Yes, yes! The earth, the earth!*
On the Seeding of PlacePrints
by Gareth Evans
Memory, like the mind and time, is unimaginable without physical dimensions; to imagine it as a physical space is to make it into a landscape in which its contents are located, and what has location can be approached. - Rebecca Solnit, from Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Short notes on a long journey...There is no need to 'introduce' PlacePrints. Dramatist, screenwriter, librettist, writer: David Rudkin is by a considerable margin the most articulate interpreter and analyst of his own remarkable, decades-made and out-reaching body of work. And anyway, he provides rigorously concise openings to each of the profoundly imagined and realised voicings you are about to hear far more effectively than any commentator might.
Rather, this is simply to recall that back in 2008 I approached David, having received substantial support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for a proposal that would eventually become the cross-disciplinary arts project The Re-Enchantment,** I asked him to consider what the concept, with all its attendant contradictions, might mean to him.
Having known and admired his works for both the stage and screen for 20 years at that point, I considered him, alongside much else, to be the most adventurous and viscerally imaginative writer of 'place', regardless of genre or form, on these islands. I was fascinated by how he might respond.
The uttered genesis of PlacePrints (in essence unchanged since) lay in his reply to that invitation, although it is undoubtedly the case that its roots run through all of David's writings, and most likely would have taken on expressive identities regardless of that first conversation. For reasons too dispiriting to enter into here, the commission did not proceed (we might speak of 'capacity' and 'resource' or their lack - if we wished to smear the moment with the effluent of 'administration speak'....
Fortunately David lacked and lacks neither, when it comes to the artistic and ethical integrity required: he, pen in hand, with wandering steps and firm, through these islands took his solitary way; returning, years later, with the texts you have here, embodied - palpably, aurally alive. In them place is presence and present. The past is also present within the sites realised: it is not even 'past'. It is also prescient; indeed, time is a many-chambered place in these pieces. Place is spilling with time/s...
These lines are simply an expression of enormous gratitude to Jack McNamara and New Perspectives for the commitment, understanding, skill and elegance they have bought to this project and its circulation. Without whom, as it is said...And to David, for persisting (I would expect nothing less) in his crafting of this simultaneously singular and multifarious work, one of exacting resonance and relevance, and quite unlike anything yet written about the 'place' of place and the meanings of belonging of the necessity to listen to the land. It knows, and more, much more...
Oh...Talk to the wind. As well beseech the waters of the mountain lake*...Gareth Evans is a writer and curator. *from The Saxon Shore, by David Rudkin **http://www.artevents.info/projects/current/the-re-enchantment