Spring Update

IMG_7852I've been terrible at web updates lately. That's just how it is, I s'pose. Here are a few things that I should've tagged on here, followed by a few upcoming bits 'n' pieces of news - until I have a chance to properly update the site. The Recent Past Writing the Landscape at Tate Britain - in February and March I taught this course at Tate, a five-week exploration of Tate's permanent collection of landscape artworks along with readings from contemporary landscape writing and a look at new landscape- and nature-art, all to inspire new approaches to writing about landscape. The class included published authors and people who'd never written a word, but all of them did right by the topic - a fantastic group of writers, artists and new friends willing to pass on five Fridays of London nightlife to sit in a gallery discussing Helen MacDonald, Peter Riley, Tacita Dean and Richard Long. The Alchemical Landscape conference at Corpus Christi, Cambridge - on 23 March I had the great honor and pleasure of presenting a paper as part of the (conference? symposium?) The Alchemical Landscape, a full day of academics, independent researchers, writers, artists and musicians discussing contemporary responses to the weird connection between Britain's culture and landscape. Presenters included Andy Sharp (aka English Heretic), Drew Mulholland, Sharron Krauss, Rob Irving, Haunted Shoreline and many more excellent speakers and papers. Contraphonic / Fourth River - The American launch of my piece Ley Line, as well as poems created in collaboration with painter Jeff Schreckengost, appeared alongside work by Schreckengost, Lisa Toboz and David Bernabo in an exhibition launching the Fourth River series of audio works about Pittsburgh, operated by Chicago label Contraphonic. The exhibition, at 937 gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh, included images and audio connected to the Contraphonic works - one each by Bernabo, Toboz & Schreckengost, and myself - as well as These Golden Legends, poems and paintings inspired by the Maxo Vanka murals in Millvale. The Not-So-Distant Future By The Mark On Her Hand by Shirley Collins - I'm currently assisting and editing the legendary folk singer Shirley Collins in writing her memoirs, tentatively titled By The Mark On Her Hand. Due out this fall with Strange Attractor Press, By The Mark... is the story of Shirley's lifelong connection to traditional English folksong - a passion which has guided her through triumphs and propped her up in tragedy. The book picks up where her previous publication - America, Over the Water - left off (and a few things that came before), and illustrates Shirley's life as an artist with deep connections to the rhythms of pre-industrial life, as survives in traditional song, and the landscape of her native Sussex, as well as family and history. I Made Some Low Inquiries - also due out this fall, via English Heretic's new Eighth Climate label, is my own new piece, an audio-poetry chapbook that chaotically resituates folk ballads of the Ozarks and Appalachians into the East Anglian landscape (from which they may have sprung). Inspired by John Cage's score for his piece Roaratorio, which reads, "____, ____ ____ circus on ____", I Made Some Low Inquiries is a sonic circus of field recordings, music and texts - archival and new - in search of the ghosts of nature, past, present and future. From the mystical practices of Suffolk horse hypnotists and the ancient stream-side rite of the toad-bone amulet, to the seemingly abandoned factories and container ports of the coast, these are inquiries into nature in which we are both detective and perp. Created with Mark Offord (The Owl Service) and Andy Sharp (English Heretic), as well as a host of collaborators including musicians Lost Harbours and The Asterism, and graphic designer Stefan Musgrove. Pastoral Noir - opening in January, 2016, at Wood Street Galleries in Pittsburgh, Pa., Pastoral Noir is an exhibition of contemporary British and Irish artists whose work is situated in the edgelands between what we once called the human and the natural; the avant-rural flipside to the previous show I curated for Wood Street, The City & the City. Inspired by Timothy Morton's comparison of modern ecological thought to film noir - in which the detective is implicated in the crime - Pastoral Noir will look at artists whose work calls into question the dichotomies between past and present, city and countryside, natural and man-made, within the landscape of the British Isles. (The linked website above, Jackdawshivers.com, is an open, occasional research notebook towards this exhibition.)  

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