Monday, 30 June 2008

things passing through: cars and what they do

into the blackdowns from athelney through curry rivel. i wanted to return to 2 places i had seen on previous journeys. i have been struck by how the neroche area is triangulated by 3 roads: the m5, the a358 and the a303. as soon as you turn off any of these roads, the sparseness, emptiness and quiet of the blackdowns descends, and almost instantly you are disorientated, lost.

i came out onto the a358 opposite bickenhall, and then south, pulling into a green lane where a hedge trimmer was working. parked up, feeling conspicuous and went to investigate this strange relic that you can just see from the road.

is it a monument, a gravestone, the last of a derelict house? it is a
cross of four walls in a circle, with a hole in the top for a flagpole perhaps, and it says C.L.W. House 1935-2006 - is it for a life? money spiders were running all over it and their negotiations and encounters ran in parallel with the constant passage of cars and trucks.

i emailed the Neroche Scheme to ask about it, and a few days later this came back:
"yes, this was erected by Mr House who lived on a farm in Ashill (and made cider) .... he was very annoyed because he wasn't allowed to put a sign up on the new bypass to sell his cider, he could only put an advert on a trailer and move this around. So he built this monument (he was allowed to do that!!) - he had cancer and thought he was going to die and put up this mausoleum as a protest against the authorities.
He lost a lot of business from passing traffic and had quite a fight
with the local council.
We didn't know he had died, but presumably he did in 2006."

then onto the a303, and a return to the hillside cafe and tearooms where i filmed the traffic passing in front of the closed building. the breeze-blocked-up windows, a thriving plastic pond, abandoned flower garden - i crossed the road to take photographs, and couldn't get back - a blind bend on the main tourist road to the west country overflowing with cream teas. whenever there is a break in the traffic (not so often) a peace descends and momentarily settles. a speckled wood negotiates the give way sign. the green lane right opposite the cafe broken by cars, exists as if in another world.

Friday, 27 June 2008

staple fitzpaine : cornfield : turning circle 1

staple fitzpaine : doomsday 2008

From the Doomsday Book for Somerset:
"The Count holds STAPLE (fitzpaine) himself. Two thanes held it before 1066; it paid tax for 10 hides. Land for 9 ploughs, of which 7 hides are in lordship; 3 ploughs there; 6 slaves;
20 villagers with 6 ploughs & 3 hides. A mill which pays 30d; meadow, 24 acres; pasture 1/2 league long and 1 furlong wide; woodland 1 league long and 2 furlongs wide. 1 cob; 10 unbroken mares; 10 cattle; 50 sheep; 100 goats. the value was £10; now £12. A garden in Langport belongs to this manor; it pays 50 eels."

i passed through staple fitzpaine to see what I could find for a contemporary entry: i sat in the car observed by neighbourhood watch, made a cloud, and then went in search

Thursday, 26 June 2008

intimate animate - new video

I have just finished editing this video that I've made for projection/installation. It's composed of footage that I've collected over the past year from different events: a wedding on Dartmoor, the Boxing Day hunt meet in South Brent, and the river Dart in flood at Dartington. It's not about or for the Neroche project, but speaks something of the kind of work I like to make. Here it's to do with intimacy, connection, and relationships of touch - the meeting point between a hand and a head, between the water and the heads of the daffodils.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

native 2

into the Blackdowns from Devon.

i wanted to drive up through Dunkerswell - my brother used to go for burn-ups there in his green ford cortina in the 70s so it's always held a strange association. the road up from Honiton is long and straight. banger racing courses - piles of tarp-covered heaps held in place with car tyres. moto-cross stadium - closed off, foreign looking. i'm very out of place here.

watching swallows trace the length of the cut silage grass - huge fields, the expanse of agricultural green that runs for miles in all directions. the airfield recalls a news item about fears of terrorists using small planes. a glider circles down fast over the field, i can't make out its scale, i realise it's remote controlled, a flag, three men looking down.

i trace a journey between the horizon and my map that I made in 1996 from Buckland St Mary and along this road down to Ottery St Mary - I was touring with Horse and Bamboo Theatre, and we walked across the Blackdowns with horses and wagons. i wanted to find the place we camped, to see if there was any atmosphere left present for me. these are the things i remember: we could see Glastonbury Tor far on the horizon through a gateway, there was a car accident in the night at the crossroads, hardly anyone came to see the show, there was a feeling of loneliness and we wanted to leave. the landscape and that journey through it have stayed with me.

i call into a farm shop - they have nice wooden signs. i buy some strawberries and some potatoes - "Devon ones now, no more need for Cornish" (the farm-shop-keeper). i ask to photograph the signs, and end up filming the flags and listening to the sheep that move towards me. there is a field full of farm equipment, a barn, a going-out bonfire smoking steadily in a metal feeder. the scene is soft, long distance, familiar - i want to film it but it's too much to frame.

i'm still wondering about the word native - native species, to be native to a land. And also everything that's 'League of Gentlemen' about 'local'.
i don't relate to flags even though Bjork's 'declare independence' lyrics were temporarily encouraging, and the one at Glastonbury Festival 'Here I Am' delightfully stated their purpose. so i made this film.