Archive | February, 2014

The Peak district

4 Feb

‘Make a drawing, do it again, make a tracing of it , start again and do another tracing’

Degas

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Returning to a drawing of Gibbet Moor in the Peak District ,after three months ,became a continual ‘retracing and starting again’, no different in a small way , perhaps , to archaeologists who return seasonally ,to an excavation for many years.

Climbing the hill to the same spot , bracing myself in the wind, questioning the reason for doing this , I was reminded of a chapter on ‘The Enactive Sign’ in Lambros Malfouris’s recent book : ‘How things shape the mind’,when he mentions  humans putting themselves into environments or settings , he writes : ‘Cultural knowledge and innovation are not intercranial processes; they are, rather, infused and diffused into settings through the development into settings of practical activity, and thus they are constituted by experience within these settings through the development of specific sensibilities and dispositions, leading people to orient and think about themselves within their environment in specific and often unexpected ways.’ ( Malfouris p116, Chapter 5)

Do some artists experiment by putting themselves into environments, deliberately hoping to produce, provoke,  these unexpected ways ?

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In my case , there are several environments : working with archaeologists from the research project EnglaID in Oxford and a number of chosen landscapes. These landscapes are not , however chosen by myself: choice is removed in a deliberate way. The landscape has, in this case been chosen by Anwen Cooper , it is one of her case study areas . Gibbet Moor is interesting to her in an archaeological sense and she has known and walked it.

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Returning to the same spot , having, in the meantime read , amongst other things , the English Heritage entry and description for Gibbet Moor , I learnt that looking South East , I faced a populated Bronze Age landscape : ‘ One of the most extensive and well preserved Bronze Age settlement complexes in the Peak District . It provides an important insight into Bronze Age settlement, agricultural and ceremonial use of the Derbyshire East Moors .’ English Heritage.

The ‘unexpected’ came when drawing for a further three days on Gibbet Moor, in the beauty of January light on the land, the threat of the cold and the wet but also , in a non defined , but striking sense of what had been in this landscape: by its absence , the presence of the previous ,felt extraordinarily acute.

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