Skye

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Film stills from a recent research trip to the isle of Skye, Scotland, resulting from a commission from Atlas Arts as part of their A Work for the North Atlantic. The footage is partly informed by fragments from Hebridean ‘waulking’ songs which reference landscape or weather.

See my Atlas Arts blog post for more details.

Of the Elm Decline

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Of the Elm Decline

Towards a new versification: A line crossed, back and forth. Figures – datum and metaphor. Object and subject, inextricably enmeshed. The line scores, stitches, encloses, underpins. The bi-polar problem: Organic/inorganic, sentience/unconsciousness. The poem as interim report, the table as imaginative prism.

Of the Elm Decline is published in Memorious Earth : A Longitudinal Study.

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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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)

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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.

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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.

Nimrod is lost in Orion and Osyris in the Doggestarre

Nimrod

Nimrod

Nimrod

Nimrod

Nimrod

Nimrod

Nimrod

Nimrod

Once a place becomes part of one’s inner landscape, the imagination – knowing no bounds or decorum – stitches it into its own patchwork of memory, dreams and reveries. It is subsumed into a greater fiction, and roads or trackways to other places, real or imagined, appear. Nimrod is an accretion of these imaginal processes – an auditory, textual and visual entanglement of the real and unreal, a blending of document and invention.


 
The excerpted texts that make up the accompanying book come from a range of sources, united by a hyper-sensitivity to nature itself; a desire to understand and come to terms with its ‘hidden state’. They are figures in the landscape, some of whom construct elaborate systems of classification and natural philosophy, others who seem wounded by their very affinities, and others still who seem lost, or are institutionalised. The tone of the work as a whole – which finds its analogue in the music – is aptly evoked in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poignant phrase:

‘nature in all her parcels and faculties gaped and fell apart’.

There is a sense of things on the verge of collapse, of despair and regret.The combination of music, text and image in Nimrod offer such a glimpse, that it can paint the picture of a wood through which slanting light dimly traces other forms.

http://corbelstonepress.com/nimrod.htm

NB: My thanks go to Julian Hyde, and Rob & Barbara at Fireside Books.

Wordsworth & Basho Exhibition

From the WALK website:

Wordsworth and Bashō: Walking Poets is an exhibition of original and facsimile copies of manuscripts by William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Matsuo Bashō. They are shown alongside new work by contemporary UK and Japanese artists who have responded to the manuscripts, and what originally inspired them, in ways that are as fresh, creative and radical now as Wordsworth and Basho were during their lives. Artists in the show include:

Ewan Clayton, Ken Cockburn, Mike Collier, Alec Finlay, Christine Flint-Sato, Zaffar Kunial, Eiichi Kono, Manny Ling, Chris McHugh, Nobuya Monta, Inge Panneels, Andrew Richardson, Autumn Richardson, Nao Sakamoto, Minako Shirakura, Richard Skelton, Ayako Tani and Brian Thompson.

The two new works I created were ‘I Know Not Where’ and ‘Still Glides the Stream’:

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“Walked I know not where’ is a line from Dorothy Wordworth’s Alfoxden journal, which – with its implicit indeterminacy – seemed to me an oblique invitation to reconfigure her text, to point at hitherto unknown destinations. 200 words were chosen and presented as a ‘map’ through which the viewer may walk, thereby constructing their own ‘word-paths’. Another panel displayed the results of my own such wanderings through her text.

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‘Still Glides the Stream’ is a distillation and examination of William Wordsworth’s ‘Duddon’ Sonnets, plumbing its depths for the presence of ancient ‘water-words’ in the Celtic and Germanic language families.

Unfortunately, there was insufficient room on the information panels to print the meanings of the ‘lost’ water words, which are therefore – in a sense – doubly lost. Since ‘Still Glides the Stream’ is about salvage, this is a rather ironic state of affairs, but it does at least serve to underline the reality of language loss. The meanings are printed below:

á [old norse] river
an [goidelic celtic] water
ar [goidelic celtic] water
ar [brittonic celtic] an ancient river-name element
as [goidelic celtic] cataract, waterfall
àth [goidelic celtic] ford
eá [anglo-saxon] river
ea [cumberland dialect] gap, outlet; found in river names
eas [goidelic celtic] cataract, waterfall, cascade
ey [cumberland dialect] island or river-side ground
òs [goidelic celtic] mouth of a river
óss [old norse] mouth or outlet of a river or lake

Wordsworth and Bashō: Walking Poets is on display at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, UK, until the 2nd of November.

http://wordsworth.org.uk/visit/walking-poets.html

Sketches from Snape

After my initial visit to Snape Maltings, Suffolk, I began, over the winter, to work on a number of ideas that could be realised in a musical performance. The first of these, ‘EA’ is a continuation of the riverine themes of ‘From Which the River Rises’ and ‘Limnology’, taking its inspiration – not from the narrow, quick rills and becks of upland Cumbria, but from Suffolk’s Alde, as it widens and slows in its estuarine stage, before unloading its burden into the sea.

As an attentiveness to local flora and fauna has become central to my work over the past few years, I also pursued this path again, making a list of species informed by my wanderings along the Alde, and books consulted thereafter, including W.M. Hind’s ‘The Flora of Suffolk’, which mentions plants growing at Snape, albeit from over a century ago.

Based on my memory of a supremely flat landscape, and one therefore in which the sky and earth seemed held in perfect balance, I narrowed the list to airborne species (ie: birds) and to rooted or rhizomatous species (ie: plants), and from these, chose five of each to work with. I then compiled a list of local and folk-names for each species, producing a text ‘score’ which can be realised simply by being read.

In order to realise this piece musically, I created a number of phrases printed on cards, to be interpreted by a group of players:

Score Card (Snape)

Score Card (Snape)

Score Card (Snape)

Score Card (Snape)

Over the past few days, the Elysian Quartet have been working with the score, creating a new piece from which the following is a brief sample:

I Know Not Where

A plurality of narratives exist within any apparently linear text; a multitude of different paths are on offer, if only we care to look beyond the tyranny of the straight line.

walked alone:

adders-tongue
low ferns
advances of stitchwort
found under trees

ceaseless lark
small furze spinning
a thin strange brook
perpetual murmur

A detour through Dorothy Wordsworth’s Alfoxden Journal, in preparation for work in a forthcoming exhibition at the Wordsworth Trust.

Errata

Limnology Errata (front)

The ‘glossary’ that comprises the latter section of Limnology is a digest of many other texts, presented literatim. However, in the case of O’Reilly’s Irish-English Dictionary of 1864, the process of transcription involved the perpetuation of an inconsistency, namely the omission of certain diacritic marks. The dictionary in question presents each word in a Gaelic script with full diacritics, followed by a Roman equivalent in which some of the diacritics are resolved into additional characters, and others – namely the acute accent – are simply omitted. At the time of its compilation, my intention was to render the source texts as faithfully as possible, to represent their ‘truth’ transparently – to treat them as a kind of object-artefact. As such, any intervention on my part felt like a distortion or misrepresentation.

The issue of replicating existing ‘errors’ is compounded by the fact that I have also introduced those of my own making. To my knowledge these are largely typographical, such as the omission of ‘v’ in ‘vatn’ (for ‘vatn-staðr’) but I also inadvertently gave the Irish word cómhshollus (‘constellation’) a new meaning (‘the confluence of streams’). The above errata card contains those errors of which I am currently aware. In future editions of the book I will perhaps attempt to correct my own mistakes, whilst preserving the rest of the text intact – adding a footnote to highlight any known ‘issues’ with the historical texts, such as the one outlined above.

And the Dark Wheels Again

And the Dark Wheels Again

And the Dark Wheels Again
Text on A3 aquarelle paper

    and the dark wheels again
    winding round
    a line drawn straight up
    a line of beauty
    up into the heights
    and on those winding circles
    (wide wings outstretched
    no beat or flutter
    nothing tangible
    to rest his tail against)
    up goes the hawk
    round and round

Collaged from ‘Birds Climbing the Air’ by Richard Jefferies, found in ‘The Life of the Fields’, 1899.

A key feature of Jefferies’ writing is its particularity – its detailed observations of natural phenomena. ‘Birds Climbing the Air’ describes a pair of buzzards circling on air thermals. These birds are a prominent species here in the valley, eviscerating sheep corpses and thereby opening them up for other scavengers.

Bark, Xylem

Bark, Xylem
Bark, Xylem
Bark, Xylem
Bark, Xylem

Bark, Xylem

I began writing this collection in 2009, about a small wood that I used to visit almost daily in south-west Cumbria. I continued writing it on the west coast of Ireland, in 2010, influenced by the many dense thickets of hazel scrub, hawthorn, birch and willow in the Burren. On returning to Cumbria in 2011, I discovered a narrow remnant of ancient oak woodland not far from our hillside cottage. In a sense, although much of the writing deals with specific – and highly individual – locations, each place also elides in the memory, is connected, becoming part of a larger internal woodland.

http://www.corbelstonepress.com/barkxylem.htm

Become a Ford

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

'Become a Ford'

A continuation of Limnology – 38 ‘ings’ found in dictionary definitions of water-words, arranged in a grid and used as the source of a new text work.

Become a Ford comprises an 11-page text, published as a pamphlet in an edition of eleven, each accompanied by a unique 148 x 210mm print in the form of a page from the text itself, printed on 425gsm aquarelle card, signed and numbered.

For more information, please visit Corbel Stone Press

The Silence Between

Limnology (28 x 38cm print)

Limnology will be installed at the Paul Stolper Gallery, London, April 29th – May 1st, as part of “The Silence Between” series.

The exhibition will incorporate the music on headphones and a specially commissioned case-bound edition of the accompanying book, presented on a V-shaped display cradle – imitating a valley through which the text/river flows.

The music and book will be accompanied by a series of five new prints, one of which can be seen above. Each is a form of palimpsest – the 1000+ word glossary of ‘water words’ overwritten by an almost asemic patterning of characters derived from the glossary itself, but virtually unreadable. These texts, like many of those within the Limnology book, dramatise the poem which originally appeared in Landings:

What line did the river first write in the valley?
What sense, made over and over, now senseless?

Dissolved salts. Glacial memories.
Inklings of maternal violence
written in moraines,
in alluvium,
in pulverised rock.

(A syllabary, loosened
from grit and clay.)

What is the true note deep within the foss,
heard, straining, above the froth and laughter?

An ancient, unchanging music
that scores valleys,
intones, beckons,
ushers them
into existence.