Participatory Vigils 2 - Richard Layzell - 26th Nov 1983

Submitted by root on Thu, 02/11/2016 - 16:38

The Vigil


Called  'Hands and Feathers' the performance took place in an area hung from ceiling to floor with long strips of paper which contained repeated drawings of a symbolic hand/bird form, where the outstretched fingers became the wings.

These strips also represented a reaching through the space as a kind of flight.

The room A drawing of hands as wings

Above the space at the start of the Vigil and right an image of hands as wings - the kind of drawing which appeared on the strips of paper.

Richard also  brought with him two caged birds. The caged birds were an acknowledgement of the captivity of natural creatures and the bird as a form    waBird in cage spotlits more than a symbol of peace, it also represented the unattainable (for humans) the force of flight.

There was an audiotape of the sound of birds and images of  a landscape which was projected on a film loop.

Right a caged bird spot lit and suspended from the ceiling

The area was dimly lit : spotlights highlighted specific actions as the Vigil progressed.

The Activity

Wearing a second-hand suit, with several large hand-made badges that had images of hands and feathers on them, Richard moved through the space, during the 12 hours of The Vigil, using gestures  based on a combination of Tai Chi moves and wing beats.

The Vigil

Above images of Richard moving in the space roughly in chronological order.

During the performance Richard only spoke when interacting with the audience. However the performance was accompanied by music provide by musicians which included fine art students from Newport College of Art.    

The musicians playing whilst Richard performedPlaying drums during Richards Vigil

Above the musicians accompanying The Vigil

At the time Richard created this work he was deeply involved as an artist with the peace movement and lived in a house that became the London office of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp.


Visitors could  create cut out bird shapes in the tradition of paper cuts - these were then displayed against a black background.

Cut out bird shapesCut out bird shapes

Above the cut out birds on display 

Visitors were also invited to draw their personal image of peace (except for the CND sign) which were then displayed as part of the environment.

Young person creating a work about birdsWorking directly onto paper already part of the wall

The wall of works

Above Peace Images being created by visitors to the Vigil and the wall on which they were displayed.