Field Trips

ASLE UKI with LAND2 CONFERENCE FIELD TRIPS, 7 September 2017

The trips will take place over the afternoon and early evening of 7 September and each will also feature a panel of relevant work from the conference in an appropriate venue at the destination – you can see the panels below under the details of the trip.

Timings will vary and will be available nearer the time. We will not hold any evening events in Sheffield that night, leaving you free to continue the evening with your trip companions or just to take an evening off.

FIELD TRIP ONE: Sheffield Edgelands and Moss Valley

Led by Andrew Jeffrey, poet whose fieldwork is based in this area.

 The Moss Valley is located on the border between North East Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, just to the south east of Sheffield. This is a working agricultural valley with both livestock and arable farming. It is rich in wildlife habitat, some of which has been designated as nature reserves. The valley has ancient woodlands, meadows, hedgerows, ponds and marshland, together with many tributory streams flowing into the Moss.  The Moss Brook and its ponds once powered eight water wheels when it was an important centre for the grinding of scythes and sickles. It is also an area where drift mining for coal took place and is now an area being investigated as a potential area for fracking.

We’ll take an antique bus provided by The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Museum from Sheffield centre out to Moss Valley. On the way out to the edge of Sheffield our route will take us past various parts of Sheffield including Heeley City Farm, The South Yorkshire Energy Centre and the hilly Le Corbusier inspired Gleadless Valley Estate.

The bus will drop us at Eckington where we will pick up the Moss Valley and follow it toward Ford. We’ll be joined by Oliver Blensdorf, the recorder for the Moss Valley Wildlife Group who will fill us in about the area’s natural history. Keep a look out for the Seldom Seen Engine House and Never Fear Dam. When we reach Troway Hall we will visit the MediBee hives to sample some of their varieties of honey. Our walk will end at the Pub at Ford.

There will be 3-4 miles of relatively easy walking. Warm and waterproof clothing and stout walking boots are recommended.

Sheffield Edgelands and Moss Valley 

Hugh Dunkerley (University of Chichester), ‘Some thoughts on poetry and fracking’. Winner of the 2016 ASLE Hay Lecture Prize

FIELD TRIP TWO: The Entomological Imagination at Doncaster Museum

Led by John Miller, ASLE-UKI, English Literature Lecturer at Sheffield University and co-editor of Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature.

There are over 1 million species of insects, perhaps a good many more; as such they represent around 85% of the known varieties of animal life and are so numerous that there are probably more of them alive at any one time than all other forms of life put together. They precede humanity by several million years and are vital to the flourishing of both ecological systems and human cultures. Yet the humanities, even in their ecological and animal turns, have paid very little attention to insect life. This afternoon event will present a small number of academic papers by Fabienne Collignon, Rachel Murray, Jonas House and Michael Malay addressing the meaning and significance of insects in literature and culture. We will travel to the entomology collection at Doncaster Museum, a short drive from Sheffield, and will have time to browse the books and specimens on display between papers. We will conclude by discussing possible plans for a future insect network.

Limited space: 18 places available

FIELD TRIP THREE: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Led by LAND2 members Andrea Thoma, painter and academic, and Deborah Gardner, sculptor and academic, from the University of Leeds.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of Europe’s leading outdoor art spaces. http://www.ysp.co.uk/ and offers an intriguing opportunity to consider the relationship of sculpture, people and landscape.  There are always over a hundred works on outdoor display at any one time and include David Nash, Elizabeth Frink, Roger Hiorns, Sol LeWitt, James Turrell, Ai Wei Wei, Dennis Oppenheim, Anthony Caro, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. However, it’s not just the works but also the location which are striking, situated in the South Yorkshire coalfield and built using money from coal the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is set in the 500 acres of the splendid Bretton estate. The estate itself has a long history even being listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. The last of the Wentworth family to own Bretton Hall, was Thomas, he was responsible for the development of the landscape. Richard Woods, who was a talented contemporary of ‘Capability’ Brown, designed the grounds and includes planting of exotic trees and large water features and a charming Camellia House. Many of the works respond directly to their setting for example the 18th century deer shelter, now home to James Turrell’s Skyspace and the Ai Wei Wei at St Bartholomew’s Chapel, built by William Wentworth in 1744.

There will be an opportunity to meet one of the curatorial team and to visit the Longsides Gallery.

Warm and waterproof clothing and stout walking boots are recommended for those taking the full trip around the park. There is disabled access at the park and a wheelchair/less able route around some of the exhibits.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park: Art Collaboration panel

Dr Lucy Burnett (Leeds Beckett University), ‘Dead-Time’

Deborah Gardner & Andrea Thomas (University of Leeds), ‘Textures of Place in context: from the far side of the moon to the immediacy of folded colour-space’

Andrea McLean & Anna Stenning (University of Leeds), ‘Collaboration in the field – ‘Landscapes of the Imagination’ at the Master’s House, Ledbury’

FIELD TRIP FOUR: To the Bunker!
Led by Luke Bennett (Sheffield Hallam University, Co-convenor of the Space and Place Group), editor of
In The Ruins of The Cold War Bunker.

Writing at the end of the 1970s, amidst resurgent US/Soviet nuclear brinksmanship, Thatcher’s reassertion of the authoritarian ‘Nuclear State’ (Jungk 1979) and the rebirth of the anti-nuclear movement across Europe, investigative journalist Peter Laurie declared that “the paranoia of power can be read in the concrete of the bunkers, the radio towers, the food stores and the dispersed centres of government” and concluded that this materialisation of both power and paranoia was now “written on the face of England” (1979: 9). This paranoia, and its sculpting of both discursive networks and concrete structures across the landscape has in recent years become a productive point of focus for artists and writers who have been seeking to examine the traumatic power of that era, and specifically to explore the links between the unsettling of minds and of the nuclear state’s colonisation of otherwise bucolic landscapes, by what landscape historian W.G. Hoskins, writing in 1954, had called “the obscene shape of the atom-bomber, laying a trail like a filthy slug upon Constable’s and Gainsborough’s sky [and on the ground an equally contaminating] “high barbed wire around some unmentionable devilment” (1985: 299). This cross-disciplinary field has also increasingly seen attempts made to trace and understand the lingering, after-effects of these Cold War framings through into the early 21st century and to investigate the motivations behind the current revalorisation of the now-abandoned brutal ruins of the cold war. This session will seek to show case three artists work in this field, alongside launching a collection of essays to which they and others have contributed that examines this psychic and material legacy of the cold war’s bunkers. It will culminate with a trip to a Nuclear bunker (now an English Heritage museum) in York.

The session will comprise:

1) Three views of Cold War landscapes: A showing of work by the following artists, with short accompanying presentations and Q&A opportunity (this will be held at SHU on the afternoon of Thursday 7th September, immediately prior to the bunker trip):

  • Louise K. Wilson (University of Leeds) The Eerie and the Banal: This sonic exploration reflects on artists’ and writers’ troubled fascination with Cold War bunkers. A strange interplay of fact and fiction frames this reflection into these anomalous and primal spaces. The role of the ‘eerie’ (explored in the writings of Robert Macfarlane and the late Mark Fisher) is invoked in a new sound work that melds memories of places visited, imagined and composited.
  • Matthew Flintham (Kingston University) Torås Fort: A Speculative Study of War Architecture in the Landscape. Matthew will show his short film which in image and narration uses the techniques of speculative fiction to unsettle an account of a geologist’s compulsive analysis of the materialities of the remains of a Norwegian coastal battery, fusing the styles of the natural sciences and horror writing to do so. Flintham’s account reflects the ‘weird realism’ stylistics and concerns of contemporary writers (like De Landa 1997; Negarestani 2008; Bogost 2012; and Harman 2012) who each ascribe ominous, ‘hidden in plain sight’ posthuman mystery to seemingly dumb brute banal geological objects.
  • Stephen Felmingham (Plymouth College of Art) Peripheral Artefacts: Drawing [out] the Cold War, Stephen will show and discuss his use of experimental drawing techniques to access the ‘hidden in plain sight’ uncanny qualities of now abandoned ROC Posts. In doing so he will show how his bunker-entering reconnaissance accessed his sublimated childhood trauma of growing up in East Anglia in the 1980s amidst USAF and RAF nuclear bases, pointing to the potency of material and spatial triggers to memory and feeling.

A coach will depart mid-afternoon to attend a private viewing of York Bunker plus a panel event in which Ian Klinke (Political Geographer, University of Oxford) will interrogate a panel of contributors to the edited collection, In The Ruins of The Cold War Bunker: Materiality, Affect and Meaning-Making to be published by Rowman & Littlefield International in June 2017 as part of their Place, Memory & Affect series. Due to space constraints within the bunker there will be two sittings of the panel session (alternating with the bunker tour).

The panel will comprise:

  • Louise K. Wilson / Stephen Felmingham (Artists) (alternating between presenter and chair)
  • Luke Bennett (editor of In the Ruins)
  • Arno Geesink (Architect)
  • Kevin Booth (Senior curator, English Heritage)

See http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/york-cold-war-bunker/

Limited space: 20 places available. Registration deadline: 1st August 2017.

FIELD TRIP FIVE David Walker-Barker’s Studio and Elsecar Heritage Centre

Led by Dan Eltringham, poet and collaborator with David Walker-Barker.

Going underground: a visit to the artist David Walker-Barker’s studio and collections, Elsecar. Walker-Barker’s studio(s) house a wonderful, eclectic collection of findings that tell the story of his practice, engaged with aspects of geology and landscape evolution, human extractivism and vast, nonhuman time-scales. You’ll encounter a fossilised marine crocodile, minerals and crystals pulled from every mine shaft and cliff-side quarry in the north of England, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century bottles and ceramics from past eras’ waste-disposal solutions––and the artist himself. From the layers of time embodied in disrupted strata Walker-Barker has excavated superb ammonites from abandoned alum shale excavations on the North Yorkshire Coast, deep-toned amethystine quartz from the volcanic rocks of the Peak District, Derbyshire, and from an abandoned quarry in the North Pennines the most spectacular and perfect crystals of colour zoned fluorite speckled with brilliant diamond like crystals of quartz, all set within uniquely fashioned artist’s cabinets.

The quarried and mined environment has provided a visual theme for Walker-Barker’s art works, which reflect both the structural complexity of geological processes and the cultural and industrial dimension of their impact upon landscape forms and in particular the people who toiled in those industries. Indeed, Elsecar itself is an extremely interesting conservation village for industrial heritage, transformed by the Earls Fitzwilliam into a major regional centre for iron and coal extraction. This excursion will conclude by visiting the Elescar Heritage Centre, set within a restored ironworks and colliery that is home to artists’ studios, antique centres and exhibitions. There will be an academic panel within the Heritage Centre itself, and we’ll tour ruined ironworks, waggon ways, the reservoir, canal and bell-pit-carpeted woods, in addition to the core site and seeing the Newcomen Beam Engine in action: heady stuff. If there’s time after all that we’ll repair to a local pub before returning to Sheffield.

Elsecar Heritage Centre: Surface and Subsurface Panel

Chaired by Dan Eltringham and David Walker-Barker, who will introduce their collaborative work in the area, ‘Looking for Jossie: Lessons from the Layered Landscape’

David Ainley, ‘Mining, Quarrying and Process in Painting’

Tony Baskeyfield and Mario Popham, ‘Shaped by Stone’

FIELD TRIP SIX: Black Hill and the moors

Led by Harriet Tarlo (Sheffield Hallam) and Judith Tucker (University of Leeds, Co-convener of LAND2), poet and artist and collaborators in this area on the Tributaries Series of drawings and poems.

We will take the coach out of Sheffield for just under an hour through the Pennine landscape to Black Hill, Holmfirth where we will embark on a walk over the moors and peat bogs through hilly landscape featuring many waterways and reservoirs, heathers, bog cotton and mosses, and birds such as lapwings, curlews and grouse. Now regarded as recreational semi-wilderness this is a place haunted by industrial and farming history — only traces remain of the farms, mills and quarries that once thrived here. There are lanes and paths, now only used by walkers, which would have once been busy thoroughfares, and others which are faint tracks just discernable through the bracken.

We will meet a representative of Moors for the Future who will talk to us about the area, the birdlife and recent attempts to re-establish the ancient blanket bog by the use of sphagnum moss.

See http://www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/ for details of the organisation’s work. See https://www.walkingenglishman.com/westyorkshire11.html for images of PART of the walk we will do.

There will be 4-5 miles of hill walking. Warm and waterproof clothing and stout walking boots are recommended.

Black Hill and the Moors Panel

Karen Tobias-Green, Dr Samantha Broadhead and Sharon Bainbridge (Leeds College of Art), ‘Telling and retelling our tales/tails from the Italian Alps to the Yorkshire Moors’

Filippa Dobson (University of Leeds) & Mark Pajak (Ilkley Literature Festival), ‘The First Cut’

Adrian Tait (Independent Scholar), ‘Island Life: a biographical reading of Jane Eyre at Moor House’

FIELD TRIP SEVEN: The River Don

Led by Chris Jones (Sheffield Hallam), poet and author of River Don series of poems, also collaborator with Paul Evans.

This is the only trip that will depart on foot from Sheffield itself to lead participants on a walk along the post-industrial waterways of Sheffield.

We will meet on Lady’s Bridge by the Wicker (S3 8GA) then follow the river downstream through the east end of Sheffield to Meadowhall Shopping Centre and the M1.  As we journey along the ‘Five Weirs Walk’ we will look at how the River Don has shaped Sheffield’s various histories and also consider how it has fared in environmental terms over the past hundred years or so.  Rather than having a panel as part of the trip, Chris will be introducing text, poetry and images as part of the walk to contextualise the terrain. Along the way we’ll come across Thomas Paine, George Orwell, Carol Ann Duffy, Jarvis Cocker, Donald Bailey, huge piles of tyres, steel works, fig trees, and (hopefully) herons and kingfishers.

Once we’ve arrived at Meadowhall we’ll get the tram back into town.

There will be 3-4 miles of relatively easy walking. Warm and waterproof clothing and stout walking boots are recommended.