Allison Neal: Back to Nature
He must know all about those invisible ones of the days gone by, whose feet have traversed the fields which looks so grey from his windows;
recall whose creaking plough has turned those sods from time to time; whose hand planted the trees that form a crest to the opposite hill;
Thomas Hardy The Woodlanders
The landscape at the Rodd is not untouched nature, it is entirely made by hand. Every tree, every hedge, every field, every clod, every blade of grass, has been handled, manipulated, moulded, altered by human hands and the men and women who created this landscape over thousands of years are nameless, forgotten. The names of the land owners are recorded, their voices may be heard in letters, court rolls, county histories but those who worked on the land, those who made the landscape are silent, unknown and their ghosts are silent, too.
I looked for a way to allow the landscape to speak. I laid a length of canvas across the furrows of a ploughed field, allowing the material to fold into the furrows and then carefully drew round each clod and stone that I could feel under the canvas. In kneeling on the canvas to draw, I was aware that I was changing the shape of the furrows under me. The act of drawing was altering the landscape. I then poured raw umber pigment across the canvas, allowing it to dry in the furrows of cloth. I had made a monoprint of that area of ploughed land and the line of the pencil across the surface of the canvas were letters, just as the lines of a ploughed field or a bare hedge in winter seem to write across the landscape.. The field was speaking even if I could not understand what it was saying.