‘Please Join Us In Mesopotamia ‘, a previous collaboration, invited others to explore ‘Mesopotamia’ in Oxford between the Upper and Lower River Cherwell, with the aid of a map, (attached) and join us for a picnic to share the experience.
Usually maps are geographically literal and do not invite dialogue. Our map pointed out our personal, subjective and ephemeral experiences and invited others to encounter these, follow their own explorations, and then share them.
On the cusp of sea and land, of natural and man-made landscape, Portland is an inspirational environment with an extraordinary geology, history, and its own sense of place. We would like to offer a guided journey through its spaces.
The journey will involve three practises we have developed together: Wandering/Wondering, Travelling through a Landscape in Time, and Gifting .
Wandering is a physical act of engaging with the landscape, Wondering is an internal journey – the thoughts created. Wandering/Wondering is the interaction of the two. Exploring a Landscape Through Time, one can be transported imaginally backwards. Going forwards is a question about individual roles on the planet and our impact. Gifting is the sharing of experiences, through the maps and verbally.
From very early investigations of Portland the places we would like to be a part of the journey include: New Ground car park, High Angle Battery, Nicodemus Knob, Incline road, St. Peter’s Church, the Stadium Bowl, tunnels and high sided valleys in King Barrow Quarry Nature Reserve.
In North Portland we would like to do something similar to ‘Please Join Us in Mesopotamia’ explained above. We would explore its landscape, with the remnants of navy, the quarries, prisons, and natural biodiversity through the practice of Wandering/Wondering, Travelling through a Landscape in Time and Gifting. Mapping allows us to offer our experiences as gifts, and we then invite people to share their own.
We want to allow room for spontaneity, changing the plan, diversion and collaborative input from others, particularly the local community. Every walk will be different for the participants, including us, through the experiences shared.
We will have small individual maps for each person, as a guide and for them to record their own wandering/wonderings and take away, and remind them they can wander/wonder elsewhere. When we are not at the location during the festival people can take a small map and self-guide.
We would also have a large map, at a central location, which we would invite people to add any of their own experiences to.
During the four days during the festival that we are present, we envisage a maximum of 20 people joining us for journeying once in the morning and once in the afternoon, for the duration of approximately an hour. At the end of each journey participants are invited to a sharing – composed of discussion and contributions to the big map. Additions onto the big map will be documented photographically.
Some of our gifts which might be included on the map are: ‘Can you make echoes in the magazine in the High Artillery Position ?’, ‘What do you feel lying on the rocks ?’, ‘How do you think the hollow spaces have been created ?’, What happens to your perspective here in the quarry ? ‘People used to come and watch convicts working to build the harbour, can you imagine what it was like to work or watch the construction?’.
The very fabric of the stone created in the Jurassic period, first documented as used by the Romans, creates a question about exploitation past and future. The stones have contributed to so many of the most prestigious landmarks – The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, Buckingham Palace, the Cenotaph in Whitehall, the British Museum, Somerset House, even the UN HQ in New York and numerous buildings in Washington DC. With the huge irony Fortuneswell remains a place of ‘multiple deprivations’, what do we imagine is possible for Portland in the future ?