A work (in progress) which is inspired by a guide book to Walks in Somerset found in a youth hostel’s cupboard, bought in a local auction. I started writing a diary whilst on the KURS Artists and Writers Residency in Split, 2017. The initial material has become a piece of writing about intermittent and intense anxiety, when the intention was to document a series of walks and swims in the Marjan Park Forest of Split, a spectacular limestone landscape famous for its quarries. The writing is fragmentary and chopped up, trying to represent a state of mind. The pieces of writing are treated like fossils, or as layers in the strata of sedimentary rock, sentences as conglomerates of words. They are literally sandwiched into lines of text taken from a C19th book about Geology, which in pedantic detail tours Great Britain’s underlying rock formations, including the shelly limestone of Portland and the yellow sandstone of Burton Bradstock. 5 years have passed, there have been many interruptions in the timeline.
This is a short extract of AC Ramsay text interspersed with Anna’s writing:
When we examine such rocks in detail, we often find that they contain fossils of various kinds-shells, corals, sea-urchins, crustaceans, such as crabs and trilobites, the bones, teeth, and scales of fishes, land plants, and more rarely the bones of terrestrial animals. For instance, in the bed of sandstone, we might find that there are remains of sea shells; occasionally – but more rarely – similar bodies might occur in the conglomerate, frequently they might lie between the thin layers of shale; and it is equally common to find large quantities of shells, corals, sea-urchins, encrinites, and various other forms of life in such limestones which, in many cases, are almost wholly composed of entire or broken shells and other marine organic remains. I remember times in life when not much was said, silence reigned – a too long relationship, a period working abroad – and how, as with underwater visions and drug filtered memories, they are suspended between the punctuation marks and remain indelible for their alteredness. I think of language plus gravity, words falling, like snow coming down and covering what was there, the whiteout of forgetting. Language is a double edged sword. Marine and lake sediments form soils on and in which the creatures live that inhabit the bottom of the waters, and it is easy to understand how numerous shells and other organic bodies happen thus to have been buried in muddy, sandy, or conglomeratic mechanical sediments, the component grains of which, large or small, have been borne from the land into water, thereby force of gravitation to arrange themselves as strata. By the life and death of shells in these fossilised sediments, it is also easy to understand why they are so often more or less calcareous. An iguana.
Anna's text to be interspersed with AC Ramsay
When we came abroad, aboard this land, stepped down from the plane into its climate and onto its ground, the first experiences we had were of its utter intractability – very stony, a steep path through dense pines, and such, so much, greater altitudes and gradients. We were walking our feet, on new ground, gingerly, in fear of falling. Testing words in our mouth. A vast slippery fish. I, for one, cannot touch it or imagine ever carrying it in my arms. The land, the stones, sharp, fraught with obstacles and detours. Now, within a few days, I start to test and taste the words and sounds upon my tongue – Obilazak. I cannot speak. I am learning to walk.
(Who is this character, who is he? She? Can she be a man, can she be third person? Can they be plural, male and female, shifting please? Why are they here/there? Can I multiply and be “we”? Can we have a back story? A front story, a future? Do we need to know?)
Already, we are becoming amphibian, the ability to slip into the sea at the drop of a hat. Getting into water is like slipping into oneself, into aloneness, into time. Doing our work, filming under the sea, exacerbates this sense of separation and embrace.
As my face and body change – erode, dissolve, calcify, cheekbones becoming more prominent, eyes sinking as if the underlying rock has melted, skin wrinkling into ridges, minute layers being removed, a general dehydration occurring, elasticity performing itself to death as less so – the face of the land mass erodes, sinking over millions of years into the submerging liquidity of the sea. Salt deposits, dissolving stones, shells, trees, sand particles, making and unmaking.
Marjan Park-Forest, Split, Croatia, Osmington, Kimmeridge and Portland, Dorset, UK.
Jadran Kamen Quarry, Brac, Croatia.
The City of London, UK.
Association ‘Kurs’ Marco Marulic Writers Residency Programme.
Maja Vrancic, Association“Kurs”.
Dan Oki and Sandra Sterle, Arts Academy of the University of Split.
Branko Franceschi and staff, Galerija Umjetnina.
‘PlasticWaterStone’ a short film
Artists International Development Fund, Arts Council England and British Council.
Abigail Robinson, Neli Ruzic, Neil Chapman, Spike Golding, Nick Berkeley.
Andrew Crombie Ramsay; The Physical Geology and Geography of Great Britain, 1878.
Anna Best ©2022