Field Notes and Other Fictions, David Bethell

I’ve been working on an essay for a publication to accompany David Bethell‘s upcoming exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Titled Dr Bird Conquering Clouds, the exhibition runs 2 May – 8 August 2015.

boat running away

Image copyright David Bethell.

Here is a sneak peak of my text, Field Notes and Other Fictions:

“I often travel between an old hill and a snow-capped hill separated by several miles. The journey takes me canal-side, past Canadian geese noisily gaggling on the grass; near a timber yard with its fresh-cut scent; past a scrap yard home to two huge dogs, tethered together with a thick, heavy chain. Up close to tiny, net-curtained railway cottages; beneath a low bridge with a perpetually dripping roof; past an elderly lady with a Sainsbury’s carrier bag, eating a packet of Mini Cheddars. Past a pub called The Boat. It’s neither boat nor pub since it was boarded up and now its tatty red canopy flutters sadly in the wind. Note the fuzzy buzz of the motorway and the clang of the city that can be heard in the distance.

Helmets will be provided. Wellingtons or strong boots will be essential for this visit. 

Not too many miles from here, another boat-not-boat can be found. Bumping along hilltops on the north-westernmost ridge of a limestone plateau, this boat is also a cart, a camera and a darkroom. Its hull is made of bleached pine boards, and it has wheels that help the explorer to push and pull it across the thinly-soiled grassy slopes and rocky outcrops. His back is bent double, his legs at full stretch. Up slope, down slope, heave ho. The boat’s white sail shines bright against the scrub-grass, its appearance unexpected and delightful.

The landscape always comes as a surprise to me. Bright flashes of green slice through grey streets in the suburbs of the big city. Birdsong is a privilege. But the cows are too large out there and the sun is too bright.”

The publication also features texts by David and by Anna Falcini and will be available soon …

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