In preparation for their upcoming residency at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Climate Portal, artists Francisco Llinas-Casas and Paria Moazemi-Goodarzi spent time at Bothy Project’s Inshriach Bothy near Aviemore. There they recorded sounds, images, and impressions of the natural world which have found expression in their Feel Field project. Here they reflect on their experience at Inshriach, which became to them a creative middle ground between home and away.
“Ordinary exiles often become artists of their lives, remaking their selves and their homes with great ingenuity. Inability to return home is both a personal tragedy and an enabling force. The illusion of complete belonging has been shattered. Yet, one discovers there is still a lot to share.” – Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (2001)
In our practice, we often question the ways in which displacement can offer new critical perspectives of our surroundings. This approach has led us to reflect on how the intimate space of our home, our street and our city, can reveal aspects of our social and political life.
The day we headed to Inshriach, as happens with many of our projects, we compared it to the start of an unknown journey. The darkness at our arrival in Aviemore made it difficult to see when the narrow road to Inshriach was going up or downhill. We couldn’t see more than the meter or two our torches allowed us to see. The following days we discovered the beauty of the surrounding forest. We traced our way back to Aviemore, putting images to the unlit path of the first night.
Every moment in the bothy was a small adventure in its own right; cutting the wood to feed the fire, getting water from the farm, brushing our teeth while looking at the stars. Every day brought gifts of their own; the first day was the light through the kitchen window casting moving shadows on the door at 10am.
In the bothy, the time is different. The light is a resource you have to plan your day around. We would try to finish our daily walks, cut wood, and fill the water bottles before it was too dark, so we could be back with enough sunlight to read our books.
The forest time seemed to allow our conversations to go longer and more interesting than in our studio. One of us would sit in the kitchen, the other in front of the stove and we would suddenly read out quotes from our individual readings to each other.
As the time passed, we became more and more acquainted with the woods. The landscape can be as close as one’s home when you know every pinecone, every branch and every leaf on the ground. The path down to the river can be as domestic as one’s street when you have transited it enough times. We knew when it was 10pm because the kitchen candles needed changed by then. We knew when it was 10am because the dancing shadows on the door would tell us so.
The middle passage between a complete shattered illusion of home and the enabling force of creative reinvention does not exist in accordance to a progressive timeline. Rather, it is omnipresent, like a lingering opportunity to remake ourselves, our ways, and our home.
Join Paria and Francisco to take part in Feel Field at the Climate Portal from 12 -20 November.
The activity forms part of the University of Glasgow COP26 Hub at the Being Human Festival. Warm thanks to Bothy Project, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Shared Studios, and Harrison Parrott for their support, and to the Walking Publics/Walking Arts research team for their inspiration.