August has been a productive month for me at the museum, in which I was able to knuckle down and dig into some more research about particular themes of exploration that are feeding the various elements of my work. I came across some great books in the Caird Archive and Library about maritime myths and superstitions which I am looking into for a cross-arts piece I am hoping to make in the Spring of next year, as well as researching the links between the practices of documentation in both dance and exploration, which surprisingly have numerous cross overs. Particularly interesting is the connections between geometrical shapes in methods of mapping and spatial scales developed by movement theoretician Rudolf Laban, which I am hoping will feed into elements of my artist case in RE·THINK from November.
I was also directed to a fascinating exhibition and publication by the Royal Geographical Society entitled Hidden Histories, which focuses on the less visible and discussed local figures of exploration. “The role of locals and intermediaries in the history of exploration and travel deserves to be much better known.” (Taken from website). It is definitely worth a read and provides a welcomed perspective on the notion of exploration and its history.
For this month’s Explorer Families session we were trailing new make-and-do activities for RE·THINK Exploration, we made cardboard expedition trunks and decorated our own travel badges to adorn the trunks, which was a great success. Each family was also given a puzzle postcard to complete at home, dismantle and send to someone to re-make. For our next session we will be getting hands on with some objects that may contribute to the handling collection in RE·THINK later in the year.
August also saw the first of mine and choreographer/videographer- Stacie Lee Bennett’s filming expeditions for Who is the land, which took us to the breath-taking Gower peninsula in Wales. The mission of our trip was to experiment with movement and filming possibilities relating to our initial ideas for the film concept (exploring varied landscapes where the land meet the sea through choreography) and discover more about what it is that we are interested in, want to capture and develop in the other locations we visit. Originating from Wales I was delighted to be able to visit such a beautiful part of the country as a part of this project and experience it from a completely different perspective.
Similar to how I imagine explorers from the past, present and future may feel before embarking on an expedition, myself and Stacie were hit with a mix of excitement, trepidation and eagerness to get going. We had an early start to get to the area of Gower that we would be focusing on for the day- Llangennith, a gem that I found out about through a family friend and chosen as one of our locations for its stunning coastal vistas, epic sand dunes and relatively less accessible position in the peninsula.
Although one of the primary premises for the film is about capturing and moving in places where land meets sea we are keen to explore beyond the obvious setting of beaches to find out what other landscapes and terrains surround these meeting points. By calling upon the advice and knowhow of local people we are also eager to discover treasures of locations that are unusual or considered special to these places. This is a particularly important aspect of our travels as we think that you really get to experience the best a place has to offer by engaging with local people and knowledge, which not only gives you a better sense of geography but also contributes to an awareness of the personality and spirit of a place that far extends beyond the landscape alone.
How is a place characterised? How does it feel? What stories does it house?
An additional element of Who is the land is the creation of two postcards which we are hoping will not only feed into the content of the film, but also physically be a part of its installation in the RE·THINK artist studio. The two prompts on the postcard link to the major themes of the film and will hopefully encourage people to share some personal stories or experiences of exploration with us. We will be taking the postcards with us on our travels and asking local people and visitors to fill them in and send them back to us by post or digitally. If you would like to get involved with the project and fill out a postcard please email: email@example.com you can also follow us on Twitter using #whoistheland
Our next stop will be the Isle of Arran, off the coast of West Scotland, which was suggested to us by staff at Traveller’s Tails partner The Hunterian. We are looking forward to exploring even further afield and getting lost in the wilds of Arran.
I will report back soon.