Peer Led Session
The peer led session was a bit thin on the ground again, but it was still a valuable session. We mostly talked about practicalities around hand in dates and what is needed for when. There has been confusion at times with the calendars not being up to date or shifting expectations, so it is important to manage these dates ourselves and keep on track. I have not found the Gantt charts to be very helpful so far, but I have been scribbling on my giant calendar a great deal and am able to reference it to tally weeks with dates which has been incredibly helpful. I am trying to stick to a schedule for writing blogs, as well as time to research and read every week.
A chance conversation with an old friend led me to Ithel Calquhoun’s book, The Living Stones. Calquhoun was a surrealist painter, born in India to Scottish parents, she eventually moved to Cornwall. Drawn to the famed light as well as searching for a place of refuge, she bought a small shed in Lamorna where she would retreat from her busier London life. She wrote The Living Stones during this time, covering everything from walking trips to village fairs and feast days, neolithic stones and social gatherings in Penzance. Not quite a travelogue, not quite a research tome, I found myself familiar with every step of her journey. While she was somewhat of an esoteric spiritualist, referring to the spirit of a place quite literally, I too recognise the feelings she described in her rambles through Cornwall. Lamorna is a special place to me, as it is where my wedding reception was held, and as the weather was lovely and we have been researching a story about the sea bucca of Lamorna, we decided to venture out and get some establishing shots. I ended up reading portions of The Living Stones while my husband took shots of the cove, while a solitary seal popped its head out of the water just often enough to keep your attention.
Calquhoun was a fascinating character, and while I had seen her paintings, I was largely unfamiliar with her. The National Trust was home to a large portion of her collection, but the collection was recently purchased by the Tate.
Pulling this thread also led me to this small film by the Tate:
Stewart Lee may seem like an unlikely champion of Colquhoun’s work, but was in fact a key support in getting her books reprinted. He stumbled across an original, signed copy in a bookstore when he was younger and became a staunch fan.
I’m also struggling my way through Will Self’s Psychogeography. I don’t particularly dislike Will Self, I own several of his books and used to enjoy his newspaper columns, but there is something offputting about this collection. I haven’t been able to put my finger on why exactly, but while I connected immediately with Calquhoun’s non-narrative, Self’s book is not as emotionally available. In spite of this, I have found some very resonant experiences, mostly centred around bad experiences with US immigration officials!
He says of his purpose, in walking from London to New York (with the exception of one airline flight to cover the vast ocean issue…)
“I resolved to walk to New York because I had business there, to explore; and, also, because in so doing, I hoped to suture up one of the wounds in my own, divided psyche: to sew together my American and my English flesh, my mother’s and my father’s body bags, sundered by marriage, rived by death.” (Self and Steadman 2007)
I have often wondered if I have left my children with similar issues, but only time will tell.
I have also found a book called Rising Ground – A Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden, which is specifically about Cornwall and seems to tally with my interests very well. I could not find a library copy, so I have ordered a paperback and am looking forward to its arrival. This article written by the author for the Guardian was interesting, even if it inspired a lot of vitriol in the comments section!
The French Dispatch
The French Dispatch is Wes Anderson’s most recent film. Set in the fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, it is an anthology piece centred around a newspaper magazine written in France, but published in Kansas. As a result, many of the writers or people featured in the magazine are travellers of one stripe or another. Four stories and an obituary are featured in the film, and towards the end, there was an interaction that struck me particularly hard. Jeffrey Wright’s character, a journalist covering a private dinner with The Commissaire of the Ennui police force, gets caught up in a mad dash kidnapping plot. He is speaking to Lt. Nescaffier (Steve Park) the police chef who has foiled the plot at great risk to himself.
Lt. Nescaffier: I’m a foreigner, you know.
Roebuck Wright: This city is full of us, isn’t it? I’m one myself.
Lt. Nescaffier: Seeking something missing, missing something left behind.
Roebuck Wright: Maybe with good luck, we’ll find what eluded us in the places we once called home.
Making Sense of Place: Multidisciplinary Perspectives Stephanie K Hawke
Inside vs. Outside
(Convery et al. 2014 )
BBC RADIO 4. 2016. “Stewart Lee on Ithell Colquhoun ~ Books and Authors.” YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08SLzz_Qpko [accessed 1 Mar 2022].
COLQUHOUN, Ithell. 1950. La Cathédrale Engloutie [Oil on canvas]. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/ithell-colquhoun-la-cathedrale-engloutie [accessed 1 Mar 2022].
MARSDEN, Philip. 2014. “Cornish Identity: Why Cornwall Has Always Been a Separate Place.” [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/apr/26/survival-of-cornish-identity-cornwall-separate-place [accessed 1 Mar 2022].
SELF, Will and Ralph STEADMAN. 2007. Psychogeography : Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place. New York: Bloomsbury.
SPRATT, Annie. 2016. White and Green State Maps [Online image]. https://unsplash.com/photos/AFB6S2kibuk.
TATE. 2021. “Queer Cornwall: Marlow Moss, Gluck and Ithell Colquhoun in Lamorna | Tate.” YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaOUpC2Dzgw [accessed 1 Mar 2022].