Over the summer I had the opportunity to work with artists Julia Grime and Phil Davenport on their exhibition ‘Refuge from the Ravens’ which reimagines a new version of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, by people who have experienced homelessness.
We wandered to the sleeping spots and urban spaces that people with no fixed abode find themselves in. As I sat with Big Issue venders in Manchester city centre, filming their perspective, I got to see a different view of society. Thousands of people literally ignoring you can be hard to sit through, but while life on the streets is truly tough, it turns out there are tender moments that cut through the indifference. Some of the stories of humanity shining through, will never leave me. Like the story of the bouncer who let a homeless kid kip in a safe spot at night in 1970s Manchester and brought him maths workbooks. Without those few acts of kindness that kid might not have made it through to adulthood.
Songs were written and recorded, interviews captured, and field recordings were made by Sofie Cooper who also masterfully weaved all the audio together for a surround sound installation. I was editing blind, I roughly knew what the soundtrack was going to be, but because of the nature of the installation, I tried to create an edit that would compliment ‘happy accidents’ rather than following a set soundtrack as such and true to so much of my work, it ended up taking on a dreamlike quality.
Grime and Davenport’s working method has created a series of impactful impressions and perspective on homelessness that are punctuated by moments of tenderness.
Me, Dean McPhee and his trusty Fender telecaster have spent the past six months taking pilgrimages to a very special tree in order to get footage for his latest music video: ‘The Alder Tree’.
At the start of what ended up being a six-month shoot, I asked Dean McPhee why he chose the title.
As part of his day job Dean has been on the front line supporting young people in difficult situations all the way through the pandemic and he told me how he had got ill for several weeks at the very start of the first lockdown with a fever, cough and breathlessness. He wrote this piece of music as he recovered, and said he had been reflecting on how music has always helped give him the strength to get through difficult experiences. He had been thinking about breathing and the respiratory system, and how it resembles a tree, and how his guitar is made of Alder. Carl Jung coined the word ‘synchronicity’ to explain a very dream-like phenomenon that can occur to us all while we’re awake and with this, in mind, I wasn’t surprised to learn that within Celtic mythology that the Alder tree is connected to the qualities of resilience, support and protection. It’s used as firewood and its most distinctive quality is that it loves to grow by water. In our search for an Alder tree for the video, we located a very picturesque lone Alder tree growing by a reservoir many miles away, and yet, in another example of synchronicity despite this great distance they turned out to be the very reservoir waters that supply Dean’s hometown of Bradford.
Happy New Year! It’s been a tough one for live music. Undoubtedly the toughest yet. Fortunately the musicians are playing on, including electric guitar instrumentalist Dean McPhee. Back in October I climbed a hill in Bradford with him to meet the sky and created a music video for his track ‘The Alchemist’ from his forthcoming album ‘Witch’s Ladder’.
Recently, I have been working on Natalie Sharp’s epic psychedelic opera ‘Marra!‘ commissioned by Aerial festival. She’s been diving deep into her cultural heritage that encompasses Cumbria & the Seychelles. Features Maxine Peake as gavel rapper, Tommy Martinson as his world champion Gurning self and Cal Kirkpatrick and Alex Wilson, as Cumbrian wreslers, plus Jamie Robinson as a bare knuckle Cumbrian boxer.
A deeply personal reflection on growing up as a first generation immigrant in small town Cumbria, a lucid dream set against the arcane, esoteric rituals and traditions that bubble under the surface of everyday life.
In these stressful times it’s important that we connect to an inner peace that resides within us all. I once had a profound psychedelic experience that seemed to connect to a universal truth, after the effects wore off, i was left curious. I wondered:
If what i had experienced was indeed a universal truth, surly it can be accessed without the aid of psychedelics?
This curiosity lead me to approach None-Duality Poet Mandi Solk, together we came up with this short Film-Poem.
If you have any questions about this film please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
For the past nine months i have had the joy and honour of hanging out with Mandi Solk author and non-duality poet.
In spirituality, nondualism, also called non–duality, means “not two” or “one undivided without a second”. Nondualism primarily refers to a mature state of consciousness, in which the dichotomy of I-other is “transcended”, and awareness is described as “centerless” and “without dichotomies”..
Together we have been creating media that compliments the none-duality message. ‘What is your identity if you are not your name?’ is the first of our co-creations.
The film-poem will be showcased at a ‘secret’ screening on Sunday 12th May at Pushing Up Daisies – A community-grown festival inspiring conversations around death and dying. Solk will give a talk titled ‘What is it that never dies?’.
I got this snap of Kurikindi a Kichwa Shaman from the Amazon whilst working as an Event Photographer for The Shamanic Lands – a two day event held in Wales centring around humans connection to the land.
Many great speakers imparted their wisdom during the weekend, however it was Kurikindi’s talk that has been reverberating around in my mind ever since. Specifically the sentence: “What will the world look like to our children in 30 years time?” One could feel the genuine concern and sadness in his voice, this voice coming from someone who’s family have been practicing shamanic traditions going back generations.
At the heart of these traditions is the deep connection of humans to nature and the earth. They have a realisation that not only are humans able to connect deeply with nature but they in-fact ARE nature.
He laid down a gauntlet when he said “what are YOU doing to protect the earth”. When he said that it was as though he was taking directly to me.
One humans effort isn’t going to have much effect on the over-all environmental crises we face, however Kurikindi’s words has made me engage with the part of me that needs to be satisfied that I’m at least doing something, no matter how small. Whether it’s taking an extra bag for collecting rubbish while out walking, buying food from plastic free shops or planting trees.