With my new moving image project, The Landowner, I'm gathering together the last few years' worth of research and experimentation under one canopy. And not before time. This is the first iteration of a landscape project built around a character, a persona if you like, someone you'll find almost anywhere in the Borders, town and country. Landowning in the Borders is a feisty topic. We have two hereditary dukes who own most of Southern Scotland and a raft of smaller toffs, wealthy farmers and other 'private' individuals who carve up the rest. If you live here you'll meet them eventually. Some are wonderful people, some not so much, as you'll find anywhere in any social setting. Above and beyond the individuals what interest me is the established system (and here it is very much established) along with the traditions, assumptions, behaviours and attitudes that humans adopt vis á vis land use, land ownership and of course landscape itself, the wider field of artistic investigation.
In all of this it's important for me to avoid a literal approach to any of the concepts, themes or topics that I want to investigate around landscape. My first short Landowner film therefore leans heavily on ambiguity, uncertainty, disruption, allusion, connotation and non-linear narrative, alluding to some of the tropes and clichés of the eerie, the unsettled and the genre of folk-horror. It's through these different lenses that I've come to understand the disputed, contested and often inexplicable landscapes surrounding me.
I've taken great care with the sound design, resulting from my tried and tested experimental methodology. I'm fascinated by the chemistry between image and sound, between film-sound theory and practice. Future iterations will likely make do with less and less material until I get right down to the bone, the core of what it is I'm trying to do.
When I was looking at an outfit for the role at a very posh country gents shop in Kelso, a well-to-do hunting/shooting/fishing chap burst in dressed exactly the way I wanted. There's a specific 'look' to be acquired. To be honest some of the kit is of high quality, comfortable and functional for long days in the field. I did however pass on the £350 wellies.