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The power of blogs

We never expected off-grid blogging to be easy, but it turned out to be the single most challenging aspect of our trip.

Little lakes inside our tents, patchy mobile connection, no running water, no loo, rampant jet lag, hip injury, but electric plugs – oh please….

Our hungry laptops had us struggling to provide. Without power we feared they would become weak and easily die.

We had pondered the off-grid dilemma long and hard. Claire lives off-grid year round at her home in New Mexico; so surely it isn’t such a big deal. She and Chris collect energy from the sun and store it in underfloor batteries for use as electricity around the home.  Wi-fi  and the sun allow Claire and I to work together, despite her off-grid-ness  and our many degrees of separation. These technological advances help us keep our collaboration alive.

Soft folding dashboard solar panels might keep our laptops charged, but would they work in such a resolutely unsunny climate ? And what of bike power…. it works for making smoothies and projections so might pedal power keep our cameras, laptops and blogging practice alive?

In the end we opted to plug-in at Marble Arch Caves Geopark HQ, council offices, campsites and country hotels and used a wee dashboard plug (little inverter in the cigarette lighter) for on-the-go top-ups between charging locations.

Blogs are an ideal way to record, share and reflect on project adventures. And we shared DREAMING PLACE with family, friends and a world wide audience….. veraciously!

Keeping the hardware topped up became a matter of supreme importance. Should we make supper, sleep, experiment, search for a plug-in or make connections?

We are the first to admit that blogging got a bit out of hand… this time… and we did it in the face of significant adversity – Our dongle rarely worked, so that was a waste of money, we were operating in mobile-coverage shadowlands in the X – border zone, hoteliers were mean to us, the Geopark HQ were kind but couldn’t share their internet and we were miles from the nearest cyber cafe…  yet we blogged and blogged and blogged.

Is pigeon post a viable alternative?

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No. 22 Dreaming Place data sheet drawing


Dream food vision (audio)

Food became central to our adventure and led to sometimes profound thoughts – in this case about animals dreaming.

No. 21 Dreaming Place data sheet drawing

Hazel cultures

A good way to discover more about prehistoric life  in Marble Arch Caves Geopark is to focus in on the edible elements of place. You can learn a lot, from ingesting, observing and dreaming with plants and things. As a Northern European its a fair guess to say that my ancestors learnt a lot from their interactions with the land. I know it’s obvious,  but its easy to forget that plants have actually helped shaped our cultures. Claire’s family is also of European decent, but she was born in New Mexico where prehistoric peoples have also eaten acorns, piñones and hazel nuts. Claire and I look, listen, experiment and dream to find out more about our prehistoric ancestors and their worlds. We kicked off our

collaboration while studying at Dartington with a “Eating Time Taming Food”  a wide ranging adventure into prehistoric Dartmoor Food ecologies. We  gathered, prepared, cooked and shared wild foods. It was really challenging for us as we were trail blazing our a new Arts and Ecology practice… .. but what d’you know while we were out collecting acorns and worms were gathering in our leaching sacks, Ray Mears was doing the self same thing on Telly, imagine that….Out of the BLUE! processing acorns for food after hundreds of years of culinary neglect!

Neither Claire nor I had telly and we didn’t know about Ray Mears ’till friends and neighbours told us. Only difference was we were making ART and gathering audio sounds! We ended our acorn harvest with a grand tea party at The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World in Haldon forest Park, where our guests feasted on acorn and honey cake spread with butter churned using the motion of our gait and other ancestral foods.

In DREAMING PLACE at MAC we crunched  hawthorn leaves at Shannon Pot, made  wild garlic pesto and when Hazel reached out and attracted our attention, we whittled its flexible boughs into knives. Hazel is as full to bursting with dynamic potentials which Claire and I are eager to explore. And Hazel’s story is many patterned, it helped with the invention of tents, looms and snow shoes. The first people’s living in these northern climes after the great ice melt collected its tasty fruits to store for the winter months and Hazel protected and sustained them.

What baskets were woven to carry the canny hazel nut and what futures did it predict?

Listen here to Biodiversity Officer, Rose Cremin enthuse about hazel culture

No. 20 Dreaming Place data sheet drawing

Sound islands

I’m sure I told you how Claire and I went out onto the blue lough in the yellow smile of a borrowed kayak. We paddled together out to a tiny island where we lay down on the mossy foreshore to dream.

Listen here to a snippet of our chat as it wafted up to mingle with the calls of birds and the lapping of gentle waves outside our sound island.


No.19 dreaming place data sheet

The kissing tree

Did you ever hear trees kissing?

As Claire approached an overgrown hedge in the Killykeegan Nature reserve a strange sound wrapped around her ears. She called me over and we listened as two Hawthorn branches kissed.  Listen here to the sounds we heard..

No 18. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing