From Hill To Sea:
Dispatches From The Fife Psychogeographical Collective, 2010 - 2014
Published in Nov 2015
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It often happens. A sensation at the edge of perception. A glint of light, a fluttering of movement. The feeling that some-thing has flitted across the threshold of the senses.
Fife: almost an island. Betwixt and between the cities of Edinburgh and Dundee; an ancient Pictish Kingdom, bounded by the Firths of Forth and Tay.
Where a Brutalist New Town is built on a 4,000 year old henge and 18 feet menhirs brood on a ladies golf course, under the shadow of Largo Law.
Spectral trees drift above the plague graves of Devilla Forest, whilst sky-facing cup and ring carvings lie hidden on a hillside near Burntisland, a distant echo of their post-industrial landscape counterparts:
Ideas crackle, tussle and fizz throughout the ether over this land-formed Scottie dogs head. Kirkcaldy's famous son Adam Smith tossed a large brick into the pool of economic theory with The Wealth Of Nations (and let us not forget The Theory of Moral Sentiments) written on a site now housing Greggs the Bakers. The self-interest of the baker to supply us with sausage rolls and steak bakes is alive and well.
You can take a walk with the ghosts through Little Moscow where Lawrence Storione founded the Anarchist Communist League in Cowdenbeath and West Fife elected Willie Gallacher as the first Communist MP in 1935. In Lumphinnans you will find Gagarin Way, a street tagged in honour of the Soviet cosmonaut.
In Methil and East Wemyss walk the streets and landscapes which inspired the painter William Gear, a member of CoBrA, the post-war, European, avant-garde movement that fed into the Situationist International. In Rosyth,'The Wilderness' most definitely does exist.
Crowned by thorns
from the future?
Moving outwards, there are encounters with the uncanny in Edinburgh; a psychedelic tiger in Glasgow and Kurt Schwitters in Newcastle. We bounce on Jeremy Deller's blow up Stonehenge and perform John Cage's 4'33" on a train.
The presence and wonder of non-human worlds weave throughout the book. From archipelagos of imaginary islands within lichen formations, to the forms and colours of the wild wood.
Corvids, song thrushes, buzzards and birds of the coast all sing, soar and chant whilst a serendipitous encounter with a kingfisher occurs at the side of an urban canal in Huddersfield.
I'm hit by a jolt of blue at the periphery of vision. Surely not. For I second, I wonder if I've imagined this, when it happens again, like a razor, scything through the twilight which descends to alight barely 10 feet away on the canal bank. A twitching ball of nervous energy, curious. It appears to pull in all the surrounding light and radiate it back. The illuminated blues of lapis lazuli, golden orange, red flecks. A shape-shifting intensity of colours.
From Hill to Sea. Wandering beyond the paths and roads through forest, edgeland, town and city. Thin places, worlds within worlds, voids, wild woods and coffin tracks. At the coast, shifting thresholds of sea and sky; land and tidal flows:
From the railway bridge over the Forth
a blue-tinged wash of elemental greys.
Sea and sky bleed
into a Rothko memory
Walking as being-in-the-world, in the flux and flow of the present moment. Old Heraclitus was right, you never step in the same burn or river twice.
Questions of the drift, transitions and marking seasonal time - The Poppies are in the Field
Mapping the interstices of past, present and possible. Assorted rag-pickings collected and (re)presented along the way.
An expansive psychogeography: the influence of the geographical environment on the human mind in both urban and non-urban contexts. Whilst the Letterists and Situationists developed their psychogeographic activities, during the 1950s, in an urban environment, it is not commonly known that the American anthropologist, J. Walter Fewkes was using the term in a non-urban context in the early 1900s.
Connecting the local to the global and the global to the local: burn, stream, river, estuary, ocean. It's all just a matter of scale.
From Hill to Sea.
From the Kingdom of Fife and beyond.