Into the woods with creative intent
Found materials were adopted as a starting point for a day of mono printing in the woods and studios of The Rodd
News from residency artists, learning programme participants, workshop and masterclass students charting their experiences and responses to time spent at The Rodd. Please do revisit - and make sure you are signed up to our mailing list to get updates direct to your inbox.
Found materials were adopted as a starting point for a day of mono printing in the woods and studios of The Rodd
Walking away from the Rodd on Thursday evening, I wondered "Is it enough?" The Sidney Nolan Trust had hosted a fantastic happening. In our grain barn. For 2 hours. On a weekday; early doors. How to describe it, if you missed it? It shouldn't have been missed. In a big city this event would have attracted hoards. Our faithful following turned out and witnessed the sounds, the films, the performance, detailed work, all unpicking elements of Sidney Nolan's chosen land and building scape. Eight PhD research students, brought together, funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council, North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership. They had just 3 days to make a response from their own focal point. And how they reacted. They worked solidly. An intense period of looking, wondering and making. I worried about the vacant audience's missed opportunity. However, Pavel Prokopic, one of the artists, outlined how he saw this event as a vision of a utopia. He described how in the future, where capitalist work is no longer the driving machination, how all folk will make work, and all folk will be artists. He saw that artists/makers will attend each other's events, like this one, and enjoy. This was a lovely vision. But for now I wondered if it was enough that this happening was witnessed by so few? It seemed a shame that this marvelous experience was not had by more people. I wondered how we can we do more at the Trust to draw more people to this wonderful work going on, on site? There was a brilliant performance from Sara Davies, treading carefully along and among the large Sidney Nolan frames, making one think of bodies and borders, vulnerability and portraits, and memories that we ease ourselves in and around.
Guides Visit 10th June 2017 I met eight very excited girl guides and their guide leaders half way down the drive, arms filled with bags and coats and all wearing big smiles - no apprehension here! After getting to know each other we set off – with Jo who would be running the pond dipping session to let out the chickens and collect the eggs. “Are they supposed to be flying out of the field?” “Yes – they are very free range!” “Does this egg have a baby chick in it?” Followed by a long explanation by me about fertilisation! “Can I catch a chicken” Lauren called as she chased one into the trees. The guides were clearly very happy to be here! Down in the shallow stretch of the River Hindwell, where for many years the cattle have frequented it as a drinking hole and crossing place – we hunted for water creatures – and we discovered fresh water shrimps, water boatmen, may flies, stone flies, caddis flies and snails. Wellies filled with water, clothes got wet, wellies stuck in ankle deep mud. Nets were used to search the beautiful flower covered stretches of the shallows. Guides laughed and whooped and shouted –loving the freedom and the excitement of exploring. After lunch and goodbye and thanks to Jo, we visited the gallery and Nolan’s studio where masses of questions were asked as the girls made sense of the paintings. Our painting workshop that followed was certainly inspired by what they had seen and a new found love of mud. Earth pigment paints, that I had made up earlier, were smeared on paper and hands and arms – the guides were truly embracing this new found creative freedom! This is the most exciting part of my work in learning - seeing how people respond to the opportunity to create. The group settled and began their own separate paintings on the boards I had provided. They painted, stencilled, flicked and splashed the paint, they moved it around with their fingers, talking about colour and patterns and composition. It was magic. Ready for home and the girls talked about how they loved the river and the painting. “How much does it cost to come here? I want my school to raise money to bring us here again”. “Can we take a chicken home?”
Tony Hall's Earth Weekend May 2017
New Art West Midlands Residency Winner: Her residency at The Rodd will be 9th-17th September 2017
Words and sentences collected from conversations taken place at The Rodd: April - May 2017
16 &17 May 2017
8th May 2017
7th May 2017
Visiting MA student from Bath Spa University. Blog post: 22nd April 2017
28th April 2017
In residence 7th - 9th April 2017
In residence 7th -9th April 2017
Thoughts after Lines in the Landscape residency
During Lines in the Landscape residency
Young people relished working with clay and created a large scale work that brightens up the Grain Barn
In residence 7th - 9th April 2017
Reflections of walk: 16th March 2017
Reflections on Walk: 24th February 2017
Blog entry 8th April 2017
Blog entry 6th April 2017
2nd April 2017
Words and sentences collected from conversations taken place at The Rodd: April 2017
Lines in the Landscape 6th April 2017
During Lines in the Landscape : 3rd - 6th April 2017
Blog entry 5th April 2017
Blog entry 4th April 2017
Blog entry 5th April 2017
Blog entry 3rd April 2017
Blog entry 2nd April 2017
Blog entry: 2nd April 2017
Blog entry 1st April 2017
Walk 31st March 2017
Blog entry for 31st March 2017.
Blog entry for 31st March 2017
Walk 31st March 2017
Blog entry for 30th March 2017.
Blog entry before arrival. 30th March 2017.
Blog entry for 29th March 2017.
Blog entry for 28th March 2017. Arrival day.
Blog entry 27th March. Thoughts before my arrival.
Blog entry: 22nd March. Thoughts before my arrival.
Summerisle Revisited: The Artist’s Cut Prologue Crossing borders: facts and fictions The artist David Ferry has consistently worked with collage throughout his printmaking practice and advocates the application of a ‘collage mentality’ to printmaking as a way of enabling ideas to infuse process. His visual re-scripting of the 1970s cult film the ‘The Wicker Man’ (Hardy, 1973) is an example of this approach. This paper will explore how a ‘collage mentality’ can be used to analyse a film narrative, and its relationship to other graphic, sociological and geographic contexts. The following dialogue has been constructed from several conversations that took place in March 2013 between David Ferry and writer Stephen Clarke. The setting for this constructed dialogue is a walk around Rodd Farm, location of the Sidney Nolan Trust - a centre for printmaking in Powys on the Welsh border. The Rodd was chosen by Ferry as an evocative landscape that had inspired the twentieth century Australian artist Sidney Nolan and which, for Ferry, has resonances with the film ‘The Wicker Man’. The dialogue takes the form of a script for a film attempting to map out a fiction of time and place. This approach investigates how a ‘collage mentality’ can also be applied to collaborative writing. Scene One Breakfast at The Rodd: looking over the script Stephen Clarke: How did you arrive at working with ‘The Wicker Man’? David Ferry: The film came out in 1973 when I was still at school. I don’t think I saw it until 1983 after I had finished my postgraduate studies. It became more noteworthy and significant as one understood more about ones socio-political standings and leanings. What is interesting is that the film for me increased in value. I think that an artist is somebody who thinks via dawning realisations. My project ‘May Day in the Centre of England’ is a thirty-two panel montage of the script of ‘The Wicker Man’, taking you through an idea of the film rather than a literal illustration of it. It’s in two parts, ‘Day’ and ‘Night’, with the Maypole as midday (figure 1). SC: How were these panels made? DF: I look at: pageantry, folklores and customs; pictures of the Maypole; pictures of knitting patterns; pictures of social interaction. And somehow within the collage mentality they begin to bear witness to images. The sketchbook is a classic bridge between the idea and reality. We have selection, rejection, suspicion and intuition. Developing a grand scheme I put a schema up on paper, the scale of what the work would be. SC: So this becomes the film’s storyboard? DF: It does. It becomes my script from the script, visually. I re-edit it using simple tools of the trade. The images are cut out of magazines and then attacked with spray varnishes and graffiti paint. Spraying through things to make backcloths or whatever. And then the operating table when the fragments then become built to be something else. SC: A film is constructed from chopped up parcels of time that seem to have continuity. Likewise your montages are chopped up parcels that produce a kind of artist’s cut that mirrors the director’s cut. Montage reconfigures material and if you reconfigure you end up with a different understanding. DF: The actual novel of the film by Anthony Shaffer (screenwriter), in collaboration with Robin Hardy (the film’s director), wasn’t published until after the film was released in 1973! So, in short, we have a screenplay, and a novel, the actual film itself - a cinema release and a ‘Director’s Cut’ - and an artist’s interpretation influenced through the suggestive ‘travel’ of the film and personal experiences of social stereotypes in location. Scene Two Setting the scene: The Rodd is an island SC: Although labelled a cult horror film, ‘The Wicker Man’ uses imagery that could be in a tourist board guide to the Highlands. The film uses folk music alongside images of bright sunny skies and blossom on the trees. It sells Summerisle as a destination that you want to go to. DF: That has encapsulated our imagination even before there is any sense of scenario, screenplay, narrative or other kinds of human interaction. The interesting thing about the fictional isle of Summerisle is that we are kind of landing anywhere. Summerisle is totally fictitious; it didn’t exist. To us, because we circled it like a bird in the aeroplane, we were absolutely convinced it was an island. A colour enhanced photographic souvenir postcard of a selected location provides us with a similar changed reality. The interesting thing about souvenir postcards is that colour enhancement effectively conjures the fact that this is possibly in the Mediterranean, but it isn’t. For example, a postcard of the fountains and children’s paddling pool at Lytham St. Annes alludes to a perfectness, and rather like Summerisle in Northern Scotland, supposedly, looks rather more like La Palma. What we have is an image, which actually tests the fact that Summerisle and La Palma are the same. On our walk we will look at The Rodd as an island created by Sidney Nolan. We can see that there are specific parallels in looking at things that on one level of our understanding we can construe as real but through an imaginative understanding are transformed. We can be in either Summerisle or in the Island of the Rodd here in Presteigne (figure 2). Scene Three Our hero the detective SC: This dialogue is a montage in itself and our walk is a metaphor for the process of moving through the script. DF: Apart from his aeroplane by which he descends, Sergeant Howie walks everywhere. He has no other means of getting to a point faster or quicker than his own self frame. This is why I had this idea of going to a type of island setting (The Rodd) and walking through it as a great deal of the action in ‘The Wicker Man’ takes place with Howie walking through things. SC: We are pathfinders. Although we have maps we don’t go everywhere on the map. We are constructing a particular path or narrative. DF: Sergeant Howie goes with his briefcase. He could be in Glasgow or Edinburgh but he isn’t. He is in this supposedly real place which we know is fictional but in the context of the scenario is a very, very real place called Summerisle. SC: You can see the narrative of the film through Howie’s eyes and be shocked at these despicable acts, such as putting a frog in a child’s mouth to cure a sore throat. DF: That happened in the sweet shop-cum-post office. It was a sweet shop but the sweets weren’t Mars bars, Bountys or Aeros; they were in the shape of animals and things. The similarity was enough to convince one that it was the sweet shop. Howie would have felt a level of knowledge in that context, would he not? SC: At one point in the film Lord Summerisle turns to Sergeant Howie and he says ‘You’re the detective here’. Obviously, Howie is the detective because he is the police sergeant and he is trying to make sense of this experience. This is a direct appeal to the viewer to make sense of the film. DF: A significant scene that was in the novel (Hardy and Shaffer, 1978) and not the original theatrical version (Hardy, 1973) is the fact that the person that drove Howie to Lord Summerisle is the one lesbian on the island who is absolutely aware and conscious of the prevailing religious rites but is removed from it because the fertility concept of the lesbian is clearly not going to issue forth fruit. So, both of them, travelling in the cart to the castle are absolute outsiders: one of them within a context and the other thinking that he commands a context and is absolutely completely misguided. His belief in his righteousness and the prevailing good of the police was so incredible that even in his Punch’s outfit, where he seemingly thinks that he has rescued the girl, he is trapped on an island. The villagers have taken the spark plugs out of his aircraft so that it is not going to go anywhere. He is almost nihilistic in his last stand to control the narrative. He went that far and he couldn’t go back. Scene Four Lunchtime in the village [The artist and the writer head to the local village of Presteigne to look around the town] SC: Does context frame our way of seeing? There are actually no monsters in the film. They are all ordinary people living life within a particular structure that mirrors feudal Scottish society. DF: When Howie is on the rampage looking for the missing child he goes on a massive walkabout turning the village upside down. He visits all the shops. In ‘The Director’s Cut’ (Hardy, 1979) there is a scene that shows ladies having their hair done in the hairdressers. They are sat under the heaters, their animal masks are just by their side and it is absolutely as normal. Howie goes to the fishmonger who is as proud as anybody to show him his own mask. What initially excited me about this film was the fact that endemic in the ordinary was something just left of centre. It is neither extraordinary in the context of ultra surrealism or ultra carnival it was just simply a mask, a fish mask, a salmon mask, a bull, a reindeer or whatever. These were neither overtly theatrical nor were they overtly comic. The mask was just simply an object, a curiosity, placed within a greater 90% of reality. The misplacing of an object can sometimes be extraordinary. I am thinking of that iconic surrealist sculpture where we have got the Bakelite black telephone with a lobster on the top of it or the production still from ‘Dr Who’ of Daleks on the Westminster Bridge. What I feel about this particular film ‘The Wicker Man’ is the fact that it is 90% reasonable, and the other little percentage fragment is that bit that makes the ordinary remarkable. SC: I wonder if you personally had the reverse experience of what you are saying about ‘The Wicker Man’? You say 90% of ‘The Wicker Man’ is ordinary and understandable and 10% is bizarre. You grew up in Blackpool of which 90% is bizarre and only 10% ordinary. DF: In Blackpool you could see elephants on the beach, trunk to tail walking across a tram track. At night the tram itself would be encrusted in lights in the shape of an American cowboy train or a rocket. You put those two things together and you’ve got a remarkable scenario of strangeness acted out in real time and space dimensions. SC: You say that ‘The Wicker Man’ is a modern day pagan adventure that explores social structures. DF: I think that that period of time is salient in respect of a type of both graphic and sociological mindset. This film is not isolated. It is within both graphic and social constraint of a particular way of looking at something. There were already prevalent social stereotypical options operating in British Cinema that belied a truth but relied on stereotypes. ‘Carry on Camping’ (Thomas, 1969) is a significant film of its time, which portrayed a tragedy of sociological order and a fear of a new order. ‘Get Carter’ (Hodges, 1971), shot on Tyneside entirely, is a fictional realist cinema presenting the narrative in location which is both the backdrop and a geo-social interaction. Scene Five Afternoon at the Rodd: a strange field SC: You mentioned that a particular view on The Rodd reminded Nolan of Australia. DF: We chose to do our walk around the fictional Summerisle on Rodd Farm because it reminded Sidney Nolan of something that wasn’t there: a track of land in Australia. There is a map of the Burren in Ireland made by the artist/cartographer Tim Robinson (Robinson, 1977) and underlined on this map there is an area simply called ‘a strange field’. In this field are odd shaped things. The original function and purpose of these apparent anomalies of dry stone walling is lost. They present an opportunity for contemporary interpretation based on archaeological research or, what I think is a more viable, imaginative speculation not based on any credible archaeological knowledge at all. SC: Can we build our understanding from fragments? DF: We circumnavigate our surroundings based on early recollections of our growing consciousness in relation to how people interacted; what architecture was surrounding you; what social dimension surrounded you. I am very clear in my mind that those aspects of the self never leave you despite new adventures and experiences. They are the pertinent bottom of the structure and rather like veins coming up through a structure they can be readily tapped into. You can put a main line in a vein and be, lets say, in Adelaide or Melbourne, and see immediately aspects of Torquay, Eastbourne, or Lytham St Annes because the vernacular architecture is similar to that which was your structural starting point. Even though it is remarkable that Nolan came to The Rodd, there was a semblance that connected to his understanding of why he was here. He never lost sight of those initial atmospheric and character driven memories that were still pertinent to him in later age. What I am arguing is that those early understandings of oneself, and the characters and the situations, shape our viewpoint. We are not looking at something so completely new and remarkable. When I look at this film ‘The Wicker Man’ and make work surrounding it, I am not illustrating the text as such, I am fuelling what the text is giving me via those reminisces, memories, contexts, social interactions, that are parallel to the constructed script. We are looking at where this is not simply process, it is a collage mentality able to grapple with time and space. Scene Six May Day Parade SC: Popular culture has its stereotypes but ‘The Wicker Man’ has its own. DF: I am not setting myself up here as an expert on fertility symbols, rites, and rituals. What I am receiving from the film is the reiteration of those things as they have gone through umpteen filters before they have even got to us: they have gone through set designers, directors, writers, costume designers. Everybody who is, in a sense, involved in the production had a hand in reiterating those facets which were once extremely important to some villages’ pagan rites. They have become rounded hybrids where the overt sharp edges of the particularity have all but gone. Rather like little Ken and Barbie you can still see the aspects of female and manhood but only just. There is no longer any need for it, you just sort of know that is what it means. These characters are not from the gravel pit of ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Dr Who’. They are regular guys - the hairdresser, the butcher, the harbour master, the chemist, the doctor – who put on an animal mask. The May Day parade is the devout of the village going about their daily business on that particular day: the Teaser (the head of the community), the Obby Oss (Hobby Horse), and the complex Punch, fool and King-for-a-day character (figure 3). Scene Seven Around the Aga: the sacrifice in the kitchen SC: At the end of the film the missing girl leads Howie through a cave. She effectively leads him through a vagina. DF: There is a point where the May Queen ditches her crown into the water, which is a very little detail but it is quite significant: throwing something away, a sort of innocence lost. The villagers did take a chance on Howie not being tempted by Willow MacGregor’s charms [the landlord’s daughter] but he was not allowed to by his own faith and the villagers took a gamble on his faith being resolute right to the end. SC: He did actually do what he set out to do which was to save the missing girl. DF: He did and he didn’t. He rescued the girl because he was lured into a position where he could do so but ultimately he was completely controlled from the first moment he set foot on the island. SC: Similar to this dialogue and our walk, Howie has been scripted. But unlike the film your edit ends at night. DF: In my edit there is an orgy in a nightclub, which is the end of the May Day because that is where the fertility symbol absolutely takes fire (figure 4). SC: Our walk through the landscape of ‘The Wicker Man’ has considered montage as a form of editing. DF: My point of view is that there is a difference between the technical and the visual in printmaking. There is a need to infuse idea into process. Montage is in my view a reason why printmaking hasn’t capitulated into pure craft. You need the mental framework of the collagist to relook at ‘The Wicker Man’, as a compass to your understandings of the developments of ideas and sociological orders. I can read it in a particular way and as an artist I am able to reiterate it, I hope, in another visual sense. Scene Eight Night-time at The Rodd SC: In your version of ‘The Wicker Man’ Howie’s investigation starts at the beginning of the day and finishes with the end of day. At the close of the film version there is a fantastic picture postcard sunset. DF: That sunset actually happened in real time and space. They weren’t expecting it. The film-makers thought they would have to special effect that. It was almost as though Nature itself wanted the film to be completed. SC: Whereas our walk around The Rodd has been thwarted because of Nature’s intervention. DF: ‘The Wicker Man’ was meant to take place on May Day. The actual film itself was shot in October/November when it was particularly cold. All the blossoms were falsified. The fact that we were walking in Spring and that we had to dig ourselves out of snow, maybe this is where we erstwhile cultural travellers get stuck by our own time and space petard! Epilogue The artist explored This paper has taken the form of a script that runs through a fictitious single day in Presteigne. This conceit holds a mirror to David Ferry’s ‘May Day in the Centre of England’, a printmaker’s storyboard that re-interprets the iconography and narrative of the film ‘The Wicker Man’ taking the viewer from Day to Night in a thirty-two panel work. At the centre of this discussion of ‘The Wicker Man’ is David Ferry’s observation that our upbringing and early memories form the way that we negotiate our understanding of the world. Things that we encounter run parallel to this understanding. For Ferry ‘The Wicker Man’ resonates with previous memories, contexts, and social interactions. The film’s significance has increased in value for him as he explores its imagery and narrative through printmaking. A film is constructed from edited fragments that seem to have continuity; a film’s cut reconfigures material into a believable narrative. Such a narrative uses a combination of stereotypes and location. In ‘The Wicker Man’ stereotypes are heightened with the conflation of pagan characters from folklore, such as Punch, the Teaser and the Hobby Horse, with the well defined village roles, such as the fishmonger, the baker, the school teacher, and the landlord’s daughter. Location provides the backdrop against which these characters interact. Places themselves are transformed through an imaginative understanding and this was considered by Ferry in his choice of Rodd Farm as the setting for our narrative. Ferry draws upon these stereotypes and their location to construct his own Artist’s Cut of the film. In contrast to an illustrative approach in printmaking the application of what has been referred to in this paper as a ‘collage mentality’ allows for a rich variety of visual readings. Using the tactics of layering, colliding, and the intrusion of the misplaced fragment, the extraordinary and the remarkable can be drawn to the fore. The contention of this paper is that the mental framework of the collagist may allow printmaking to explore beyond the known and start to map out the unknown.
Anthony Plant: Walk #5 From King’s to Australia House in 37 years. From Australia House to King’s in 101 seconds.
Kate Green's walk in Devon holds deep personal significance....
When I knew that I would be attending a lecture about walking at Tate Modern in London, I decided that walking from Paddington station to Tate Modern could help me in understanding the act of walking better. As this walk was a walk intended as an artist’s walk, my experience of walking had shifted. Just knowing that my intention was to observe, experience and absorb my perceptions seemed so much more open. I had wondered about the fact that this walk would be in an urban landscape, one so different to the rural agricultural landscape here at The Rodd. I wondered whether, through memory, if the experiences would connect in my mind whilst walking; if I would carry the landscape of The Rodd with me in my mind- therefore having a personal imagined experience of a hybrid landscape. As I walked the streets of London I thought about how Sidney Nolan painted Australian landscapes whilst being surrounded by the lush green land of the English / Welsh borders. In a sense, Sidney carried the Australian landscape with him- in his mind and I thought about how this is the case with not only artists, but with all of us. These landscapes we hold in our mind as a point of recollection, comparison and comfort (or discomfort maybe) are with us always- so can we ever be completely present in a landscape? Can we ever just experience ‘it’ without any other landscape creeping in? Is the landscape that which we walk upon and move across, or does it exist purely within our perceptions? As I moved through the streets I realized how controlled we are when we walk. We learn to walk when we are toddlers, and we don’t tend to question this movement until it is challenged or taken from us through injury or illness. This repetitive one foot in front of the other action just seems to happen! We just do it. Walks are often contained within routes with invisible boundaries- like imaginary tubes. We occupy space within; not above or below our bodies- but within; moving through space, along predetermined/ influenced paths. A to B. Start to finish. Beginnings and ends. Even a wander that is seemingly unplanned is controlled or navigated through environmental tracks; along pavements, tunnels, stairways. I started to think about how we don’t ever challenge how we walk. We walk forwards and upright. A sidestep only to avoid collision / contact with another. I wonder- Is it possible to navigate a town completely without those learnt / imposed rules of walking? Can we reject all that society says about how journey happens and why? How can I dismantle the act of walking, and if I did manage to dismantle it, how would I move through space? What would that walk look like? What would my body look like? How would it sound? There are recognisable walks that happen when we walk. The rhythmic repetitive sounds of my footsteps and the insides of my thighs rubbing. The tonal mumble and too-ing and fro-ing of conversation. The in and out gasping of breath as I rush up steps and I try to catch my breath. Despite all these sounds I feel silent. If I were to reject this ‘standard’ of walking- what would I sound like and would this disruption mean that I would become more physically aware- physically present? I suppose the first rule to break is the rule that says a journey’s purpose is to get from A to B…. so what would happen if I navigated space with no destination? My pre-programmed mind can’t help but wonder where I would end up and what would influence my path- but I know that I’d need to ‘not think’ / not predetermine. Is that even possible? Isn’t our inbuilt ‘sat nav’ instinctive? Is it part of our basic nomadic DNA? I now see that the urban space has made me realise how we are conditioned- and that these rules apply even when navigating rural spaces. We are still upright, forward facing and following paths. I feel that I am returning to The Rodd with a desire to disrupt, dismantle and question the very act of walking.
It takes about 15 minutes for me to drive from my present home, a bungalow named Fairview, to The Firs. My studio is roughly mid-way, in a farmyard opposite 1 Buckton, a cottage that was my home for 4 years. During that time I worked at The Firs as a personal assistant. At 3pm on 25th January I was to attend a meeting there, in my role as participating artist and programme consultant, concerning the proposed walking event at The Rodd. Warning: clichéd walking metaphor ahead. My path to being an artist is like a zig zag on a scree slope; running downhill I send shards tumbling and have to trust that the mini-terraces created by my feet will prevent me from falling and when I plod uphill I slip backwards and progress is slow. But, I embarrass myself, writing about walking is far trickier and more exhausting than walking (note to self for response to next walk). I have already spent many more hours writing, and re-writing, this account than I did actually walking the route; and I haven’t even left the house yet. It was 1.40 and the sun was shining. I had decided to drive to the Firs via my studio and do some work for an hour, but then I thought, ‘Why drive to a meeting about walking?’ On previous occasions, I had walked to my studio from home and I had walked to The Firs from Buckton; so why not combine the two walks. I clipped the lead on little Dot and we cut through the diagonal lane at the back of the council houses down to the main road. I always feel there should be a more direct route to The Firs. You can look across from the Wigmore Rolls and see the oak trees that pour down, like sand in an egg timer, to the bank on which the Colliers’ house sits, but the line is blocked by rivers and hills. I could have chosen to walk past Court Farm and down to Walford; or skirt the fields to Stonybridge; or walk the back road via Letton and cross the Teme at Brampton Bryan. As I walked, these floating tendrils searched for anchorage across the topography in my head and I wondered why on earth I had chosen to walk on the busy main road. Now, I realise I wanted to walk the same route I would have travelled in the car. That’s the great thing about walking; you feel the solution in the soles of your feet. We have all driven along and almost clipped a walker with a wing mirror and thought, ‘Why would anyone choose to walk on a road?’ I was in that walker’s boots as Dot trotted along on the lead, cowering slightly as traffic sped by. A red car was approaching us on the opposite side of the road and, hearing the heat of braking behind us, I looked back to see a large stock lorry brought to halt as there was no room to pass us without crossing the white lines. We stepped up from the tarmac, balanced on the high sliver of a muddy grass and the driver nodded before he drove on. We crossed the Knighton road at Walford and I let Dot off the lead. This was the prone-to-flooding single track lane to my previous home and old neighbour Henry drove by and waved. We crossed the river and called by at the studio. I stuffed a blanket in my bag for Dot to lie down on, as she would have to be tied up outside when we reached The Firs. We walked fast towards Bucknell and met Ali and Alan walking past the turning for Adley Moor. ‘I can’t stop,’ I said, ‘I’m walking to a meeting about walking at The Firs.’ They told me they were going up there later with a Burns’ Night supper. By this time I knew I would not arrive for 3pm so I emailed ahead. I knew this road so well from driving, cycling and walking and there were no surprises. No surprises; what I mean to say is that I think I may have stopped looking. I admit that I was hardly more aware of my surroundings than if I had been in the car. Was that because I was following the same route I would have driven; or was it because I was so over familiar with this little stretch of territory? I had been walking on autopilot and, with no need to navigate the external landscape, I had turned to my internal landscape for interest. The local landscape had become all about me and I pondered how it was inhabited by 20 years of versions of me; spirits that had the potential to be released as I stepped on the ground, like spores from an old puffball. It is difficult to look afresh at the familiar; so much easier to concentrate on what is new and exciting, but only now do I realise how introspective I was on this walk. We kept up our brisk pace along Oil Mill Lane and crossed the Heart of Wales railway line in Bucknell, said hello to Lance Phillips the butcher who was putting screenwash in his van and turned left into Dog Kennel Lane. They were tidying an oak tree at Florence’s and I saw the tail end of Anthony Plant’s car waiting as they cleared branches from the road. He was late too, so I would only be 15 minutes behind him. I was propelled up Mynd hill by a surge of energy. It always amazes me; these moments on walks when you are thrown forward as if you have stepped on a landmine charged with positive energy. Dot trotted on ahead to say hello to a black Labrador on a lead and I felt light and hopeful and cheery. I was being given an artistic licence to be myself and realising that acknowledging my strengths is not arrogance for there is plenty I admit I cannot do, such as dancing at parties or driving in cities. Dot and I walked up the drive to The Firs and Penny was weeding between the granite sets as I tied the little dog to the porch upright and went into the meeting.
20th January 2017. Kate Green reflects on her first walk of 'Lines in the Landscape' residency.
Collaborative Sound Installation wit Rie Nakajima and Pierre Berthet
Straw Castles, maggoty marks and tales of the riverbed.
Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva works with print maker and zoologist Michael Hancock
Anne Bean's river drawings overseen by The Rodd's herd of cattle
Tess E. McKenzie
Residency artists gained a fresh perspective to the beautiful landscape of The Rodd and its environs.
David Noonan, Shaun Gladwell and Vanley Burke don the iconic armour of Ned Kelly (costume from the 1970's film tracing Kelly's life and starring Mick Jagger).
Artists in conversation share their working themes and experiences at The Rodd
Masterclass with Vanley Burke
Vanley Burke Meets The Rodd
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