Autumn 2020 | Common Salt


Current Event

Common Salt – exploring trade, colonialism and culture through performance
at Urban Room Folkestone, One the Plaza, Tram Road Car Park, Folkestone

Originally scheduled for 25 April, due to the coronavirus outbreak Common Salt has been postponed until Autumn 2020, date TBC.

The colonial, geographical history of England and India are explored in Common Salt. This ‘show and tell’ is a performance for a small audience around a table, using objects, words and laments to tell stories about nature, empire and memory.

The work by artists Sheila Ghelani and Sue Palmer has been specially developed for museums, libraries, and historic places with collections and untold stories. Supported by Arts Council England, the performance is touring to venues across the country, including The British Library.

Common Salt activates insights into a shared past. During the performance, the artists lay out a ‘home museum’ of objects and stories, and take the audience on an expansive and emotional journey through time, from the first Enclosure Act and the start of the East India Company in the 1600s, to 21st century narratives of trade, empire and culture. The performers take tangents and connect stories around borders and the economic and social history of trade. They include the forgotten history of the Great Hedge of India, a customs barrier built by the British across India to collect a salt tax, and the work of Eliza Brightwen, a 19th century naturalist, collector and writer. The tales are brought together with laments accompanied by a Shruti box –  a small Indian harmonium.

Sue Palmer said:

We undertook months of research into the many threads that go into Common Salt, exploring the interconnectedness between history and global power, artefact and trade, race and memory, and to question the collective amnesia that seems to travel beside history. We were inspired by the form of the ‘show and tell’ and the ‘nature table’ so we created this intimate performance for just 25 people around a table.”