Abstracts: June 29, Dartington Hall


John Wylie

Prof. John Wylie
When: Opening keynote session (plenary) (Dartington, Day 1 09:55)

The world shrinks, distances are overcome and rendered insignificant, the near and the far lose their salience as means of orientation and understanding. Yet just as this happens, new distances are felt and observed to have opened up. New distances between and amongst us, multiplying distances of indifference, incomprehension and antagonism. And felt distances between us and ‘land’ and ‘nature’ – a sense of separation, alienation and loss which it then becomes imperative – ethically, environmentally – to overcome.

But is it possible to sense distance more positively – a sense of the distant as something worthwhile to cultivate, or even as something integral? I will turn to landscape specifically as a venue for thinking distance anew. Notions of apartness and alienation are, it can be argued, historically stitched into Western visual art traditions of landscape. This has most commonly been critically understood as an ideological fabrication – in Robin Kelsey’s terms, landscape names a ‘fantasy of not belonging to the totality of life of a terrestrial expanse’. But, drawing in particular upon Jean-Luc Nancy’s account of landscape as uncanny and estranged spatiality, I will argue that the distances of not-belonging are the signature elements of landscape’s distinction as a mode of experience, imagination and presentation. And I will also argue that this is a distance that must be kept.


Presenter: Dr Luke Bennett
When: Paper session 1 (Dartington, Day 1 10:45)
Title: Standing safely at the edge: risk, law and the landscape sublime

Abstract: Writing in 1792, in a statement encapsulating the Romantic landscape sublime, Jean- Jacques Rousseau declared “I must have torrents, fir trees, black woods, mountains to climb or descend, and rugged roads with precipices on either side to alarm me”. But less often mentioned is his caveat that “a great part of my amusement in these steep rocks is [that] they cause a giddiness and swimming in my head which I am particularly fond of, provided I am in safety.” As Edmund Burke put it, “terror is a passion which always produces delight when it does not press too close.” For the Romantic sublime was not an unmitigated embrace of “delicious terror” (Coates 1998). This paper will consider this safety-consciousness at the heart of sublime engagement with landscape, by suggesting that much of the Romantic sublime remains embedded within what, at first glance seems its antithesis: contemporary ‘health ‘n’ safety’ culture. The paper will pursue this argument by a textual analysis of the reasoning and asides of senior judiciary in a spate of legal cases culminating in the House of Lords decision in Tomlinson vs Congleton Borough Council in 2003. In these cases we see a deep seated belief that opportunity to congress with the landscape sublime is a public good, worthy of legal protection and something to be balanced alongside appropriate provision of edge protection in the countryside.


Presenter: Dr Laura Bissell
When: Paper Session 2 (Day 1, Dartington 10:45)
Title: Translating Seascapes

Abstract:  This paper demonstrates a practical application of Bachelard’s assertions about the abstract relationship between the materiality, movement and liquidity of water as synonymous with language in his essay “Water’s Voice”. In this he claims “Liquidity is the very desire of language. Language needs to flow” and argues that there is a euphonic relationship between water and its human echo (language). Using “directives” from “Water’s Voice” this paper explores performative writing methods that reflect musical processes such as improvisation and composition to “converse” with the sea.

Collaborating with a sound designer I offer a translation of the sound of the sea into language. I ask: What might a “poetics of the sea” sound like? One of the definitions of poetics is “the practice of writing poetry, poetic composition” reminiscent of Gertrude Stein’s use of harmonies, patterns, relations and rhythms. By applying a similar process of composition to words generated by sea sounds, a linguistic seascape as translation of the physical matter occurs. Can processes of translation assist in understanding the sea as a sublime landscape more fully and in a more embodied way? Can this help us to consider our relationship with the sea in a time of ecological crisis?

I am a lecturer in Contemporary Performance Practice and my current book project is called Performing Landscapes: Seas. As part of this I have undertaken three practice- as-research collaborations to identify key connections between human bodies, bodies of text and bodies of water: this paper reflects on my collaboration with sound-designer Tim Cooper.


Laura Bissell


Presenter: Adam Laity
Paper (and Film)
When: Paper session 3 (Day 1, Dartington 11:30);
Film screening at times TBA (Dartington only)
Title: Framing the Anthropocene: Cinematographic Approaches Towards the Ecosublime Landscape

Abstract: If the concept of landscape is concerned with aesthetic ideologies of how we frame nature, environment and the world around us, the sublime landscape is essentially a romantic ideology that stems from philosophy, painting, poetry and photography, very specifically concerned with the idea of ‘the human’ within or against an epic natural landscape that they truly cannot comprehend or effectively describe. While the painted and photographic sublime landscape depicts a transcendent moment, cinematography enables the capture of a moving physical, emotional, creative and spiritual journey towards, through and beyond the sublime landscape moment. Where once the sublime signified the human fear of nature and what it represented in spiritual and philosophical terms, the advent of the Anthropocene suggests that it is now nature that needs to be fearful of us. In this way it is impossible to reference the sublime landscape in the 21st Century without alluding to this ecosublime landscape.

In this paper I will discuss my own landscape cinematography practice and producing moving ecosublime images that are affective within a world over-saturated with imagery of ecological and humanitarian crises. I will explore the relationship of Romantic and Realist approaches within my practice; touch upon the importance of auto-ethnography and the use of affect theory in my research; discuss how advances in digital technology are altering cultural perceptions of landscape; and explore the balance of creative environmental activism and the value of making peace with the Anthropocene through art.


Presenter: Judith Stewart
When: Paper session 3 (Day 1, Dartington 12:00)
Title: Anxious Subjects and Melancholy Romantics in a Flat Landscape

Abstract: Here there are no wildernesses of the Romantic model. The 21st century East Anglian landscape with its undramatic topography is not only the very antithesis of those sublime landscapes long favoured by artists: being flat and intensively cultivated, many would say it is not even picturesque. Highly regimented and controlled, dominated by industrial agriculture and the motor car, this is a strange place to attempt an encounter with the sublime.

In this film/performance, I use the East Anglian landscape as a starting point from which to propose the impossibility of the sublime as it is commonly thought of: a throwaway term suggesting a hybrid mish-mash of beauty and spirituality. Referring to Foucault, Solnit and Sebald as well as Burke, I consider the sublime in relation to anxiety and desire, wondering whether the physicality of the landscape is indeed irrelevant to what we consider to be the sublime. Do we rather seek out topographies which most closely mirror our own psychological states, making the landscape little more than a blank canvas?

With its emptiness and relentless wetness around the edges that makes the whole place seem poised on the edge of destruction (which in itself induces anxiety), I argue that it is here, in this ambiguous space where nothing is defined, that Anxious Subjects and Melancholy Romantics can project their own unfulfilled desires, discontents and anxieties allowing us the illusion of an encounter with the sublime.


Judith Stewart


Presenter: Prof Nora Wendl
When: Paper session 3 (Day 1, Dartington 12:30)
Title: The Brief History of a River and its Glass House

Abstract: “If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from outside…” Mies van der Rohe, 1958

The silent meadows outside, white with old and hardened snow, reflected the bleak bulb within, as if the glass house itself were an unshaded bulb of uncalculated watts lighting the winter plains.” Edith Farnsworth, 1951

In Building, Dwelling, Thinking, Heidegger asserts that architecture creates landscape through the process of gathering the earth to itself, a position that informs decades of modern architectural thought about the primacy of building over landscape: Mies describes nature as being more profound when viewed from within his Farnsworth House (Plano, Illinois, 1951). However, architecture does not produce landscape, but is extracted from the landscape, and building undoes the world. An increase in development in the Chicago area has caused the Fox River—just 100 feet away from the house—to flood its interior in 1996, 1997, 2008, and twice in 2013—making Farnsworth’s unsettling words about this landscape prescient. In just sixty years, the discourse on this house has transformed from one that centers upon the benign aestheticization of nature to one in which nature must be guarded against—the landscape will certainly destroy the house—and American architectural preservationists are scrambling for a solution to this unprecedented problem. This paper offers a brief history of the landscape of the Farnsworth House, and a defense of the position that the landscape should be allowed to destroy it.


Presenter: Prof. David Crouch
When: As Prof. Crouch is unable to attend the Symposium, his paper is available here
Title: The liveliness and fluidity of the thing we call landscape

Abstract:  This presentation combines a consideration of the art work, particularly the paintings, of Peter Lanyon, currently showing [2015-6] at Tate Modern London, with a critical approach to the limitations of Designed ‘landscapes’. Both Lanyon and another subject of my interest, allotment holders cultivate spaces Lanyon even referred to his rhythms of gardening as bearing similarities with the rhythms of wielding a brush at a large canvas. Much more than that occurs. Making a painting can be making a landscape; plotholders do the same. My interest in allotments grew from an impatience with work in geography during the 1980s when landscape equated particular early periods of formalised landscape painting and the landscaped gardens of the wealthy. Two landscapes that I equate here are focused in understanding landscape as our sensuous, felt expressive poetics of being alive and doing and emerging in a nuanced, complex and interrupted atmosphere of their relationships with earth, other life, human beings in their own creativity. Lanyon, not only in his paintings of flight but in his work through the 1960s, and people who tend a plot work landscape through what they do, both metaphorically and materially. The landscape, changing as any other, is fluid, part-instructed and part in a commingling in their atmospheres. The paper thus considers a wider ‘frame’ of how landscape occurs and is conveyed in people’s voices.


Presenter: Nessie Reid
When: Paper session 4 (Day 1, Dartington 11:30)
Title: The Milking Parlour

The Milking Parlour documentation is on exhibition during the Symposium, in the Garden Room.

Abstract: Milk, cheaper than bottled water – Surely that’s udderly ridiculous?
Political Ecologist Nessie Reid lived with two pure-bred Guernsey cows for five days in a temporary ‘Milking Parlour’ constructed in Anchor Square, Bristol. Free and open to all, the installation included a panel talk from 5.30-6.30 each day bringing together voices from across the spectrum of the debate – from dairy farmers, to vegans, to food producers, to academics and more. This was a chance for people to give their own views, and listen to others, all whilst considering their own food choices – particularly in relation to catastrophic climate change, which becomes more urgent a threat to our society with every passing day. Industrialized farming is one of the the largest contributors to climate change, producing a quarter of global emissions and consuming 70% of the worlds fresh water. The question is: how do we feed ourselves, and our burgeoning population, without it costing the earth? More information here


Presenter: Carolyn Shapiro
When: Paper session 4 (Day 1, Dartington 12:00)
Title: Nature as Neighbour: Landscape’s Relation to the Human in Studio Ghibli Films

Abstract:  As a counterpoint to the Western notion of the Sublime, which represents Nature as a force that we, as humans, face only to be overwhelmed by its encompassing Oneness, the films produced by Studio Ghibli signify nature as a friendly neighbor. This Japanese relationality between nature and the human is illustrated lushly and with virtuosity in films such as *My Neighbor Totoro*, tapping into a rich and long-established system of aesthetics regarding landscape that is decidedly different from that put forth by Western metaphysical philosophy. Thematizing the interactive relation between nature and human beings can also be comprehended on a semiotic level in the sense that meaning takes place in the relationality itself between signifiers within any given system. This paper will explore the proposition that Studio Ghibli films foreground, through narrative techniques, a larger, more abstract philosophical investigation into relationality itself, whereas the Western Sublime seems to actively resist signification. The relationality put forth by Studio Ghibli films, characterized as “neighborliness,” offers an alternative model of human existence in relation to nature to that of Western philosophical assumptions.


Presenter: Mat Osmond
When: Paper session 4 (Day 1, Dartington 12:30)
Title: Angels Talking Back: Meinrad Craighead and the Animal Face of God

Abstract: In her 2005 book Findings (chapter: Fever), the writer Kathleen Jamie ponders the nature of prayer whilst sharing fish and chips with a friend. For Jamie, the question ‘Whom do you pray to?’ elicits an unequivocal rejection of praying to anyone, or anything. Jamie offers, instead, a notion of prayer as close attention to immediate experience: to ‘the web of our noticing’.

It’s Jamie’s chip-eating friend, and his inarticulate retort to the same question, that informs the title of this paper. Taking his remark as starting point, it will look to an artist whose engagement with landscape suggests a rather different understanding of prayer: the American painter Meinrad Craighead.

Craighead recounts being summoned by a dream, from 14 years as an expatriate nun in England, back to the numinous landscape of New Mexico. It was here Craighead discovered, in the indigenous deity Crow Mother, the fullest expression of the spiritual presence that she’d first encountered in the Black Madonna of Montserrat, and in the mountain landscape within which her shrine is located.

In considering how landscape is apprehended as personified presence in Craighead’s work, I‘ll ask what we might learn about our own experiences of ‘sublime place’ from these women’s differing perspectives. To throw a bridge between them, I’ll discuss the psychologist James Hillman’s notion of prayer as ‘himma’: ‘the thought of the heart’: something independent of doctrinal belief, or religious piety: a ‘dialogic encounter’ which Hillman understood as ‘the highest achievement of the creative imagination’.




Laura Mayer

Presenter: Dr Laura Mayer
When: Plenary (Day 1, Dartington 12:30)
Title: A Legacy in Landscape: the aesthetic minimalism of Lancelot Capability Brown

Abstract: An exploration of how the language of taste weaved its way through the design revolutions of the eighteenth-century English garden, restructuring social hierarchies and re-writing the landscape. Laura will take us on a brief journey – beginning with the contrived, classically-laced Arcadian layout, through the stylistic free-for-alls of the mid-century Rococo garden – and culminating in the landscape minimalism of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Brown’s lasting vision for an idealised England continues to frame our perceptions of the natural landscape. It came as a response to the taste for artifice, and this presentation will concentrate on his groundbreaking aesthetics. Brown’s style evolved from the twin principles of comfort and elegance, or in his own words, it embodied ‘all the elegance and all the comforts that mankind wants in the Country’. His landscapes needed to provide for the practical needs of a great estate, but above all they were to appear seamless and graceful. By stripping an estate back to three basic forms – serpentine lakes, bare lawns and informal planting – Laura reveals how Brown’s designs superseded anything that had come before them, and dominated garden design completely.


Presenter: Bram Thomas Arnold
When: Paper session 5 (Day 1, Dartington 15:15)
Title: Actions for and against nature
Abstract: In 2006, when this all began, I was stood on the edge of Dartmoor, at the end of a 9 mile walk from the village of Dartington to the edge of Dartmoor National Park. A nondescript field boundary, a dry stonewall, rain, fog, mud. I took out a book of poetry that I had carried with me and read aloud from it, to some nearby rocks. Thus began an ongoing series of works called Actions For & Against Nature.

In 2014 I joined London Fieldworks in the remote wilds of Scotland for a project called Remote Performances. Remote Performances was an opportunity to reengage with the Actions and I devised a series of new actions specific to the Glen and to my relationship with it.

I will present an extended version of a text published in Remote Performances (Gilchrist, Joelson & Warr 2015). This performed paper, this reading, this shouting, this singing, is an opportunity to reinterpret works that are often lost to the wilderness but also to explore some of the back stage thinking to the project. This performed paper attacks the idea of ‘Nature’ in favour of ‘Ecological’ thinking as posited by Timothy Morton (2012) by questioning assumptions, the dangers of romantic ideologies and human ideals that surround our longing for a wilderness and a wildness that is no more, that has never been. The Actions are about the self, the world and the space in between, questioning those assumptions we carry from the past into the future.



Presenter: Prof Carol Watts
When: Paper session 5 (Day 1, Dartington 16:30)

Title: Flete: Landscape, Inundation and Poeisis in the Anthropocene

Abstract: This paper uses the making of an artist’s book, Flete (2014), to think about the stakes of poesis in the landscape of the anthropocene. Flete began with mud and silt dug at the lowest tide of the year from the estuary where the Fleet stream meets the River Dart, at Warfleet, Devon. The sequence concerns the long geological time of rising sea levels and lived predictions of change. It walks a line backwards from the mouth of this drowned river valley to a freshwater source, invoking Turner’s sketch of Warfleet (1811), images of Fortune taken from a Dartmouth building, Chaucer’s Shipman’s Tale, the chemical analysis of sediments in crab gills, and John Donne’s devotions that link tides to the duration of a life finally overcome by saltnesse. Found text floated against the current centrally includes a reference to Dartmouth engineer and preacher Thomas Newcomen, whose atmospheric engine, developed in 1712 to prevent flooding in coalmines, is now regarded by some as the invention which heralds the new epoch of the Anthropocene, and with it, human impact on rising tides. In what ways does climate change unsettle the representational visual and written plumb lines of contemporary landscape aesthetics? And what are its secret histories?


Carol Watts




Hal Moggridge

Hal Moggridge OBE

Presenter: Charlotte Rathbone CMLI (Rathbone Partnership)
Title: A conversation with Hal Moggridge
When: Paper session 5 (Day 1, Dartington 16:30)

Charlotte Rathbone interviews Hal Moggridge OBE about his work with historic gardens. Moggridge, now in his 90s is recognised as one of the UK’s foremost designers working with historic gardens.

He says: ’If, under hostile cross examination, it is possible to name the species of a specific tree or remember the condition of a particular gate, then conviction is given to opinions about more strategic matters’.

Moggridge believes that a complete empathy with the site lies at the heart of successful landscape design. In the 1970s he played a key role in restoring the Capability Brown masterpiece at Blenheim, thus reviving the national interest in Brown and the Georgian natural landscape garden. Hal has never lost his feeling for the importance of views that his rediscovery of Brown inspired, and more recently, his pioneering work defining the spatial character of important urban views in Edinburgh and London has won him international acclaim.




PechKucha Artist Presentations
will include

Artists: Tom Baskeyfield and Mario Popham  When: PechaKucha session 1, Day 1, Dartingon 15:45
Artist: Fay Stevens  When: PechaKucha session 1, Day 1, Dartingon 15:45
Artist: Carol Ladler  When: PechaKucha session 2, Day 1, Dartington 17:00


Abstracts: June 30, Dartington Hall

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU NEED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BEING AT SHARPHAM HOUSE OR DARTINGTON HALL ON DAY 2. Moving between the two sites is not straightforward, and we have designed the programme to group papers and activities appropriate to each site. Bus transportation will be available (book here) at the beginning and end of the day. Your choice of workshop will determine where you spend the day. BOOK HERE



Presenter: Sandra Escobar
When: Paper session 7 (Day 2, Dartington 09:45)
Title: The (negative) sublime: a hermeneutics of contemporary landscape

Abstract: The contemporary landscape is deeply modified by the antropic action: the magnitude of mountains and storms of romanticism gives way to the skyscrapers and environmental cataclysms. In the world we live in, the power of natural processes is deeply magnified by human action. We produce phenomena that surpass our power of representation, both according to our reason and sensibility. We are in the domain of the unintelligible as we cannot understand those phenomena in their totality. Indeed, such phenomena can be seen as quite expressive examples of the negative sublime, once that reveals a “dominant aesthetic consciousness of our age” (Berleant, 1997).  In the field of a critical aesthetics of environment, these examples can be taken also as instruments of appreciation of the very aesthetic-ethic consequences that they present, or that are associated with them.

Is Kant’s and Burke’s sublime able to interpret these phenomena of the contemporary landscape as well our relationship with nature? This paper aims to answer these questions through the analysis of the aesthetic category of negative sublime as conceived by Berleant (1997, 2012).


Presenter: Dr Joanna Price
When: Paper session 7 (Day 2, Dartington 10:15)
Title: Antarctica and the Traumatic Sublime

Abstract: Antarctica has long been associated with the Sublime, as evoked for example by the monumental icy landscapes of the Heroic Era photographers Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley.  It has also been imagined as a locus of catastrophe, whether as the site of deaths of early explorers, or as a current advance indicator of the effects of global warming. This paper will explore how the Sublime and the catastrophic are connected and contested by their inscription into narratives of trauma in the representation of Antarctica.  In The Worst Journey in the World (1922) Cherry-Garrard describes a way of knowing the landscape through painful sensation which challenges the visual mastery and containment of the landscape implicit in the concept of the Sublime and the narratives of heroic conquest it informs.  In recent works about Antarctica, such representation of the Antarctic landscape as a place of traumatic experience seems at first to be forgotten, as travellers seek in its sublimity ‘healing’ of trauma that has happened elsewhere.  Jenny Diski , for instance, seeks escape from traumatic childhood memories in the icy blankness of Antarctica, and Sebastian Salgardo’s photographs of Antarctica in ‘Genesis’ suggest amelioration of the scenes of human suffering he has documented elsewhere . Judit Hersko, however, places the effects of climate change in Antarctica amidst the wider disasters of modernity and interrogates the heroic connotations of Sublime imagery by examining in her installations and photographs the domestic world of humans and the lives of microscopic organisms.


Presenter: Maria Löschnigg
When: Paper session 7 (Day 2, Dartington 10:45)
Title: ‘Sublime Oilscapes’: Literary Depictions of Landscapes Transformed by the Oil Industry 

Abstract: Literary reactions to the transformation of landscape by modern technology foreground the fragility of the planet while at the same time suggesting notions of immensity and inspiring awe. Oil mining, in particular, threatens and destroys essential mega-biotopes, as for example two of the biggest wetlands on earth, the Athabasca Tar Sands in Canada’s northern Alberta and the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria. While we are flooded, daily, by media reports on environmental damage and by scientifically based scenarios of future catastrophes, it is literature with its specific ambiguous and multidimensional make-up, which proves to be an ideal medium to foreground the ambivalence of 21st century societies regarding their attitude towards a radically modified natural environment. These new shapes of the sublime which evoke fear and simultaneously admiration ask for new forms of representations in literature and the arts. In my paper I should therefore like to show how 21st century Canadian and Nigerian writers respond to the effects of oil mining in their respective countries. With their poems and novels these authors create new ‘semiotopes’, which constitute the basis of contemporary critical concepts of landscape and the sublime. Literature thus compensates for the deficits of pragmatic discourses and functions as a unique regenerative force which helps us to come to terms with the challenges and crises concerning the precarious relationship between the human species and its natural environment.


Presenter: Veronica Vickery
When:  Session 8 (Day 2, Dartington 09:45)
Slowly, intimately, 
The stream held
Boulder-ridden memories 
Of another day’ 
I speak in different voices at different times. It is a conversation, a narration, with water, with soil, with digital media and audience. My starting point is the 2009 tragic flash flooding of a tiny stream in the far west of Cornwall (UK), which then collided in the studio with an activist project related to the 2014 Gaza conflict and, more recently, the shocking images circulating last summer of war-driven immigrants drowning in the Mediterranean. 
In the studio, the emerging images related to the flood became infected by concurrent geo-political events, producing an act of landscaping that is simultaneously—right out there, then, far away—and—closely, intimately here, now. Working with this material forced me to consider my own positionality as an artist/geographer, when faced with these complex, pain-ridden environments, with stories that are not my own. Landscape here shifts beyond discrete, tidy frames. I use the presence of performance, and the mediated distancing of technology, to think about the way that these image-infected landscapings are resonant with, even contaminated by, geologic and oceanic traces of personal, social and political vulnerability. In these vulnerable spaces of performed landscaping, through connection and estrangement, presence and distance, from then to now from here to there, something else happens, unquarantined, beyond frames.
Veronica Vickery

Veronica Vickery



Presenter: Lyn Baldwin
When: Paper session 8 (Day 2, Dartington 10:15)
Title: Finding Place: Naturalising through Field Art Journal

Abstract: Naturalists and ecologists have argued that our ever-increasing “extinction of experience” with the natural world may be its greatest threat. This talk, illustrated with excerpts from my recent exhibit, will report on a multi-year expedition made in search of the place-based experiences, sublime or otherwise, that could allow a Euro- Canadian like me to naturalize to a North American landscape. We know that place matters; people all over the world have used the sublime and the mundane, enacted through line and song, to pay homage to the land. But what in my tradition can find the stories of place? Although natural history—recently defined as “the practice of attending to and representing the natural world”—has been used in service of empire, it allows science and art, text and image, to be equal partners in a place-based expedition to home. Collected in more than 30 hand-bound field journals and field journal paintings, the lessons learned during this expedition teach that home is not a collection of data points or drawings, but is built from specific places that have the capacity to shape who we are as a people. Naturalizing to place occurs when the land’s line and shadow flow into stories that bind us, as tightly as a rough-legged hawk clutches a vole, to the land itself. Ultimately, this expedition reveals that the act of finding place not only rescues the “extinction of experience” but is an obligation of residents embedded in community.


Presenter: Louise Ann Wilson
When: Paper session 8 (Day 2, Dartington 10:45)
Title:  Creating Warnscale: Applying Dorothy Wordsworth’s Mode of the Feminine Sublime to a Walking Performance about In/Fertility and Childlessness

This presentation will focus on Warnscale: A Land Mark Walk Reflecting on In/ fertility and Childlessness (Warnscale) created by Louise Ann Wilson.

Warnscale is a self-guided walking-performance specific to the Warnscale fells south of Buttermere Lake, Cumbria. Mediated through a multi-layered walking-guide/art- book, the performance is aimed at women who are childless-by-circumstance. Society offers no rituals or rites of passage through which women who have ‘missed’ the life-event of biological motherhood can be acknowledged and come to terms with that absence. Warnscale, however, offers imaginative and creative ways through which participants can engage with landscape in order to reflect-upon, re-image and transition (even in the smallest of ways) the liminality that this circumstance can lead to.

My presentation explores how Warnscale was developed through: an in-depth, ‘situated’ study of the landscape in which it was created; observational research in fertility clinics; and a close reading of the journal writings of Dorothy Wordsworth.

Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journals describes how she walked in, and engaged with, the landscape in a manner that was embodied, multi-sensory and materially specific – a mode, I suggest, that can be understood as a form of the ‘feminine sublime’. This sublime, I argue, can also be located in her ability to notice the ‘common-place’ and thus see afresh ‘everyday’ objects, people and experiences that are ordinarily overlooked, or on the edges of social and cultural discourse. Warnscale works with an applied use of Wordsworth’s ‘feminine sublime’ mode of walking, dwelling and noticing and is framed by extracts from her journals.


Louise Ann Wilson


Artist: Laura Denning
Panel Discussion (live broadcast) Details TBA
When: Session 10 Day 2, Dartington 12:00
Title: Bioacoustics and sonic art (live on Soundart Radio 102.5fm)

Abstract: Using a recording of the Devon Dawn Chorus as a point of departure, my proposal is to host a live discussion on Soundart Radio around the relationship between bioacoustics and sonic art – opening up a multi-voice conversation around nature, representation and meaning.  I have been exploring this personal recording over the last 12 months, in particular I have been slowing it down which changes the pitch of each avian contributor. This has opened up an intuitive understanding of the stories being told by the various birds, and the interactions between them in ways which have changed my understanding of bird song irrevocably. I have used variations of these recordings in a number of sonic art pieces throughout 2015, notably for exhibitions locally* and for my contribution to Sanctum Bristol in November 2015.

Bioacoustics, and sonic art, are becoming increasingly prevalent as forms of research-in- practice, and as installations within art spaces. What are the meanings we are attaching to these representations of nature, and how are they impacting within the broader discourses surrounding these themes?  By facilitating a participatory audio event that is simultaneously broadcast online, within the context of this symposium, a record will be created that will act as marker for future research, and practice, in this sphere. This could take place anywhere within the buildings of Schumacher College, Dartington Estate or Sharpham House, using the Radio Anywhere kit. Sonic contributions from other artists could be broadcast either side of the discussion.





Workshop Information is here


PechaKucha Artist Presentations will include:

Session 9 (Day 2, Dartington, PechaKucha session 3, 12:00)
Veronica Vickery
Janika Kempevold Larsen
Stuart Mugridge
Rebecca Partridge

Abstracts: June 30, Sharpham House

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU NEED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BEING AT SHARPHAM HOUSE OR DARTINGTON HALL ON DAY 2. Moving between the two sites is not straightforward, and we have designed the programme to group papers and activities appropriate to each site. Bus transportation will be available (book here) at the beginning and end of the day. Your choice of workshop will determine where you spend the day. CHOOSE NOW


Presenter: Henrietta Simson
When: Paper session 11 (Day 2, Sharpham 09:45)
Title: Landscape after Landscape: Before the Genre and Beyond the View

Abstract:  This paper is contextualised by the ideological implications that surround the notion of landscape, including the relationship between its genre in painting and the development of European capitalism. I propose the idea of the landscape fragment or supplement derived from early Italian painting, and which stands in counterpoint to assumptions about the genre. In spite of this period of painting being considered the basis for the representational visual systems of the west and the subsequent development of perspectival technologies, I suggest that it can instead be used to articulate a poiesis that speaks to our present predicaments and concerns. Revisiting early representations of landscape – significantly images that are anterior to the development of the landscape genre – at this time of ecological crisis, perhaps seems an irrelevant or nostalgic endeavour. Indeed, contemporary art’s engagement with recent discussions about the emergence of the Anthropocene has looked to non-western subjectivities and political action, not the historical past for critical purchase. And from a post-colonial standpoint proper consideration is usually given to non-western conceptions of the natural environment. However, I would like to consider these pre-western images, precisely because they are pre-Cartesian and pre-modern (prior to the 16th-century). These early landscape spaces are pertinent today because they are not considered ‘landscape’ as such and are not constructed by entrenched Cartesian dualisms. Through these I argue it is possible to re-evaluate the imbrication of perspective and landscape, to raise questions of translatability and difference, and to replace the dominating norms habitually associated with these terms.

Henrietta Simson

Henrietta Simson


Presenter: Jan van Boeckel
When: Paper session 13 (Day 2, Sharpham 09:45)
Title: The landscape thinks itself in me

We usually take for granted that painters look at their landscape motif, and not the other way round. But what may be taking place is a more subtle movement in both directions, a reciprocity between one’s whole embodied being and the world outside. Through artful activity, we can strive to let the landscape in its specificity enter into us, and allow it to emerge in the form of a painting or other artwork. When painting, Cézanne famously said, “the landscape thinks itself in me … and I am its consciousness.” His work is founded on a partnership between nature and the human mind. For him there was a clear sense of initiative emanating from the visible in external nature.

Reflecting on this, Merleau-Ponty noted that the roles between the one who creates

and that what he or she paints (“the visible”) inevitably change, and this may be the reason why so many painters have said that things look at them. At a point it may become impossible to distinguish between who sees and who is seen, who paints and what is painted.

In my presentation I focus on this phenomenon. I discuss how participants in artmaking practices such as “wildpainting” can be encouraged to seek a connection with place. I will contrast this experience of surrendering oneself to an artful process with other ways of engaging with place in which preconceived scientific knowledge “inserts itself” between the perceiving subject and the circumambient universe.


Presenter: Anne Burke
When: Paper session 11 (Day 2, Sharpham 10:15)
Title: Landscape Forays: stumbling through the sublime

Abstract: I am aware that I have carried out various landscape research projects which have been subtly infiltrated by ideas of the romantic and the sublime. I have, for example, been part of long voyages by sea, in a tiny, seemingly insignificant rowing boat; I have worked with displaced seafarers on an obsolete cargo ship, observing them utilize a landscape not their own; and have trodden the path of late 19th century ethnographic voyagers, analyzing their search for authentic antidote to modern life.

Although not stated, such projects have been largely motivated by my own desire for a particular kind of immersive experience, one where I could test my own limits through being in / journeying through a landscape or place far from home. Dressing this desire up within structured research projects, with their own distinct aims and methods, has provided legitimate means of both having the experience to begin with, but also containing it within structured discourse.

In this paper, by contrast, I want to reflect on the place of such ideas on relatively unplanned incursions into the landscape, carried out not as part of any research agenda, but on the basis of a good idea at the time. In particular I want to focus on what happens when forays into the wild go awry. Part performance and part contextualized delivery, the paper will incorporate fictionalized narration, sound and image, to holistically explore the varying psychological state of the lone but determined walker.


Presenter: Simon Warner
When: Paper session 11 (Day 2, Sharpham 10:45)
Title: Landscape as sign language
This paper will be introduced by Hal Moggridge

Abstract: Newly holistic attitudes to landscape have revived interest in the environmental aesthetics of Jay Appleton, whose pioneering book The Experience of Landscape appeared in 1975. Professor Appleton died in 2015, and his final collaboration was an exhibition ‘Image, Instinct and Imagination – Landscape as Sign Language’ in which he restated the basic principles of Prospect-Refuge theory accompanied by my photographs of the British countryside. The show opened at the Royal Geographical Society, London in 2014 and has since toured to galleries in Edinburgh, Halifax and Bath.

My paper illustrates key points in Jay Appleton’s argument using images from the exhibition. His interests chime with phenomenological perspectives in locating an appreciation of landscape in hunter-gatherer instincts for shelter and vantage, and his classification of different types of ‘Prospect’ offers a cogent explanation for the persistence of certain conventions in landscape art and landscape gardening, for example the continuance of 18th century rules of composition in scenic photography. Above all, arguing from a Darwinian position, Jay Appleton sees beauty as functional and our ‘desire’ for views and open spaces an adaptation of instincts for survival.

I work as a landscape photographer, filmmaker and researcher. I held a NESTA Fellowship 2006-8 and was long-listed for the Northern Art Prize 2011-12. In 2016 I am contributing landscape films to 3 different exhibitions celebrating the Capability Brown tercentenary.


Presenter: Jan van Boeckel
When: Paper session 13 (Day 2, Sharpham 09:45)
Title: The landscape thinks itself in me

We usually take for granted that painters look at their landscape motif, and not the other way round. But what may be taking place is a more subtle movement in both directions, a reciprocity between one’s whole embodied being and the world outside. Through artful activity, we can strive to let the landscape in its specificity enter into us, and allow it to emerge in the form of a painting or other artwork. When painting, Cézanne famously said, “the landscape thinks itself in me … and I am its consciousness.” His work is founded on a partnership between nature and the human mind. For him there was a clear sense of initiative emanating from the visible in external nature.

Reflecting on this, Merleau-Ponty noted that the roles between the one who creates and that what he or she paints (“the visible”) inevitably change, and this may be the reason why so many painters have said that things look at them. At a point it may become impossible to distinguish between who sees and who is seen, who paints and what is painted.

In my presentation I focus on this phenomenon. I discuss how participants in artmaking practices such as “wildpainting” can be encouraged to seek a connection with place. I will contrast this experience of surrendering oneself to an artful process with other ways of engaging with place in which preconceived scientific knowledge “inserts itself” between the perceiving subject and the circumambient universe.


Presenter: Dr Julio Pastore and Moirika Reker
When: Paper session 12 (Day 2, Sharpham 10:15)
Title: Landscape aesthetics and Landscape Architecture

Abstract: Landscape architecture has been deeply affected in the 20th century with the gradual discarding/covering up of “landscape” – its aesthetical/existential density expressed in a “dialectic between the sublime and the picturesque” and praised by painters, geographers, poets and landscape architects of previous centuries. Its poetics subsumed in a debate between a “formalist modernism blind to the contradictions of nature”, and the misplacements of an “idealistic environmentalism”. (Robert Smithson, 1973)

However, despite “decades of rejection”, reputed theorists and landscape architects have kept the relation between design and landscape present – either explicitly or implicitly. This persistence should be questioned: what is it that cannot be taken apart from landscape architecture, if we want a design that expresses our attachments to the world?

Eric Dardel (1952) wrote, “landscape […] questions the totality of the human being, its existential attachments with the Earth […] as a place, basis and means to their realization”. According to Burle Marx (In Jacques Leenhardt,1994) “landscape is defined by an aesthetic demand, which is neither luxury nor waste, but an absolute need for human life”. We believe that this character of real requirement, of need, in the landscape experience remains at the basis of landscape architecture.

We will read the works of Steven Krog, James Corner and others under the light of Dardel and Smithson to seek how the profound meanings of landscape experience reflect in Landscape Architecture Theory and in its Practice – and if/how they still relate with the sublime and the picturesque.


Presenter: Samantha Wilson
When: Paper session 12 (Day 2, Sharpham 10:45)
Title: Framing the View:  The Aesthetics of Astonishment and Contemplation in the Expanding Industry Surrounding the Appreciation of Nature
Abstract: This presentation will examine one of least discussed aspects of the 18th century British sublime; the model of spectatorship that it prescribed for those who wished to experience its transcendental properties. Rhetoric dedicated to the model described it as a precarious place, somewhere which allowed the viewer to be both close enough to be immersed within the landscape and yet far enough away to allow for the detached contemplation. The aesthetic category seemed, in fact, completely counter intuitive to each of the other categories valued by the period, and yet this precariousness only enhanced its culture and conceptual cache, eventually expanding to initiate its own cultural industry. The aesthetic category and industry both attempted to unravel a larger cultural anxiety over where spectator and natural phenomena should meet. This anxiety was a by-product of both the massive economic and social upheaval caused by industrialization and the increasingly indeterminate relationship that that upheaval produced with regards to the natural landscape.

I will use this discursive lineage to analyze the particular role nature documentaries and tour guides have played in representing our ability to make contact with aspects of the natural sublime. I will compare a key document from the cultural practice, William Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes (1835), to the British Transport Film, The Heart of England (1954), through the patterns of proximity and distance that each presents. Both texts embody the very dialectic that remains at the forefront of the field of environmental aesthetics: the intersection of contemplation and immersion.


Presenter: Cameron Davis
When: Paper session 15 (Day 2, Sharpham 12:00)
Title: The Sublime’s Evolving Story: Animating Considerations for a Studio Practice 

Abstract: This presentation will trace evolving conceptions of the sublime that have informed and animated my studio practice for nearly 40 years. The painting and community art projects reflect, through content and process, a re-consideration of the sublime from a perspective of separation (greater than, larger than, God, and terror), to a perspective of a whole living system in which we dynamically participate (saturated with presence, unbounded and embodied).

I propose to demonstrate this intuitive inquiry through selected early, mid-career, and current projects including the painting series Endless Spring created in collaboration with composer Sam Guarnaccia’s Emergent Universe Oratorio, in consultation with Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, authors of Journey of the Universe. I will share how the role of consciousness and the new sciences can form cultural frameworks that reweave relational and participatory ecological perspectives in light of the ecological urgencies and emergent possibilities in the Anthropocene. The studio process freewheels around these concepts and use of various imagery and sources including: Hindu/yogic practices, Buddhism, Old Greek, Earth-based traditions, esoteric Christianity, and the new sciences, while paired with abstraction that corresponds to the felt and sensed. In this way I attempt to address the permeable nature of the inner and outer, and our perceptual immersion within a living whole.




Presenter: Anna Cottrell
When: Paper session 15 (Day 2, Sharpham 12:30)
Title: Sarah Hall’s Borderlands
Abstract: In Sarah Hall’s The Carhullan Army (2007), a dystopian novel set in a Britain wrecked by environmental disaster, hope comes in the shape of a visionary founder of an all-female, survivalist commune tucked away in the hills of the Cumbrian-Scottish border. Hall’s anonymous narrator, on finally meeting the mysterious leader, thinks, ‘I knew that the territory had somehow gone into the making of her’. This paper explores Hall’s articulations of this interaction between ‘territory’ and human potentiality in The Carhullan Army and The Wolf Border (2015). Its purpose is to catalyse a discussion about the ways in which Hall’s highly politicised vision of contemporary Britain reasserts the power of landscape and the sublime to initiate radical revisions of our concepts of gendered selfhood, autonomy, and community. In The Wolf Border, an animal conservationist called Rachel returns from America to Britain, which she unsparingly summarises as ‘a country particularly owned’; her employer is the powerful and irresponsible Earl of Annerdale, whose whimsical project to reintroduce wolves to Britain Rachel is to oversee. Rachel observes the parochial culture of the estate with distaste, but as the novel progresses, she transforms it into a utopian space – not by means of overt political action, but by taking a very particular form of ownership of her own body and becoming a mother. Hall’s meditations on landscape, embodiment, and rootedness are fearless and electrifying and, above all, urgent: a much-needed rekindling of Romantic sensibility from a feminist perspective.


Presenter: Tom Baskeyfield and Mario Popham
When: Session 15 (Day 2, Sharpham 12:30)
Title: Shaped by Stone
Grit Sap Seam
Setts Cobbles Flags
Walls Roads Paths
Strata to Streets

Teggs Nose is a hill to the east of Macclesfield Town. Quarried for centuries, its stone lines the streets and faces buildings of ‘old Macc’.

What does it mean in this time of deep ecological imbalance to contemplate the relationships between an abandoned quarry and a post-industrial northern town? What might it mean to the people of Macclesfield to reflect on this relationship? How might it alter their relationship to this place…to their home? And how might this translate beyond the old wall-gates of the town and the heather topped waste heaps of Teggs Nose to the broader landscape of Britain?

We explore the relationships between these places through the use of large format film photography, drawing (embossed rubbings), writing, walking and talking.

We propose a presentation of the project and a display of art outcomes (photographs and drawings) presented around the site of Dartington Hall or Sharpham House (propped against trees and up against buildings, inside / outside). To encourage further engagement with the themes of the work, we propose to invite symposium members on a walk around the works where participants will be encouraged to offer written reflections on their relationship to stone, landscape and place to be shared and ultimately reconfigured as an accompaniment to the work. 

We ask the question: How are we shaped by stone?


Presenter: Dr Bruno Duarte
When: Paper session 16 (Day 2, Sharpham 12:30)
Title: Physics as Art: Friedrich Schlegel’s History of Nature

Abstract: In 1800, the year that saw the publication of Schelling´s “Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature”, Friedrich Schlegel set out to develop his own conception of a “Philosophy of Physics” containing “a characteristic of nature as that of an infinite animal, an infinite plant and an infinite mineral”, the sum of which would then come to engender “the natural History of Nature”. Schlegel´s idea of a higher “Physics of the universe” was meant both as a reappraisal of the empiricism of “natural Physics” and as a divinatory gesture, encapsulated in what he termed “divine Logic”, as exemplified in the equation: “Formation: Religion = Nature: Physics – All formation [Bildung] is compatible.” At the core of this was the conviction that “Physics as a whole is an art and not a science”, and that “many of the early founders of modern physics need not be seen as philosophers, but as artists.”
In the same way, any attempt at a redefinition of a Philosophy of Nature would have to call into question Philosophy as such. Being by nature antithetical and angular shaped, every “philosophical substance” needed to be liquefied in the eyes of nature. Ultimately, a hazardous conceptual experiment was at stake, at the center of which was not the outcome, but the process itself implied in the study of form: the form of Philosophy, and, by extension, of all things. In that same process, nature would come to play the role not of the inert object, but that of the acting subject.




Workshop Information is here