Tuesday, 27 May 2008

small bird in hand

bird : may 22 2008

driving through Culmstock tiny bird standing facing white line at edge of road stopped looked small bird standing still stunned picked it up you know that amazing feeling when you hold a small bird i filmed it sorry small bird but we had to collaborate somehow fast heart beat fluttering body held light in my rapt warm hand i sensed the power of my strength in the lightness of its eye i saw its head flatten at the passing of the truck that could have been its end breath thinnest legs placed on grass bird still bird looking around then flew up into the tree and gone turn back to the car

Monday, 12 May 2008

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Saturday, 10 May 2008

walk 2 : staple fitzpaine herepath opening

A significant moment : the opening of the Staple Fitzpaine Herepath.

Me and D plan to walk the circular route that has been a long time in the making by the Neroche Scheme - it's a circular route that joins existing bridlepaths with new ones to make a circular path. We arrive for the opening ceremony, with lots of horseriders, walkers and dogs. The 'gateway' has a ribbon strung between two posts which will be cut.

Rather brilliantly, the local press photographer stages the whole event for his camera and manages to erase any chance of the actual event happening in the present tense!

The best moment of the occasion was when J gave the landowners bouquets of flowers for letting the public path go through their land - it was very moving, my eyes filled up.

Me and D accidentally get in with the 'long walkers', and find ourselves setting off in a group - oh no. we desperately try to think of a way to extract ourselves, but they are very caring and don't want us to get left behind, lost, or abandoned in case of an accident. all those things are quite attractive to me at this point. i go into a field to have a pee, deliberately lagging behind. but the man at the 'back' of the group waits for us, even turning to walk back to check on us. at this point we are blatant. he looks a bit crushed by our desire to go it alone, and sets off to join the group with a 'well don't say i didn't tell you' kind of look on his fleece.

we lag, wander, photograph. soon we're well behind. horses pass in the opposite direction - walkers clockwise around the path, horses anti-clockwise.

this passing of horses, the
continual smell of the approach of neatsfoot oil and sweaty saddlery, and the sound of hooves on the common.

encounters with orange tips, variety of whites, yellowhammer, blackbirds, brimstone, deer, speckled wood and holly blue. the walk was marked by butterflies travelling along the Herepath at a whole other pace and relationship.

huge trees on the way up to Castle Neroche - tall tall. a
nd right by the Herepath there,
a pair of mens underpants hanging on a tree. i filmed them from various angles.

the common after Castle Neroche was really extraordinary - Staple Common it must be - before I looked at the map I knew it was common land - a very particular feel to the land, and trees and quality of grass somehow. I really liked it there, and the derelict house is kind of amazing - how swift that decline has been.
Thurlbear woods were enveloping, green green.

the only time we lost the trail was after the Farmers Arms on the road there, shortly after the yellowhammer flew out of the hedge. we cut back up a farm drove to rejoin the Herepath at the start of that big ploughed field. just before re-joining the path we saw a roe deer, i stopped so suddenly that D walked straight into the back of me - the deer must have seen a human comedy moment. we all locked eyes quite close over the hedge for a good few minutes; encounter, presencing.

we got back to the field at 6pm having taken our time, photos, and stops along the way. There was no one in the field when we got back except a car with 3 women and a couple of dogs. all the chairs folded and stacked in a marquee ready to be taken down. I always seem to be last to return at things like this.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

thinking about walking the herepath

For a good few weeks before the herepath walk, i think about how i can contribute to the event artistically. i am interested in the possibility of encounter, meeting and conversation, and of course i want these to just 'happen'. yet i'm going to an event where there will be lots of opportunities to meet, talk, and i want to maximise these. i am reluctant to do too much, to interfere with the walking, or worse to take other people towards something they don't want to particularly engage with; i don't want to construct anything where i have to say "excuse me, could i ..."

I consider these things:

- giving out pre-addressed postcards asking people why they walk in the blackdowns.
no go: so what really, people feeling obligated to complete, superficial responses, awkwardness and neediness in distributing them

- carrying something symbolically around the route
no go: can't think of anything significant, so what anyway, richard long did it so much better

- a mini printed card to give away to other walkers/riders with listing of all the things that are passing by / through Neroche landscape while we are walking the Herepath (a list of things on the move). or a quote relevant to walking....
no go: participation for the sake of it, everyone's doing their own thing so why get in their faces?

- plant wildflower seeds or plants for butterflies as i walk the route. i like this idea and begin researching appropriate seed sources or plants.
no go: gavin is clear about the need for 'native' plants to distribute and spread themselves without importing seeds or plants from elsewhere.

This is very important in relation to my thematic:
what do we consider to be native in a landscape that has undergone continual change?
at what point in our pastoral history are we freezing the landscape in order to call something native?
what does it mean this term native when applied to this context: to originate in a land? to be born in a landscape and live in it? to come from that place and stay in that place?

I understand what G means, and immediately see me ordering scabius seeds from some web site to distribute in the Neroche as meaningless. but i'm also left with a feeling of complexity and blur. at what point is something native in a porous and changing ecology and environment, and who decides where and when that line is?

Then in the observer (20th april), a very interesting article on kinder scout in the peak district. 'the mass trespass in 1932 began a revolution that opened the countryside to millions' - the article went on to track the environmental damage caused by walkers, and ended with this invitation:

'The 76th anniversary will be marked by a 'mass' planting event on the early May bank holiday weekend organised by the National Trust. Walkers and volunteers can go to help plant cotton grass while they are on a walk.'

I email G and J with the link to the article and suggest some kind of collection / re-distribution seed / plant bank for walkers to use in the Neroche landscape as some kind of legacy for the project. if the Neroche scheme is opening up this environment to more people, how can they help to sustain it as well as use it?