Project Banner - Fossil Record2.jpg

Journal

A reflective journal of my practice, process, and thoughts.

Posts tagged mapping
Tutorial 2 - 18/01/19, Jonathan Kearney

This past couple of weeks I have been working on consolidating what I already have in terms of research, and paying attention to the fragments of ideas or connections I’ve jotted down on a hundred scraps of paper or notes on my phone. I really wanted to do this at this point, to start the new year with a clear focus, and my project proposal has helped me with this immensely. Most of my conversation with Jonathan last week was centred around this - moving forward into making and experimentation now that a broad framework is beginning to emerge. We discussed this idea of the framework, specifically in terms of time-based arrangements, sequencing bodies of work and subjects into acts, or something less linear. The time-based aspect I am considering more and more in terms of the work itself not having a fixed form or shape which is sympathetic maybe to the neurological process, or a kind of amnesia. It has become apparent to me that so many of the areas I have been interested in over the past couple of years converge in so many different ways, from the politics of rising sea levels and retreating landmass to memory loss and cultures of collecting, and Jonathan suggested that these areas being rooted in the same concern could be thought of as something circular with several acts which are all traversing a core principal.

With this in mind I tried to map all of those areas of consideration in that form, and the result was something which instantly clarified and furthered the connections between all of those areas in a really meaningful way. The map itself ended up resembling a kind of globe, which makes a sort of accidental sense in being viewed as such in relation to thinking of internal and external worlds; the neurologic and the geologic. I then tried converting that globe into a kind of timeline, and the word ‘retreat’ suddenly became much more meaningful; what resulted was a kind of envisioning of the retreat from the ice age (glacial deposits and land mass retreating, the North Sea and the submergence of Doggerland - more on this soon - leaving erratics in the cliffs and petrified checkpoints on the shore, retrieved to be examined as metaphors to memory, to the individual past from the collective and the physical to the mental…) to now - or more precisely a point between ‘now’ and what might be called ‘home’/a point of origin and the beginning of memory… the shed in the empty field in the photograph.

post9 - wallmap.jpg
At the Edge of the Humber

In September I attended an interesting lecture by historical and cultural geographer Dr. Briony McDonagh, during the British Science Festival at University of Hull. The lecture traced the histories of settlements on the River Humber, beginning with an examination of the intercommoned wetland marshes of Wallingfen which resisted drainage and agricultural development until the eighteenth century and parliamentary enclosure, working along to the mouth of the river via the remote Sunk Island in Holderness, all of which was also waterlogged until the Middle Ages, and has more in common geologically with the Netherlands than other parts of Yorkshire. I am much more familiar with Sunk Island, living nearby and aware of it’s strange, fractured and lonely beauty, and did not previously know of the existence of Wallingfen, but figments of the soft Holderness clay and the way I visualised the Norfolk Fens in my reading of Graham Swift’s Waterland came to mind, which is probably quite an obvious and reductive reference to make at first. Incidentally, a couple of years ago I traced my mother’s family back a few generations to living in Norfolk. One of the reasons for them moving north and settling in Holderness might have been connected to a more widespread migration of labourers from Norfolk to Yorkshire in the early 1800s as the result of an excess of agricultural workers in a region feeling the effects of increased mechanisation. Nonetheless, it made me consider the winding rural psychogeography Swift developed; the drenched landscape an active witness slowly shifting and churning the past into the shared present, reshaped - reclaimed, and present back beneath, eventually out to the river and lost into the sea. “That's the way it is: life includes a lot of empty space. We are one-tenth living tissue, nine-tenths water; life is one-tenth Here and Now, nine-tenths a history lesson. For most of the time the Here and Now is neither now nor here.” 

Sunk Island reclamation stages2.jpg
image credit - Andy Medcalf

Collapsed WWII gun emplacements exposed as the cliffs wear away at Kilnsea.

Read The Draining of the Marshlands of South Holderness and the Vale of York, June A. Sheppard, 1966