Despite the buzzing atmosphere at the inaugural screening of Eleanor, Alex Warren and Tobias Ross-Southall’s cinematic installation starring BAFTA nominee Ruth Wilson, Camden’s Cob Gallery filled with a palpable sense of loneliness.
The beautifully shot short film, which communicates the distinctive personal narratives of three women – all played by Wilson – meandering alone through London on a single night, is the result of collaborations with several of the UK’s brightest artistic talents.
For the dialogue, contemporary playwrights Polly Stenham, Michael Lesslie and Anya Reiss were asked to reimagine famous poems by Robert Frost, W. H. Auden and Leonard Cohen in the context of modern London. The result is sensual and intense, especially when paired with a stirring series of instrumental compositions; Eleanor‘s score features music from The Mystery Jets’ Blaine Harrison and Johnny Lloyd of Tribes fame, as well as an emotive collaboration by Romany Pajdak and Kristen McNally of The Royal Ballet.
As Wilson combs the pebbled banks of the Thames; slips through the dark, shining streets in a taxi; and travels from a table for one at a blue-lit bar to an exotic and sensual dream sequence, the viewer’s eye is fluidly drawn from one story to the next across a triptych of screens. It’s a heady and loaded experience, and it forces you reflect on the complex stories behind the faces you pass in the city every day.
In addition to the filmic installation, the Cob Gallery plays host to artworks inspired by the original Auden, Cohen and Frost poems, produced by Camden’s young creatives. These wonderfully inventive postcard pieces – intimate messages to the city – feature a range of media from embroidery to illustration, collaged razor blades to photography. These postcards are now for sale, with proceeds going to the Cob Gallery’s new youth charity, Cobble Together for the Arts.
Inside, the rising stars of the film world collide with fresh voices rooted in the harsh realities of urban life. Outside, London’s non-fictional characters walk through the darkness unnoticed.