Memorious Earth : A Longitudinal Study
- Corbel Stone Press
- Xylem Books
- 2018 ISBN 9781999971847
- 172 pages
- 20.5 × 13.5 × 1 cm
Between 2010 and 2015, Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton produced a series of collaborative artworks, publications and editions about the upland landscapes of south-western Cumbria, in northern England. Key to their work has been the development of the list-poem, which, at its most fundamental, magnifies the act of attention and the facility of language – through naming – to refer to things, places, to life itself. The texts they assemble frequently contain material drawn from a variety of sources: pollen diagrams, dialect glossaries, cartographic records, archaeological tracts – but their repurposing of this material as art is deeply humane, aimed at drawing the attention towards the lost, forgotten or overlooked. It celebrates the poetry and beauty that such attention can reveal, and gently urges each of us towards a more intimate relationship with our natural surroundings.
In January of 2015, the Cumbrian charity Lakeland Arts staged an exhibition of their work at Abbot Hall and Blackwell. The show incorporated printed matter, artefacts, assemblages, music and film from the previous five years, along with new works, including a wolf skeleton focal piece, generously loaned from Kendal Museum.
Memorious Earth collects the artists’ Cumbrian work between 2010 and 2015, incorporating all their previously published (and now out-of-print) text works with an introductory overview written by the artists themselves. First published by their own Corbel Stone Press in 2015, this new Xylem Books edition includes two subsequently commissioned pieces, Thwaite and Furness Fells, as well as a gazetteer of place-names from the south-western uplands. Memorious Earth is a vital document of what must surely constitute one of the most significant small-press collaborations of recent years.
‘Memorious Earth addresses highly debated issues of environmental histories (and futures) in upland Britain with an understated poise and perspective. … Richardson and Skelton take on the role as etymological archivists of absence: their salvage work attempting to re-enchant and anima(la)te a seemingly empty landscape.’
(Rob St. John, Caught by the River)
‘Their work – sometimes jointly authored – is minutely attentive to the specificities of the gone and the will-be-gone. Place names and plant names assume the status of chants or litanies: spectral taxa incanted as elegy, or as a means to conjure back.’
(Robert Macfarlane, The Guardian)
‘The work of Skelton and Richardson displays a deep kinship with the notion of ecosystems as interacting assemblies of aware, thinking entities …’
(Rory Gibb, The Quietus)