Place, memory and the act of recording

It is wonderful when you realise that you have gained knowledge without actually having to do anything particular!

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This is what happens every time I step outside and take a walk. Sometimes I take a sketchbook or a camera with me to record the things that I notice, but more often than not I take only myself. I walk and I chat (if I’m with other people) but I’m not consciously looking for something new and exciting.

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The natural world is always changing: the light, the direction of the wind, the weather and the atmosphere are never constant. Different forces, both visible and invisible, act with or against each other, on the land and in the air, to produce fluctuating conditions. Sometimes these conditions are fleeting – like the bright flash of the horizon when the sun shines on a stormy sky behind it or a strong gust of wind that catches dry sand and blows it across the beach. Because of this mutability there is nearly always something to notice and store away and I never know when these nuggets of information will come to me or what they will be.

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The walks I do up here on the North Norfolk coast are very familiar as I have been walking over the same ground for 20 years, and this repeated exposure to the same place has caused me to build a personal relationship with the landscape. What I take from the place: the things I see, hear and touch, I take in because I am me and because I am interested in certain things. I love this place because it provides me with these things and another person might well be immune to them. By walking repeatedly along a particular path new things seem to jump out at me (being deeply acquainted with a place makes uncommon occurrences obvious) and these are stored away, adding to the history of memories and experiences that I already have.

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Although the work I am making at the moment started elsewhere, I have become to realise that it is actually about these transitory moments. They are trivial, inconsequential things that, because of me being me, I have noticed: a sound, a movement and a play of light.  I haven’t recorded the ‘noticings’ anywhere other than in my memory and the act of making this work is an act of recording the memory of immaterial, and sometimes invisible, phenomena with physical materials. I suppose this reciprocal taking and giving between myself and the environment – me subconsciously taking and the environment offering – is, for me, one definition of a sense of place.

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These photos were taken recently on a walk from Morston to Blakeney …. and I did have my camera with me on that occasion!

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3 thoughts on “Place, memory and the act of recording

  1. shemann

    I can relate to your experiences being close to nature as i am. Your second photo reminds me of a picture i took a few years ago of the light and the way it was reflecting on a small bridge.
    It is nice to know there are kindred souls out in the world. Thank you for sharing

    Reply

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