In the spring, I began to look at a field beside a brook. I had photographed it over winter flooded and drier in spring. This field is river catchment and flood plain edge; both on the water’s edge and under it. It’s low lying, between two parts of the Ampney Brook. Using 19th century maps, I have been researching the past of the landscape around the village. In the map of this field I read its old, dried mill leats, evidence of ditches, former sluices, attempts to manage, control the water. Perhaps if these were still maintained water-logging/flooding would reduce. Walking, I observe/notice these in signs in the landscape – the plants become watermarks revealing the past, water present in the varying growth.
To represent the layers of past narrated in the field I turned to cloth and stitch. It layers up beautifully, and I could dye it with plants gathered from the place. I was also reminded of a something that I read a few years ago.
“In the language of nineteenth century clothes-makers and repairers, the wrinkles in the elbows of a jacket or a sleeve were called ‘memories. Those wrinkles recorded the body that had inhabited the garment. They memorialized the interaction, the mutual constitution, of person and thing.” Peter Stallybrass – Marx’s Coat 1998
Likewise the stuff of landscape archaeology, the lumps and bumps, verdant or struggling grass that marks the ground revealing the memories of landscape past beneath.
A lockdown 3 project with some fabric remains from the Ac Sidu piece shown in 2019. These fabric remnants were ‘associated’ with Crow Oak in one performance and then wrapped around the pot of my oak sapling used in the final filmed performance. The oak sapling & it’s understudy used in Ac Sidu were planted in Scrubs Copse later that year.
Marks were inspired by contemporary & 100 year old maps; and walks made this January lockdown.
From work in Progress with some orange tacking remaining – including the location of the planted saplings – to the work being shown in the Groundworks exhibition ‘Landscape & Attachment’ in the Three Storeys Gallery Cafe in Nailsworth.
UPDATE from the hang – unfortunately room could not be found by the curators for this piece so it’ll have to remain un-hung – I thought I’d leave this post in place though in lieu of what might have been.
I return to Scrubs Copse repeatedly, I’ve known it for decades; from near impenetrable jungle to managed ‘amenity’. Its past is visible, yet invisible to the walker, only revealed through archive and observation. I have left my mark in footsteps and oak saplings; and sewn the layers of its past into visibility in textile.
Acts of association made for the exhibition Confluence, that bound three oak saplings to place, came to fruition at the site of their final planting; where this textile underwent its association with the Copse through repeated actions: including plant material gathered for dyes.
2020 tracks – walking every path around my village within a three & half mile radius. Transcribed in dark stitch onto cotton – echoing the footpath legend on an Ordnance Survey Map. Pale stitched digressions from the path frame the main map.
The prompt text from ‘Walking the Land‘ was a few paragraphs of text from Thomas A Clark’s ‘In Praise of Walking’
‘A rock outcrop, a hedge, a fallen tree, anything that turns us out of our way, is an excellent thing on a walk. Wrong turnings, doubling back, pauses and digressions, all contribute to the dislocation of a persistent self-interest. Everything we meet is equally important or unimportant. The line of a walk is articulate in itself, a kind of statement. We can walk between two places, and in so doing establish a link between them, bring them into a warmth of contact, like introducing two friends. Pools, walls, solitary trees, are natural halting places. That something exists outside ourselves and our preoccupations, so near, so readily available, is our greatest blessing.’
I wanted to take a look at the flooding around the Brook in the village – doubling back, pausing and digressing from the path.
The OutdoorActive track recorded shows doubling back and digressions – watery lines of walking