‘Onwards’ Poem from Hawkwind’s Warriors of the Edge of Time Tour

Many moons ago, I toured with the legendary space-rock band Hawkwind, it was the best (and weirdest) of times. For just under a decade Laura McGee and I partnered up to create stage shows that brought their gigs to life and gave an extra visual dimension to the music. We worked alongside the lovely John Moules who designed the mind-blogging projections and light show and, of course, a group of visionary musicians who’d been honing their craft for over forty years. We met many amazing people and made lifelong friends across the world, die-hard fans who showed up enthusiastically (and relentlessly) to any and everything Hawk related.

 

In 2009 we toured the ‘Warriors on the Edge of Time’ show and this was the tour we were most proud of. As always, Laura created a set of incredible costumes, masks and headpieces, and we berthed nine new characters who appeared at various points throughout set-list, telling a story loosely based on Michael Moorcock’s Elric sagas (with of course our own little twist.)

The fact that my surname is Elrick, certainly added some momentum to the mystic.

 

In this incarnation The Eternal Champion was, of course, a woman and you can imagine how much fun it was being her wielding the black sword on stages across the world. We played the Enchanter, the Universal Child, the Eternal Champion, the Dark Mother, a Fire Elemental, an evil Wizard, two dancing stars and two tribal space-punks and least of all forgetting, The Golden Void itself. Every performance Laura and I switched characters and the drama evolved, so that we both had equal chances to play the protagonists and the villains and tweaked the story every night we went on. Laura and I had the time of our lives and the love we got back from the Hawkfans was truly mind-blowing.

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So here’s poem I wrote, almost a decade ago, that preceded the stage show and was inspired by mine and McGee’s first conceptual brainstorm. I thought it would be nice to match the words to the final images and celebrate the epic fantasy world we got to live each night onstage.

Special thanks go to Brian Tawn (the Keeper of All Things) and long time Hawkwind chronicler for digging out an old copy of Hawkzine and allowing me to revive this poem.

 

Onwards

 

 

It all started in the Dawning, just a yawning crack of light;

A loosening of the gossamer weaved in fabrics of the night.

A moment hung in timelessness, a child berthed to the void,

Awoken to the Universe by a passing asteroid.

 

Reborn amidst a tethered realm in an act of Cosmic Will,

She tried with all her might to fly, but threads, they held her still.

Until, a weary wanderer (who’d traversed all stars and planes),

Took pity on this speak of might and released her from her chains.

 

The Enchanter saw within this child a spark of something pure;

A flicker of an infinite love he’d cherished once before.

Bewitched and rapt by such a sight, he devised to spy on further,

And watched her dance whilst cloaked in shadow, curious to what she’d discover.

 

Unbeknownst, she spun in space, a whorl of careless energy,

And the laws of attraction soon enticed a second elemental frenzy.

All aflame a creature came and blazed around the girl,

Revealing scenes of scorching scenes and heat engulfing worlds.

 

Now versed in tongue of glowing fire she began to radiate,

She learnt the ways of heat and lust and what could senses sate.

The Enchanter watched in rapt delight and felt her essence quicken,

He vowed to make her a precious prize before her skin could thicken.

 

But such a feat could not be reached without the proper force,

A balance of opposites was surely required for his hunt to stay on course.

So summoning his antithesis, he called a being of equal strength and power,

To assist in a plan that would draw her in, he invoked the ancient Dark Mother.

 

As old twin flames, this woman came, now twisted, harsh and bitter,

Although it split her heart in two she’d do what the Enchanter bid her.

They conjured up a potent spell that could bind the wildest heart,

Yet Dark Mother cursed the carefree child that cracked the past apart.

 

Beyond all choice and need and drive, the stars watched ever on;

Celestial lights in eternal lights they viewed, judged not – just shone.

Infinity was ever theirs to expand and illuminate,

For their cold to our conceptions of want, to our fear, our greed, our hate.

 

 

And now, inside the Mother’s heart, had grown a gaping hole,

Bereft of love this demon stood, not feeling sane or whole.

The Enchanter had drained every waning wisp of hope she still had left,

She cursed his name and vowed to steal some warmth back for herself.

 

With fading strength, Dark Mother shifted, shucking off the skin she’d worn,

And soon appeared rejuvenated, her body and face transformed.

But try as she might she could not distract the Enchanter from his task:

No eyes for her, not fooled by disguise, he was untouched by her transient mask.

 

Absorbed in tomes that twisted minds and immersed in spells of power,

He only dreamed of the One he’d released and desire flared-up every hour.

Now taken all he needed from her, to Dark Mother, he would not gaze,

With this rebuff, she knew the folly of her love, and scattered back into space.

 

The Universal Child had grown strong and wild, a woman herself now no less;

Not to be captured, confined or contained with a freedom most truly blessed.

And the more that the Enchanter watched, the more he couldn’t justify her possession.

For none should be bent by another’s hand or be swallowed inside their obsession.

 

He swelled with pride as he watched her glide through vistas gleaming and shimmering,

For a captured bird is no real prize and there is no losing or winning.

So he let her free to feel and to be, to tend that pure light he’d first seen,

Because selfish love can’t rise above, it is just an illusionary dream.

 

Now with truth exposed, the Enchanter choose to loosen the grip of his charm,

And without that fetter she soared even better, now expanded and fully disarmed.

Ascending much faster beyond heavenly matter the Deities of Destiny smiled,

Pleased with the speed of this creature of their seed: the evolution of the Universal Child.

 

The Enchanter returned to his listless roam, relinquishing all control,

No more attempts to avert his fate, he resigned to align with the whole.

At one with the rhythms that bind all forms, he found a humble and unified perspective.

A change took place, he slackened his pace, and upon Nature’s complexity reflected.

 

With steps now slowed, new wisdom bestowed, he passed through the chamber of fire,

Shedding all skin and planted within him, a new kind of dream to aspire.

Each now in all and every in one, comes a contented disbanding of will:

This story is ancient and always beginning, a tale drifting Onwards still….

 

 

Words by Stefanie Elrick  // Costumes by Laura McGee // Stage Show by Laura McGee & Stefanie Elrick**

 

**There is no official footage of the tour unfortunately but literally hundreds of fan videos on youtube. Dive in!

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Seven Sister’s :: Siren Song collaboration with Jodie Cartman of FloorShow

SEVEN SISTERS :: SIREN SONG 
A Collaboration with FloorShow Photography

Languid, laid along the bay
Seven Sisters, made of clay.
Their natural jewels upon on display
Beneath a blazing sun.

Out at sea, there bobbed some ships,
So from the rock they shook their hips
And quickly shifting into shape,
Settled on the sand.

 

 

The sailors spied these milky maids,
Who did care to hide in shade
And brazenly would bare to all,
Beneath that blazing sun.

The mariners could not ignore,
The sights they saw upon the shore,
And quickly pulling out their oars
They rowed toward the sand.

The Sisters smiled in pure delight,
(Their bellies would be full tonight!)
So on they sang, a lusty ditty
Beneath that blazing sun.

 

The men could not believe their luck,
These sweet young fruits, so ripe to pluck,
The honeyed lips of virgins fair,
Waiting on the sand.

But once their feet had tread the shore,
The sisters, milk-white maids no more,
Were tough as stone and rough as rock,
Beneath that blazing sun.

 

They crushed the men in their embraces,
No grief upon their hardened faces,
‘Til each bold man became a grain,
A speck upon the sand.

Those siren-cliffs, they have a hunger,
To shipwreck fools who’d try to plunder,
To squeeze them ‘til they’re nought but dust,
Beneath our blazing sun.

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WORDS / MODEL :: Stefanie Elrick

STYLING / PHOTOGRAPHY :: Jodie Cartman​

Prism Published in Apex Magazine’s Zodiac Issued Guest Edited by Sheree Renée Thomas

I’m pretty proud and excited that a piece of short fiction I’ve been working on for quite some time has been published in Apex Magazine‘s Zodiac issue guest edited by Sheree Renée Thomas.

Sheree is the author of Sleeping Under the Tree of Life and her work is spun through with silver threads of magic, transformation and a kind of ‘lost knowing’, memories, dreams and instincts simmering just behind our eyes.

I genuinely couldn’t be happier that she chose to include Prism in the edition as the Gemini entry, and it can’t be denied that greater forces than mere luck were at work to make this happen. Not only was Apex the very first publication I submitted Prism to, but when Sheree got back in touch to ask for some structural tweaking before deciding whether or not it would get published, I discovered one of my favourite authors Cody Goodfellow had just announced his proof-reading services via Fiverr.

I literally had a window of a week to swallow my pride, submit the story for some “ruthless proof-reading” then delve back in and make the necessary changes. Having someone who knows the weird fiction industry inside out like Cody was an invaluable help. His feedback was indeed thorough, insightful and spot on. I think I actually squeaked in delight when he sent me some feedback and said there was “a bright pulsing vein” in my work.

PRISM is essentially a story about finding yourself (aren’t they all though?) and without wanting to give too much away I began writing it on the Hawkwind tour bus one twilight hour many moons ago. I wanted to translate some of the experiences I had whilst performing onstage and push it a step beyond. I feel like the gig scene in Prism is one of the most powerful I written and I’m really really proud of it. The story also started as a kind of homage to Caitlin R. Kiernan, one of my other all-time favourite authors as I wanted to work with an unreliable narrator in an abstract fantasy dreamscape.

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Onstage with Hawkwind during the “Warriors on the Edge of Time” tour

 

Read PRISM for yourself, let me know what you think or listen the audio version which the Apex team have done an amazing job of producing.

And here’s a piece of artwork by the incredible Marta Nael that I obsessed over for a while whilst writing it, I’m sure you can see  why.

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Ode to Lilith

Leviathan, lay down with me

And salt these wounds to help them heal.

Pluck out these eyes that I might see

With oiled split-tongue, I welcome thee.

Once you dwelt inside the garden,

Before the flood, before the Fall,

Before the weight of Sin was all

And body begged no pardon.

In squirming bliss you sought a throne,

A pinnacle of flesh and bone.

A sword to pierce the blackest void,

Exalting all who came inside.

And yet, your gift, mistook for pride,

Would be the fruit He cast aside.

Yet not you wept, nor did you pine,

You left His bliss to bathe in brine,

And sought new mates to sate your lust,

In shifting beds of ocean crust.

The creatures of the mud and sea,

And all that creepeth called you Queen.

A Queen indeed, with horn’d crown,

You bled them as you pulled them down.

You claimed and drained whilst searching for

A holy love with fire and ore.

 

Oh Goddess of the roiling Sea

Cast out your net and come for me.

Beyond the walls, outside of Eden,

Your Kingdom comes in throes of freedom.

 

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Stefanie Elrick to perform at ‘Making The Strange Familiar’ by Instigate Arts to launch the Wonder Women Festival 2017 on March 2nd at Manchester Art Gallery

Instigate Arts

16996709_1648001978836770_427943735_nMaking The Strange Familiar, curated by Instigate Arts as part of the Wonder Women festival launch at Manchester Art Gallery on Thursday 2nd March will see Stefanie Elrick bring her unique and dramatic performance art to the Thursday audience.

Stefanie Elrick is an artist, dancer and word weaver from Manchester, UK. She has toured the world producing psychedelic stage shows for the likes of Hawkwind, The Levellers and Peaches Christ and performed endurance-testing pieces such as ‘Written in Skin’ and ‘KAIROS’ (www.writteninskin.com & www.kairosophy.com). Her practice is immersed in magic, ritual and embodiment. She writes fantasy horror and has lectured on performance art and feminism in Universities across the UK.

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Launching the 2017 festival, Instigate Arts takes over Manchester Art Gallery for a special one-night-only event called Making The Strange Familiar inspired by the exhibition Strange and Familiar, a portrait of modern Britain as seen through the…

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Wonder Women Festival – Manchester

From the 2nd – 12th of March Manchester’s many theatres, galleries and clubs will be flooded with artists, activists and creators celebrating just what it means to be a woman. Documentary films about Rebel Dykes, all female techno nights and a huge range of performance and art are on the bill. Could you love Manchester any more?!

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This bold inspiring festival (which sounds to me like a direct challenge to own your own wondrousness) is a creative countdown to the 100yr anniversary of women winning the partial  vote in 1918. Manchester has always been full of forward-thinking fire-crackers, none so much as Emily Pankhurst who was of course, born and bred on the mean streets of Mosside.

The festival poses the question, just how far have we actually come in the past 100yrs and it’s an honour to be invited by Instigate Arts to explore the theme not once but twice throughout the festival.

At the festival’s free launch night ‘Making The Strange Familiar with Instigate Arts’ on Thurs 2nd March I will perform The Art of Reflection at Manchester Art Gallery, a piece first created for the Trans-State conference last year. I describe this piece as a dance-based mirror ritual exploring identity and it’s construction and have integrated a lot of my own magical practices into it. I’m also in the middle of writing my next short story, which is about a woman consumed by a hungry mirror, so there’s certainly a theme bubbling away in my work!

I believe the body is the most powerful tool of expression, for a woman to be dancing freely (outside the confines of some shady establishment) would have alone been dangerous in centuries past! The body also provides a perfect canvas for people’s expectations, which I personally delight in subverting. The Art of Reflection plays with ideas of self-invention and transformation and has a soundtrack that slaloms through the Sex Pistols, to Garbage to Bjork (allowing me to shake out all my crazy energy and channel it healthily!) This piece’s pretty risky climax can’t be practiced or rehearsed, so how it ends is just as much of a surprise to me as my audience. Come and see! The event is open to the public and begins at 5:30pm.

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IMAGE BY LAURA WILLIAMS

Then on the 3rd March at the Royal Exchange I will perform a pure movement piece called ’21st Century Witchcraft’ in the Dolly Mixtures showcase at The Royal Exchange theatre. This cabaret style event is a brilliant place to revive a performance I first created for A Queer Review in collaboration with the wonderful Greg Thorpe. The piece responds to a 7min monologue from Anohni (of Anthony and the Johnsons) in which transgressive bodies, witch craft and the feminisation of religious icons are discussed.

Last time I performed this piece I was told by my partner that I looked like a “sexy mental patient” – probably one of the most honest and accurate critiques I’ve ever been given. Other beautiful weirdos like Rosie Garland, Jane Bradey and Trish Dee are also on the bill that night, so there’s certainly no shortage of wild inspiring women! Tickets available here.

 

The Wonder Women festival has been made possible by the People’s History Museum and Creative Tourist. Read the full festival line-up here.

Performing ‘reinState’ – A Mirror Ritual at Trans-States

A week ago I performed at the Trans-States conference, an interdisciplinary event examining ‘The Art of Crossing Over’. Despite it being the conference’s first year it attracted a huge number of internationally based scholars, artists and magical practitioners eager to communicate and cross-pollinate.

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Image by Marco Visconti

Highlights for me included Patricia McCormack’s keynote talk discussing ‘mucosal beginnings’  and monstrous desire in Lovecraft and popular culture and Alan Moore’s call to go forth and infuse magic back into our cultural imagination through art.

I discussed’Written in Skin : Flesh as A Language Frontier,’ framing mine and Loren’s performance project against Helen Cixous’s essay ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ and was scheduled to perform ‘reinState’ with Laura McGee. After finding out last minute that Laura couldn’t make it, with only a couple of weeks to reformulate something dealing with trans-states, identity and ‘crossing over’, I had to work fast to conceptualise something new.

The original reinState performance, still to be performed on the 8th Oct at HOME Mcr, hinged on the idea of two people meeting, fusing and then ‘reinstating’ themselves through dance. Performing this alone would have been impossible and so I conceived a way of doubling myself, still keeping the ‘restoration of an identity’ idea key.

On holiday in magical Wales I had an image of myself surrounded by a circle of mirrors, with a large full length in the centre. The mirrors were clearly markers of the four directions and the mirror in the centre represented myself. I kept coming back to the world ‘reinState’, defined as restoring something to it’s former power, and it became clear that before something could be reinstated it first needs to be changed or broken down in some way. The verb itself indicates a shift of power, something that has been removed or disrupted, being given back.

I started to play with the idea of a person who has never seen their reflection in a mirror before, like a child or an animal or someone stepping back into consciousness after a long period of mental disorientation. I liked the idea of enacting the mirror stage, treating your reflection as something alien and then explored what it would be like to fall in love with this reflection and even to be rejected by it.

I put together a playlist of music that would be the guiding force to this mirror ritual and threw in all kinds of tracks from Public Image Ltd’s ‘Death Disco’ and ‘Fodderstompf’ to Tom Waits ‘Hell Broke Luce’. Through this musical collage a story started to emerge; of awakening, of ‘coming back into’ my body, dancing, encountering the other, trying to befriend it, falling in love, becoming more and more frustrated as it remained cold and aloof and eventually destroying it.

 

The answer then became clear. I could reinstate my identity by reshaping the broken fragments in anyway I liked. I rebuilt a third entity, unlike myself or my reflection, a third person, an abstract deity and a consciousness beyond myself.

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‘compenSate – The Politics of Competition’ Performance art by Stefanie Elrick & Laura McGee

A video has emerged of my durational dance piece ‘compenSate – The Politics of Competition’ commissioned by Instigate Arts and performed at HOME Mcr in July with Laura McGee. I must say, in my decade of performance, I don’t think we have ever looked more lithe or graceful in a more subtle piece of art…

Stef Elrick & Laura McGee ‘The Politics Of Competition/Compensate’ – Ambition from Instigate Arts on Vimeo.

We were asked to respond to the theme of “ambition” and decided to explore the way people try to gain social advantages or just attention through their looks. I think a healthy dose of ambition is often a good thing, it makes you get things done – it makes you start businesses, write books or create new pieces of art – but when it becomes a dominant unchecked force in your personality it can make people blinkered and distorted, a weird and often dangerous combination. 

The beauty industry and fashion world is rife with blind ambition, alongside a lot of genuine ingenuity and creativity granted, but it’s definitely the dark side. Nicolas Winding Refn represents this beautifully in his controversial film Neon Demon which I absolutely loved (first film in a while with a final scene that left me speechless!) It’s a strange and alien world to me and so naturally, I’m fascinated.

I’m curious as to why men and women modify their bodies unnecessarily with face lifts, fake tan, injections in their saggy bits, skin bleaching, shaving off their own eyebrows and tattooing them on and countless other things I’ve probably never heard of to make bigger and better caricatures of their original selves.

compenSate sees two normal, healthy dancers competing for the attention of their audience. They begin plain and able bodied and through the course of their ridiculous and cumbersome alterations can no normal perform their choreography and become parodies of themselves.

The piece is hilarious and Laura and I had so much fun doing it. Thank you so much to Kevin and Anne for seeding the idea and giving us space to create. It even has a guest appearance by our very good friend Bren O’Callaghan.

So what do you think, is blind ambition a good thing?

Peaky Blinders meets a Village Fete – An Alternative Wedding of 3-Parts!

July – Sept is PEAK wedding season – so if you’re curious as to what I’ve been doing read more!

Alternative Weddings Manchester

July to August has been craaazy busy for Alternative Weddings Manchester and we faced our biggest challenge yet on Fri 5th August – a wedding of three parts!

To understand this very special day first you need a bit of background info on the happy couple. John and Sophie are the masterminds behind Manchester’s coolest underground art event – Art Battle Manchester, bringing ‘Art for the People, by the People’.  John and Sophie are all about creativity and expression and their lives are full of colourful characters, artists, good eggs and good vibes. This eclectic festival atmosphere was exactly what they wanted to share with their friends and family.

They had it all, literally, squeezing in a Humanist ceremony at Hallé St Peters in the afternoon, a thoroughly rustic feast at Hope Mill Theatre (provided by The Northern Pie Company and Taste the Love) and a Village fête / mini-festival in the evening with games, live art and…

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Clare and Gavin Worrall’s Socialist Shebang

When nearly every wedding shot looks like it could be an album cover, you know you’re doing a good job of creating Alternative Weddings.

Alternative Weddings Manchester

We all know the best things in life are worth waiting for – good food, fine wine, the loves of our lives and of course wedding pictures!

Huge thank you to Embee Photography who documented Clare and Gavin Worrall’s wedding and got some really brilliant snaps of the Bride and Groom strutting their stuff around Ancoats. We love it when wedding pictures look more like album covers and luckily our city is full of cool urban spots to make that happen!

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Clare and Gavin’s wedding was planned by Alternative Weddings Manchester and held in July 2016 across two locations. They chose to hold their civil ceremony at the People’s History Museum and their meal and reception at Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats, with catering by Samuel Tompkins and homemade gingerbread rum favors made by the Bride and Groom themselves.

Clare and Gavin were the loveliest couple who above all, wanted to have a laugh during their big day…

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