Collaboration Spotlight: Elizabeth-Jane Burnett & Rebecca Thomas

Field Notes / Field Study

Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and Rebecca Thomas

We propose an Art book which explores both narrative sequence and mapping. The book will include a fold-up map created from our time spent in, bordering, and away from, three fields in Devon. Our collaboration uses mapping as a practical starting point for articulating these fields, operating both metaphorically and visually, involving different stages of drawing, writing, performing and imagining. Two screen prints will also be produced for the book.

Fields in Ide

As well as using on-the-spot, site-specific writing and drawing, we are interested in how the project develops away from the site, to include an imagined and re-imagined landscape. A series of small paintings of Fields-dreaming, in anticipation of one of the fields will be produced to feature in the book, as well as Dream-writing in response to the same field.

Diagram of the Book

The fields we are “mapping” are located in the Devon village of Ide. They appear as “Drewshill 1, 2 and 3” on a sketch map drawn by the writer’s father, a historian, who discusses the etymological history of these fields as meaning “the fields of the Druid.” These ideas and fields are also being explored in Burnett’s A Dictionary of the Soil.

Surface and Depth

Thomas is also interested in drawing while walking in the field, constantly making marks whilst moving. Using oil pastels or other mediums she will record, physically and literally the movement of the body through space. She is interested in working with a writer, with a view to exploring the relationship between this physical mark making and language in the conventional sense of the word.

Collaboration Spotlight: David Walker-Barker & Dan Eltringham

The reservoir dam under construction c. 1900

The artist David Walker-Barker and poet Dan Eltringham are working together on a collaboration focused on the submerged reservoir landscapes of Midhope and Langsett, around 10 miles north west of Sheffield, in search of the illegible, erased and underground.

We are following traces of vanished ways of life, using archival photographs, old maps and the records of local rambling societies. The objects of our search so far are remnants of the drowned village of Langsett; the “Jossie Cabin”, an eighteenth-century shepherd’s hut that may have fallen victim to enclosure but was still visible in the 1930s; the Shepherd’s grave at Midhope Chapel; fragments from the eighteenth-century Midhope pottery works that was finally closed by the reservoir in the early twentieth century; and the ruined North America farmstead.

The shepherd's hut?
The shepherd’s hut?

Our first excursion to this landscape yielded more unknowns than sureties: in search of the shepherd’s hut on Stanny [Stony] Common, the rain and wind was so bad that not much could be made out. We don’t know if we found Jossie’s Cabin or not; a pile of stones was our the best bet, but one pile of stones looks very like another in poor visibility. We’ll have to go back.

North American farm
North America farm

The walks feed into the work we produce, but are discrete from that work: visual and verbal records of pedestrian excursions that seek not only to document the experience of the landscape as we have seen it and taken it in through the other senses, but also its histories and hidden communities, human and nonhuman.

jossiegravedec16
The shepherd’s grave?

The work is also what we find, as well as what we (so far) have failed to locate. David’s artistic practice is centrally focused around collecting and the taxonomy of arrangement, in artist’s cabinets he builds himself to house his interests in minerals, fossils and relics of human community such as bottles and ceramics. Dan is working on a poetic text, R/S Res., that plays with the formal taxonomies and juxtapositions of David’s artist cabinets, as well as with mini-fields of open-form verse plotted across a page, allowing ‘R’ to speak with ‘S’, Resource with Surface and Resistance with Strata. The objects David finds mix time scales, from the vastly geological and prehistoric to seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century objects of common use.

Midhope-ware
Midhope-ware

The Midhope Pottery yielded some such daily records, in the form of plate-ware pulled from the mud around the ruined farmstead, and brought to the surface with the help of nonhuman excavators: fox holes throw up a lot of good stuff.

What we have so far are a lot of unknowns, losses, overwritings, and several strands of work-in-progress. We plan to return to Langsett in the Spring.