Monday, 23 June 2008

Deer Hut at Barrowburn

Windy Gyle

I had a meeting with Archaeologist Iain Hedley at the Rothbury National Park office recently to discuss some of the areas I am keen to explore. He has a personal interest in myth and folklore and I wanted to see how this might link in with my ideas and possibly with the Border Heritage Project. He gave me some new directions for research and also pointed me in the direction of Barrowburn farm up in the Coquet Valley, where the farmer had various accommodations available for hire. I had mentioned my interest in remoteness and he recommended visiting as it is located in one of the most isolated areas in the park, without electricity or mobile phone network coverage.

Several people had recommended a walk from Barrowburn up to Windy Gyle , so I decided to spend a long weekend in the deer hut up at Barrowburn and do the walk. It was pretty tough, with lots of ups and downs but the views were spectacular. I was particularly looking out for potential sites to shoot footage for the video work I am planning. Locations where I could get 360 degree uninterrupted views of the horizon, where the hills meet the sky. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy, Ian the farmer told me that on a clear day you could see as far as the sea .

The walk took in another small section of the Pennine Way, following the border between between Scotland and England. It was interesting to see the difference between the landscape on either side of the fence.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Controlled Wilderness

It's been a while since I blogged and things have moved along quite a bit with ideas for work. As Bridget has mentioned we took a good long walk that broke in my boots and gave me a better appreciation of the scale and diversity of landscape in the park. We saw a deer, no red squirrels though.

The main thing that struck me was that we walked for almost 6 hours and only saw 2 people, this really crystalised the idea of approaching isolation in the work I eventually make. Thinking about the original brief - people - place - time in particular - what I find very interesting in Northumberland National Park is that there aren't a lot of people. As soon as you get away from the popular Hadrian's Wall walk I imagine you could go for days without any contact, if you wanted to.

Prior to starting on the project I was interested in looking at how the body and landscape relate to one another, how they interact. I am still very keen to approach this idea in the work. What I have observed in the park is that the body and the landscape are actually at odds quite a lot of the time. We constantly attempt to manipulate and control our surroundings, make everything safe and functional, though it may seem on first encounter that the park has escaped this, in some senses it is still a victim. The timeless wilderness is a controlled one.

The work I plan to make for the residency focuses on the landscape as a threshold space where the body repeatedly attempts to infiltrate, interrupt, alter, infect, control, colonise and give structure. I am planning to use video and photography. For the video work I will capture slow pan shots at locations within the park where the landscape is uninterrupted. I hope to shoot in HD and slow the footage, referencing painting and the sense of timelessness in a quite literal way. In contrast to this I will use footage from the body, manipulated to appear on the video as interference or faults in the film - a contradiction.

Northumberland based photographer Simon Fraser has agreed to meet with me to discuss potential locations for filming. He was commissioned by the park to photograph places without any border divides which ties quite well into some of my own concerns. I will be working with editor and independent film-maker Ian Bailey through a series of DigitalCity facilitated mentoring sessions toward the completion of the video work.

I am also very keen to make a series images which I would hope to locate within the park, more to follow on this idea later...

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Much has happened since my last posting, but no new photos.

Paul and I went for a circular walk along Hadrain's Wall and through some forest areas on Thursday. We actually followed the Pennine Way for a little bit, we aspire to walking the length of the park via the Pennine Way, but for the meantime a day's walk in the sweltering heat was quite enough. I think we walked about 10 miles. I decided not to take my camera because it changes the way you experience things if you are constantly assessing whether or not to capture the moment.

Anyhow, we had an interesting chat along the way; I'm not sure how our walks will filter into the project but I feel they are an important way for Paul and I to connect.

I bit the bullet on Friday and proposed one of my project ideas to Andrew Miller (NNP north manager), I got the answer I had anticipated: NO, but I am not down hearted (honest).

My idea was to carve a coded image of the view from the top of Simonside into the soft sandstone rock that it is formed out of. A permanent site specific piece that would sit discretely alongside the exisiting "grafitti". The site is a SSSI (site of special scientific interest) and the park wants to preserve it, the worry was that any new markings on the rock might encourage more and more and more.........

Andrew and I met again today and we continued our dicussion about the pros and cons of monuments, memorials and markings. I want to write more about this but for now I will just leave this link to an article on the Scottish Mountaineering Council site about memorials on Scottish mountains. (see live link on side of postings)