Exhibition launch 6th June

•June 5, 2013 • 6 Comments

Tomorrow evening (Thursday 6th June) is the opening night of Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig, the free exhibition I’ve put together on the theme of forests, memory, and social / environmental history, with specimens, prints, and small press / unique edition texts. Around 50 contributors are involved, including the Kew Musuem of Economic Botany, and it is taking place at St. John on Bethnal Green, a Grade 1 listed building designed by Sir John Soane.

Please do come along at 7.30pm if you’re interested – there will be free sparkling wine as long as it lasts (and then a bar), live music, and a book launch of Nostalgia Forest.

Vinyl cover of Rob St. John's Weald

Vinyl cover of Rob St. John’s Weald

Rob St. John will be playing at 8pm.

Following on from The Douglas Firs, his most recent album, Weald (released on 12” LP in 2011) is drawn from the Saxon word for forest, later assimilated by the Anglian wold and the Kentish wild. The album has been described as a ‘funereally paced’ ‘auditory forest’; in it, kraut, drone and psych influences are held together by peals of British folk guitar and wheeling gusts of rich, cryptic vocals. St. John plays drawn-out and ghostly songs underpinned by the creaks and drones of the harmonium, musical saw, fiddle, skittering drums, analogue synth and field recordings.

Jack Harris will be playing at 9pm.

A literate young folk musician, Harris is known for his intricate fingerstyle guitar and smoky, soulful vocals. He draws from the narrative traditions of folk and blues music, and will be responding on the night to the themes of trees, forests, and memory, with both trad. songs, and his own. His first two albums are Broken Yellow and The Flame and the Pelican.

I wanted to upload some photographs to show the progress with the exhibition building so far – below – one of our break-throughs being the decision to display the tree slices supplied by dendrochronologist Martin Bridge on painting easels. Also, on Monday I was awarded a prize at Royal Holloway for my presentation at the first roundtable of the Society, Representation and Cultural Memory interdisciplinary faculty group, so I’ll be spending the funds on making an online catalogue for the exhibition. Though I couldn’t afford a print catalogue, or hold the exhibition open for longer than a week (I’m really supposed to be finishing my PhD), there’s been a lot of interest shown in it, and it would be great to make it accessible online. If you are interested in coming along on Thursday night to join the drinks (the church is at 200 Cambridge Heath Road, right outside Bethnal Green tube station on the Circle Line, and next to the Museum of Childhood), please do take photographs or write up the exhibition somewhere afterwards if possible.


3 5 6 8a b c d eg h

Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig: 6-11th June

•May 14, 2013 • 17 Comments


Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig                                            /                                             Tha tìm, am fiadh, an Coille Hallaig

This free exhibition investigates the properties of forest memory through text, archive, and ‘xylarium’, or wood collection. Between the French horticultural term “forest trauma” and Robert Pogue Harrison’s “forests of nostalgia”, a whole discipline around history, witnessing, and the memorial qualities of woodland opens up.  Art works examining the cultural expression of time and history in the forest are placed here alongside archival photographs, small press texts, artefacts, and museum objects, in an old, low-lit belfry designed by Sir John Soane.

But, mean glory of the world, / misshapen memory of other seasons, / the forest remains

-          Andrea Zanzotto

We would like to invite you to the opening night on Thursday the 6th June, beginning at 7.30pm, with free wine and performances by David Chatton Barker, Rob St. John, and Sam and the Plants, using instruments made of found wood. We would particularly like to invite those who may be keen to review, blog, or photograph the exhibition, as well as to meet the people involved.


A candle-lit collection on forests, memory, and social and natural history ● Cabinets of book works, wood works, paintings, drawings, prints, film projection, and music ● Wood specimens and photographs from Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany, English Heritage, the Epping Forest archive, the London Metropolitan Archives, and local collectors ● Tree ring slices and materials from dendrochronology labs ● Installations and one-off editions from forty artists, including Colin Sackett, Chris Drury, Bryan Nash Gill, Richard Skelton, herman de vries, Katsutoshi Yuasa, and Stefka Mueller

The Belfry art gallery (Grade 1 listed), St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA

Opening night: Thursday 6th June, 7.30pm till late: Super 8 visuals and wood music by David Chatton Barker, Sam and the Plants, and Rob St. John, with exhibition viewing, free wine, and Nostalgia Forest book launch (Amy Cutler, Oystercatcher Press)

Normal hours: 6th till 11th June/ weeknights 7-9pm, weekends 12-6pm


This exhibition is taking place with the support of Landscape Surgery at Royal Holloway.

CURATOR: Amy Cutler

ARTISTS / CONTRIBUTORS: Alec Finlay, Peter Larkin, herman de vries, Jeff Hilson, Colin Sackett, Gerry Loose, Justin Hopper, Carol Watts, Camilla Nelson, Anthony Barnett, Edmund Hardy, Una Hamilton Helle, Katsutoshi Yuasa, Richard Skelton, Autumn Richardson, Julian Konczak, Bryan Nash Gill, Amy Cutler, Tom Noonan, Chris Drury, Paul van Dijk, Frances Hatherley, David Chatton Barker, James Aldridge, Chris Paul Daniels, Frances Presley, Stefka Mueller, Gail Ritchie, Christina White, Paul Gough, Morven Gregor, Perdita Phillips, Amy Todman, Peter Jaeger, Zoe Hope, Zoë Skoulding, Peter Foolen, Phil Smith /  Mythogeography, Cees de Boer, Carlea Holl-Jensen, Tony Lopez, Will Montgomery, Michael Hampton, Kate Morrell, Ben Borek, Natalia Janota, John WebbSung Hee Jin, Martin Bridge, Nicholas Branch, Mike Baillie, Mark Nesbitt

WITH THANKS: John Wylie, Jo Norcup, Edwin Matless, Giles Goodland, Justin Hopper, Kris Rockwell, Jamie Wilkes, Sally Davies, Sally Armisen, Peggy Seymour, Sean Powley, Amy Francis-Smith, Richard, Neville Midwood, Nicholas, Liberty Rowley, Lee Wagstaff, Susan Holl, Carlea Holl-Jensen, Esther Rowley, Mark James, Susan Wright, Matthew Riley, Felix Driver, Harriet Hall, Cara Jessop, Thomas Jellis, Andrew Ray, Matthew Sperling, Candice Boyd, Katie Murphy, Louise Joly, Camilla Nelson, Alice Clark, Innes Keighren, Peter Larkin, Sue Edney, Tilla Brading, Jo Norcup, Sandra Wright, Hilary Orange, Simon Howard, Edmund Hardy, Jenny O’Sullivan, Alexandra Parsons, Charlotte Jones, Sefryn Penrose, Paul Warde, Leo Cutler, Clare Williams, Sarah Browncross, Caroline Cornish, Martin Bridge, Xas Arnaud, Diana Hale, Gavin MacGregor, Kate Maxwell, Tim Cresswell

Excavations & Estuaries

•May 12, 2013 • 1 Comment

On Saturday the 25th May I’ll be talking about coastal literature at a public seminar at Abbey Walk Gallery, on the North East coast, for the exhibition Excavations and Estuaries: the Nature of Landscape (24th April – 1st June). The full information on the exhibition is in the Excavations & Estuaries Press Release (click to download), and the programme for the day seminar follows below. It brings together artists and academics including, alongside myself, Harriet Tarlo, Judith Tucker, David Ainley, David Walker Barker, Joy Sleeman, Jeremy Leigh, and curator Linda Ingham. (There is a curator Q&A on the exhibition’s themes here.)

e&e seminar

David Ainley


The conventions of landscape painting conceal as much as they reveal about our environment.  The manner and significance of this occlusion, and the remedy that lies at the heart of David Ainley’s critical engagement with painting, will be explored with references to aspects of mining and quarrying that unearth the success and failure of the genre.

David Walker Barker


The Earth continually remakes itself; from its innermost core to the living patina that clothes its surface, its splendour constructed from its eroding ruins. Breaking down and reforming is part of the slow transformation of all things, of history happening in cycles, the eternal recurrence of the same.

In Conversation: David Walker Barker and David Ainley discuss the overlapping concerns and elements within their practice.

Harriet Tarlo & Judith Tucker

BETWEEN LINES IN SPACE: drawing and writing in landscape

In this talk the poet, Harriet Tarlo, and artist, Judith Tucker, will reflect on how drawing and poetry, in conversation with each other, can present an audience with an enriched perspective of specific places. Having worked together for two years in West Yorkshire, Harriet and Judith will discuss their new Estuaries and Excavations collaboration exploring the mouth of the Humber between Cleethorpes and Tetney. Early stages of this work are presented as drawings and short poems-for-the-wall in the current exhibition at Abbey Walk Gallery. The presentation will include a reading of some of the poems.

Amy Cutler

MEN SIGN THE SEA: modern poetry on Britain’s North Sea coast

Amy Cutler will discuss coastal literatures of Northumbria and Yorkshire and their ‘long memory of the shore and sea’ (Mottram), particularly bringing out the Norse influences in texts by Colin Simms (No North Western Passage), Bill Griffiths (Fishing and Folk: Life and Dialect on the Northumbrian Coast), Eric Mottram (Raids: Knot and Keel’), and Katrina Porteous (The Blue Lonnen). She’ll make illustrated references to the links between language and invasions, coastal history, and ship-sailing.

Joy Sleeman


Joy Sleeman will offer a response to Excavations and Estuaries relating to themes emerging from her work on the current survey exhibition, Uncommon Ground: Land art in Britain 1966-1979 (Southampton City Art Gallery, 10 May – 3 August), and her wider research in the field of landscape and Land art.

Q & A

Part of David Ainley's installation on Derbyshire mining landscapes - Excavations and Estuaries

Part of David Ainley’s installation on Derbyshire mining landscapes – Excavations and Estuaries

Jeremy Leigh installation - Excavations and Estuaries

Jeremy Leigh installation – Excavations and Estuaries

David Walker Barker's cabinet and installation - Excavations and Estuaries

David Walker Barker cabinet and installation – Excavations and Estuaries

Linda Ingham installation - Excavations and Estuaries

Linda Ingham installation – Excavations and Estuaries

Susan Derges installation - Excavations and Estuaries

Susan Derges installation – Excavations and Estuaries

Judith Tucker and Harriet Tarlo installation - Excavations and Estuaries

Judith Tucker and Harriet Tarlo installation – Excavations and Estuaries

The coastal landscape of North East Lincolnshire explored in a major new series of exhibitions and events to be shown over two years starting on 24th April 2013 with a show at the Abbey Walk Gallery in Grimsby. The ambitious project masterminded by artist-curator Linda Ingham shows work by some of the UK’s most experimental landscape artists and includes works on loan from The Arts Council Collection – the first time that this collection has been accessed in the region.

“Excavations & Estuaries is a project concerned with the physical stuff of landscape and our relationship to it. People don’t only reside within and upon our landscape; we mine, and excavate the land, using it to fulfill a whole range of material, economic, social and spiritual needs. The artists, academics and poets involved in this detailed two-year project explore these themes, through the window of the territory of North East Lincolnshire and surrounding counties, to offer visitors a series of questions and illuminations.” Linda Ingham

24th April – 1st June
Leading artists come together for two-year art project on the landscape of North East Lincolnshire

6pm-8pm Private View with reading by poet Harriet Tarlo.

Saturday 4th May Art & Landscape: Material, Process and Product: Workshop led by David Ainley – 1pm-4pm. £25 (no concs).

Friday 10th May The Urban Landscape: Evening workshop with Tina Waller. £20.

Saturday 11th May Talking Landscapes: A cross media event with painting, film and music with artist Robert Priseman, film-maker
Annabel McCourt and composer David Power, 2pm-5pm. £10/£8 concs.

Friday 24th May Estuary Walk & Full Day Workshop
Commissioned artist, Judith Tucker and poet, Harriet Tarlo introduce their work, and the Humber estuary in a cross-participation workshop in which the participants will experience and explore landscape and place through words and imagery. £35 full day, £30 students.

Saturday 25th May Excavations & Estuaries Seminar
A full-day seminar led by leading academics and artists Joy Sleeman, David Walker Barker, David Ainley, Judith Tucker, Harriet Tarlo and Amy Cutler. 10am-4pm. £15.
Please telephone 01472 241007 or email art@abbeywalkgallery.com to book your place

Press Contact:
Jessica Wood, Artsinform Communications Ltd.

The project includes:
• The remarkable camera-less photography of Susan Derges who has recently shown in the Shadow Catchers exhibition the Victoria & Albert Museum.
• A joint visual and verbal arts exhibit by artist Judith Tucker and poet Harriet Tarlo who been have been commissioned to create a series of drawings, paintings and poetry which express their responses to a particular stretch of the coastline between Cleethorpes and Tetney.
• Cabinets of Curiosity by David Walker Barker that contain artefacts and objects literally excavated from the earth, accompanied by rich and detailed mixed media paintings.
• Paintings and drawings by David Ainley that explore the relationship between people and landscape and take inspiration from the disused mines in Derbyshire.
• Richly impastoed canvases depicting the Thames Estuary by George Rowlett who began his career at Grimsby Arts College before going on to the Royal Academy.
• Drawn and mixed-media studies by artist-curator Linda Ingham that focus on self-portraiture in landscape and her concerns about the coastal landscape of her home in Cleethorpes.

Abbey Walk Gallery
8 Abbey Walk, Grimsby,North East Lincolnshire, DN31 1NB
Tel: +44 (0)1472 241007
Abbey Walk Gallery on Facebook
Email: art@abbeywalkgallery.com
Open: Tues-Sat, 9am-5pm

Curator: Linda Ingham

Artist-curator Linda Ingham lives and works from her coastal studio in North East Lincolnshire. Whilst she is the person behind two successful arts projects which bring high- level art into the area, she also exhibits widely, and regularly teaches on the Fine Art degree course at Leeds University School of Design.
Her own work focuses somewhat on self-portraiture – in particular, imagery depicting her concerns arising from the coastal landscape and place she calls home. It is these subjects combined that prompt The Nature of Landscape project, which focuses on landscape and place, and the Head & Whole project, which concentrates on human form in the visual arts. Both projects not only include a variety of art forms, but also act as a platform for research within the subjects and related areas, providing stimulating educational opportunities from academia to family learning.

Nature of landscape exhibition page on Facebook


•May 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As part of Alec Finlay’s most recent Bee Bole project, I have contributed several translations of Basho’s bee and peony haiku – part of an anthology of tanzaku hung on cherry trees at the National Fruit Collection, as part of their Hanami season. Four of my translations are pictured on site, below. Alec hand writes these collated poem-labels in orange and black to create bee-like forms, translating the peony to the cherry blossom.

The installation is open to visitors in the Brogdale cherry gardens, and versions of the poems will also be published as a Bee Bole blog shortly.

Amy Cutler 1


Amy Cutler 2


Amy Cutler 3


Amy Cutler 4 (1)

Four days left on forest Kickstarter!

•April 25, 2013 • 1 Comment

As there are only four days now left on the Forest Memory exhibition Kickstarter, I thought I would write a quick post about the project. We’re currently budgeting, so it would be lovely if people could keep sharing the Kickstarter at this point, and/or contribute if you haven’t (there are rewards!). For some of the new items we’ve confirmed for the exhibition, we’re navigating some extra fees for reproduction permissions, and also for the transport of certain wood pieces (particularly tricky with a one metre bog yew specimen!). So it will be great to make as mileage as possible in the last moments before the Kickstarter expires, at midnight on Tuesday the 30th April.

Some updates on the exhibition as we start putting everything into place:


Julian Konczak has confirmed that he will be showcasing some examples from his series of works made as part of his project The Interactive Forest. His images, like the one above, are of small paratextual details (maps, front matter, back matter, end papers, illustrations, printed emblems, etc.), all taken from antiquarian sources about the New Forest. Two more examples, below;



In terms of specimens, Dr. Nicholas Branch at the University of Reading is currently, with his technician, impregnating a wood peat core sample with resin for the exhibition. This will turn it into a rock hard sample in which evidence can be seen of forests which now no longer exist, preserved in the peat. Meanwhile, we will be visiting Dr. Martin Bridge at his dendrochronology (tree ring) lab at UCL on Monday, and having a look at possible examples of tree rings/ wood slices which we can show.

Meanwhile, we are looking into the London Metropolitan archive of photographs and the Collage database, to source archival photographs of people’s interactions with trees and forests – such as this image of primary school children measuring the height of a tree and this image of two boys playing with model logging equipment (made out of cardboard and matchboxes).


We have also sourced permissions for a number of archival aerial photographs of forests, often from damaged negatives (see above: Great Styles Wood, Frostlane, from the north-east, 1928). In the early years of aerial photography in the twentieth century, many of these images are subject to flare and other kinds of damage. From the English Heritage archives, we are also have arranged permissions to show some more early twentieth century photography, such as this photograph, below, of the moss reserve at Shotover Hill. Shotover was a Royal Forest from the time of the Doomsday book until 1660, by which time the woodland was in such poor condition that it was no longer subject to forest laws.


Finally, I have had a great amount of help from Cees de Boer, Alec Finlay, and Peter Foolen in gathering together a number of works by herman de vries for display in the exhibition. Cees will be loaning In Memory of the Scottish Forests and The Ashes of a Pine, and Peter will be loaning Fragments from the Forest Floor. Below are several de vries images taken from the Mel Gooding catalogue of his work, which will also be on display.




So please do share or contribute to the Kickstarter if you’re available, to support the ongoing preparation and work. We’ll be visiting the belfry space in Bethnal Green on Monday night (29th) and then chatting and brainstorming in the pub, so plans will soon be afoot for installation…

‘Delirium of forests, ships, poems’

•April 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

What is this escaping, again and again, in a
delirium of forests, ships, poems?

- lines from Anthony Barnett’s 1987 translation of Giroux’s ‘L’arbre le temps’, below, which might end up being my perfect PhD epigraph (in case you don’t know: it’s on forests, coasts, and modern British poetry).


time and the tree


The Kickstarter for the exhibition has just reached £1k, so I am delighted to announce that enough funds have been raised for me to confirm that the exhibition ‘Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig’ will be taking place from 6-11th June in London. This is a small scale free exhibition on the theme of forests, history, and individual, collective, and environmental memory. It ranges between natural specimens, museum objects, archival photographs, broad side texts, wood works, book works, and art forms. This will all be taking place in a beautiful low-lit Grade 1 listed belfry in Bethnal Green (designed by Sir John Soane).

The Kickstarter is still accepting pledges (and offering rewards) until midnight on the 30th April, so do get involved if interested (any extra funds from now will mean we’ll be able to afford a few extras, such as the exhibition catalogue). In addition, do get in contact with me – amycutler1985(at)gmail.com – if you’d be interested in photographing or reviewing the exhibition (whether for a site/publication or just for yourself), and I can invite you to the launch night drinks on Thursday 6th June.


'A bull's head / when split open / contains a thing': Gerry Loose's Knopper galls/ disfigured pedunculate oak acorns for the exhibition, with caption poems drawn from the wasp's namesake, Theophrastus (Historia Plantarum).

‘A bull’s head / when split open / contains a thing’: Gerry Loose’s Knopper galls/ disfigured pedunculate oak acorns for the exhibition, with caption poems drawn from the wasp’s namesake, Theophrastus (Historia Plantarum).


Some (more) exciting materials have been confirmed for the exhibition, including sketches by the architect Tom Noonan from his series The Reforestation of the Thames Estuary and the John Evelyn Institute of Arboreal Science, which imagines the city’s infrastructures dictated by log harvests and timber engineers. Like Katsutoshi Yuasa’s prints,  these are created by a hybrid of digital and analogue techniques (pen and ink / scanning and montaging), presenting a science-fiction landscape of the future, but in a flurry of wood-based activity ‘reminiscent of centuries past’.


Tom Noonan, 'New Sylva'

Tom Noonan, ‘New Sylva’


A friend is also sending a vodka bottle from Poland, engraved with the name of the epic poem of the Lithuanian forest (full title in English: Sir Thaddeus, or the Last Lithuanian Foray: A Nobleman’s Tale from the Years of 1811 and 1812 in Twelve Books of Verse). This text, written in 1834 by poet and philosopher Adam Mickiewicz, retrospectively tells of the effects of Russian, Prussian, and Austrian occupation on the old plantation forest and hunting families. This same phalanx of forest is the subject of the first chapters of Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory, as well as the photography of Stuart Franklin (The Time of Trees). Prose and poem translations of Pan Tadeusz include Donald Davie’s 1959 adaptation, The Forests of Lithuania: A Poem; alongside the bottle we’ll be including relevant bi-lingual excerpts of the text most associated with the memorial aspects of its ‘dear native trees’: 

Oh Lithuania, my homeland,
you are like health–so valued when lost
beyond recovery; let these words now stand
restoring you, redeeming exile’s cost.


pan tadeusz


For anyone who might be about, I’ll be presenting a paper on British poetry and forest trauma at next month’s conference, Shifting Territories: Modern and Contemporary Poetics of Place, at Senate House, 22-23rd May 2013.

I’m also giving a talk at a symposium at the exhibition Excavations and Estuaries: The Nature of Landscape at Abbey Walk Gallery, Grimsby, on the 25th May (title: ”Men sign the sea’: modern poetry on Britain’s North Sea coasts’), an event which will include the poet Harriet Tarlo and the artist David Ainley, amongst others. The night after the exhibition launch, I’ll be presenting at Birkbeck’s AHRC workshop on June the 7th, Silent Spring: Chemical, Biological and Technological Visions of the Post-1945 Environment and reading from Nostalgia Forest as part of the evening readings (travel bursaries are still available if anyone is interested in participating!). For those at RHUL like me, I’ll also be at the Society, Representation, and Cultural Memory cross-departmental round-table, which is on the 3rd June – the main disciplines represented being Modern Languages, Media Arts, English, History, and Drama/Theatre. So if you’re going to any of these, then look me up!

Here I was born … and there I died

•April 20, 2013 • 1 Comment

Apropos of the Screening Nature Network’s forthcoming weekend symposium and screenings at Whitechapel Gallery (eleven hours of natural history experimental cinema!), I thought I would put up some film related images which I’ve been coming across in my research.




FILM CLIP: “Here I was born … and there I died”, in Hitchcock’s Vertigo

FILM CLIP: Sequoia tree trunk scene in Chris Marker’s La Jetée

FILM CLIP: Vertigo cinema scene in Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys

I’ve previously mentioned the redwood/ sequoia tree-ring reading scenes in Vertigo (1958) and in Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), used again as a datum point in Sans Soleil (1983), Twelve Monkeys (1995), and even (at a stretch) in the recurring tree-stump scene in recent time-travel Looper (2012). The “Here I was born … and there I died” gesture – Madeleine (aka Judy) pointing at the concentric rings on the trunk, and pinpointing her birth and death – is not just a trope for memory, but also, according to McKenzie Wark, presents a vector for memory, or memory’s ‘index’. Again, in La Jetée, human life mapped into the flesh of the tree uses the principle of “story trees”, and their invitation to history – but this time, with a post-apocalyptic time travelling protagonist:

‘They walk. They look at the trunk of a sequoia tree covered with historical dates. She pronounces an English name he doesn’t understand. As in a dream, he shows her a point beyond the tree and hears himself say, “this is where I come from,” and falls back exhausted.’


And Marker revisits the cross-sectioned redwood tree again in Sans Soleil – in this extract from the film (‘of melancholy … so carefully coded within the spiral’):

FILM CLIP: Vertigo film essay in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil

These moments of tree-time in film are a way to approach fundamental questions of chronotope, time presentation and cinema. But, outside of experimental cinema, a similar gesture is captured, over and over – and I have compiled some of these ‘pointing at tree rings’ images in this Flickr set. There are historical photographs of dendrochronologists Edward Schulman and A. E. Douglass, archival images from American natural history museums and tourist sites and from the Kew Museum of Economic Botany, and snaps of every American eco-blogger ever, from the Bronx to Mount Rainier…




The repetition of this gesture is partly due to histories of environmental pedagogy in North America, at the site of the real firs, conifers, and redwoods, with their props including tree ring labels marking famous dates from American history. This tourist’s snap of chronology-building – reproduced incessantly in self-posed photographic keepsakes by visitors (see full set) – becomes another kind of memorial when it appears again in film. What is the effect of these different media for recording history? – or the resulting relationship between technological/ cinematic time and natural / biological time devices?

Each of the film examples above has more than a hint of elegy. In Aronofsky’s The Fountain (2006), another lover’s death is marked in tree rings, with growing skin ring tattoos, like human dendrochronology (see below: “one ring for every year”), in a film about an ever-green Mayan tree, a wedding ring, and the attempt to ‘keep time’ for a dying/ dead wife.

the fountain tree rings tattoo

Closer to my own research on trauma and witnessing, the tree stump in cinema (rather than the tree ring) taps into a perceived link between truncated time and truncated lives, and between cut trees and corpses (cf. Paul Nash’s post war tree-stump paintings, Gail Ritchie’s memorial tree rings, or Titus Andronicus: ‘Witness this wretched stump!’)

Perhaps an early, clear example of this “forest trauma” can be seen in the tree-stump and corpse scenes of Robert Reinert’s Nerves (1919), a film of trees and shell-shock…

reinert nerves 4

reinert nerves 5

reinert nerves

Relatedly, while I don’t usually post the Passengerfilms events on this blog, I wanted to mention the evening of nature and history films we’ll be showing  in collaboration with Brick Box arts organisation on the banks of the Wandle – as the opening night of the Wandsworth Arts Film Festival in the Wandle Triangle (Saturday 4th May, 8pm). The film programme is here; we’ll be looking at the creatures that live in the water, the history and industry on the banks, and the science of how and why urban waterways are so important for our drinking water (and other kinds of drinking too, with a film on the Wandle’s famous Ram Brewery). The fully licensed bar has just been built on an open air site, and amongst the film projections there will also be physical theatre, installations, performances and DJs curated by the Brick Box team. Tickets can be booked for £5 here.

Our next regular screening is on 13th May at the Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, and the feature is Lomax the Songhunter (2004), retracing the American journeys of ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax. Musicologist Jo Hicks (Oxford) will present the short film Entr’acte (1924) by René Clair and composer Erik Satie, discussing its relation to urban stasis and circulation in Paris, and also introduce the interdisciplinary Hearing Landscape Critically research network. Artist Justin Hopper will present his forthcoming sonic poetry piece on ley lines and landscape (with video by Ambulantic Videoworks), which draws from Anglo-American folk song, and also includes a collaboration with Shirley Collins.

The poster follows below, and full info of the evening is here.



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