Monday, 23 January 2012

Wollaston to Alwalton: reaching conclusions

I have been working on ideas for the BB project since last April, and this week things came to a conclusion.

Work in progress - photo by Kate Dyer

My ideas for the project have meandered a little like the river itself, turning this way and that but always moving forwards, sometimes fast, sometimes slow.  There is always a time with a project when initial ideas are numerous and can become cluttered in your mind, but then you reach a breakthrough where everything becomes clear, some things are rejected and others stand out as important.

At the beginning of a project, when I am looking around, exploring and gathering thoughts and ideas, I become very private about them.  I'm sifting and sorting through things and find it confusing if other people's ideas interfere.  However, at some point I instinctively feel that now is the time to ask the opinion of others and this is often when a conclusion is reached.

But you need to find the right people to talk to!  I've been lucky with this project.  Both photographer Kate Dyer, who is collaborating with me on the visual response to this project, and Ros Stoddart, Director of the BB project, proved to both be the right people at this time.  I already had a good feeling  about what would work, and ran it by Kate and Ros, who understood me completely and, with a few tweaks and a stroke of genius by Kate, we have come to a conclusion about the exact form that the end result will be!

My commission for this project was to create a map inspired by BB's Summer on the Nene.  However, we decided to call the result "a visual response" rather than a map, because it aims to communicate a lot more than a geography.

Looking at the river - Jo Bell and Ros Stoddart back in the summer

Ideas that I have been mulling over include:  how to communicate the sense of place when you are travelling on the river?  How to show that sense of being in the moment, the slowness?  How to represent the navigational importance of the spires of the churches?  How to include the unique and quirky details that this particular stretch of the river has revealed?  And how to incorporate, in a properly integrated way, Kate's own photographic responses to the river?  I feel that the piece that I have decided upon will do all these things.

The visual response, called "Wollaston to Alwalton", will be unveiled at the Riverlands performance on 21 April at Aldwincle Church, Northamptonshire, as a limited edition of copies.

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