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.

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