Brisons Veor – first thoughts

Wow! I’ve been back from Cornwall for a couple of days now and my mind is still buzzing with the many impressions and experiences of the past week.

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Of course, I went with expectations and pre-conceived ideas. Before I left, decisions had to be made about the materials to take and these were based on what I thought I would like to do and what I would like to investigate. Naturally, all expectations were confounded, but little glimmers of something new have been planted in my mind as a result.

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The sun came out on the last day but its was still cold and windy

The process of exploring a new place, I’ve discovered, can never be pre-judged. There can certainly be tried and tested methods of working, but you never know what the environment, the weather or your own physical and metal state will be at any fixed time. You can only deal with what is happening now.

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Out of the studio window

I went to Brisons Veor hoping to work with the sounds of that place. I wanted to listen actively and deeply so that I could understand it aurally. But that didn’t happen quite as I thought it would. Brisons Veor is at Cape Cornwall, a small headland that juts out into the Atlantic. The cottage is the most westerly residence in England. It perches on the edge of a granite cliff and at high tide it is only metres away from a boiling sea. We had ‘winter’ weather. The noise of the wind and the waves was constant. The howling, whistling and roaring virtually blocked out all other sounds. Only occasionally did a faint bird call penetrate the all-encompassing cacophony. I went hoping for a multi-coloured palette of sound but, if this existed, it was drowned out by the natural conditions at that particular time.

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There can be no sound without movement and sitting high on the cliff by the coastguard station or down on the beach in the cove there was wild movement everywhere. The wind, eddied and gusted. Heavier gusts buffeted me so that I was physically moved. It whistled through the gap between my head and my hat, it flapped at my my coat and froze my fingers. The act of hearing the wind became confused with being touched by the wind.

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Porth Ledden on the other side of the Cape

High on a cliff is, for me, an unfamiliar way of seeing the sea. In Norfolk I look at it from ground level and from that angle there is less sea and more sky. But at Cape Cornwall, from such an elevated position, the sea and sky are almost equal. Below me, the force of the waves is broken by the cliffs and the tall rocks that lie scattered all along the coast. Their crash and roar is a continuous white noise as they break and ebb. All around me is movement and noise, but far out across the waves on the horizon, is stillness and silence. The further the distance the calmer and quieter it gets.

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The weather conditions continued for the whole seven days. Each time I stepped out of the cottage I was confronted by the same symphony of wind and waves. Whilst I was there I was disappointed. I felt that this ‘noise’ blocked out the sound detail. But I was wrong. This wildness and movement and sheer, overwhelming sensation was the most important thing about the place at that point in time. The sound was uncontrollable and immense and the movement that produced it was ever-moving, ever-changing and multi-layered.

From my sketchbook:

There is no movement without sound.

There is no sound without movement.

All around me, extending outwards

the duet of sea and wind.

But out on the horizon is stillness.

No sound reaches me from there.

I’m not sure what will come out of these first thoughts. All week I wrote and drew and printed and made. I have collected a lot of data and documented it. Next time I’ll show you some of the things I did and give my thoughts on them ……

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14 thoughts on “Brisons Veor – first thoughts

  1. Marian Roberts

    That sounds like a really inspiring experience. I’m sure you will produce some great work. Looking forward to seeing your drawings etc. Love your words.

    Reply
  2. Chris Ruston

    Wonderful, engaging descriptions of the experience and conditions. It is hard not to have pre conceived expectations but I look forward to seeing what stays with you and how it develops into your work. Such a contrast from Norfolk.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  3. olganorris

    I very much enjoyed your descriptions of being in the wind – they take me back to the time this year that I spent on South Uist, similarly buffeted and deafened. I found like you that I so missed the sounds of birds, and of the sea, and realised that despite us thinking that our visual sense is by far the most important to us, that hearing is so important in the mix.
    One benefit I derived from the constant noise was that my wretched waterproof jacket could no longer be heard, and I managed to approach a lamb, out of its sight, so close that I could have touched it.
    I look forward with interest to see what you did during the cacophony, and what will eventually result from the experience.

    Reply
    1. debbielyddon Post author

      Thanks Olga, the wind was certainly deafening – it was almost as if I couldn’t hear at all. A strange experience to be able to see things moving and not to be able to hear them because of the overpowering sound of the and and waves.

      Reply
  4. luizamogosanu

    Delighted to come across your site – captivating approach conceptually and visually! Looking forward to following your posts. Many good energies and greetings from Berlin!
    Luiza

    Reply
  5. gail499

    A wonderful description of your stay, thank you for sharing. The Cornish coast is winter is an immersive and often unrelenting experience. I don’t think you get the fog-horn anymore but the fog itself, when it rolls in, can muffle even the sound of the waves. Summer can be amazingly different, I’ve sat on the stone hedges around there listening to the sky larks and the bumbling bees and the horses munching lazily on the lush grass. The walls and rocks may be the same but the sounds and atmosphere are quite different with each season.

    Reply
    1. debbielyddon Post author

      I loved the stone hedges! I hadn’t really noticed them before. The contorted, twisting. shapes of the wind-blown gorse growing out of the top of the stone walls were fabulous. I agree with you about the fog, but I’ve also experienced times when fog has made sound carry more than usual – clearly hearing voices that belong to people you can’t see is an eerie experience!

      Reply

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