#20 – The Art of Presence

For a storyteller presence is a very important asset

There is a good reason why it comes up in so many workshops with so many different exercises to achieve it. So, is presence something that can be learned? Or trained? To be honest – I really don’t know.
But I am pretty sure that Colin Urwin never had to bother with presence in his storytelling life. He just has it.

I first encountered Colin during the Sean McCarthy Festivals in Finuge – first as a singer and the day after as a storyteller. Both times I felt shaken awake just by this man entering the stage.
Then, during the course of my travels I had ample opportunity to listen to Colin. I had four CDs of him – three with stories and one with music.

There are a lot of storytellers that I’m really thrilled and inspired by. But there are only a few

that ever so often touch the depth of my heart with their stories, their voice and their way of telling their stories.

Colin Urwin does exactly that as a songwriter, as an author, as a singer and as a storyteller. This gift I can’t analyse – just as I can’t analyse the gift of presence. Which is a shame. It would help my career a lot if I could.

My stay in Ireland ended with the Cape Clear Storytelling Festival.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for Colin’s show at the festival.
‘The Little Gold Ring’ is a story about the Spanish armada and how parts of it end up near the North Irish coast. It is a story about greed and of course about love.
It is an enchanting tapestry woven from historic facts and legends in which Colin closes some gaps that historic science still has with his own tales. And these tales are so deeply rooted in Colin’s love for his home county that they might as well just be true.
Songs, drums, verses and tales bring this tapestry to life and make it so rich that I wouldn’t have needed another story for the next few days …

You hear Colin’s love for County Antrim very clearly in his stories

But this love is not only the artist’s love in an academical way. It is a very grounded, down to earth, make your hands dirty love.
We are three storytellers from three different countries and we have an appointment with Colin. For breakfast.

Breakfast is great!

Sitting somewhere cosy and warm, drinking a cup of coffee. Well, not with Colin: “Let’s grab some bread and some cheese and then we can have a picknick outside.”
Strengthened by the picknick and the sea air we explore the heathered hills along the wild Irish coast.
I spent quite a big part of my travels in nature, but I seldom felt so close to it as I did on this day.

So, what bestows presence on a person?

Is it the closeness to nature with the big portion of grounding that comes with it? Is it the many different creative outlets that one might have to observe and accompany one’s surroundings and life itself?
I’ll have to ask Colin Urwin the next time I meet him …

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