Read, see, listen to our live residency posts from November 2017 below.

Thanks to Outlandia c/o London Fieldworks and Hope Scott Trust for their support.

Breathe

We’ll be adding text, images and sounds around the themes of trees, breathing and mental health each day of our residency 6 – 11 November 2017 from Ben Nevis.

DAY 0

Arrived late in the day and gathered our thoughts. Two musicians, strung out and scatter brained – focused on getting here, getting the gear in and finding our feet.

DAY 1

A day of preparation, research, assembling project materials and making plans. The themes of trees and breathing are more than enough but they shoot off into lots of other potential investigations. Our thoughts need guidance. Tomorrow the mountain.

DAY 2

No mountain. Adverse conditions grounded us. A day of research and provisions.

We visited the Landscape Partnership, met some walkers who had evacuated the hills and invested in some new thermals and gloves. We read about tree networking and cooperation, our native and ancient trees (Lime and Yew) and about breathing and simple strategies to bring our attention to now. A piece with different patterns of breath might be emerging.. Hoping for workable conditions tomorrow. Thank goodness for books.

 

DAY 3

Treehouse day 1. We reached the Outlandia treehouse via the steep peat track up towards Cow Hill. Under the canopy of the trees the sounds and smells change, the air is soft. It is peaceful between the forestry works taking place further down the hill. We’ve been reading about the electrical signals trees use to communicate an attack on a part of themselves – a way of registering pain. The chemical compounds the trees release to ward off grazers wont be any use against a chainsaw. The treehouse is stunning. It moves all the time with the forest – the structure sits on top of a single tree trunk, held in place, and buttressed by chains to the ground. The movements slow us down instantly, all action inside the structure is carried out so as not to shake the treehouse too much. It’s November – cold and a little damp, almost warmer outside, under the trees. The boardwalk is magical, lined with moss that glows in the shade of the trees. This forest is mainly Spruce but there are trees of almost all the native species here, we’re learning..

 

DAY 4

Another glorious day at the treehouse. Repeating our walk across the valley and up the steep peat track, we’re becoming familiar with the trees, stones, mosses, mushrooms on the route. Thanks to our research time, we’re recognising more of the trees and understanding how they relate to each other: depending on and supporting each other, sharing resources and communicating under our feet and through the air. They must be experiencing us too, our minimal presence in the forest this week. We’re seeing and hearing differently.

 

DAY 5

Today we were grounded again. (Q Whose idea was it to go on residency in a treehouse by Ben Nevis in November? A Mine and it’s been brilliant.)

We made use of the day to clean up recordings, read, free write some new material (music and text) and discuss the ideas so far.

Emotions were running high after the sudden departure a from our normal busy city lives at the start of the week. There were three or four moments of emotional crisis through the day and a lot of tears. Tension working its way out. Begone city stresses.

  

One of the ideas we explored was where sound and vision overlap – sounds of the forest, a forest of sound:

The main tree in this forest is Spruce, which was native here in the inter-glacial period and then reintroduced around 1500. Larch (used to construct the treehouse) arrived around 1629. There are lots of Beech and Birch and some Lime, Oak and a few Scots Pines too.

A key differentiation between tree and bush (or anything else) is that the central trunk of a tree does not bend (bushes bend) – that’s resistance. But resistance in our lives usually equates to tension and can have an adverse affect on health. Being supple, flexible, adapting is promoted as healthy – how do tree trunks work? How do they resist healthily? What force can they sustain and what causes them to break and fall?

Titles so far:

1. A tree is not a forest

2. You are smaller than you think you are

DAY 6

Our final day at the Treehouse. We made some video up there today, collected the bits of audio we wanted and filmed and recorded the full descent. Before leaving we spent about an hour doing some mindfulness, meditation and just observing as much detail and atmosphere as we could from up in the forest. It’s very cold today so some walking and a few star jumps were required to preserve circulation! The sense of motion changed the feel of the space and the way we related to the air around us, the trees must have noticed too.

There’s so much to digest from this residency and still a sense of calm. We’re going to take our time with this material and see where it develops over the next few months. We’re planning an immersive installation at Barras Art and Design in Glasgow but this residency is also joining some ideas from the Yarrow project and influencing our song work.

 

Short clip (full video here):

 

New single – Is It Over?

Listen to June 2018’s single inspired and supported by Outlandia c/o London Fieldworks and Hope Scott Trust HERE