Monday, 26 August 2019

Jill Smith: The Gypsy Switch.

Jill Smith
The Gypsy Switch.
Book review.

It’s the early 1980s. Jill had up till then been a partner and collaborator with the artist Bruce Lacey,

but finding the relationship dissatisfying, made a break from “ritual” performance art

and took to the road,  seeking something possibly more meaningful, personal and authentic.

Jill split from the  rest of the Lacey family to follow the route of the “Gypsy Switch”, a search for meaning on a route which is never properly explained. It’s some sort of a terrestrial zodiac, a forgotten route taken by travellers, centred on Arbor Low, that somebody has drawn on a piece of paper and given to her.

She hitch hikes alone, the length and breadth of the country, sleeping in the open air and taking very long walks to Neolithic sites which were at that time mostly forgotten.
Along the way, she gives birth in a tepee village in Wales, somehow blags sponsorship for a detour to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and then back in Norfolk joins an obscure theatre troupe that wanders the countryside in simple wagons covered in blue plastic tarpaulins towed along by ponies, her son Taliesin in a sling around her shoulders.

It’s a very personal and subjective story, it describes what it used to like to hitchhike and wander the land far more freely that you can nowadays. All along there is a very personal and sometimes rambling dialogue with what is happening in the here and now, the threat of global annihilation. A small part in the resistance to the military industrial complex at Greenham Common and the growth of a feminine goddess consciousness and deep connection and integration with the Earth mother, and animals as much as people.

It’s part of a lost history of possibilities and imaginings that existed for a brief moment in time, before these kinds of cheap experimental, lifestyles were so brutally suppressed by the forces of exploitative landlordism and the constant monitoring by the judgmental gaze of the ubiquitous mobile phone screen.

See also:

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