This is a cross post from the INSIDE blog, documenting a project I’ve been commissioned to make with Antonia Attwood. The intention is to create new work relating to themes of mental wellbeing and safe spaces. The commission is a collaboration between QUAD and D-Lab in partnership with LEVEL and Junction Arts, supported by funding from DASH. Click here to read other posts related to this project.
Our second day adventuring in the Peak District started with a car journey to our next location, in search of more waterfalls. As Peter drove us through the incredibly stunning landscapes I was thinking about accessibility to nature and what impact that may have on a person’s ability to self soothe. I live in London and don’t drive. I’d like to, but somehow I’ve just never gotten around to it. There’s never been much need for a car where I’ve lived (Brighton & London). In London there are a lot of green spaces that are pretty easily accessible by public transport. But as we drove through the rolling hills covered in lush green grass, the light blasting down on us, I was thinking about realistically how it difficult it could be for people living in the local cities to access this landscape. Without a car this landscape is impenetrable. You know it is there but somehow it isn’t for you, it isn’t yours.
I was also thinking about how insular city life can become. How little time some of us take to engage with nature, despite knowing that being within the natural landscape can be calming and have positive effects for our well-being. Even when I lived in Brighton I admittedly did not take advantage of how beautiful & positive the sea can be, despite living minutes from it. It is easy to become engrossed in the humdrum of urban life, forgetting about what surrounds us and what it can offer us.
It was another quiet day making work (photographs and videos). There was a chill in the air but the light was crisp, sometimes diffused by the trees above us, as we climbed to the top of the falls. As soon as I heard the sound of rushing water I instantly felt both excited and calm. As we made our way to the top of the falls we saw few people, a testament to how hidden away this little treasure was.
At the top the water crashed with ferocity against the rocks. I could have sat there for hours reading a book or just taking in the moment. We had split up to photograph and film individually but with each other in sight. I roamed for patches of light, details, minutiae otherwise unwitnessed: straggled roots, autumn leaves, the spattering of droplets.
It was a few hours spent just thinking as we made work. I couldn’t shake the concept of how water can be both violent and soothing, dependent on its placement and our relationship to it. As we traversed along the path there were times when I thought about how the current of the water could simply take me away, whilst at other points I wanted to stand in the middle of the pools and be surrounded by it.