Free events: C4CC seminar and The Coast is Our Masterpiece
While I’m not technically a practice-based PhD student, I’ll be giving a seminar on the evening of Wednesday the 16th October for the Poetics Research Centre, as part of the Practise-based series which takes place at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (16 Acton Street, WC1X 9NG). I’ll be presenting alongside Eley Williams, who works on lexicography, dictionaries, and creative fiction. The seminar series has its own blog here, and it’s run out of the Practice-based PhD Programme, but is also open to interested members of the public. My own talk will be called ‘Working with cultural geographies of the coast and the forest’, and I’ll discuss cross-disciplinarity and modern poetry, as well as some of the outputs of PhD research beyond scholarly writing, particularly my curating practice, and the exhibition Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig. This paired the marginal small press writings I research – usually only accessible in archives – with book works, wood works, specimens, and installations from forty writers, collectors, and artists, alongside materials on loan from the Kew Museum of Economic Botany, English Heritage, the London Metropolitan Archives, and the UCL Dendrochronology laboratory. I’ll also present my experiences as an exhibiting artist in Nature Reserves at GV Art Gallery, a group show on environmental memory and taxonomy, and discuss the relationship between my research role and creative projects, including an illustrated reading of my next publication, GLOSS, which draws from weatherfaxes and twentieth century environmental glossaries.
The seminar will run from 5-7pm and will include the two presentations (I’m second) as well as open discussion, and no doubt the pub afterwards. For full information – including the blurbs and related images, and the rest of the seminar series – see the online post here. I also have my own page as part of the practice-based blog, which details some of the creative projects which I’ve taken part in alongside my academic work.
On the evening of Wednesday the 30th October I will be giving a public talk at Little Sheringham Theatre, on the North Norfolk coast, for an event run by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and academics from the University of East Anglia as part of the Art and the Sea programme and the ‘Art and East Anglia’ exhibition. The event is called The Coast is our Masterpiece and it runs from 4-7pm; it’s free, but places must be booked here. I’ll be talking alongside the artist Rachel Wilberforce, the photographer Jeremy Webb, and the sculptors Ackroyd and Harvey. They’ve each engaged artistically with the Norfolk coastline, from Wilberforce’s studies of the fading architectural archetypes of East Anglian coastal villages – combining 1930s Modernist utopianism with the aesthetic perception of the North Sea – to Webb’s ‘Atlantic Basin’ photographic series around rising sea levels and the issues of the management (or non-management) of the Norfolk coastline. As Webb writes in his online essay introducing the project, ‘if carefully and sensitively managed, certain coastal habitats can be returned to the sea once King Canute can be encouraged to “let go”‘.
Ackroyd and Harvey’s work includes a shoal of 30 small fish skeletons put through chemical crystallisation – a nod to the changing chemical balance of the ocean – and the 2006 work Stranded, created with the Cetacean Stranding Programme, which cleaned and chemically immersed the skeleton of a minke whale which had been washed up in Skegness, Lincolnshire.
My own presentation – illustrated with images and scans of small press publications – will discuss the literary cultures of the east coast of Britain and the North Atlantic seaboard, tracing Norse influences in modern poetry and literature. I’ll make visual references to the links between language and invasions, coastal history, and ship-sailing, as well as giving examples of texts which engage with land management and coastal erosion in East Anglia, such as Wendy Mulford’s East Anglia Sequence (1998) – and the linguistic punning on this site where settlement and the sea contend possession.
Interestingly, Ackroyd and Harvey have also created some striking works on the theme of forests and memory, notably their History Trees at the Olympic Park (‘A tree marks time … These trees embrace metal rings which have been engraved with a record of the site’s history, held in the branches for successive decades to come’), an exemplary demonstration of the associations between woodland/ trees, artistic culture, and national legacy – what Jones and Cloke have referred to as ‘arboreal memory’. Another example of their use of the traditions of commemorative plantation is the work Beuys’ Acorns, germinated (literally) from Joseph Beuys’ ‘7000 Oaks’. (I will be writing on this theme slightly more in depth for the Memory Network blog and the Rachel Carson Center blog, Seeing the Woods, in a couple of months time.)
On a related topic, on the 30th November the Sylva foundation are running a day course in Oxford which will combine talks on John Evelyn, twenty first century forestry, ash dieback, and the role of academic research and of art in modern woodland culture. The authors of the forthcoming illustrated publication The New Sylva (‘a discourse of forest & orchard trees for the twenty first century’) will also be presenting – see above. The book’s copy-editor has written some reflections on forestry and woodland culture here – and her name is almost as suitable as that of forest law essayist John Manwood… The event is called ‘An Extraordinary Year for England’s Woodlands’ and spaces can be booked here. The event actually takes place the day immediately following my PhD submission on the 29th November, but I hope to be there if I can practically make it! Also, a reminder for anyone who’s interested in receiving notices of this kind: the Forest Humanities JISCMail, which I run and which is free to join, is for sharing announcements of events, publications, and ongoing research in the culture of trees and forests, bringing together academics and researchers from different institutions and fields.
Finally – I have a poem coming out in the below cross-disciplinary anthology, edited by George Ttoouli and Yvonne Reddick and published by Nine Arches Press, which will be launched at a lunchtime party on Thursday the 17th October in Warwick, complete with apples and cider.
This will probably be my last blog post until my PhD submission deadline – the 29th November – although I will still be involved in Passengerfilms events (the next screening at Somerset House is fully booked, but we’re about to unveil our new pop-up venue built by some Hoxton architects, beginning with our November screening). The manuscript for Peter Riley: Critical Essays, which I’m currently co-editing with Alex Latter for Gylphi, is also about to be sent off to the publishers in the next few days, which we’re quite excited about. Apart from that I am largely stuck at home working! The materials for my PhD introduction (below) are currently creeping across my living-room floor…
See you on the other side!