It really is an ordinary field. Probably like hundreds and thousands of others. It isn’t exceptional in any particular way, so anyone finding a blog about it interesting, is doubtful.

But for me it’s personal. I am writing about this field because it is cathartic, so please bare with me.

I think as an introduction and to lay it out straight in my mind, my encounter with this field is a process. A comforting ritual, a stabiliser. Without spending too much time self-analysing (because the joy of visiting this field is precisely not doing that), it is a low key way of finding something to connect with. Not even that really, just a place I am drawn to look at.

I’ve had a gap (from making art, I mean) and in this gap I have not been able to put meaning to much. I’ve tried. I’ve been a gibberish, timorous, over anxious, self-loathing (like literally wanting to beat myself round the head for three years or so) restrained individual, to the point of  creative paralysis. So with self worth levels as an artist so low, I think I’m actually encountering a sense of freedom I’ve not really felt before.  The field is my anchor place; a constructive, manageable restraint for a person adrift.


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The school holidays are a challenge in terms of building in field time. The usual rhythm is completely lost. Those precious 2hrs are gone and I can’t do my visits with the family. I can go walking with them but I definitely can’t go this kind of walking. Field walking is a solitary business and not one in which I can wear my mum hat. 

These walks are walks of solitude. The trails on foot are also trails in thought and there is no other situation in my life where my thoughts can meander in quite this way. 

So today, right in the middle of the holidays I took my opportunity and stole away to the field. There are things happening there now. Last time I went I accosted a man in the top field directing a digger. Another archaeologist. More investigations. He informed me  “the developer doesn’t want any nasty surprises when the buildings are going up”. I’m not sure if he was anticipating my reaction on the matter but he followed with “it’s a shame you’ll be losing your lovely field”. 

My reaction to this very imminent onset of change is somewhat mixed. As I observe the mounds and ditches scraped out across the view, the exposed earth very stark, I do feel a sense of unease, but also curiosity. I’m going to witness this change and observe the wider field take on a new shape. What is gained and what is lost? The loss of mud and grass to concrete, yes. I am already starting to mourn the muddy tracks underfoot, but these fields are not wilderness, they are managed, cultivated, fenced oblongs of land. It’s hard to resist the loss of an edge. By it’s very nature isn’t the edge being simultaneously obliterated and recreated all the time? I will just be walking that bit further to get to it.  

This morning I cut into an overgrown scrubby area that runs parallel to the main footpath (only slightly out of view). This has become a bit of a habit. The field presents an invitation by way of gap and winding pathway and I cannot help but oblige and follow. This led me to carry out the performance of a crazy person, fighting my way ducking and weaving, snared and scratch by brambles and stung around the ankles. Taking giant steps over tangles of thorns, feeling them grasping my clothing as I try to perform a ridiculous manoeuvre around and through low hanging branches. What is essentially an easy 5 minute pleasant stroll down a footpath was turned into an insane dance with the wild. But there are passages, if a little overgrown and there is the feeling that I’m not the only person to carry out this crazy dance. 

I read we can turn anything into a religion and this field could be one of them. What kind of salvation am I in search of here? 


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I’m really excited! Since September last year I have had 2 hours a day, Mon-Fri, to myself while my youngest son is at nursery. It has been a struggle to do much with this time, but each day it has given me just enough of something, to enter into the idea that I can be an artist again. Initially, I was spooked by the time, caught out and very reluctant to even attempt anything. But today it dawned on me, I’m going again. I’m going again and I’ve so much energy. These tentative steps into the field have given me the kick up the bum I needed to get excited and curious again.

It sounds so cheesy but I feel like I’ve found myself or a version that I had lost all confidence to listen to.

The only downside has been…the house is a mess, but at least the dog is super happy.

I enjoyed doing some rubbings of finds from the field this morning. I love this process and am definitely going to experiment some more. Creative joy!

 


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I have a great interest in the things that I find in the field and many questions about them. Often questions about what my own interest in them is about and what for?

In previous research my focus and impulse is always to see these objects as clues, mere vessels of a broader narrative, evidence of actions past, representing a kind of void left behind. But lately I have come to question this approach and consider how I might begin to analyse these objects from an alternative perspective.

Part of this was brought about by my current reading.  ‘In Defense of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects’ by Bjornar Olsen is a fascinating discussion about arguing another approach to things, rethinking the assumptions of things being entirely constructed by thought and human perception, but instead exploring the fact that objects have a ‘dynamic presence’ in themselves that must be acknowledged.

I’ve only dipped into bits of this text so far but it’s already causing some deep reflection. I can’t wait to explore it further.

Things found in this field are presumably, largely dumped, discarded here to be rid of, expelled from the life they have come from, some transported here purposefully, an opportune spot found and then left.

Some are probably lost, dropped, a small few are maybe missed.

But nothing is still, new things come, older things, depending on their physical nature are blown away, eaten, eroded, inhabited, appropriated.

It is a landscape of constant change, by a tidal-like rhythm. Things seem so random, as though they have been washed up by a strange force of humanity.


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It always feels like there is so much to write about this field and such little time to do it.

It plays on my mind as I pace within it. It feels like there is always a wealth of options and each day presents another story, another thing that comes into focus momentarily. It is a changing place, the colour and form always reliant on the angle you are viewing it from.

This morning’s story could go two ways (at least). There is always the finds. The randomness of objects, presenting themselves to me in a variety of places. Today, a Singer sewing machine neatly placed next to a tree, just a few feet from an empty condom wrapper. I observe these finds and contemplate their history that led them to this position within this landscape and their relationship to each other. Their unpredictable pairing.

Alongside the finds there are the changing occupiers that I chance upon. Today’s occupiers were two that I have been watching from a distance for most of the week. Two men with measuring tape, bamboo canes and a wheeled contraption they’ve been lugging up and down the hill. A pile of reserves too, gathered in a corner, packed lunches and flasks.

I have wondered about their presence and the task the they have been set, but today on wandering past decided to just ask them.

So I discover they are archaeologists, employed by a commercial developer to look for anything of interest.

The field of field notes in actually one area sectioned in to 3 parts. This field that they are working in sits west of the main one and sometimes has cattle grazing. The main, central field has been a site of archaeology interest for a number of years and has had a number of community digs, carried out by Norton Community Archaeology Group and an NHDC archaeologist. My project ‘Hidden Landscapes’ at the time 2012-13, involved looking at this dig and exploring the processes involved in this activity within the landscape.   They discovered a henge…

https://www.heritagedaily.com/2013/09/the-discovery-of-an-early-henge-at-norton-hertfordshire-by-local-archaeologists/98965

Anyway, these occupiers are something else completely. Inconspicuously, silently going about their work. They inform me that unfortunately they hadn’t discovered anything in this other field, although they had been hopeful. There was an air of mild disappointment in tone. This was their last day and their job was done.

So I wait for the imminent change ahead and wonder when and what will take shape in this part of the field in the years to come. I can’t decide how I feel, would it be loss, gain or just change. I think on.

 


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I meandered along the path within the trees at the bottom of the field. The most secluded area of the field.

Eyes to floor, focussing in at the minutiae of scattered things. It is an odd experience, examining this place at this scale. Focussing your eyes in, how you might while trying to extract a splinter from your finger, it feels like intimacy.

The dominate order here is seemingly chaos, randomness, absence of rules. Of course it is. No people, no rules, or rules of another kind. But the thing that strikes me, as I contemplate the detritus that I come across, is the equality. The levelling out. Within the mix of man-made and organic stuff, everything is just here. All is equal, living, dead, man-made, organic. The snails sheltering in a metal barrel, others within a hollow tree, the slow decay, weathering and burying of things carried here by wind or pocket.

With this absence of order, I feel a strangeness in my position. I bring order and judgement along with me and it leaves with me as I head home again.


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