AHRC Research Project

AHRC Landscape and Environment Network Project ‘Living in a Material World’.
A cross - disciplinary research project investigating place, space and emptiness.
Three universities were involved, Bristol University, UWE (University of the West of England) and Aberystwyth.
Participants included artists/filmmakers, cultural geographers, historians, performers and archeologists.
Through the process we attended a series of location-based workshops at Temple Meads (2006),
Sennybridge Army Training Camp (2007) and Avonmouth / Severnbeach (2008).

The aim was to explore, through both visual arts and academic practices, how landscapes and environments are remembered/forgotten and to consider what emptiness might mean in locations like these, which are seen as transitory, forlorn, abandoned or unmarked places.

Project Outcomes :

Temple Meads (Collaboration with Moira Gavin) 2006

Temple Meads is a place well known to passengers. A transitory space like airports and other non-spaces, it’s a place where people rush through. Looking for another angle to approach this familiar location influenced our decision to film at night – the time when the station would be emptied of passengers and the space would come into its own.

The work is in three parts:

- Perimeter. 1’ 8”, Video
- Downtime. 1’13”, Video
- Direction. 37”, Video

Sennybridge Army Training Camp (Collaboration with Moira Gavin) 2007

Mynydd Epynt is a place where a community were evicted in the 1940's so the army could occupy the land for training purposes. The army sees itself as having a new role to play as custodians of the environment. Due to the nature of this location we were escorted to the ranges by the army and there were limited opportunities to wander. It was very much a guided tour listening to the narrative about the military acquisition of the land and the training of soldiers in the landscape. In the film we encounter emptiness through the markings and inscriptions on the land, by filming the deserted base at night and including sounds past and present.

- Mynydd Epynt. 5’ 26” Video

Avonmouth/Severn Beach (Collaboration with Moira Gavin) 2008

Early on the first morning we walked around Avonmouth and tried to gain access to the water but all routes were blocked. We started to document obstructions that prevented us accessing the water front. The place was deserted, there was no sense of any human activity in a place where previously 20,000 men had been employed. Over the course of the weekend several events fed into an image of Avonmouth as a Wild West frontier town. Just down the road Severn Beach couldn't be more different. Politely suburban it's landscape encapsulated all the forlorn reminders of the glorious heyday of English seaside resorts. As pedestrians trying to make sense of the landscape that links Avonmouth and Severn Beach was challenging as there was no foot flow, it would only make sense to lorry drivers, crane drivers or if you were traveling by boat.

- End of Line. 4’ 33” Video