally sourced round wood branches and effectively fixed together using modern fastening techniques, it is planned that the structure will available during opening hours be for visitors to the Green Backyard to enjoy and volunteers to decorate.

The alignment of the henge and features of its construction is measured and made to coincide with the rising and setting of the winter sun at and around the Solstice and thus help illustrate the intertwined connection of the inhabitants of Peterborough to the movements of the solar system and wider universe. The henge after opening has been adorned with freshly cut greenery to reflect the seasonal time of year of the midwinter and Christmas festivities. It is hoped the structure will provide a focus for promotion for the Green Backyard and it provided a social event for community engagement around the solstice time.


Torii doors from Shinto shrines are symbolic doorways passing from the mundane world to the spiritual world, literally translated torii equates to ‘bird perch’. Here torii doors have been joined into circular structures evocative of henge monuments from Prehistory such as Stone Henge or Wood Henge.

Two such structures were made in the lead up to and for the Green Festival in Peterborough, August 2016. This build developed the ‘Sea Plastic Torii Henge’ as built in the Peterborough Cathedral precincts for the PECT Green Festival 2016.

Build dimensions:

The available space lent to a structure about 30ft diameter on mostly clear, roughly level ground most of the Torii-henge is some 7ft tall, the Sun Gate, an enlarged opening with extended rails positioned at 11am and 1pm using the sun on the 18th December as guide measures some 10ft high

The build was led by James Tovey, with astronomers Chris Pounsett and Duncan Vessey aligning the posts and henge to the solar system, Duncan Vessey of Castor Ales aided with wood sourcing from local tree surgeons.

Text for Sea Plastic Torii Henge built for the PECT Green Festival 2016 in the Peterborough Cathedral precinct:

The gate to the North West is aligned to sunset on the summer solstice, June 21st. Every day from the summer solstice the sun rises and sets a bit further South until it reaches the winter solstice; at which point it turns around and starts heading North again. Thus the cycle of the seasons continues and has done for the last 4.5 billion years, despite the small doings of man. Here Sea Plastic has been hung from the henge structure. Feel like a dolphin, seal or turtle would as it has to navigate the discarded debris of our collective plastic consumption.

Sun Henge Build Team 17th and 18th Dec 2016:

Rich Hill (Green Backyard)

James Tovey

Duncan Vessey

Chris Pounsett

Martin Stalley

Ben Pounsett

Logistics and support

Ian Sheldon

The Henge was officially opened by:

Lauren Kendrick (Green Backyard) and Jen Orrell (PECT) at 12noon on the 21st December 2016 with the David Lowndes of the Peterborough Telegraph there to record the event.

Gill Vessey of OMYOGA led a sun salutation to herald the start of the new solar year.

Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen and helping get it agreed and built so efficientlly and to The Green Backyard board of Trustees for deciding that the project could go ahead.

Sun Henge at the Green Backyard 2016/2017
Sun Henge at the Green Backyard 2016/2017
looking South through the sun gate
looking South through the sun gate
Sun burning through the mist at 12noon above the heel post
Sun burning through the mist at 12noon above the heel post
Sea Plastic Torii Henge at the PECT Green Festival 2016
Sea Plastic Torii Henge at the PECT Green Festival 2016

By tov617, Dec 28 2016 12:06AM

The Peterborough Environment and City Trust Green Festival 2016 was opened on the 13th August.

Following months of planning and a successful funding bid, installation of the Future Floodlands Stage and its associated sculpture and attractions was begun at lunchtime on the 12th August. All went to schedule and the dress rehearsals were held on the Friday evening while the backdrop was set up right in front of Peterborough Cathedral.

With the final tweaks on Saturday morning, Eastern Angles Theatre Company started the first performances of two schedules of the six specially commissioned plays exploring rising waterlevels and climate change.

Spilling Convention by Clare Currie

On Such A Full Sea by Hilary Spears

Losing It by Vikki Touzel

In The Wake Of The Flood by Elaine Ewart

Somewhere Else by William Alderson

Beside The Seaside by Liv Jones

The plays were directed by Poppy Rowley, Theatre Director and Artistic Associate of Eastern Angles Theatre Company. The project, bidding process and the selection of scripts for the plays had also greatly benefitted from the help of Keely Mills, also of Eastern Angles. The backdrop for the performances had been conceived by James Tovey, who had then brought in John Elson, artist, to work on the design and layout of the specially cut plywood panels. The backdrop was divided into six pieces, each eight foot long, to provide flexibility on the day and help with transportation and reuse at a later date. Another important part of the interactive stage was the submersion tent. Initially conceived by James Tovey as a tent for audience members to enter and have an underwater lightshow experience, this feature was handed over to artist Luke Payn to make his own and he developed the concept adding layers of meaning by making digital compositions, through which the front of the cathedral could be viewed, as though under water.

Additional artworks by James Tovey, included as part of the Floodlands stage:

Future Floodplain Xoanon – 8 foot standing sculpture

Driftwood Xoanon – 9 foot standing sculpture

The Floodmonster – 25 by 12 foot wooden snake

Sea Plastic Torii Henge – 20 foot diameter, wooden framework, adorned with sea plastic, collected from a single tide, aligned with the cosmos by the astronomical knowledge of Chris Pounsett and Duncan Vessey

Wishing Willow Torii Door – interactive wooden branch sculpture, made for a collaboration with Douglas Thompson, artist

You are the Sea, the Sun, the Moon and the Stars – 2 wooden assemblage sculptures, made by the children of the Learning Tree nursery, with the help of James Tovey

The Spanner – a large traditional boatbuilding tool, made and used by James Tovey, repurposed as an art object

The Flood Detection Stick – a reliable predictive device

Turf Boat – traditional boatbuilding frame/former

Three boats were refitted and refinished and arranged on the set – two used by the audience for interactive seating during the performances, one used as part of the set:

Birdie – 11 foot 6 inch river skiff, designed and built by James Tovey

Picnic – 14 foot garvey punt, designed and built by James Tovey

Puffin – 14 foot clinker Yachting World Day Boat, built in 1962 by LH Walker; renovated from a wreck 2012 by James Tovey

Eastern Angles Theatre Company employed eight actors to perform the plays. The cast included:

Lucy Formby

Kate Gwyn

Lucy Keirl

Charlotte McGuiness

Darren O’Sullivan

Fiona Putman

John Shields

Suzanne Tuck

The stageset took a team of people to erect and dismantle, these included:

Duncan Vessey

Chris Pounsett

Ben Pounsett

Smiley Wiseman

Ian Sheldon

Martin Stalley

Jonathan Cook

John Elson

Luke Payn

Tony Henderson

Tony Nero

Richard Wood

Andrew Sullivan

James Tovey

Onsite the audience, cast and crew greatly benefitted from the Castor Ales beer tent providing refreshments, as organised by Duncan Vessey, who also included ales by Bexar County on his racks.

Musical direction by Lucy Keirl

Stage Management by Liv Jones and Penny Griffin

A huge thanks goes out to these people below, who also helped bring about the event:

Karen Igho, Keely Mills, Samuel Beagley, Ivan Cutting, Metal Peterborough, Tony Henderson, Chris Erskine, Laura Fanthorpe, Peterborough Environment City Trust, Charlie Genever, Stuart Orme, and all at Peterborough Cathedral.

The project would not have been possible without the funding that came from the Peterborough Environment City Trust and from Seedbed Trust.

Flyer - design by John Elson Artist
Flyer - design by John Elson Artist
Future Floodlands cast - Eastern Angles Theatre Company 2016
Future Floodlands cast - Eastern Angles Theatre Company 2016
Peterborough Cathedral 13th August 2016 Future Floodlands plays and stage
Peterborough Cathedral 13th August 2016 Future Floodlands plays and stage

By tov617, Jul 10 2016 11:01AM

June 2016 saw a collision of events with the Peterborough Artists Open Studio 2016 starting, the Castor and Ailsworth Garden Safari weekend, followed by the Peterborough Heritage Festival 2016 and Castor Ales Bar outside the front of the Peterborough Cathedral. Jonathan and Jackie Cook, opened their garden for the garden safari and kindly hosted the sculptures which took the pressure off making my creative spaces safe for visitors to look round.

This also gave the www.futurefloodlands.org.uk project a chance to assess the logistcal implications of moving the large pieces around and calculate manpower and time needed for the PECT Green Festival 2016. The central piece for the PAOS weekend was to be a Torii Henge, laid out by Astronomy consultants Chris Pounsett and Duncan Vessey of Castor Ales, Ben Pounsett helped with the build and sourcing wood. This trial was worthwhile in proving that the Torii Henge is a feasible addition to the Floodlands stage set up, provided some modifications are made to speed the build and make the structure less reliant on the top ring for support.

Works included during the Peterborough Artist Open Studio Week 1 were:

Future Floodplain Xoanon

The Flood Monster

Plastic Electro Ocean Column


Torii Door

Torii Henge.

By tov617, May 14 2016 09:22AM

We are pleased to be able to announce the six commissions for the Future Floodlands Stage at the PECT Green Festival 2016.

The writers are:

William Alderson

Clare Currie

Elaine Ewart

Olivia Jones

Hilary Spiers

Vikki Touzel

Thank you to everyone who sent in work it was a tough call in selecting only six.

By tov617, Apr 3 2016 10:07AM

The charity Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), in association with Eastern Angles Theatre Company, is commissioning six writers to create short pieces for performance at the Green Festival 2016. There will be a launch event at the Green Festival on Saturday 13th August in Cathedral Square, with the main performances on the evening of Saturday 20th August at the Green Backyard.

The Future Floodlands stage is at once a collaborative group project as a vehicle for poetry performances, plays and story telling as well as environmentally focused art installation. Concept and stage set created by James Tovey, with lights and projections by Luke Payn and featuring the cartoon design skills of John Elson. Read James’ inspiration here: futurefloodlands.org.uk


Future Floodlands: exploring our relationship with a climate shift and a flooded future

Floods have shaped human history, particularly in the Fens and low lying Levels of the United Kingdom, featuring in many legends, myths and religious texts. Human communities have used changes in water boundaries and heights purposely to aid agriculture, trade and communication.

But recent years have brought us broadcasts and reports of watery destruction both nationally and internationally. We are already seeing the fallout on resources, refugees, the natural environment and our health. With predicted rising temperatures and sea levels these flooded scenes are set to become increasingly common.

Our future landscape may be deeply altered and challenging but it may not be environmentally unfriendly. We may find ourselves venturing back to the floodlands, seeking a new life in the communities that travel by boat over the submerged townships, roads and fields on tracts of water connecting island communities. What would it be like?


• We are looking for performance pieces; this can be in the medium of poetry, prose or script. The piece may involve movement or other theatrical techniques but it must be clear what and why these are used

• The aim is to evoke an emotional response from the audience, encouraging them to consider and engage with a realistic potential environmental change and our place within it

• The piece will be approximately 10 to 15 minutes long

• The piece must be performed by a maximum of 2 performers

• Any effects must be created by the performer

• There will be workshops and one-on-one meetings to support the development process with Keely Mills (poet) and Poppy Rowley (theatre director)

• The pieces will be rehearsed at the end of July/beginning of August with Eastern Angles director Poppy Rowley

• Actors will perform the pieces, or there is the option to perform your own piece


• A fee of £150

• Support from Eastern Angles Theatre co, PECT & The Green Backyard

• Your work will be performed as part of The Green Festival

• Working with professional actors and theatre directors


We require one A4 page example of your previous work and one A4 page of your proposed idea. To ensure anonymous judging please do not include your name on either A4 page.

This can be written in prose, bullet points, images, inspiration, etc. whatever format you feel best summarises your idea. Feel free to go further afield than the above inspiration as long as it links to the theme of Future Floodlands which are above.

(NB: sending less than an A4 page for either will not be penalised.

We would prefer this format for applications:

In your email please use for SUBJECT: Future Floodlands, Application for Commission

Please include the following information in the body of the email


Preferred method of contact:

Title of attached example work (A4 page):

Title of attached proposed idea (A4 page):

Please specify whether you would like to perform your piece (NB, if you end up writing a two-hander you could perform one part):

YES I would like to perform my piece

NO I would like someone else to perform my piece

DON’T KNOW YET I would like to decide nearer the time

Please email your application to Poppy Rowley at: poppy@easternangles.co.uk

by 12pm on the 29th April 2016

Commissions will be awarded on 9th May 2016

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