Putting ourselves into the landscape is fundamental to our work.
We do this on our own and in the company of others who have their own way of relating to it, and we're out in all weathers and all seasons, night as well as day. It's the only way we can get a feel for a place, and at the same time open ourselves to learning more and to having our perceptions challenged.
During the initial gathering that launched somewhere-nowhere, back in 2011, we spent the weekend with a group of creative thinkers and makers, and spent some of this time wrapping an oak tree with Herdwick wool. We didn't realise at the time where this initial act might lead.
Installations, typically lasting a short time, have now become a regular part of our work, integrating poetry into visually compelling pieces. Our aim is to use elements of the landscape as active participants, so that experiencing the installation requires a different way of encountering, or being with (or in) a landscape, whether a place is familiar or new. And this way of working is exciting and constantly challenging: it demands a deeper physical involvement and engagement with place and a deeper looking, and there is always an element of unpredictability in the final result, determined by many factors including the weather, which is never the same twice!
In some senses the journey of exploration began during Harriet's MPhil in Creative Writing through the University of Glasgow. Sending a poem out on to the fells on the back end of sheep, using the traditional practice of clouting, was the first intervention that sparked the practice of 'Open Fell Poetics'. Clouting the Twinters brought together the culture of hill farming and the topography of the lakeland fells in action and in words. It was followed by the addition of poetry to rosettes, and the compilation of a poem, drawn from the words of female farmers, for display and consumption (on a cake) at a summer show.
The seven installations we did as part of The Long View (The Fragmented Rainbow, 2016-2017) resulted from repeated visits to seven individual trees over a period of more than a year. Together they drew attention to particular places and particular trees, and specific issues about the environment and our relationship to it. Some lasted for just one day, others were in place for several days, or a number of weeks; some were encountered by hundreds of people, others by just a handful. The most controversial, Everything is Connected, which was in place for six days, provoked debate about human impact on the natural environment, what is 'natural', and the place of art outside gallery spaces. These are all subjects we continue to explore through our work and in presentations across the UK.
As a continuation of The Long View we were delighted to have the opportunity to place permanent work in the landscape. A single piece set in three parts, the treefolds (2017) comprise a poem that brings the landscape and the elements into its expression. The treefolds extend an invitation to walk, and then to pause and be still, and try on a different perspective. There are aspects of permanence as well as continual change: the trees planted inside the treefolds will before long add their own voices.