16/5/22 (new video and wilderness/wasteland)

I fed the sheep this morning so no apologies for the spam on my Instagram account of them. They’re very sweet.

I’ve just finished a new video, which I’ve uploaded with no password(!) and you can watch it here. I’m never sure if I’m making the right decision, posting new work so that everyone and anyone can watch it in full for free. I’ve just ruled it out of a bunch of film festivals, all by myself by letting you, dear reader, watch it as soon as I’m (kinda) happy with it being finished. Festivals who care about premiere status in artists’ moving image don’t deserve me anyway tbh.

I’ve been struggling to work out what to say about it, because it’s a bit sensitive. It’s shot on a piece of land that’s actually up for auction next week, after being sold at auction a couple of weeks ago. No I’m not going to post a link to it. This land has been at the heart of a lot of conversations for me recently, and while these have been happening, I’ve been very slowly reading Wild by Jay Griffiths.
I’m about halfway through, and I’m not sure why it’s taking so long, except that it’s very good, and unlike barreling through a fictional novel, it feels like it matters that I might miss something in there. It’s making me think about what wilderness is, and how our definitions of it actually affect the place, and how gendered our language is around land, even (or maybe especially) in what I’m writing here. It’s making me think about the perspective we look at land through, and as someone who’s got a stake in the land here, how hypocritical I might be being, agreeing with so much she’s getting at while worrying about control and boundaries and fences and legalities.

This is a Forestry Commission Forestry and Land Scotland forest (mostly); I’m not sure they’d define it as a wilderness. For them I suppose it’s a place of work, an asset, a liability, stock, pulp, capital. They change it at their own will and on their 40odd-year timetables, and them and companies like Kronospan, managing other parts of the forest, cut the trees down and drive them away and leave mud and rubbish behind (Yes we’ve raised those piles of plastic mess at the side of the road with the Community Council).

Griffiths’ book is making me worry a bit, by making me see it more like it actually, physically is, in places at least; a wasteland.

I don’t want it to be a wasteland, but when I’m out feeding the sheep, I look at the hills all around, and spot the places where not only the trees have been felled, but the unofficial bike trails destroyed, and those spots where huge moments happened, or small ones, that are framed in the spruces that aren’t there anymore. I don’t know what it’s done to the wildlife. It’s a kind of wasteland, with little bits of wilderness trying to hang on. The gorgeous beech woodland that was like a special secret wonderland on the side of a slope, now stripped of the surrounding plantation trees and driven through and around and muddied and messed about is starting to go green again now, but I’ve not been up there since it changed; I think I want to keep it in my mind as it was.

This is all so big and so complicated and I want to write so much about this and can’t figure out where to start… or where to go next.
So I’m going on a course. It’s actually being tutored by Jay Griffiths (but that’s not the only reason I’m reading her book!), and I’ve been questioning how I frame the area in which I make quite a lot of my work, and how I talk and write about it. It’s in June, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Jay Griffiths’ website is here
and you can learn the basics about Beech trees here (They’re my favourites, but I’m not sure why so await a post on that eventually…)
Learn about The Arvon Foundation, who run writers’ courses and retreats here

p.s. I’ve started a mailing list but it’s literally just me and my mum on it right now and it’s getting a bit embarrassing. If you wanna, and I promise I won’t spam you, like, 1 email a week at the most but probably more like 1 a month, please head here and join in 😊

p.p.s If you’ve enjoyed watching my video and reading my blog today, please do consider supporting me via Ko-Fi by clicking the link to buy me a coffee (from just £3!).