The original poet in a shed Shedman, John’s alter ego, is inspired by all kinds of sheds – garden sheds and aircraft hangars, shed antlers or skins, shedding tears or shedding light. He creates workshops and events that explore the place of the shed - and literature - in everyone’s hearts, using sheds as the focus for a unique interaction with people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.
He's spawned a hundred emulators, triggered a complete category of site specific micro-venue installations and set a model that dozens of other artists have followed, but as literary funster Shedman, John Davies remains the master of the small space interaction.
‘A refreshingly different approach to an arts residency. A memorable mixed media installation with a very human face. He brought new visitors to the museum and struck a chord with people from many different backgrounds…His residency was a motivating and energising process for all involved... I can recommend him unhesitatingly to other organisations seeking a different approach to the integration of community, arts and cultural activities.’ John Cooper Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton
In the role of his alter ego, Shedman, John encourages and empowers people to gain access to poetry as a container for feeling and as a mode of expression. He does this by building a temporary structure, a shed, as a physical embodiment and metaphor of poetry and the poem itself, a temporary structure in language. He positions the shed at critical points of intersection in people’s lives – such as a busy shopping centre, a school, a hospital, a station, a road junction - to create awareness of the inherent poetic content of everyday life. He invites people into the shed to engage in experimental interactions, to remember in tranquillity and to create poetry and poetic narratives for themselves, focused on the location and their connections with it.
As a trigger to the process of creating poetry Shedman runs innovative al fresco poetry/creative writing workshops. He creates the opportunity for people to encounter poetry with impromptu performances. Local poets, writers and those who know they want to explore writing as a mode of expression - from youthful rappers to seventy-year-old sonneteers - gather at the shed as a ‘base’ to present and perform.
Shedman records these encounters and explorations on video, stills and audio. They become an audio-visual collection of the project and the process – visible online. The products and outputs of the public process – the poems and poetic narratives of the people are also presented online and in print. Variable in quality (in terms of formal poetics) the texts can be profoundly moving and create a store of emotion specific to place, time and project. These raw materials can be transmuted into new forms in interactive digital media, online and in audio-visual presentations and performances.
'Shedman was the outstanding hit of the Festival; he was both the focal point of the street entertainment and a tangible manifestation of the festival's aims of connecting with all ages and all sections of the community in interesting and dynamic ways. He is also a PR dream - there isn't a Press Release in the world that can't be improved by adding "and a poet in a shed" at the end!' Lucy Flannery, Director, Havant Literary Festival
Major public engagement projects as Shedman
- Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival
- Fusion Festival West Dean
- Our Storeys with artist Sue Ridge, North Middlesex University Hospital
- Daventry Festival
- Dorchester Festival
- World Book Day and Night, Brighton Jubilee Library
- Sustainable Cities Day, Brighton
- Havant Literary Festival
- West Meon Literary Festival
- Pigbaby Literary Party Weekend, Sussex
- Ledbury Poetry Festival
- The Big Weekend in Cambridge
- Runnynmede International Literary Festival
- Pevensey Community Festival
- Horsham Festival
- Outside In with artist Sue Ridge, Eastbourne & Hastings hospitals
- Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Conference, Chichester
- Small Wonder Short Story Festival at Charleston, East Sussex
- Weald WoodFair at Bentley in East Sussex
- The Bird Fair at the Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust Centre, Arundel, West Sussex
- Redbridge Show, Redbridge
- Appledore Visual Arts Festival, Devon
- First Shedman project Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton
- Dragon Shedman Workshops at Weston super Mare schools
- Second World War Shedman at Eastbourne Technology College working with teenagers and former evacuees as part of a WRVS Heritage Project
- Rural Shedman - a week at Worle Community College in Somerset
- Pigshedman workshops - a special project for the Kent High Weald Unit walking with schoolchildren in the High Weald
- Aircraft Shedman – workshops for Horsham schools to commemorate 100 years of flight