THE LAND INCANTED
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The majority of my written and photographic work since early 2012 has been focussed on ‘landscapes lost, forgotten, abandoned, mythic’ . These landscapes, more often than not are overlooked, or misunderstood, or have some ancient utility and significance beyond the comprehension of the modern imagination. There are realms of possibility for an artist/dreamer such as myself to make use of these landscapes as the sole source of inspiration and creativity.
A few years ago I stumbled upon a description of ancient Tibetan “Kora” walks in a book by Robert MacFarlane, and the definition of these circumambulatory walks seemed to fit with my creative sensibilities. The idea of a Kora walk was to walk a defined path as both a form of meditation and personal enlightenment, and traversing a site designated as sacred became a form of pilgrimage, and self awareness.
Engaging with a landscape for a prolonged period, for me engenders a form of transcendence and deep connection with the genius loci, a way of not only knowing myself, but also of deep connection with the chosen location, its history, its moods, its spiritual presence. The written works that emerged from this sustained engagement could be interpreted as a form of dialogue with the land, a chosen location, and I call them ‘incantations’, they have to be spoken aloud.
The words incanted and enchanted share the same etymological root, and my words began to take the form of formulae, summonings, invocations of place; words assembled in such a way as to act as portals to an alternate way of knowing the land. Whilst walking, I also began to collect items, small objects, mostly natural detritus, that were assembled in one place and re-situated in another location. I call these somewhat ritualised objects “Placements”, and they act as markers, lines of connection, transactions, small offerings to the land. They will sit anonymously, sequestered at a chosen site, small resonators that are largely unseen, they will erode and decay, and eventually be assimilated into the land once more.
I confess to being a reluctant poet. I don’t see my work as fitting in with any established poetic tradition, and have never, until relatively recently read or appreciated poetry, and certainly don’t (nor wish to) understand its methods and mechanisms. I currently don’t submit work to poetic journals, and let my little words transmit idiosyncratically in the imagination of each recipient.
As a result, my small editions are very limited, and they go out to various parts of the world, educational institutions, other small presses, and private collectors in the hope that they will resonate with their recipients, and stimulate dialogue, collaboration, and exchange of ideas with them. I don’t send review copies for others to comment upon, preferring that my words and images will grow in the imagination and gain traction organically, in often very unexpected ways.
Very recently I have chosen to collaborate with visual artists whose work is very special, and sits well with my words. I chose to work with these artists for their qualities, as they too have a very beautiful, specific and unique way of decoding and interacting with, the landscape. I feel that these collaborative efforts and exchanges with other artists are the most important, vital part of the project.
The Land Incanted is a collective title for a series of works, some already published, some in progress..it does not make any claims at high-mindedness, or originality, nor does it sit neatly in the worlds of art or poetry..it is a hybrid form, a genuine, personal, and very honest attempt at honouring and celebrating the lost and forgotten landscapes, mostly of the British Isles, a way for me to leave my own footprint in the paths of others.
BGN / Eijls April 2018
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