Over the last few months I've had the opportunity and pleasure to work with the artist David Rickard, in quite an inspiring context. David, whose remarkable career as artist has been marked by a particularly complex and deft relationship to space, object, architecture and process, has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Open Forest scheme.
After being shortlisted for his idea David, very generously, began a conversation about how poetry might find a place in his idea. His proposal was to engage with Fielder Forest in Northumberland and create a trail throughout unmarked woods. The rail would be made of a reclaimed house or building, stripped and dissembled into the very rawest wood of a structure, bare planks, and on each of these planks, following a carefully selected route, would be inscribed one word. This trail would then be read as it is followed, neither a narrative, or a poem, or a story, but all of these. And then, vitally, the trail and its posts would rot, become once again the forest, and so my words would be edited by the very forest itself.
From the Jerwood Open Forest blog, David wrote: "Returnings: 29 Jul 2016 - So far my search for a forest has been headed simultaneously in two very different directions. Firstly, for a growing, photosynthesising cluster of trees, a forest in the current tense and secondly for a building with timber bones, a forest in the past sense. Eventually these two will come together, but for now they are poles apart. The living forest will be a plantation, established and grown for the eventual yield of its timber and Kielder Forest has been identified as the prime candidate – an expanse of 600 square kilometres of forest stretching across the northern half of Northumberland.