Return of The Inward Circles


 
And Right Lines Limit and Close All Bodies

1. Lye not in fear
2. The soul subsisting
3. In an hydropicall body
4. Scaleby, x
5. Nitre of the earth
6. Necks was a proper figure
7. If the nearnesse of our last
8. Scaleby, xi

Notes: Bury. Obliterate. Rediscover. Telluric currents. Chthonic energy.


 
Scaleby

1. Scaleby, i
2. Scaleby, ii
3. Scaleby, iii
4. Scaleby, iv
5. Scaleby, v
6. Scaleby, vi
7. Scaleby, vii
8. Scaleby, viii
9. Scaleby, ix

Notes: Funerary landscapes of northern Britain. A Cumbrian ‘bog body’, found 1845, ‘wrapped in what appeared to be the skin of a deer’.

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Pre-order the CD of And Right Lines here:

http://corbelstonepress.com/andrightlines.htm

Both albums are released in April.

Musica Subterranea

interdisinter-brinkburn-1

In January 2014 I buried a violin at a secret Newcastle location in the name of art. Previously, such activities were enacted as private gestures and referred to obliquely in writing, such as the poem Bond, from Landings. An instinctive act – following the impetus of a sacral, rather than cranial, brain – the gesture felt like an attempt to connect with telluric energies and edaphological processes, to open the creative act to external influence; a literal surrender of the materia musica in the hope that they may return transformed. It is worth reiterating that a physical transformation was not the original aim or desire. Like the principle of ‘contagious’ or ‘touching’ magic, the duration of interment was of secondary importance.

When thinking about this process for an AV Festival commission, however, a longer duration was felt to be more relevant to the festival’s theme of ‘extraction’. A period of one month was chosen, and I interred the violin, not without some ambivalence. Returning a month later, the instrument had formed a physical bond with the soil itself, and the disinterment took on the appearance of an archaeological dig. I wrote, without irony, that “in no other circumstance have the funerary aspects of this process been brought alive in such an emphatic way.” I also wrote that ‘extracting’ sounds from the violin would be like “interrogating the dead”. Listen for yourself:


 
The instrument was exhibited on a table in an anteroom of Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland, with a black tablecloth concealing a speaker system beneath playing the music on a loop. This created the effect of the music rising up through the table and animating the violin’s corpse, which, displayed in anatomised form, reminded me of an archaeological exhibit.

interdisinter-brinkburn-2

(Ie:)

skeleton-1

Two years later and there is still so much to work through. The violin-corpse, like so many archaeological artefacts, is now carefully shelved in an archive; not a living “storeroom in the peat”, but a dry, climate-controlled repository, clearly labelled for future reference. But for what purpose?

Twelve months later I released the album Belated Movements for an Unsanctioned Exhumation, August 1st 1984. The first composition, ‘Petition for Reinterment’, expresses an ambivalence about the exhumation, preservation and exhibition of bog bodies such as Lindow, Grauballe and Tollund Man. Do we have a right to discontinue their centuries-old, crushing embrace with the soil?

It only occurs to me later that there is an implicit self-reproach here. What about the violin whose body I bequeathed to the soil, albeit only for 30 days? If I always intended to recover it, is it subject to the same moral governance? Does its otherness, its non-humanness, grant it any special privilege, or conversely, does it grant me the right to exploit it as I see fit? Curiously, some people have expressed their distaste that I would subject a violin to such an ordeal. None of them seem in the least bit disturbed that we should cut down a tree in order to manufacture the violin in the first place. Perhaps a return to the soil – to pedogenesis and to telluric processes – is its most fitting and natural fate?

(Photos: copyright Colin Davison / AV Festival)

Memorious Earth / Ferae Naturae

A retrospective of my work with Autumn Richardson, informed by the south-west Cumbrian landscape, is on display at Abbot Hall and Blackwell from January 16th to March 14th.

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memorious-earth4

memorious-earth6

memorious-earth8

The catalogue of works is as follows:

ABBOT HALL

1337 (2013)
Wooden box, text, glass phials, dried flora.

348,168m2 (2015)
Text, caliper, glass phials of water and silt from Devoke Water.

A Partial Bibliography (2015)
Texts, sheep bone, oak leaf, bird’s nest.

Bark, Xylem (2013)
Booklet and music (Duration 12:06)

Relics (2013)
13 texts (420 x 594mm)

Rowk (2013)
Film and music (Duration 44:53)

Succession (2013)
Music (Duration 60:05)

The Singing of Minutiae (ii) (2013)
Text, glass jars and phials, found flora.

Ulfr Haugr (2015)
Wolf skeleton (on loan from Kendal Museum).

Ulpha Publications and Editions (2010-15)
Wolf Notes ( Folio Edition, 2010; Art Edition, 2011; Pamphlet, 2011), Ulpha Wheel (2012), Relics (2013), Wolfhou (2013), Of the Elm Delcine (2015).

Wolf Notes (2011)
Music (Duration 44:30)

blackwell-2

blackwell-6

blackwell-10

BLACKWELL

Become a Ford (2013)
12 texts (148 x 210mm).

Before the River (2015)
Become a Ford (Pamphlet, 2013), Hem the Margins (Pamphlet, 2015), two jars of water and silt from Devoke Water.

Elements in a Private Ritual (2015)
Water from Dunnerdale Beck, dried oak bark, dried birch leaves, dried nettle, silt from Devoke Water.

Limnology (2012)
Book and music (Duration 28:48)

Limnology (Art Edition) (2012)
Portfolio, music CD, postcard, lithograph, various prints.

Nimrod is Lost in Orion and Osyris in the Doggestarre (2014)
Music (Duration 58:24)

Relics (ii) (2014)
Small wooden box of acorns, five heather roots.
Wooden box, four phials of oak and Caledonian pine bark, sheep bone, usnea, robin pellet, owl pellet, birch leaf, three hazel twigs.
Unidentified bark, oak leaf.

The Singing of Minutiæ (i) (2012)
Unidentified aromatic bog plant in flower, bog myrtle leaves, English blue-bell flower casings, red campion flower casings.
Unidentified feathers, alder catkins, unidentified grass panicles, oak bark, magpie feather, English blue-bell seeds, jack-by-the-hedge seed pods, juniper, pheasant feather, unidentified grass head, alluvium, bracken root.
Usnea, thistle and bark.

ferae-naturae1

ferae-naturae2

ferae-naturae3

ferae-naturae4

Over the past eighteen months I had the opportunity to visit the collection of the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, and the Collingwood Archive at Abbot Hall. The result of this research is a ‘Museum of Ferae Naturae’, produced in collaboration with the Notional Research Group for Cultural Artefacts. The exhibition explores the persecution and veneration of animal life through artefacts and documents held in the MOLLI collection, as well as the Kendal Museum.

A book of the Ferae Naturae exhibition is published by Lakeland Arts.

Findings

Findings
Findings
Findings
Findings

Three recent finds from what has become an almost daily walk here at the head of the valley, crossing the Dunnerdale Beck twice. My vague idea was to walk the same track for at least a year – to observe and remember, without taking notes, or ‘responding’ through artistic means. I thought that perhaps duration was important here. That if I got the chance to observe the same landscape, and walk the same track, for a full year, then I would be better prepared to ‘respond’ when the time came. It’s now been 18 months and more, and what I’ve learned is that each day is different, regardless of the preceding year. Today I talked to a man who has lived in the valley for over 30 years, and he remarked on the profusion of small umbellifers that congregate the meadows and verges – the like of which he has never seen before.

I’ve occasionally allowed myself to collect certain findings. In a way these speak more eloquently than I ever could. The tiny bird’s nest is particularly exquisite, fashioned almost entirely out of a knot of sheep’s wool threaded with moss, lichen, hair and feathers. I found it in the verge and so small is it that I can’t help but think that it was brought down by a gale before it was completed.