Green Room: Blog

News from residency artists, learning programme participants, workshop and masterclass students charting their experiences and responses to time spent at The Rodd. Please do revisit - and make sure you are signed up to our mailing list to get updates direct to your inbox.

Kate Green: Walk #4

Kate Green: Walk #4

For the past few weeks I had been exploring the beginnings of a collaborative piece for Lines in the Landscape with my friend Ant who lives with Motor Neurone Disease. The concept of Mindwalking had arisen from a conversation about Herman de Vries, an artist we both admire but who had rather riled Ant, as someone no longer able to walk, with his carving of the statement ‘Ambulo ergo sum’. My enthusiastic acceptance of the statement to define my own existence probably didn’t help his irritation. The first walk Ant had chosen to attempt to communicate his concept of Mindwalking was along the Devon coast from Prawle Point to Lannacombe Bay; one of his last physical walks of any distance. Ant dictated his memories of the path and we trawled through computer files to find photographs he had taken on the walk. When we looked at an OS map I showed Ant how close Prawle Point was to the farm where my brother lived and worked; probably only an hour and half walk. I had only visited my brother once in East Portlemouth in the summer of 2014, shortly after he moved there. In 2015 we moved house so I had to cancel a holiday near the farm and last year I had two trips planned but my ovarian cancer had scuppered both. ‘I need to walk this path myself,’ I said to Ant, ‘to understand.’ And so it seemed an ideal excuse to visit my brother. I emailed him, ‘I’m working on a film,’ I said, ‘can I come down to you and walk to Prawle Point? Also, can you put up the bell tent so we can all come down and camp in the summer. And, Carol and I are coming down in September to Dartington, can we call by then too?’ My brother was notoriously bad at keeping in contact and he hardly ever replied. He didn’t reply this time. On the 10th February, 2 days later, he was killed instantly when his tractor rolled on to him. So I found myself on a steep green field overlooking Salcombe and the Kingsbridge Estuary, a patch of diesel marking the point where he died. Leaning forward, I walked up the slope between the wheel tracks. When I reached the road, lines of mist, like breaths from the sea, passed in front of me and the skylarks were singing to my right but I couldn’t see them. I chose a bridleway of rocky chevrons, followed a stream through patchy gorse and met the coastal path as the stream fell off the cliff. Following a cliff path is the closest walking gets to flying. I wondered if Ant was mindwalking this walk as I bodywalked it. I thought about the freedom my brother and I were allowed as children on the cliffs of Cornwall and, now as a mum and step-mum myself, realised our mother was probably having kittens every time we skipped off to explore. I remembered bladder campion, thrift and when an adder crossed our path at Lamorna Cove; clambering down to sit on flat rocks and hang our legs into the sea and watch for seal heads. You can’t keep a wrist leash on a child forever. A National Trust sign told me I had reached Gammon Head. I looked down on a sandy cove; was this the one Ant had told me about? I would have liked to have scrambled down but there were some people on the beach and it was the first time I had left my parents for a week and they would be worried if I was out of contact too long, so I crested the next outcrop and saw the lookout station ahead of me. When I reached it I waved at the lady in the window and sat to eat my sandwiches. If I had had a signal I would have phoned Ant to say, ‘I’m at Prawle Point!’ I tried to text Mum and Dad to say I was eating a late lunch by the sea but it wouldn’t send. Ahead, below me, I could see a wide bay with a sweep of rocks meeting the sea and I wondered which ones my brother had fished from; and which ones he had wanted his ashes scattered from; and I thought about how little I had known him. To the left, rocks with verdigris undersides of popped bubbles hung over my path. To the right, there was a thin orange line that split the sky from the sea and I took lots of photographs of it because it seemed important. I also photographed every gate I opened because they too seemed important. I descended closer to the sea, past a row of former coastguards’ cottages. There was probably less than two hours of daylight remaining so I reluctantly left the coastal path and started the road up to East Prawle. As my feet made contact with the ground I chanted the line: tracks larks coastalpath, and I recalled my Mum telling me that the only reason Tim didn’t get 11 grade A GCSEs was because of his incorrect use of commas in the English paper. I walked this line in the landscape for my friend Ant who can no longer move with his body and for my brother who I never really knew.

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Natalie Ramus: Walk #3

Natalie Ramus: Walk #3

When I knew that I would be attending a lecture about walking at Tate Modern in London, I decided that walking from Paddington station to Tate Modern could help me in understanding the act of walking better. As this walk was a walk intended as an artist’s walk, my experience of walking had shifted. Just knowing that my intention was to observe, experience and absorb my perceptions seemed so much more open. I had wondered about the fact that this walk would be in an urban landscape, one so different to the rural agricultural landscape here at The Rodd. I wondered whether, through memory, if the experiences would connect in my mind whilst walking; if I would carry the landscape of The Rodd with me in my mind- therefore having a personal imagined experience of a hybrid landscape. As I walked the streets of London I thought about how Sidney Nolan painted Australian landscapes whilst being surrounded by the lush green land of the English / Welsh borders. In a sense, Sidney carried the Australian landscape with him- in his mind and I thought about how this is the case with not only artists, but with all of us. These landscapes we hold in our mind as a point of recollection, comparison and comfort (or discomfort maybe) are with us always- so can we ever be completely present in a landscape? Can we ever just experience ‘it’ without any other landscape creeping in? Is the landscape that which we walk upon and move across, or does it exist purely within our perceptions? As I moved through the streets I realized how controlled we are when we walk. We learn to walk when we are toddlers, and we don’t tend to question this movement until it is challenged or taken from us through injury or illness. This repetitive one foot in front of the other action just seems to happen! We just do it. Walks are often contained within routes with invisible boundaries- like imaginary tubes. We occupy space within; not above or below our bodies- but within; moving through space, along predetermined/ influenced paths. A to B. Start to finish. Beginnings and ends. Even a wander that is seemingly unplanned is controlled or navigated through environmental tracks; along pavements, tunnels, stairways. I started to think about how we don’t ever challenge how we walk. We walk forwards and upright. A sidestep only to avoid collision / contact with another. I wonder- Is it possible to navigate a town completely without those learnt / imposed rules of walking? Can we reject all that society says about how journey happens and why? How can I dismantle the act of walking, and if I did manage to dismantle it, how would I move through space? What would that walk look like? What would my body look like? How would it sound? There are recognisable walks that happen when we walk. The rhythmic repetitive sounds of my footsteps and the insides of my thighs rubbing. The tonal mumble and too-ing and fro-ing of conversation. The in and out gasping of breath as I rush up steps and I try to catch my breath. Despite all these sounds I feel silent. If I were to reject this ‘standard’ of walking- what would I sound like and would this disruption mean that I would become more physically aware- physically present? I suppose the first rule to break is the rule that says a journey’s purpose is to get from A to B…. so what would happen if I navigated space with no destination? My pre-programmed mind can’t help but wonder where I would end up and what would influence my path- but I know that I’d need to ‘not think’ / not predetermine. Is that even possible? Isn’t our inbuilt ‘sat nav’ instinctive? Is it part of our basic nomadic DNA? I now see that the urban space has made me realise how we are conditioned- and that these rules apply even when navigating rural spaces. We are still upright, forward facing and following paths. I feel that I am returning to The Rodd with a desire to disrupt, dismantle and question the very act of walking.

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Kate Green: Walk #2

Kate Green: Walk #2

It takes about 15 minutes for me to drive from my present home, a bungalow named Fairview, to The Firs. My studio is roughly mid-way, in a farmyard opposite 1 Buckton, a cottage that was my home for 4 years. During that time I worked at The Firs as a personal assistant. At 3pm on 25th January I was to attend a meeting there, in my role as participating artist and programme consultant, concerning the proposed walking event at The Rodd. Warning: clichéd walking metaphor ahead. My path to being an artist is like a zig zag on a scree slope; running downhill I send shards tumbling and have to trust that the mini-terraces created by my feet will prevent me from falling and when I plod uphill I slip backwards and progress is slow. But, I embarrass myself, writing about walking is far trickier and more exhausting than walking (note to self for response to next walk). I have already spent many more hours writing, and re-writing, this account than I did actually walking the route; and I haven’t even left the house yet. It was 1.40 and the sun was shining. I had decided to drive to the Firs via my studio and do some work for an hour, but then I thought, ‘Why drive to a meeting about walking?’ On previous occasions, I had walked to my studio from home and I had walked to The Firs from Buckton; so why not combine the two walks. I clipped the lead on little Dot and we cut through the diagonal lane at the back of the council houses down to the main road. I always feel there should be a more direct route to The Firs. You can look across from the Wigmore Rolls and see the oak trees that pour down, like sand in an egg timer, to the bank on which the Colliers’ house sits, but the line is blocked by rivers and hills. I could have chosen to walk past Court Farm and down to Walford; or skirt the fields to Stonybridge; or walk the back road via Letton and cross the Teme at Brampton Bryan. As I walked, these floating tendrils searched for anchorage across the topography in my head and I wondered why on earth I had chosen to walk on the busy main road. Now, I realise I wanted to walk the same route I would have travelled in the car. That’s the great thing about walking; you feel the solution in the soles of your feet. We have all driven along and almost clipped a walker with a wing mirror and thought, ‘Why would anyone choose to walk on a road?’ I was in that walker’s boots as Dot trotted along on the lead, cowering slightly as traffic sped by. A red car was approaching us on the opposite side of the road and, hearing the heat of braking behind us, I looked back to see a large stock lorry brought to halt as there was no room to pass us without crossing the white lines. We stepped up from the tarmac, balanced on the high sliver of a muddy grass and the driver nodded before he drove on. We crossed the Knighton road at Walford and I let Dot off the lead. This was the prone-to-flooding single track lane to my previous home and old neighbour Henry drove by and waved. We crossed the river and called by at the studio. I stuffed a blanket in my bag for Dot to lie down on, as she would have to be tied up outside when we reached The Firs. We walked fast towards Bucknell and met Ali and Alan walking past the turning for Adley Moor. ‘I can’t stop,’ I said, ‘I’m walking to a meeting about walking at The Firs.’ They told me they were going up there later with a Burns’ Night supper. By this time I knew I would not arrive for 3pm so I emailed ahead. I knew this road so well from driving, cycling and walking and there were no surprises. No surprises; what I mean to say is that I think I may have stopped looking. I admit that I was hardly more aware of my surroundings than if I had been in the car. Was that because I was following the same route I would have driven; or was it because I was so over familiar with this little stretch of territory? I had been walking on autopilot and, with no need to navigate the external landscape, I had turned to my internal landscape for interest. The local landscape had become all about me and I pondered how it was inhabited by 20 years of versions of me; spirits that had the potential to be released as I stepped on the ground, like spores from an old puffball. It is difficult to look afresh at the familiar; so much easier to concentrate on what is new and exciting, but only now do I realise how introspective I was on this walk. We kept up our brisk pace along Oil Mill Lane and crossed the Heart of Wales railway line in Bucknell, said hello to Lance Phillips the butcher who was putting screenwash in his van and turned left into Dog Kennel Lane. They were tidying an oak tree at Florence’s and I saw the tail end of Anthony Plant’s car waiting as they cleared branches from the road. He was late too, so I would only be 15 minutes behind him. I was propelled up Mynd hill by a surge of energy. It always amazes me; these moments on walks when you are thrown forward as if you have stepped on a landmine charged with positive energy. Dot trotted on ahead to say hello to a black Labrador on a lead and I felt light and hopeful and cheery. I was being given an artistic licence to be myself and realising that acknowledging my strengths is not arrogance for there is plenty I admit I cannot do, such as dancing at parties or driving in cities. Dot and I walked up the drive to The Firs and Penny was weeding between the granite sets as I tied the little dog to the porch upright and went into the meeting.

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Kate Green: Walk #1

Kate Green: Walk #1

20th January 2017. Kate Green reflects on her first walk of 'Lines in the Landscape' residency.

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Sound Performance

Sound Performance

Collaborative Sound Installation wit Rie Nakajima and Pierre Berthet

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Residency Event

Residency Event

Straw Castles, maggoty marks and tales of the riverbed.

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Animal investigation

Animal investigation

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva works with print maker and zoologist Michael Hancock

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Drawn by the river

Drawn by the river

Anne Bean's river drawings overseen by The Rodd's herd of cattle

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Yuyu Wang  - Drawing at The Rodd

Yuyu Wang - Drawing at The Rodd

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Ciarrai McShane

Ciarrai McShane

Ciarrai McShane

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Optical Impressions

Optical Impressions

Harriet Carter

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Outdoor rooms

Outdoor rooms

Tess E. McKenzie

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A Different Place

A Different Place

Yuyu Wang

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Artists take to the skies

Artists take to the skies

Residency artists gained a fresh perspective to the beautiful landscape of The Rodd and its environs.

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Ned Kelly Armour

Ned Kelly Armour

David Noonan, Shaun Gladwell and Vanley Burke don the iconic armour of Ned Kelly (costume from the 1970's film tracing Kelly's life and starring Mick Jagger).

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 Residency Talk

Residency Talk

Artists in conversation share their working themes and experiences at The Rodd

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The Making of a Slave Ship

The Making of a Slave Ship

Masterclass with Vanley Burke

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Vanley Burke meets The Rodd

Vanley Burke meets The Rodd

Vanley Burke Meets The Rodd

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Friday feeling

Friday feeling

Blog post #6 by Caroline Horton

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Hills and rivers and a room full of strangers

Hills and rivers and a room full of strangers

Blog post #5 by Caroline Horton

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Not capturing Wednesday

Not capturing Wednesday

Blog post #4 by Caroline Horton

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Is it therapy? Well it feels great

Is it therapy? Well it feels great

Blog post #3 by Caroline Horton

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Bewildered

Bewildered

Blog #2 by Caroline Horton

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Human-Nature on Pinterest

Human-Nature on Pinterest

Human-Nature on Pinterest

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The Kids from Kidderminster

The Kids from Kidderminster

Blog #1 by Caroline Horton

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