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A Year in the Life of a Field

Arnolfini, Bristol, throughout  2021

In March 1981, Arnolfini hosted Somerset, by artist Lizzie Cox. A multi-disciplinary project based on the creative documentation of a ‘year in the life of a field’ in Nettlecombe, near Taunton in Somerset, the piece was eventually presented as eight-foot square fabric box, hung with textiles printed with motifs recalling the changing seasons.


The box was ‘activated’ by dancer Kirstie Simson, with specially composed music by Stuart Gordon. Cox wrote that she ‘wanted to remind people of the optimism of the landscape, of nature and of farming activity, and therefore of life’.

Forty years on, when successive lockdowns have meant that the slow, steady observation of the natural world has taken on a whole new significance, we have invited another local artist to spend a year investigating Cox’s Somerset. Sam Francis, an artist and producer based in Weston Super Mare, will respond to the archival traces of the piece, the intriguing canon of UK land art, and the relationship of Arnolfini as an urban arts centre with our largely rural Westcountry region.

A digital residency for Arnolfini online HERE


POST 1: 20.3.21 [vernal equinox]


at St Audries bay undressed in layer stripes I enter the water timed in blue : in green imagining a field, a life lived in colour..........VIEW FULL PIECE HERE

                

Post 2: 21.06.21 - 24.06.21 [Summer Solstice to Mid Summers Day]


Standing at the edge of nettles begin from glass of window to look out here fix eyes on horizon point not knowing if I will reach there the point a thistle held against the anchoring sky take first step into thigh high grass attempt to locate words don't know how to walk and speak how to walk and write speak into phone which turns speech into words that sometimes do not make sense

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
stop

reach into bag take out a pebble from Watchet beach drop it on the ground the first stepped steps map out markers on a borrowed line made by walking

11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20
stop

new paragraph drop pebble dash already destination seems unreachable unknowable  the catsears twitch cloudward flecked yellow suns pink dotted dreams

21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30
stop drop stone

another marker on the line of walking made whilst talking steps of others through clover grass dangling lilting laughing into thighs keep eyes on the horizon line I am in this place I am stepping words into air  no ears to hear words wording dissolving

31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40
drop stone 

tyre mark cut into land grass flattened lift leg by knee and crossover this border line dandelion gone to seed blow wishes on the breeze for you the horizon comes closer not touchable am I on track or is the line a curved crook of an arm or fold of flesh out of reach out of time getting colder

41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50
drop


take legs over midway point the grass disperses before steps stepped making way for the path for the line made to walk and wonder what feet have stood here or passed this line before the gong the tweet the whistle the bells of the church beyond the trees

51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60
stop

drop a stone what’s changed but us this quarter portion of the year “I try to move closer but you’re such a deep sleeper” there is a road somewhere in sound that’s not this path or line made by feet walking

61,62,63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70
stop drop

a stone smaller this time with burrowed holes filled with time always time with holes way off where I thought I’d be buzz of bee criiiiiiiick of grasshopper flutter butterfly vibrate me forward

71,72,73,74,75,76,77,78,79,80
pick drop stone

invisible thud pass a tall thistle but not the one on the horizon the one I will never reach on these steps cut short by days since last here on this line made by walking take final footsteps of the days to land here on this point of land since that time

81,82,83,84,85,86,87,88,89,90,91
stand and place


stop pause place not drop final big stone to mark the end point to bring another land not belonging here but belonging here now nestled in the grassland at Nettlecombe amidst the clovers and the ants etcetera underneath and on top of landform places

drop body down onto earth rest head upon stone

lay still



Body on earth, sweep of hill
Disguise me in the long grass still
Feet on-ground-on-earth-on-core
I, grain of earth, fleck of sand body

Green body
Graze body
Hill body
Till the body of the land body

All short days til midsummer lurch
So much light it hurts now body
Take me out to pasture body
Still literate in all of June now body

Days-old
Age-old
Ruddy-oak
Drink from an acorn-cup body

Arms like wings, like handfast rings
Sing out beyond space-time body
On-silent-stars-on-weeds-on-gone-to-seed body
Lost-long, died-too-young, ash-curl body

Sheep come
Farmers gun
The shock-of-it-all
Terror body

Somewhere out among the hedge-land
Traces in rotation body
Angelica in all-but body, body
Creeping Thistle a long half hour body

Cranesbill
Clover
Sorrel
Rattle in the desert body

Small red ants on wrist-wrung-skin
Small red teeth make bite-mark-bumps body

Pulse-buzz
Atom-blood 
Fertile-fuzz
Plant-seed in the body, body

Turn a cheek from outer things, and
Speak to me of ancient things body
Like we never met like body
Come closer, softer, tell me body

Long-low 
Hush-sigh
Touch-high
Underneath the land-mass body

Face down in the mud-lands shiver
Churn dust up in the soil now body
Cover me in thick moss hair body
If I lay here long enough, in lichen too body

Leaf-like
Twig-like
Stem-like
Limb-like-things body

Too thin roots of sleep now body
Weaved outline of body, body
Etched into the grass like body
Let me lay here til I die now body

Earth body, earth body, earth body, earth body

Lay gentle upon this land now body


Endnote: ‘A Line Made by Walking’ is a seminal piece of Land Art by Richard Long