Monday, 30 June 2008

The People of the Hope Valley Line

The symbolic name of Hope Valley is known to all, and the place and landscape of the hope in man and woman is both a deeply personal experience, and sometimes a lonely experience for all who have had, and do have hope. Hope being such an essential aspect of human nature that sets us aside from all other living things as far as we know, although deeply personal and often lonely in its privacy it is a collective experience. We often have shared hope for our lands and people, and individually we have our own personal and private hopes that can be harder to communicate between one another; but both collectively and individually hope also carries its direct opposite, despair.

There are some people and experiences that I thought of during Transmerge that are personal and private to myself, at the same time as thinking of the collective people and the history of each location, of the collective personal and private journeys we all make, and the more global and historical journeys and lands of mass peoples.

However there are a few specific people and experiences in this literal Hope Valley and in this literal act of Transmerge, that need to be recognised and noted :- (in order of memory)

Brinnington : After my initial visit to Brinnington I became very quickly aware that my presence there as an outsider was cause for great concern to the local people, and I found their concern to be quite threatening. Brinnington had become my despair in the literal Hope Valley Line; I had no disrespect for the people there, but knew they would find it very difficult to accept a woman/man digging a hole on their land. I briefly questioned missing Brinnington out , fearing for my own personal safety, but decided that to do so would be wrong, and would go against the meaning of both Transmerge, and the Hope Valley Line, and therefore I had no option but to do it. Performing in Brinnington was certainly a challenge for myself, and for Julian to try and photograph, but with all gratitude to the people I was tolerated despite that none of the adults who questioned me could even begin to understand, and despite that they very assertively disapproved and saw me as an intruder. In such conditions of my intruding onto their land, which belongs to a people who have very little concept of art, who are not used to seeing strangers in their land (Brinnington is geographically a small island surrounded by a train track, a motorway and a river) considering this the people of Brinnington were very tolerant of Transmerge for which I am most greatly thankful for, and have much respect for their acceptance.

The children in Brinnington however did come to some understanding and they helped me to re-fill the hole with the earth from Bredbury; throughout the performance the innocent eyes of children had become very significant. Two children in Edale questioned their mother as to what I was doing, their mother understandably could not answer and ushered the children away; the childrens innocent eyes were curious, un-threatened and non-judgmental, to their eyes Transmerge was purely intriguing.

Manchester: I would like to thank the woman who said "are you okay? do you want me to take you home and look after you?". I spoke with the woman and her daughter after re-filling the hole with Brinnington's earth, and the mother explained to her daughter that - "she's just doing what she feels she needs to do". I am thankful for her caring nature and developed enthusiasm despite finding it difficult to understand .

People are effected by the land that surrounds them, and from my personal perspective when the landscape turns into desolation and isolated concrete, then the people of that land despair; and when I'm symbolically in hope valley, and when I hit the symbolic landscape of despair, I too despair, but the tolerance and kindness of peoples acceptance still makes its mark, literally in the performance of Transmerge and in the symbolic landscapes of our inner experiences of hope valley.

Chinley: I was also a little concerned about performing at the chosen site in Chinley, and am grateful to the train driver for recognising my personal common sense and wish to cause no harm.

Just as people are effected by their landscape, we are also effected by the rules and regulations that are put upon that landscape, the rules can make it so that an innocent man doing his job has to shout at an innocent artist doing hers. Symbolically, from my experience, this can also happen to us personally with the rules and regulations that we put upon our inner selves, rules about how we should be, rules that can cause us internal conflict between what we know to be true to ourselves, and what we think society or authority expects of us.

Hathersage: Prior to the performance whilst site searching I had unknowingly wondered into someones back garden in Hathersage, it was here that I started to realise exactly how much I would be crossing boundaries. During the performance of Transmerge I passed three men chatting in the lane, and a man pushing a big trolley of farming goods, whom I felt a curious combination of affinity and estrangement with as I walked down a road surrounded by their private land.

Marple: I had in mind that it would be appropriate to Transmerge in the context of a graveyard whilst I was site searching in preparation for performing, and fortunately found Marple to have a graveyard next to the train station, where its community and gardener were simultaneously mused and understanding.

Bredbury: As I approached the site in Bredbury two lovers sat on the park bench, I decided not to go too close to them, in hope that I would not disturb them, but they moved along to the next bench and sat at a more comfortable distance, for which I am sorry for their discomfort and felt need to move away, but glad they chose the next bench along. I'm also glad for the boy who subtly kicked his football over to the earth hole after I'd finished to have a little curious peek at it, and to his father who said "hello" as I left, and the teenage girl who complimented my trowel accessory.

New Mills Central: Here I pay homage to the people who used to work in the mill before it was closed down, and to two teenage boys I met when I chose the site prior to the performance, who said in response to the landscape and site - "It's mythical".

I am also grateful for my internal private moments, that rest deeply in the meaning of Transmerge and The Hope Valley Line, that are conveyed by imagery and act only, that are private to me and the earth, just as your private moments are to you and all the private moments of people of the Hope Valley Line.

The earth, the motion of change , the people, and the landscape in bodily experience, the journey itself in all its aspects is home.

"Paths and places, expressionless faces, framed in time, confused by directions, subject to regulations, each choose your line, but there's no pressing obligations, observe your inclination toward whatever destination, this is your passage through time."

(Engraving on public art work at Manchester site)

I will re-visit the sites and document the earth exchanges over time.

Special thanks to Julian Hughes for his sensitivity, and to Mark Doyle for setting up camp.

1 comment:

hilaryjack said...

Congratulations on Transmerge. Your commitment to this project is commendable, you must have been totally exhausted. I found the images strangely beautiful and affecting. all the best with future work