This section of the site comprises reviews of the show at Clynfyw Countryside Centre, as well as additional material from the artists:
Review by Jennie Savage (first published in Live Art Magazine)
2. Artists' Writings
An Intercultural exchange project between artist groups ointment Wales and Boreal Art Nature Quebec. Project conceived and facilitated by Simon Whitehead.
Wander constructed a series of images that referenced the context of the work and the situation of seeing an exhibition in the wild. These elements were all bought together through the simple act of going for a walk.
The context in which the work occurred was rural West Wales, an area of both outstanding natural beauty and a long history that is exoticised by its stories, rituals and our own contemporary alienation/ relation to the soil. The landscape is also of course a political place and although the connection between field and policy seems liminal this space raises fundamental questions about the food we eat and the environment in which we live. These issues or notions form an intricate web about place, the fundamental invisible frameworks that inform our perception of this space as a context. Using this as a premise Wander raised questions about the landscape as a Oreal space, a place often dogged by history, conservatism and cliché and yet the work was not dogmatic instead it simply placed images in our path. Images from time, images that are the evocation of a moment or the suggestion of an Oother life to this place, be that historical, otherworldly or transformative.
The situation of a walking tour was created using the momentum of the audience as a way to direct and initiate pieces of work or performances. In a sense this approach created a kind of moving non-theatre that unravelled as we walked. The walk was initiated by Simon Whitehead who invited the audience to swop shoes- a simple analogy but one that transformed the process of walking into a participatory act shared with a stranger. It is perhaps this notion of transformation which was key to the project. Through the intervention of the artists moments in time were transformed opening up a window that invited the audience to imagine. Many of the works sought to act as markers that asked for this kind of participation. Our first encounter on the walk was an intervention by Maura Hazledon who placed in our path an image that was an evocation of a time past. High in a tree, wearing white and singing in Welsh a song that was haunting and far off the image suggested another world that we were now a part of. We walked on. Sheets of washed off watercolours by Stirling Steward floated down a stream suggesting the futility of capturing this landscape on paper and at the same time suggesting the circular story of Bartlebooth in "Life A Users Manuel" (G. Perec).
Out of the woods the path opens into a clearing, a cultivated garden where a man is working in just his pants and a sun hat, evoking the spirit of the old gardener who chose to tend his garden in such attire. Francios Morelli embodied the gardens previous owner by answering questions about the garden and its flowers, and by asking people to contribute to a collective map-drawing by adding their own jorneys home.
Walking down the path we were led to a dead flat millpond,
deep and shady, one wonders which came first, the painting or the pond. The
audience gathers around the pond. We are invited to close our eyes. Minutes
later a signal is given to open our eyes whereby an apparition from a past
life swims silently and unexpectedly across the millpond, hardly breaking
the surface. This sudden shock was both outlandish and deeply poetic. Bog
man scrambled up the far bank and ran up the hill, apparently oblivious to
the audience, and as he disappeared an obvious analogy arises suggesting the
disappearance of something that is lost. Ben Stammers went onto perform two
more interventions the second conjuring up an image so perfectly placed it
was sublime. A man of no specific era walks or crawls up a human wide millstream
chanting a Welsh hymn. The image was created with stoicism and precision that
left no room for judgement, it just was a perfect window into that
Back at the farm there were several installed pieces that were site sensitive, Stefhan Caddick used two barn areas to place "Hive" and "Side A Side B". Each piece was a journey into the sound of the everyday but rarely appreciated- the sound of the sun rising, or of flies on shit. The sound of flies was installed in a huge stack of hay bales and amplified through tubes. A simple construction that was both tantalising and abject. The fluidity of conception to construction seemed a flawless thought process that made no sense but delivered a work both curious and firmly wedged into the reality of that situation. The second work "Side A Side B" Mapped the sound of the sun rising through recording one second each minute. Sat in near darkness in a caravan, in a barn to listen to the sound of the morning being lit, a side step away from cliché-ed images of the sun rise allows us again to wonder at this everyday, mundane occurrence.
Wander was like disturbing a riverbed; the stuff that floats to the surface is symptomatic of what lies beneath. What comes to the top transforms our understanding of the site and provides a window into a place that has an unknowable history and value but which at the same time has a depth that will never be fully seen. The value of this level of exploration is also unfathomable in that the rural is in a state of flux- residing in this strange space between left over notions of the romantic tradition and a government science project. The opening up of genuine cultural dialogue in this area is a vital step towards re-placing ourselves in this context and forging a new relationship with the rural.
©Jennie Savage. 2003. www.jenniesavage.co.uk
For two weeks, we walked everyday: sometimes alone, sometimes with one or two others, and occasionally all nine of us together. I walked regularly with the Welsh women artists, curious about their relationship to place. As in previous art/nature expeditions in other countries, I walked the land dressed in a particular way: simple dark clothinga long dark skirt, black coat and headscarfan invitation to an intimate narrative between myself and the land.
Wearing specific garments for my daily walks stems from my impulse to create a shifting boundary between inner and outer environment. It is a way of marking the passage from one world (the daily) to another (the imaginal). The plain non-descript dark clothing allows me to feel a degree of cultural anonymity, a perception which inspires me to feel symbolically allied with women walking the land elsewhere on this planet.
My roots being in the British Isles (I was born in England, immigrated to Quebec at age seven, and have family in both Wales and Scotland), I felt deeply connected to the historical and spiritual elements of place, particularly to the standing stones and the ancient oak forests. In places where I felt especially moved, especially touched and provoked, I asked to be photographed, either standing very still and very grounded, or, all the opposite, running as fast as I could, as if passing through a dream. In each place, I knew I was searching for something, but couldnt, and still cant, articulate exactly what. I know it has something to do with lost roots and lost ritualsperhaps a shared dilemma of our times. The photos in the section "process" are documents of this experience.
Tedi Tafel, fellow artist with whom Ive collaborated extensively on art/nature projects, took the photos.
fragments of sounds, fragments of rivers, fragments of dreams,
fragments of history, fragments of stories
stories of places
places of memory
dreaming of childhood
five men descending
one woman standing
four women sitting
two men in water
one in the darkness
seven walking home
three fast asleep
six in the distance
five swifts, one screaming
her sense of timelessness
her sense of others
her sense of longing
his sense of danger
his sense of wonder
his sense of loss
her sense of being overwhelmed
his sense of being elsewhere
her sense of mystery
his sense of gravity
she senses the cold, the wind, a touch, body pressing
he senses the pull, the fear, the yearning, the release
she senses the rhythm
the rhythm of clouds
the rhythm of conversation
the rhythm of stones
the rhythm of walking
the rhythm of breathing
the rhythm of streams
the rhythm of falling
the rhythm of wind
the rhythm of unfolding
of giving in
the rhythm of the movement of the hills
the rhythm of the placing of the stones
the rhythm of passing over, laying down,
of forgiveness, of revealing
the rhythm of becoming
mist becoming hand, becoming flower, becoming thought, becoming mind, becoming distance, becoming tears, becoming stone, becoming stillness, becoming longing, becoming loss, becoming flight, becoming breath, becoming body, becoming home, becoming speaking, becoming dreaming
and she walks with calm, with forgiveness, in thought, to the
hillside, in wonder, while thinking, with eyes closed, in wind, sinking deeply,
with clouds moving, with stones standing
and he walks alone, with others, uphill, ahead, with eyes closed, with sadness, on moss, past sheep, to the pond, to the woods, with calm, with regret, in wonder
she moves into shadow
he moves in the stream
she moves for the centre
he moves for forgiveness
she moves to go deeper
he moves to release
and he dreams of walking in rivers
she dreams of seven stones
he dreams of a blind gardener
she dreams of trees which speak
he dreams of his father
she dreams of tracing ancient patterns
he dreams of his fathers father
she dreams of birth
and the light shifts and he falls
and the mist moves in and she remembers
and the wind picks up and he cries
and the rain starts and she rolls over
and the clouds pass and he goes to sleep
and the shadows appear and she dreams of light
and the light shifts and she falls
and the mist moves in and he remembers
and the wind picks up and she cries
and the rain starts and he rolls over
and the clouds pass and she goes to sleep
and the shadows appear and he dreams of light
Ce qui m'est apparu essentiel à Crwydro, cest la forme narrative. Tout au long de mes déplacements, je découvrais des couches successives d'histoires appartenant aux lieux, aux habitants, à la mémoire des ancêtres, aux origines même des mots et des pensées du Pays de Galles. Ces contes et récits mythologiques, géologiques, historiques et folkloriques m'ont propulsé vers de nouveaux horizons plastiques et conceptuels. Tout d'abord, un renvoi vers une de mes premières actions poétiques de 1974. À ce moment, j'enroulais de la toile autour de chacun de mes pieds et marchait dans Montréal. Les toiles s'usaient contre le pavé urbain, poussant ainsi la notion de paysage.
Cette fois-ci, plus d'un quart de siècle plus tard et loin de la métropole, je réalise une série de marches avec des drapeaux enroulés autour de mes pieds. Chaque marche était faite avec un drapeau de couleur différente : noir, vert, bleu, rouge, jaune et blanc. Ces tissus colorés devint la fibre même de mes déambulations. Pour le collectif, les drapeaux devinrent des repères pour notre quotidien, notre histoire - la marche verte, la marche noire. Détourné de son sens patriotique, le drapeau retourne à son essence même; son état textile de fibres enlacées et colorées enregistrant et racontant les expériences de ce petit groupe d'itinérants.
Choose six monochromes flags. Rap one around one of your feet. Go for a walk thinking about that colour - its presence around you - its meaning for you. If someone asks what you are doing tell them where your from. Then ask them where they're from. Let the conversation move on from there. At the end of the walk take the flag off and hang it to dry. Examine its wear, remember where you've been, whom you've met. The next day starts over again with another colour on the opposite foot. Repeat the action until you have worn all of the flags
Strip down to your pants and wearing Wellingtons. Insert a small plastic lamb into your mouth. Wrap the first flag around your head like a hood or a cowl. Repeat and wrap the second over the first, then the third over the second and first, and so on until you have wrapped the sixth flag over the fifth. Allow people to enter the room. Begin slowly unwrapping the last flag paying particular attention to your breathing. As you move from one layer to the next remember the walks, people, places and stories. Slowly amplify your breathing as you progress. When you have removed all of the flags open your mouth, and with the lamb on your tongue let every one present see.
Dans la troisième et dernière semaine du projet, nous nous sommes retrouvés sur une ferme de style victorien. Trois actions ont couronné les deux semaines qui avaient été consacrées à la marche. Toutes les actions se voulaient un rappel, un souvenir des deux dernières semaines qui venaient de s'écouler. La première a eu lieu dans l'intimité de notre demeure avec les huit autres artistes qui faisait partie du projet. Vêtu d'un simple caleçon blanc et des bottes de pêche, je me suis présenté devant eux avec les six drapeaux enveloppés autour de ma tête. J'ai enlevé successivement chacune des couches colorées, tout en amplifiant ma respiration. Une fois le dernier drapeau retiré, j'ai ouvert ma bouche et tiré ma langue vers les spectateurs pour leur montrer un agneau miniature en équilibre sur celle-ci.
Une deuxième action a été réalisée dans le grand jardin victorien du manoir. Sans spectateur, cette action est documentée sur vidéo. Vêtu d'un simple caleçon blanc et des bottes de pêche ainsi que les yeux bandés, jai parcouru le jardin six fois ; jamais le même chemin et à chaque fois avec un drapeau différent enveloppé autour de ma tête.
Finalement, la dernière action s'est déroulée en présence du public invité à visiter les résultats du projet. Toujours vêtu d'un caleçon blanc et des bottes de pêche, je venais à la rencontre des visiteurs qui déambulaient dans les jardins avec une grande feuille de papier blanc. J'approchais les visiteurs en leur disant que j'étais un étranger perdu. Je leur demandais de dessiner sur le papier le trajet qu'il devait faire pour se rendre de la ferme à leur demeure respective. Chaque visiteur utilisait une couleur différente. J'ai ainsi réussi à produire un dessin cartographique de la région comprenant des repères topographiques et des routes multicolores qui se superposaient.
En plus de cette action, j'ai réalisé une installation dans le jardin. Une première partie se trouvait dans un petit bâtiment et mettait en situation neuf chaises près d'un des murs, à un mètre du sol, face à des petits miroirs horizontaux insérés entre les pierres et la mousse du mur. Une autre section comprenait les six drapeaux monochromes usés et suspendus dans les vestiges d'une serre désaffectée. Des petits dessins sur des pots à fleurs en argile et une sculpture en forme d'arrosoir qui m'ont servi dans mes actions complétaient l'installation.
Chaque action et l'installation évoquaient les esprits des lieux : les neuf artistes errants de Crywdro et la mémoire des parents jardiniers du présent propriétaire - un du 19ième siècle qui était aveugle et l'autre du début du 20ième siècle qui travaillait le jardin vêtu d'un caleçon blanc et des bottes de pêche.