By Our Selves.
No, not the film by Andrew Kötting but rather the book that accompanies the film.
(If you should not know, to quote somebody else, the film involves “‘Toby Jones, Andrew Kötting (as a straw bear) and their merry men revive the wanderings and wonderings of Northamptonshire peasant poet John Clare, on a quest “for scenes where man hath never trod’.” Oh and add Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore and others to those wanderings and wonderings.)
At the last point of looking, this seemed to be one of those rare items that doesn’t seem to be reviewed, written about, pondered and considered all over the ether.
It only seems to be available via an organisation called The Swedenborg Society (and sold by them at a well known ether commerce site but not actually sold by that well known site itself).
It doesn’t even seem to get a mention on Andrew Kötting’s own site. The film does but not the book.
Hmmm. Slightly curious.
Anyways, it arrived through the letter box a while ago and it’s a fine publication. A lovely, solid, almost slab-in-miniature collection of images, thoughts and notes that sit alongside and intertwine with the film. A “posh” scrapbook in a way.
I think what I am drawn to more than the book and film’s specific dealings with John Clare’s story is the imagery and a more abstract sense of a connection to or exploration of layers and roots of the land’s tales and history…
Oh and the sheer cheek and chutzpah of the whole project, which seems to involve getting together some kind of more than reasonable pile of money through the modern day version of “now, if everybody chips in a bit we can get this done” and more traditional funding organisations, roping in and/or bringing together a reasonably well known, respected, often mainstream actor, a rather well known writer of comic books, a rather well known writer of wandering books and so forth…
…and then putting together something which is sort of fine/experimental art but also that seems just as much to be about a bunch of mates mucking about and having a laugh while managing to delve through those just mentioned layers and tales of the land…
…and coming out the other side full of (I hope) smiles with something that… I can’t quite put my finger on it but as a piece of work it seems to have a certain arty accessibility, to have had a reach out into the world that seems to step beyond the expected well defined routes of such experimental work and in some way to link back (without being retro in nature) to a time/the spirit of a time when independent but relatively mainstream film/television production, broadcast and distribution could include the experimentation of say Derek Jarman and Ghosts In The Machine.
File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings
Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #221/365: A Straw Bear went a-wandering; a once Berberian sound engineer follows past footsteps, other boot filling and less than but two penn’orth worth on a roll of music