Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton
Relics is a linguistic exploration of the upland environment around Devoke Water in south-west Cumbria. The landscape is a deforested one, but if there are no longer any great expanses of woodland, there are glimpses – ghost-presences in the toponymic and cartographic record:
Birker Fell (birch), Linbeck (lime), Rowantree How (rowan), Storthes (brushwood), Withy Bottom (willow), Woodend & Wood Knotts
If maps and place-names allude to forests within the historical period, soil core samples offer a vivid material record of the environment reaching far back into prehistory. In the 1960s samples from Devoke Water were taken and the embedded pollen grains were analysed, uncovering a fascinating narrative of plant succession over several millennia. Eleven tree genera were identified, as follows:
Alnus, Betula, Coryloid, Fagus, Fraxinus, Juniperus, Pinus, Quercus, Salix, Tilia & Ulmus
The material presented in Relics is a form of salvage; a dredging of the linguistic record for traces of these lost genera. Each of the eleven trees is visually represented by a trunk cross-section: the innermost ring comprising its earliest linguistic form and the outermost its modern-day equivalent.
But unlike the physical certainty of the soil core, the linguistic record is imperfect: the earliest Indo-European word-forms ultimately stem from an extinct ‘proto-language’ – a hypothetical parent tongue reconstructed from subsequent languages that survived into the written age. By comparison, the landscape itself has an immense capacity to ‘remember’; to record its own history.
This special edition of Relics comprises a series of A2-format prints, produced in a numbered and signed edition of seven for the exhibition Memorious Earth: A Longitudinal Study, at Abbot Hall and Blackwell from January 16th to March 14th, 2015.
Prints are available to purchase individually, or as a set, from the Abbot Hall Gallery Shop. Each of the eleven tree genera are represented, with Ulmus featuring as both elm and wych- elm, and Salix as willow and sallow:
Contact Abbot Hall for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org