Dora Colquhoun

Liverpool Biennial | Would You Like A Seat?

I watch an ant crawling into a crack in the pavement. I see how uneven the concrete filling is. I look at my size 7 feet and back to the ant. It disappears into a space that I cannot fill. I am here, present, in my own space. I think of the other ants, particles, microbes, and wonder: does the Friday afternoon ant consider me? Am I bothering the ant? I am impressed by its presence, but can I control it?

Right,  left. Right. Left. Turn and Come back, ant! Let’s repeat this, back to our positions; start again. I would love to start again. Again start. I want to talk to you, ant! It’s all happening up here, I guess it’s all happening down there too. My father got asked if he could spell W O R L D backwards in an important assessment. It’s called PIP and they make big important decisions. People with Multiple Sclerosis are being called for reassessment, to come back and do it all again. MS is a progressive condition. A muscle wasting disease. Time wasting reassessment. Yet they must return. Start again. Again start.

Can you spell ‘W O R L D’ backwards, ant?

Can you spell ‘W O R L D’ backwards?

If I say it louder you might be able to do it, or perhaps if I whisper it in hushed tones. Ant, can you do the Hokey Cokey and turn around? That’s what it’s all about. We have to ask these questions to make sense of things, create some order. Without order, systems, syntax, synopsis, where would we be? Be we would where. Still here. Momentarily. Moments gone.

Ant, may I share with you a memory that I had as a child? I remember running in a circle, playing with balance and enjoying the feeling of dizziness spreading throughout my body. The floor seemed to move, the world became blurry and I felt the force of frantic movement in my body in relation to the space. In that moment, I knew the world was weird. I was curious - children are though, aren’t they? Are ants curious? As time passes one grows bigger, grows into size 7 feet. Time speeds up. The candles on the cake burn shorter. People become less curious and more concerned. They don’t always offer you a seat. Perhaps there is good reason to be concerned. I once stood outside a skip and took control of the situation. I said confidently ‘ please do not look in the skip’ to passers-by. Well, immediately heads craned to see the forbidden fruit. This was not my skip, until I commanded it to be so. I was the Skip King; in charge of where people looked. Self-appointed, self-anointed Skip King.

My true intention, Friday afternoon ant, is to offer you a seat. In a lovely comfortable chair. To give you access, frame the space you occupy, offer comfort. A warm blanket to cover your waterproof exoskeleton. You might like to listen to Vaughn Williams’ ‘Lark Ascending’. This is Desert Island Discs’ most selected piece of music. You can really hear that Lark ascend.

A cold cut gammon of truth is: some people aren’t allowed to sit at all. But you understand, no sitting for you worker ant, too busy protecting the queen. It’s the way of the world. You get comfortable seat sitters who have never moved. I would like to take a big giant muddy boot and knock those comfortable seat sitters off. Knock them off their block. Perhaps they would fall face down on the floor and take a closer gaze at you, Friday afternoon ant. It’s good to have different perspectives.

Dora Colquhoun is a neurodivergent artist and theatre maker based in the North West. She is collaborating with the Liverpool Biennial to conduct the intervention ‘Would you like a seat?’ She is a versatile performer who is interested in making bold, humorous work. Dora is a storyteller at heart and uses many artistic forms to create performance that comments on the world around us. Her most recent achievements include writing and performing ‘ADHD The Musical: Can I Have Your Attention Please?’ Supported by the Arts Council and Dadafest


Aaron Williamson

‘Hiding in 3D’ | IKON, Birmingham

Alex Billingham

Fishwives Revenge | Tate St Ives

Alice Quarterman

Untitled: Why Are You Writing That Down? I Said It’s Untitled | John Hansard Gallery, Southampton

Alistair Gentry

25% (Rectification) | Tate Liverpool