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


Its soil was a plot she do the tree in different voices is composed of several connected elements: a 16mm film, sculpture, sound installation and script. Each element is experienced as a spectre of the other, as a non-linear spatial film. The work was shown in 2017 across three sites at Yorkshire Sculpture Park: the YSP Archive, Bothy Gallery and 19th century Camellia House, as part of a group exhibition 'On the heights' curated by Art Licks.

The work responds to the landscape around West Yorkshire listed as ‘waste’ in the Domesday survey of 1086. This idea of waste and its sculptural potential enters into conversation with the surpluses of writing and film; asides, footnotes, and the rejected matter produced through the editing process.

In the Archive, a film projection depicts the process of removing a large, fallen Sycamore tree from the Park’s upper lake, where tree limbs are projected as ‘frames’ from the mouth of a wood-chipping machine, the Timber Wolf. The film combines these scenes with shots of rubble from demolished buildings surrounding Bretton Hall, and ‘burnt’ ends of 16mm film; and is installed with the tree root itself. The film and sculpture is viewed from outside, where the image is back-projected onto a screen set within the mirrored UV filters of the archive window. A version of the sound-track, without narration, is heard in the Bothy Gallery courtyard.

In the Bothy Gallery, a printed script runs a commentary on its own production, collaging discarded material into part-screenplay, part-poem, part-footnote. It transcribes ‘outtakes’ from sound recordings made for the film, and draws on texts, from 'Domesday Book' (1086) to T.S Eliot’s 'The Waste Land' (1921). The script imagines other productions filmed on site, and writes its own, tentative existence into the narrative of another cinematic legacy; the 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s 'Women in Love' (1922), in which passages were shot around the lake, and a naked wrestling scene between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates was staged before a fireplace in Bretton Hall.

In the Camellia House, a 4 channel sound work made with Sound Designer Chu-Li Shewring, extends the film sound-track to suggest a summoning of language from the landscape, using part-improvised, part-scripted readings with Alan MacKenzie, the Sculpture and Estates Manager at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. These narratives are combined with field recordings made in the Park and underwater in the lake, and material from the YSP archive.


Image: Film stills, and installation views, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2017 [photographs: Jules Lister]. Funded by the Stuart Croft Foundation, Moving Image Award 2017, Arts Council England, and Ampersand Foundation, with additional support from York Archaeological Trust. A two week residency was supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation.