“If I could visualise or describe that over-mind in my own case, I should say this: it seems to me that a cap is over my head, my forehead, affecting a little my eyes. Sometimes when I am in this state of consciousness, things about me appear slightly blurred as if seen under water.” 
Bryony Gillard presents a new body of work exploring relationships between experiences of transformation, retreat and resistance.
The project draws on the writings of the Modernist poet H.D and her experiences of psychic breakdown and creative and sexual awakening on the Isles of Scilly in 1919. After a period of severe trauma in her life, H.D withdrew to the islands with her lover and collaborator Bryher. During this time of retreat, she had what she referred to as her ‘jelly-fish experience’ — a state of autonomous sexuality and creativity described through the metaphor of a jellyfish; tentacled connections between female erotic body and mind.
Considering the ‘jelly-fish experience’ as a state of being that disrupts and refuses categorisation, Gillard’s work explores peripheral landscapes as transformative; enabling experiences that exist beyond the otherwise visible or thinkable; providing refuge to exist outside of what is accepted and understood.
The work features documentation from a peer led workshop with artist Viki Browne, dancer Danni Spooner, writer and researcher D-M Withers, vocal improviser Maggie Nicols and the artist. Drawing on an essay H.D wrote about her experiences, Notes on Thought and Vision, the group followed the tentacles of their own ‘jelly-fish experiences’ through movement, voice and reading exercises, improvisation and discussion.
Footage shot on St. Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly — the site of H.D’s transformations in 1919 — is brought into a tentacular web with these shared explorations, layered against a soundtrack that weaves together vocal improvisation, transcribed excerpts of discussion and H.D’s essay and additional improvisation recorded with musicians, Autobitch.
Through different modes of thinking, feeling, looking and listening, A cap like water, transparent, fluid yet with definite body is a collective endeavour to explore states of ‘jelly-fish’ being, unfurling into the space created by H.D’s ground breaking work.
 H.D (1919), Notes on Thought and Vision (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1982)
// FILM CREDITS
A cap like water, transparent, fluid yet with definite body
Bryony Gillard ©2018
With contributions from Viki Browne, Maggie Nicols, D-M Withers, Danni Spooner and Autobitch
Voiceover by Jen Conway
Editing and sound design – Bryony Gillard
Camera and sound design – Oliver Sutherland
Additional sounds from Agnes Hay, Gail Chester, Eva Megias, Emma Thatcher, Avril Harwood, Nat Brown and Matt Slater.
The project is indebted to H.D and her essay Notes on Thought and Vision (1919)
Project supported by Arts Council England, Croydon Council, FEAST and the Peninsula Arts Film Award