Drawing stories was the first in a seasonal series of experimental days using psychogeography as a framework for creative practice with writer Dr Alison Clare Scott and visual artist Pip Lewis.
Today we gathered, talked, shared, ate delicious food lovingly prepared by Guy, and, crucially, explored ideas of connection to space and place through both drawn image and written word. I hadn’t foreseen that I’d end up tracing the flittering journey of a butterfly, or the susseration of wind and roaring ravine, with eyes closed… Jack Smylie Wild- Workshop participant
Psychogeography is both a way of moving through an environment; and the effect of engaging with the geographical location differently. In this initial session, what was initially an urban practice was diversified into the wild, rural landscape of West Wales. The day provided opportunities to explore the possibilities of navigating topography, identifying the palimpsest of the locale and expressing our responses through creative writing and visual arts.
The day began tentatively. A creative arts workshop involving psychogeography inevitably involves interaction with the landscape and I was apprehensive that cool autumnal temperatures with driving rain had arrived the week before. We could certainly sense the timing of Calan Gaeaf, (Samhain). Yet, as I arrived in the early morning at Penrallt Ddu, the air was clear, the sun emerged, and the magic of this out-of-time site was immediate.
As participants drifted in, I was aware of a calm atmosphere in the barn that seemed to hold us all carefully from start to end of day. The bright sun and the gracious, gentle warmth of the welcome from Pip and Guy lit the space as we settled, (and how that space lent itself to creativity!).
As we each introduced ourselves, I became rapidly aware that the knowledge, skills and engagement of each of us would make this an interesting day and that this would be a group with which I could easily share ideas about psychogeography and its application in a rural environment.
And so it proved. The entire experience was uplifting: the activities that led to intriguing verbal and visual individual responses, shared opinions and thoughts for us to explore, delicious home-cooked lunch and snacks, the fire in the courtyard and, above all, the delight of the freedom to explore that natural landscape – fields laced with history from ancient times, woods, the stream that coursed through the valley. What a day! Dr Alison Clare Scott – Workshop Co-leader
An experimental approach was encouraged, introducing ideas around memory, history, voices and narratives that emerge in response to place and the way they make us feel or behave.
A focus was Samhain, letting go of the old (into the cauldron) to prepare new beginnings. Celtic spirituality named sacred places as thin places where the walls between heaven and earth seem especially permeable, and the worlds distinctly close to each other. The Celts also believed that time was not linear but spiral. This place was not just beyond time but beyond space and actually re-forming space.
This is the space where we started: we walked the land, began our engagement with this patch of earth, and formed our individual relationship, letting our intuition draw us to the stories we wanted to express.
Image credits: Pip Lewis