PODCAST: One Single Tear

The third of three podcasts by Natalie Steed provoked by Clare Whistler’s Residency at the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions in 2013-14. Clare made a film inspired by the Jewish Cemetery in the Mile End Campus and commissioned a new setting of a George Herbert text from Kerry Andrew.

“I have not lost one single tear:
But when mine eyes
Did weep to heav’n, they found a bottle there
(As we have boxes for the poor)
Readie to take them in; yet of a size
That would contain much more

“But after thou hadst slipt a drop
From thy right eye,
(Which there did hang like streamers neare the top
Of some fair church, to show the sore
And bloudie battell which thou once didst trie)
The glass was full and more.”

qmul image of Jewish Cemetery

In the middle of QMUL’s Mile End campus lies the remnants of the Novo Cemetery (Beth Chaim) which was awarded Grade II listed status in April 2014. The gravestones are laid flat in the Sephardic tradition to symbolise the equality of all in death.

The site is only part of a much larger cemetery, which was opened in 1733, that was redeveloped by QMUL during the 1970’s and 1980’s. What remains is part of an 1855 extension to the original site, with around 2000 graves of the original 9500. What

Near the middle of the cemetery there is a circular enclosure, surrounded by a low stone wall, which marks the place a number of graves were damaged during a bomb blast in the second world war.

Clare Whistler has worked with a dancer and filmmaker to create a short film inspired by the cemetery with the dancer acting as a “tear” finding her way to the central, circular enclosure.

Alongside this she commissioned a new setting of part of George Herbert’s poem Praise (III) from the composer and singer Kerry Andrew.

In this podcast Clare talks about making the film and we hear some of George Herbert’s poem, read by Peter Marinker, and the new piece of music.

Read about and listen to all of the related podcasts.

Read more about ‘Weather, tears, and waterways’.