Given the paucity of context the feedback to my last assignment was as good as it could have been. The edit I made was further cut back and the remnant made some sense; it had an aesthetic coherency that belied it’s lack of narrative structure, however I am pleased with the outcome so far. But if I am to develop this story there needs to be additional avenues to develop and explore.
The treks to Purgatory are ongoing, I have been back three more times in the last week trying to find different light and new perspectives. Skirting around the quarter of an acre that is the extant space of Purgatory – there is a place a hundred yards or less from the current site that was the original settlement site, but which now bears no signature of habitation – is Buswell’s Thicket, and it is an odd place. Whilst Purgatory is a difficult place to get to, miles from anywhere and along a muddy track, sometimes almost impassable, the thicket is slightly further on. It is clearly a managed woodland, there is plenty of evidence of timber as a commodity, planted and sawn, rotted and hewn; this woodland contains more evidences of the traffic of people than Purgatory, and without the need to look very hard.
Sharon has suggested that I ‘place’ Purgatory better, to provide a stronger critical sense of what it was, where it inhabits in non-secular literature in order to provide the viewer a stronger sense of where the work resides; her view of it is different to mine and as she rightly points out there isn’t a definitive, or perhaps in-difinitive reference to it in the bible. I shall consider this very carefully as it will directly affect how the work develops, I am considering a number of alternate strategies, mostly to do with fiction, as I take the work forward.
Buswell’s thicket may be very similar to thickets elsewhere, but I found the space quite curious, perhaps because of it’s geographic location, but the presence or trace of people is very strong. There isn’t a huge refuse dumping problem, but the jetsam of human life isn’t difficult to uncover. The natural ebb and flow of animal life, the predation of birds whose scattered remains are left to the elements, isn’t difficult to discover. A couple – at least – of badger sets, fox droppings, squirrels and other mammals compete with the birds whose numbers include many Red Kites and Buzzards amongst the flocks of starlings, rooks and other less communal species. It is a wild place, but as it is a place provided by man this wildlife presence have the feel of visitors, of tolerated uninvited guests.
I am very attracted to the idea of fiction as a means by which I can talk about, or reveal a truth. Sharon seemed very happy that I have started to reference fiction in my studies and we have discussed strategies by which the work might proceed. The edit that I made suffered from an aesthetic inconsistency, which whilst I feel might not be an issue in a wider body of work, is starkly evident when the image count is so small. It was suggested, and I think this is a very good idea, to consider the narrative as episodic to allow the fiction to twist and turn using the construction of chapters that are aesthetically linked to a development of the story. Bridging images would need to be considered as much as the construction of the flow of dialogue.
People meet in Buswell’s Thicket. They go to quite long lengths to ensure they are away from the threat of interruption. The discard of their trysts are evident across the thicket floor. Used condom’s whose purchase was influenced, it seems, as much by taste as their prophylactic potential lay alongside their open packets; their colours attracting attention, red and yellow against the verdant floor. Other bodily functions are neatly dealt with as well as visitors come prepared with toilet tissue as if expecting to deliver. Maybe it is such a distance that they expect to have to attend to their needs. Lost sunglasses, discarded lager cans – perhaps lovers have shared a post coital drink – lie strewn amongst other evidences. It is a curious place and one that provides a lot of narrative potential.
I am encouraged to continue to develop this work, I have strong sense that I will work it into a piece of fiction about a truth, and be truthful about that telling. Sharon has recommended that I develop more work from the place, develop new perspectives and be tougher about the editing process. There are a good deal of angles that I haven’t explored yet and it may be that Buswell’s Thicket comes into the story, separated as they are by such a short distance.