Decision regarding Assignment 6
As mentioned before I have decided to shelve the idea of photographing my garden for this assignment although I will still continue to make photographs here for my own use. Instead I will be using my visits to Ottershaw Memorial Fields and adjacent Queenswood and Ether Hill to record and reflect upon the transitions there. Below is the mind-map that helped me to make the decision.
Ottershaw Memorial Fields, Ether Hill and Queenwood
The playing fields commemorate the dead of World War 2. The area is home to a number of local sports clubs (including being the home base for Ottershaw Football Club); a children’s nursery; Ottershaw Scouts and Guides. It has a Children’s play area picnic benches, football and cricket pitches; tennis courts and a bowling green, is now used for a Saturday morning Parkrun and, In the past, I have also seen some people practising Tai-chi and others flying small birds of prey on the field there. The field is also the venue for the annual May Fair.
Ether Hill and Queenwood are adjacent to the main park and that is where I regularly walk with my dogs. The site is owned and cared-for by Runnymede Borough who ae currently in the midst of their five-year plan to enhance the areas as Suitable Natural Greenspaces (SANGs). Some recent, very nicely printed, information leaflets inform me that the network of informal paths provide views over the countryside from the top of Ether Hill (depending on the Season I’ve found!) and most of the site is covered by either broad-leaved semi natural, mixed or plantation woodland, including Scots pine which grow well on the sandy soil and give the Hill a distinctive skyline. During the past year a lot of work has been done by the Council and volunteers to clear many invasive non-indigenous rhododendron bushes to open out the area so that small patches of bell heather and ling will thrive and increase the biodiversity of the site. The hill was never cultivated as its slopes are too steep. I mentioned here reading a story in the Parkrun blog that gallows once stood on the hill in the 14thCentury. I’ve still been looking for the truth and here the story is again but in a different Century – in fact two!
This time it’s in the ‘official’ printed leaflet, although I’m not offering it as evidence for the ‘truth’. It just shows how stories like these linger down the centuries and also shows how stories whether true or fiction become woven into the fabric of our environments – particularly amongst trees.
Thinking about stories, leads me into the idea of Landscape as a stage and the work of Simon Roberts. Simon Roberts produced a video series, in two parts, Sight Sacralization: (Re)-framing Switzerland which fits very well with the Sublime and how we attempt to capture ourselves – or should I say ourselves within – as part of it perhaps. Each film is in the same location (I think) one in Summer 2017 and the other in winter 2017 and, of course, fits within the theme of “Transitions”. In his own commentary here Roberts describes the Swiss landscape as resembling a theatre set where tourists are both performers and spectators. This theme is something he has returned to again and again – how different people use the same space and how the landscape is used and commodified – his interest being in human presence in a space.
I’m also interested in landscape as performance – how we enact aspects of ourselves within it. For the past few years there has been a continuing ‘art’ of erecting and installing tent-like twig/branch structures and last year saw the arrival of small painted stones being hidden around, collected, and re-installed in other places – some many miles away. There seems much to portray although, I should add, only in small amounts. I have collected together photographs taken there since July last year when I explored the idea of Viewpoints – shelved at the time because there wasn’t a view at the Viewpoint but, with Winter, something has slowly been revealed.
Another photographer who continues to interest me is Susan Grangmar. Her project A Play in Time covers a year spent filming in St Ann’s Park, Hove to observe how the park was affected by the changes of season and weather; resulting in a book and video film.
In a conversation with Rebecca Drew, printed at the end of the book, Trangmar talks about the film which, “[…] is not constructed on this basis as a chronological cycle, but jumps backwards and forwards in non-linear fashion”. Tranmar goes on refer to the pressure to be inclusive with a long time- frame in a park with, “such a dynamic place of public ownership”, but that she, “[…] had to construct a piece of work which had its own internal rhythm and shape”. I think this an important point to remember with a lengthier project.
More recent work by Trangmar is recorded here including A Forest of Signs which explores the way in which urban street trees serve different purposes – markers of place, register of time passing or object of reverie. I have been able to access a very interesting essay where Trangmar creates a dialogue between her project and Virginia Wolf’s writing of London life with trees as a metaphor. I will write more on this in a later post together with notes on several other artistic and literary influences.
Trangmar, S. A Play in Time (2008) Brighton, Photoworks