From Powfoot to Yorkshire then Skibbereen and back again
by Katie Anderson
EAFS rocked up last weekend in Annandale and Eskdale – about as local as it get’s for me, and then to face the embarrassment that I actually didn’t make it to much, I blame fatigue after a week of madness and encroaching panic as the inevitability of the next projects started to wash up. However, I did make it to the Tidemarks reading at Powfoot Golf Hotel. On the one hand, it was really quite strange seeing art-people in what to me is a non-art space, I ride with one of my furry four-legged animals out at Powfoot a lot, so for me it is a somehow seperate space – but it was also quite interesting to hear how everyone else sees the stretch out at Queensberry Bay and the rough stony beach up below the Broom.
I was brought up with the knowledge that the Solway was a dangerous place, there are strong undercurrents, fast moving tides, dangerous sands – an inhospitable place really – and as such only ventured out onto safe areas when the tide was at it’s lowest. That has been gradually changing over the past couple of years, wading in the shallows as the tide comes in, exploring the fringes of the environment have increased as familiarity gave me (perhaps too much?) confidence. The flatness, the sense of scale is fantastic when you get out into it – it feels infinite. The light is beautiful at various times of the day and various weathers – it is both more wild and more calm out on the flats than it is on the shoreline. But I have already gone off on a tangent – Tidemark provided a creative writing platform for a mix of writers, both ‘independants’ and from various groups to come together, workshop a space and create individual responses – that actually came to feel like a collective voice. 24 voices contributed to the overall flavour. It was reflective, both natures impact on us and our impact on it.
Afterwards found me back outside following what had clearly been one of those beautiful evening skies as darkness encroached. I’m rarely down by the shore in the dark. It has been interesting how the festival has gotten even locals looking at their environments from new lights (in my case literally) and new perspectives, and has endlessly surprised those less local with our regions beauty. I’ve heard a lot of pride for our place over the course of the festival.
It set me thinking. Talking as we were about geology at one point and the history of the place, and our horses field being so sandy when it is dry, due to it’s previous life so close to the Solway, and it’s dune-like hills. Lying on the top of the hill watching the sun set from a new perspective reminded me of writings about the phenomena written about by James Turrell and Antoine de Saint-Exupery about the sky appearing as a vaulted ceiling (the exact name for this has vanished). From that slight convex position I could completely understand what they meant. My dear ponies nearly had a heart attack though, it seems they are not used to people lying about in their field. Turrell always pops up from time to time in my thinking, and this time may have something to do with my visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last month. I was really excited to see Deerspace, on account of his works being hard to come by, but hadn’t accounted for the place being full of noisy children with crisp packets (note to everyone – stay well clear of that place on public holidays) so the appreciation for the space was somewhat lost in the pandemonium. However in some ways his work just set me up for ‘looking’ [what do I mean by ‘looking’ – more than just looking] at the space – his work was a viewfinder but once I had found the right focus could see without. His Skygarden work in Skibbereen – which was in the process of renovation when I visited – seemed to encapsulate my experience on top of the hill inspired by poets, he set up the structures for looking, the EAFS events set up something similar – less concrete perhaps, although Dalziel and Scullion’s Rosnes Benches surely must be on the same – structures for looking. Matthew Dalziel spoke at one of the events of his work being as the surfboard is when connecting with the waves.
I think we all understand. It’s just a shame all I can manage is garbled ramblings tonight…