Sue Palmer – Transience

me in night

This web based artwork has been made in response to the Neroche landscape, in the Blackdown Hills on the Somerset-Devon border, as part of a series of artist commissions called ‘Revealing the Landscape’, produced by the Neroche Scheme and Somerset Art Works.

Working over the 11 months between January and November 2008, my interest has been in finding and tracking some of the species and events passing through the Neroche landscape, and to make an artwork that maps a place in transition, one that is porous, inter-connected and full of visitors.

Through walking and driving, encounter and conversation, I have collected a diversity of materials and ideas which I have processed into a linked site; ‘Transience’ maps some of the migrations and movements of seeds, birds, earth, butterflies, people, weather, satellites, water, cars and moths.

Paradoxically, in order to make visible something that is on the move, I’ve captured it, located it, given it a link, and in doing that of course, the wind is stilled, the actuality of the landscape absent, and the sense of ephemerality that I have been working with in my collecting process, replaced by other kinds of track marks and timelines.

As many people find, the Blackdown Hills are quite mysterious; I’m not alone in finding that I spent much of my time there lost, confused by the geography, the signposts, the multiple hills and valleys, disorientated, weathered. And some of the most interesting events came out of those unexpected encounters, as well as from looking long and hard at specific places and stories. All these influences have found their way into the hand-drawn-traced ‘map’ of Neroche.

My collecting has been centred around research, instinctive connection, and invitations to people to engage with the project. I have always looked to interpret the notion of ‘passing through’ in the broadest terms - from a migrant moth to traffic passing, to a distant historical event - and then to find relationships between these events: a bird saved from the edge of a road and another killed by a car, a monument built to a Duke and another built by a farmer trying to sell his cider, swallows passing between Neroche and Africa and a woman arriving from Hungary to learn English.

Over the course of making the Transience project, I’ve kept a blog of the process of collecting and making:

From the Media link on the Transience menu bar, there are direct links from many of the 24 media files to the relevant posts on the blog, which detail the context and making of that particular video or image.

Sue Palmer

November 2008