Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yet more moor

From Tuchenn Gador
I've been looking back at my life to trace the history of my profound attachment to landscape. This background may or may not figure finally in the new book I'm working on, but here's an extract anyway:

There were early travels over the Brecon Beacons, as my poor exiled Welsh parents, miserable in manicured and over-managed Gloucestershire countryside, often made the return to their homelands - Swansea, Mumbles, Gower - with four children in tow. It was part of my father's sad, hopeless quest for a reassuring identity and a crucial building block in my own first passionate attachment to landscape.

The sight of those moors we passed made me happy, and when I walk now on the heaths of the Monts d’ArrĂ©e in Brittany I am connected each time with that childhood self in the rekindling of a deeply stirring feeling of boundless freedom. I know better now that the apparent simplicity of the moors is an illusion, but it seemed of high value then. Other landscapes were psychologically more complex to me even as a small child: the sea with its tides, the changing shape of a river, the uncertainties of woodland, hills lost to the unsettling exploitation of farming. But those long, high rounded slopes, empty of life and difficulty, solid and unchanging, gave me both a powerful sense of permanence and an invitation to limitless possibilities, to the open heart and mind that seemed so perplexingly elusive in the constraints and compromises of the everyday world. I came to learn that there was far less isolation and considerably more connection for me in the wilderness of moor than in family life.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Prepositions of place

I’m really looking forward to this new year. My work will concentrate on local landscape – natural and built - and how it comes to shape and absorb us, offering a relatively stable network of emotional connection in an uncertain world. This is forged by the heightened experience of being inside and within one’s environment, a participant rather an objective observer. I’m also increasingly interested in why certain places exert a hold whilst others with similar elements do not, and how somewhere with no specific historical significance or enhancement through legend can still generate a remarkable atmosphere and make its mark on all who pass by or through it.

Prepositions of place may well turn out to be the title of the book.