UK Performance Art

DDart Performance Art, UK 1972-1984

As a young sculptor and film maker intrigued by the human and geometric form I became involved in creating sculptural performance for its own sake during my time at Leeds School of Art 1972 – 1975. I was fortunate to have personal tutors who included the brilliant British performance poet and pioneering performance artist, Jeff Nuttall; large scale spectacle creator and founder of “Welfare State” John Fox; sound designer and performer John Darling of “John Bull”; and performance artist Roland Miller.

DDart evolved out of a large travelling performance art group, “Soft Soap” which I founded and refereed in the early seventies. DDart’s aim was to create striking visual images in public places as performance artists. We believed in the ability of the general public to access, enjoy and be stimulated by our artwork in a public place rather than an art gallery. We were many years ahead of our time.

Performances were sometimes absurd and often challenging. This led to numerous encounters with the local constabulary. I doubt these days in the UK it would be possible to create this work without arrest and interrogation. We were certainly stopped many times and arrested several times but not what you might describe as, interrogated.

These works were always created unannounced in busy public places. We never explained anything to the public, politely declining to speak. The public were free to come to their own conclusions as to what we were doing and why. Sometimes our lack of explanation drove people to distraction.

The original members of DDart were; Dennis DeGroot, Raym Richards, David Lewis and Tony Emerton. After a few years this refined to Dennis DeGroot and Raym Richards who worked continuously together as guerrilla performance artists around Britain and Europe (including a visit to Australia where thier work was appreciated) over a twelve year period.

“This is performance art at its very best – public, taught, energetic, challenging and with actions speaking very much louder than words.” 

Performance magazine UK, December-January 1984. View page 5… Read entire magazine

“They see themselves as sculptors manipulating objects in space but their work is carried on outside of the traditional gallery spaces, and the demands of the art market. Their work is exciting and remains experimental, because they stay outside, literally by performing in public places, but also because they are true art outlaws”

Performance Magazine UK, December-January 1984. View pages 32-36… Read entire magazine

“9.45 am. We were watched by the morning commuters in St James Park and as we passed the Palace on our way to Victoria station… 9pm. We arrived in the middle of the Paris rush hour and performed through the streets to the Arc de Triomphe”

Performance Magazine June-July 1984. View pages 34-36… Read entire magazine

DDart Public Performance Art – documentation

Included in this album are photos from the DDart “Circular Walk” in which we walked as precise a circle as existing pathways allowed over seven days, walking around forty kilometers per day; “Cube Move” where we moved a one ton mirrored cube across the peak district in Derbyshire over a week; “Mirror Move” where we transported three mirrored icosahedrons across a similar terrain and timeline; “DDart Take a Break” where we travelled on a week long package holiday to Spain as a piece of living sculpture, performing 24/7 (we actually traveled on the plane like that too) and “London to Paris” a continuous eighteen hour performance. Also included a selection from a series of performances around the UK from our “In the Garden” series and other performances.

Thanks to Michael Bennett for most of the photos and Manuel Serra De Rivera for the photos in Spain.

Circular Walk 1976

This piece of “Performance Art as Myth” we considered to be a great success. It created enormous controversy at the time and was discussed at length by people who had never seen it. DDart’s “Circular Walk” was pilloried by the British popular press and debated in Parliament.

DDart Circular Walk 1976
DDart Circular Walk 1976
DDart Circular Walk 1976
DDart Circular Walk 1976

In the Garden and other performances 1977-81

Over a period of years we created a series of twenty one unannounced and unexplained performances which when marked on a map created a pattern (in blue) of a snail.

In the Garden (in blue)
In The Garden
In The Garden
In The Garden
In The Garden
In The Garden
In The Garden
In The Garden
In The Garden
Neons Leeds 1979
Bath Festival 1978 (stopped by police)

Cube Move 1981

We moved a one ton mirrored cube across the Derbyshire Peak District over a week.

Cube Move 1981
Cube Move 1981
Cube Move 1981

DDart Take a Break 1983

We travelled on a week long package tour to Spain as a piece of living sculpture, (we actually travelled on the plane like that too). A seven day non-stop performance.

DDart Take a Break 1983
DDart Take a Break 1983
DDart Take a Break 1983
DDart Take a Break 1983

Mirror Move 1983

We transported three mirrored icosahedrons across the Derbyshire Peak District over a week.

Mirror Move 1983
Mirror Move 1983
Mirror Move 1983

London to Paris 1984

We travelled from London to Paris and back in two continuous eighteen hour performances.

London to Paris 1984
London to Paris 1984
London to Paris 1984