Into The Mountain – A Meet
24 November 2018, 10am to 5pm
Into The Mountain – A Meet brought together practitioners and enthusiasts interested in the intersections and conversations between the arts, dance, mountain and hill walking cultures. Together we critically explored through talks, discussions and sessions, how women (for clarity this includes cis women, trans women and intersex women) encounter and engage with mountainous environments, considering both historical and current perspectives of gender in relationship to landscapes. We also delved into the entanglements between dance, mountaineering, contemporary feminist writing, science and multiple arts practices.
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The morning sessions will start with an introduction to the Into The Mountain project by Simone Kenyon. She will share her motivations and experiences developed over the past 6 years of walking and working in the Cairngorms and the research that has led to this project.
Session 1: Women in the mountains
Taking Nan Shepherd’s writing and her embodied relationships with the Cairngorms as a point of departure, this session introduces a multiplicity of women’s experience in the mountains. Each speaker will present for 20 minutes before opening up the discussion to the room.
Speakers: Pammy Johal, Sam Walton, Dr Louise Ann Wilson.
Chair: Professor Dee Heddon
Pammy Johal – Drawing from her personal experience of supporting and enabling marginalised communities to physically and psychologically explore mountain environments, in particular BAME women through her role as the founder of Backbone CIC, Pammy will outline the barriers that exist for marginalised communities in building a relationship with mountainous environments Considering the mountain as a ‘neutral’ space, with which diverse cultures and cultural values can connect and engage through multiple experiences and practices, Pammy will go on to discuss the benefits of building a relationship with mountainous environments for the groups she works with.
Dr Samantha Walton – Samantha’s talk explores the philosophy and science underpinning Shepherd’s writing of the mountain and explores the value of reading The Living Mountain in the context of our current ecological crisis.
Dr Louise Ann Wilson – Louise will present – Dorothy Wordsworth’s Legacy: A feminine ‘material’ sublime approach to the creation of Applied Scenography in mountainous landscapes. This presentation argues that a uniquely ‘feminine’ (material) sublime approach to mountains exists and has for generations but remains under recognised and on the fringes of mainstream dialogues, which – historic and present day – are dominated by masculine ‘transcendent’ sublime accounts, encounters and endeavours. The presentation explores how in Early Romanticism the concept of the masculine sublime – an intellectual and spiritual experience that transcends physical matter – came to dominate discourses on landscape. It then proposes how, in contrast, the feminine ‘material’ sublime is concerned with being located in and materially present to the physical landscape, not as a place from which to escape or disappear but to ‘reappear’ – a process she will argue is transformative and therapeutic.
Session 2: Re-imagining human-mountain collaboration
The afternoon acts as a space to re-imagine our human-mountain interactions and connections by paying attention to and bringing awareness of the multiple ways in which collaborations can occur with its more-than-human life. The afternoon will split into 3 simultaneous sessions led by visual artist Ilana Halperin, artist Heather Barnett and dance performers from the Into The Mountain company.
Sessions led by: Ilana Halperin, Heather Barnett and members of the Into The Mountain company
Ilana Halperin – THE MOUNTAIN INSIDE – Geologic Intimacy. Physical Geology. For The Mountain Inside, Ilana will share a core sample of field notes assembled over twenty years, while working on active, quiet and sleeping mountains. She will situate her work within discrete legacies of feminist land art practice, built on intuitive approaches to engaging with landscape and wider natural phenomena through corporeal understanding. Remote field work, gestural performance, newly imagined personal geologic vocabularies. Can we begin to understand ourselves as part of a very long geological family tree? What does it mean to be human and rock and both at the same time?
Heather Barnett – Heather will start the session with a short presentation that focuses her recent involvement in Field_Notes – Ecology of Senses, an art & science field laboratory organized by the Bioart Society at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Lapland/Finland. She will highlight the ‘reciprocal sensing’ approach the group developed through collectively exploring the terrain of the Saana hills. She will follow this with a group urban herding experiment.
Laura Bradshaw – Movement workshop with Laura Bradshaw, Glasgow-based artist and movement practitioner.
Closing Discussions: The day will end with a round up conversation chaired by Professor Dee Heddon and time for smaller group and individual conversations through some scheduled social time.
Throughout the day there will be a selection of books and artists films presented that connect and expand upon the themes of the day.
Simone Kenyon is an Edinburgh based artist, choreographer, dancer and academic. Working for the past 20 years across dance and interdisciplinary arts, she creates work that encompasses movement practices, ecology and place, walking arts and participatory events for both urban and rural contexts. Her solo work considers walking as a choreographic practice and sensory perception of environments in relation to place and performance.
Pammy Johal is an educator, training consultant, and founder of Backbone CIC. She holds a BA in Recreational Studies specialising in Outdoor Education and Community Development. With over 25 years’ experience in facilitating environmental leadership projects, she is regarded as an expert in her field for engaging marginalised communities, particularly Black and Ethnic Minority women in the environmental sector. Her work has featured on national television, radio and in environmental magazines, including BBC’s Countryfile, Ramblings and Outdoor programme. She has a passion for wild open spaces taking her on numerous expeditions worldwide.
Dr Samantha Walton is an academic, poet and publisher based in Bristol. Her research concerns the relationship between human health and ecology, and she is the principle investigator on the AHRC-funded project, Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing: Connecting Health and the Environment Through Literature. Samantha’s first poetry collection, Self Heal, is published by Boiler House Press (2018). She has written the first monograph devoted to Nan Shepherd’s writing: The Living World: Nan Shepherd and Environmental Thought, which is forthcoming from Punctum Books in 2019.
Dr. Louise Ann Wilson is an artist, scenographer and researcher who creates site-specific walking-performances in mountainous and rural landscapes that give-voice to ‘missing’ or marginal life-events – with transformative and therapeutic outcomes. Her work has addressed terminal illness, bereavement, in/fertility and involuntary childlessness, the effects of aging and the impact of change.
Professor Dee Heddon holds the James Arnott Chair at the University of Glasgow. She has written extensively about walking and art, with a particular focus on women artists. Her ongoing art project, a collaboration with Misha Myers, is called The Walking Library. This brings together books, reading and walking to explore the interrelations between them. Each library is filled with book suggested to carry on a specific walk. The Walking Library’s most recent editions are The Walking Library for Women Walking and The Walking Library for a Wild City. Dee’s research featured recently on BBC R4’s The Art of Now: Women Who Walk.
Ilana Halperin is an artist, originally from New York, based in Glasgow. Her work explores the relationship between geology and daily life. She combines fieldwork in diverse locations – on volcanoes in Hawaii, caves in France, geothermal springs in Japan – and in museums, archives and laboratories, with an active studio-based practice. Her work has featured in solo exhibitions worldwide including Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité, Artists Space in New York and the Manchester Museum. She was the Inaugural Artist Fellow at National Museums Scotland and Artist-Curator of Geology for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. The Library of Earth Anatomy, a permanent commission at The Exploratorium in San Francisco opened in 2017. Schering Stiftung, Berlin have published a monograph on her work entitled New Landmass. Currently, she is exploring the Karst landscapes of Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan for The Rock Cycle. Her new project Minerals of New York will open at Leeds Arts University, and then tour, in 2019. Ilana shares her birthday with the Eldfell volcano in Iceland.
Heather Barnett is an artist, researcher and educator working with natural phenomena complex systems and biological design, often in collaboration with scientists, artists, participants and organisms. Using diverse media including printmaking, photography, animation, video, installation and participatory experimentation, and working with living materials and imaging technologies, her work explores how we observe, represent and understand the world around us. Current work includes The Physarum Experiments, an ongoing ‘collaboration’ with an intelligent slime mould; Animal Collectives Leverhulme Artist in Residence with Swansea University; and Nodes and Networks, a series of collective interdisciplinary biosocial experiments.