Friday, 18 March 2011

The Secret Sounds of Spores

Wonderful art project recently installed in an Edinburgh gallery. Thanks to Astrid for this one! I always like a good invisible part of mushroom and xylophone combo...

Secret Sounds of Spores, Inspace from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The root bridges of Cherrapunji

Every now and again I come across something that appeals to me so directly that my eyes widen and a huge smile spreads across my face. The people of Cherrapunji in India have nurtured these bridges for hundreds of years. They are not woven branches but actual tree roots that are still alive and growing, adding further strength with each year. In a region trouble by floods these bridges are stronger that if they were made of other materials and not growing directly from the ground. The skill of nurturing them is handed down through generations as it takes over a decade to grow a new bridge. It is thought some of them are up to 500 years old! There's amazing footage of them on the recent BBC Human Planet series in the rivers episode if you can track it down. Beautiful, beautiful...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Eden Project Cafe Exhibition

My job really is cool... Created over the last week by me and the lovely population of St Austell...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The oldest sweetshop in England and Grimwith Reservoir

I took this photo late 2009 when I was writer for the 60th anniversary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and was staying in the really lovely Pateley Bridge running workshops up at Scarhouse Reservoir (we went story hunting in the ruined dam builders' village - super fun). One of the best shop windows ever (rivalled by the next door vintage jewellery shop full of black pearls and opals with diamonds)...

I also ran workshops at Grimwith Reservoir for this project, where there was a particularly good sci-fi water level measuring structure...

Here's the poem I was commissioned to write as part of the project - I'm dying to tweak it now over a year on, but I'm still really pleased with the atmosphere...

Grimwith Reservoir.

The day started with small noises.

Birds later
But first it was whispers -
Echoes bubbling through still water
Breaking pools of distant shine
Like rings of misplaced mirror

Where the hills paddled
In bruised paintings smeared
A reflected landscape of
Shadows calling out from under water,
Floating round discarded buildings
They used to know.
They asked in gentle darkness
Remember me…

I stared as birds flew against the wind
Like waves going backwards
To where the dam curved in a horseshoe
Daring them to break through.

It held so much in darkened stone -
Bled strength into the water.

Inky waves of peat
The colour of brown bottles
Broke against the edge
Of torn rocks that were a subtle flood
Spilling like fallen crows
To stare back at mourning ferns
Whose greenery
Had been stolen by frost -
Turned toffee and burnt sugar
Before anyone could notice
The change

The landscape took
And gave back
A lot around here -

Fed the shore
To splatter then reveal
A rocky junkyard of nostalgia
Through low water -
A refuge for discarded memories of
The flooded world below.

Maybe the barn would protect them?
Its heather-netted roof lay
As if a blanket gift from
Echoed material
Which sat in patchy swarms
On distant hills
It burnt in invisible fire -
Spindles of smoke drifting to the sky
In forgotten clouds
Left to darken as
The rain drew near.

Other clouds just hovered
A second sea of mist
Above the coolly steaming water.
They would lift later –
Reveal another world of
Secret inlets melting into
Lost hills…
It was strange to think how long ago
They had been full of people.
Changing colours show imprints
Of settlements as well as different plants:
A staggered chain of sheep
Like misplaced dirty pearls
Of wool
Could each have been a child.

(Hidden bird song now)

I tripped through puddles
Lying as if carved out by giant raindrops
To smile open mouthed at the moving sky.
Its light could change this place in seconds -
Send the water from darkest purple
To swimming pool
Jeweled turquoise
Flecked gold with sparkled sunshine
And imagined boats
Skimming the surface
Like flat stones gently thrown.

They warmed up shivering folds
Of water.

Held my gaze -
Took it out across the reservoir
Here shining like torn clingfilm
Sliced with silver.
The dam was straight now.
Stared back at me
Before dissolving through the landscape.
It just left its sci-fi tower
Ignoring me and quietly measuring


Ruined rollercoaster of the day - Six Flags Louisiana

Another abandoned theme park in Louisiana - it seems to be a hotbed of them really. I need to take a trip... Six Flags was dramatically flooded during Katrina - the photos are quite powerful in terms of the post storm apocalyptic landscape... I like how the rollercoasters look like sea monsters - like they've come to life in their destruction and are now free to swim around and guard their domain...