Folds and Porticos
of walking in landscapes.
PVAF are inviting members (if not a pvaf member then please join, we welcome new members) to participate in this exciting creative collaboration.
Responding to the act of transhumance and reflecting also upon the Grand Tour to Italy.
Join us for a day of creative endeavour through a short walk to an upland shieling ground and fold in one of the beautiful Angus glens.
Date: Sat 25th July 2015. The day is free, just a willingness to participate.
Please email PVAF if you would like further information and or wish to participate in this exciting collaborative event.
From the mid 17th until early 20th century people moved their livestock to summer grazing grounds called shielings in upland glens or remote moorland. Transhumance as this is called was little written about for it was the act of a social group that were in the main pastoral subsistence farmers and of little import. They lived a life of toil with few rewards, finding pleasure in the small rather than the grand.
There were tacit mechanisms that informed this act of transhumance and living at the shielings. Skill and knowledge of the land and livestock were fundamental to this tenuous way of life as was knowledge of the weather and its sometimes dire consequences. They had a rudimentary lifestyle that meant closeness to the landscape, to nature and the elements.
They have left us with little more than shadows, minimal structures that can only hint at their lives and their world, their glens, their hills.
Shieling huts and folds (small animal enclosures) are all that remain. These are the portal upon which our imagination can enter their lives and world. Did they recognise the wonder of their surrounding landscape, that moments of sublimity were being sought by others in far off landscapes. Or did they, on occasion, recognise the sublime in their own microcosm?
While they packed their belongings and tools, preparing for a few weeks away from their farmtouns (the elderly probably remained and the men folk would return to mind the crops) another social group, that of the rich and carefree were packing bags and trunks to make a journey of their own.
The journey of the well-to-do however was not a few miles with livestock to an upland glen and a small shieling hut with few comforts but on what was to become known as the ‘Grand Tour’, setting out to travel hundreds of miles across Europe, principally to Italy - Venice, Rome and Naples. Their concern was not the quality of grazing and livelihood but transport, quality of inns, suitable horses and letters of introduction. Theirs was a year and more long tour rather than toil.
This parallel existence and of great divide foreshadows our lives today.
In many ways the existence of the pastoral farmers and their routine of transhumance was anachronistic, an end to a way of life, now rendered into tales of folk unknown. Theirs was a true connection to the landscape that we are now trying to redeem and encompass through ecology, a search for an aesthetically pure landscape and simplicity of being.
What those on the ‘Grand Tour’ brought us back however was cultural sophistication and possibilities. Their wealth bought a sense of positive investigation and adventure that would ultimately create for us all a broader way of living and thought,admiration of European culture, its art and its architecture, eliciting influence to this day.
Centuries later our awareness is brought back to a realisation of cultures, that have their own unique ways, an awareness of the land and man’s impact upon it, of the climate and of a sense of place that ‘grand tourists’ could not imagine or had to discover for themselves in another land.
The people of the glens struggled to survive but had a connection to their landscape that we now with all our ‘sophistication’ seek. This ‘collaboration’ will be to follow and record a latter day transhumance, walking to the shieling ground and its folds being a metaphor for the movement of people, not just its parallel of the grand tour.
The walk of just under two miles to the shieling fold will be a multi disciplinary adventure, taking in the sites as if on the grand tour, recording these as participants wish (on supplied sketchbooks) but it is hoped with invention and reflection.
A collective ‘recording’, a visual journal and memoir of the day will be collated and made into an artwork and video, interspersed with readings from actual journals made during the days of the ‘Grand Tour’.
Ultimately we will be paying homage and remembrance to those who lived and toiled in the glens, whose structures, though not of porticos and columns now lie silent.
The act of walking has a long history in the arts. From poets and writers to visual and conceptual artists such as Richard Long, Hamish Fulton and Janet Cardiff**.
Our aim is to initiate contributor’s creativity, to inspire and generate ideas through referencing transhumance to the shieling ground and folds, a primary act by the subsistence pastoral farmers, with that of an altogether different journey which was of wealth, social and cultural, the Grand Tour to Italy.
Recording can be through drawing, writing, photography, sound, and installation of found objects.
Sketchbooks will be supplied and work collated for possible video, publication, exhibition.
Experimentation, improvising and fun will be encouraged.
The walk will be lead by George Logan (acting ‘bear leader’ for the day) who has an ongoing project based around upland folds.
The round trip is at most 5 miles (1.87mls to the first fold and lunch) with frequent stops (mirroring the grand tour) to draw, write, create.
A reasonable level of fitness is required. Most walking is on a good track and some moorland, there will be one small stream to cross.
Walking boots, waterproof clothing, etc will be required.
There is reasonable parking at the start of the walk but car share is encouraged. (we will help arrange once we have numbers etc.)
Please bring some lunch and items to share, i.e. bread, olives, cheeses, meat, etc. In the spirit of Scottish pastoral farmers and or grand tourists in Italy.
The walk and folds are in the lovely small Glen Beanie just off Glenisla near Forter. A map and directions will be supplied.
Transhumance - the seasonal movement of people with their livestock to upland grazing grounds
Fold - a rudimentary enclosure for animals, principally for milch (milk) cows.
Portico - a porch leading to the entrance of a building, comprising columns.
Bear leader - someone who acted as guide and chaperone on the Grand Tour.
** Janet Cardiff: http://www.cardiffmiller.com/artworks/walks/index.html#
Hamish Fulton: http://www.hamish-fulton.com/
If interested and wish to participate please email PVAF