Its soil was a plot she do the tree in different voices [2017]

Single channel film, 11 minutes, 16mm film transferred to digital, colour, stereo; Installation, dimensions variable, freeze-dried Sycamore tree in sections; Script, eight pages, 330 x 246mm, lithographic print folded with perforated edge; 4 channel sound, 16 minutes / / film credits, exhibitions and screenings here >


Its soil was a plot she do the tree in different voices is composed of several connected elements: a single channel 16mm film, sculpture, 4 channel sound installation and print; each strand is experienced as a spectre of the other, to suggest a non-linear, spatial film. The work responds to the landscape around West Yorkshire which, in the Domesday survey of 1086, was listed as being laid to ‘waste’ [‘wasta-est’], uninhabited and untilled for a number of years. Through ‘she do the tree…’, material waste and its sculptural potential are connected with the surpluses of writing and film; asides, footnotes, and the rejected matter produced through the editing process.

Central to the work is the figure of dead-wood, and the woodland as system and host. The single channel film depicts the process of reducing a large, fallen Sycamore tree, where its dismembered limbs are projected as ‘frames’ from the mouth of a wood-chipping machine. These scenes are collaged with images of the rubble of a demolished sculpture department at Bretton Hall College of Education, and extended by an additional, separate soundtrack combining field recordings of arthropods (wood-boring insects) with improvised readings. This strand of the work was originally projected alongside the tree root itself, suggesting a convergence of film and organic material, and accompanied by a printed script that synthesised transcribed outtakes from the recording process, with notes, drawings, and extracts from other texts including the ‘wild and rough and stubborn woodland’ of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ [1320], to become a document of its own making.

The title of the work was revised to refer to a shift in the title of poet T.S Eliot’s modernist work, ‘The Wasteland’ [1921], which was previously named ‘He Do the Police in Different Voices’. This inversion suggests a shift in gender, towards a plurality of voices counter to historically binary modes of sculpture making and display.


Images: 1 - 5. Frances Scott, 'Its soil was a plot she do the tree in different voices' [2017], film stills; 6 - 16. Installation views, Yorkshire Sculpture Park [2017]