Language and the River
Having been paired for collaboration, we very quickly found themes in common. Clare at the outset had expressed an interest in using poetry with photography, and to convey movement using texts and layering. Lucie, working in photography and layering in painting, was interested in the languages and poetics of nature. We both have deep connections with rivers and sea so it has been a natural impulse to explore this process by engaging with a river.
We agree that we want to convey the mood of the ‘post’ era that we are in – ecological as well as social. Timothy Morton’s view that we are ‘post nature’, and in a state of ‘ecological emergency’ is an influence on the framework of Clare’s first poem for the project which is integral to the three collaborative images attached. The intention is to show the utterances of the river juxtaposed with surprising language that conveys a sense of human separation from the environment; the language of business, war, and segregation. Lucie is interested in the liminal space between a river and its bank and Clare has used this within the poem’s framework to convey that this space, devoid of human interference, is where the river can truly be itself.
We are interested in both the catastrophic separation of humans and nature, and also in the places where humans and nature do align. In the pieces so far, the attempt is to show both the separation and the coming together, as part of the eddy and flow. Words flow in the river, sometimes integrated and sometimes jarring.
We wanted our collaboration to be site specific and centred around a particular river. After much discussion we settled on the Taw in Dartmoor. The choice of river is practical (we both know it) and inspirational but in a sense the setting is unimportant. It could be any river in a rural setting. We meet there to encounter the river, undertake site specific explorations, photography and in Clare’s case, writing.
There are a number of directions we are pursuing.
- To create image/poems that are examples of the idea of writing as part of nature, the river itself as a poem. A fusion of photography and words that are woven into the movement of the river giving a sense of ‘utterance’ in parallel to the sound of rushing (or still) water.
- Experimenting with floating words downstream and documenting this with photography and film.
- ‘Shape poems’ – shapes of poems as they are arranged on paper to emphasise the sense of movement to and fro from verbal to visual engagement – further evoked by ‘shaping’ the photographic montage accompanying the poem.
- A short film of words and river in motion.
Works on paper
An artist’s book – an assemblage of the images/words
Documentation of site specific pieces