The Company of Imagination

Between 1985 and 1991 the Bungay-based The Company of Imagination created over thirty extraordinary arts projects that celebrated and animated landscapes through multi-arts site-specific activities, usually culminating in Animated Trails. These were a new art form developed by Jan Dungey, the founder of The Company of Imagination – part walk, part theatrical performance, part art installation, part magic.

Now, 31 years on, a new website has been set up to act as an archive for the work created by the company, and this is going to be launched at a special event in Bungay.

On Bank Holiday Monday, 29 August 2016, The Company of Imagination website will be unveiled at The Fisher Theatre in Bungay.

It will be an informal affair, starting at 3.00pm and will include an introduction to the website full of wonderful project photos and viewing of a couple of short videos, plus time for those who were involved as volunteers, actors, participants and guest artists to meet and reminisce  over cakes and refreshments. Everyone who remembers the company or is interested in environmental arts is welcome to come.Tickets are £5 to include refreshments, and are on sale from The Fisher Theatre or pay on the door.

The website is the brainchild of Nicky Stainton, who worked behind the scenes with Jan Dungey, as administrative and finance director, and now lives in nearby Harleston.

“I have kept boxes of photographs, transparencies and project records since we closed the company in 1991, meaning to do something with them. It occurred to me recently that if we didn’t digitise and put them online all trace of the company would completely disappear. If you can’t be found by Google you don’t exist.”

“This is really just the start,” she added. “I am hoping that people who were involved will get in touch through the website and send in their recollections, photographs or cuttings. We know that many people who contributed as part of the creative team or as volunteers are planning to be there on Monday, so it should be a lot of fun.”

They can contact Nicky via nmstainton@gmail.com.

The website is www.companyofimagination.co.uk 

History of The Company of Imagination

In 1982 Jan Dungey, who had a background as performer, director and creative collaborator with feminist theatre company The Cunning Stunts, and a passion for the environment, moved to Bungay on the Norfolk/Suffolk border with the idea of creating a unique arts collective that would be inspired by local places and people.

She brought with her fellow performers Helen Crocker and Jonathan Graham and they worked together as Rural Arts. Early projects that brought together natural history, folk lore and traditions with talks, workshops, exhibition, processions and performances around Bungay were The Flint, the Snail and the Ash Tree, The Common Pond, and a communal giant pancake-making event on Pancake Day. The projects involved residents, school children and local businesses.

The idea of Animated Trails took root and the first of these was the Animated Trail of Ely in Cambridgeshire (1985). It was commissioned by Ely Arts Association, Cambridgeshire Architecture Workshop and RIBA as part of the Festival of Architecture. The three-week project, involving eight professional artists/performers and culminating in five trail performances around Ely, became a template for future trails.

In 1985 a new core team was recruited and in 1987 the organisation became a registered charity and limited company under the name of The Company of Imagination. In addition to Jan Dungey as Artistic Director, Maggie Campbell and Amanda Glover became Project Directors, Nicky Stainton Administrative Director, Pam Cooke Co-Ordinator and Jacqui Kerrigan Research & Development Assistant.

The trustees included Roger Deakin, Alan Carter, Sarah Gentle, Lynda Ralph-Knight, Diana Shipp, Therese Wright and Marilyn Tolhurst.

In 1991 Jan left The Company of Imagination and moved to Kent. The company was wound up in early 1992 following the completion of the final project The Cycle of the Birds.

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