Salt Act: Merseyside Artist Inviting Participation In Open Dialogues Inspired By Gandhi

Clare Brumby marches with the great grandson of Gandhi on Day One of the Salt March

A live artist from Merseyside has undertaken a ground breaking project that saw her travel to India to walk in Mahatma Gandhi’s footsteps.

In March this year, Clare Brumby from Halewood travelled to India to re-enact the famous Civil Rights Leader’s 24 day ‘Salt March’ as part of an artistic cultural project that will educate and inspire change in the world.

Unfortunately, after just 10 days the march was brought to an abrupt halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Clare, along with three other foreigners, in quarantine until she could finally return home.

The original ‘Salt March’ began on 12th March 1930, when Gandhi left his Ashram in Ahmedabad to begin a 240 mile walk in an act of defiance against the British Salt Act – a rule that forced Indians to buy salt from the British and pay ‘Salt Tax’. He was joined along the route by 80 other marchers and walked 10 miles a day to Dandi, where he sourced and produced his own salt.

On 12th March 2020, 90 years later to the day, along with over 100 other people, Clare Brumby began following in Gandhi’s footsteps as part of her Arts Council England funded project called ‘Salt Act’. Following a commemorative ceremony at Gandhi’s Ashram in Ahmedabad, Clare embarked upon the pilgrimage with a core group of around 20 people from India, the U.S and Netherlands. Heading the walk was none other than Tushar Gandhi – the great grandson of the iconic figure.

Along the way, Clare interviewed local people in the villages and towns she passed through – capturing the changes they wish to see in the world, including things such as better sanitation, India fulfilling its potential as a nation and world peace. Clare talked to people along the route about how Gandhi created positive change in the world.

Having now returned safely home to a very different Liverpool, Clare has decided to use the inspiration of Gandhi’s non-violent protest to initiate a number of open dialogues online with local people. Using deep listening techniques and recording conversations about what changes they would like to see in the world, the dialogues are open for anyone to participate. The data from these dialogues will be used to produce a large collaborative yoga performance with choreographer Donna Unwin, to take place online in June this year, featuring a group of 80 participants recruited through the project.

From 11th May 2020, participants are invited to join in a week-long programme of free drop-in dialogue sessions, where people can come together to discuss and reimagine a new world after lockdown. Each day will feature a new topic of discussion and will respond to the participants involved. Also that week, people are invited to engage in a series of free and fun online dance/yoga fusion sessions. Participants will then be given instructions on how to take part in the online mass mobilisation performance piece, taking place on Sunday 21st June 2020.

Anyone can take part in the free sessions and the final performance, with no previous yoga or dance experience necessary. Sign up online to receive news and links to participate HERE.

This unique commemoration of Gandhi’s non-violent protest aims to bring cultures and communities together and explore how art and artists can bring about positive social change. With a focus on individuals uniting in solidarity, ‘Salt Act’ is an experiment in the power of modern mass mobilisation and ‘holding onto truth’, first explored in Gandhi’s original march.

Clare told us: The project’s main focus has always been how people create positive social change through human connection. With the current pandemic, that change already seems to be happening, so what it’s providing us with is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine our world, post-lockdown. I want to capture this significant point in history by giving people a space to connect and also re-emerge dancing from this crisis in a show of unity, strength and resilience.”