studies in travel writing

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Richardson, Autumn and Skelton, Richard, Memorious Earth: A Longitudinal Study (n.p.: Corbelstone Press, 2015).

Over the past half-decade, Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton have made a series of collaborative artworks, publications and editions about the upland landscapes of south-western Cumbria, in northern England. Key to their work has been the development of the list-poem, which, at its most fundamental, magnifies the act of attention and the facility of language, through naming, to refer to things, places - to life itself. The texts they assemble frequently contain material drawn from a variety of sources: pollen diagrams, dialect glossaries, cartographic records, archaeological tracts - but their repurposing of this material as art is deeply humane, aimed at drawing the attention towards the lost, forgotten or overlooked. It celebrates the poetry and beauty that such attention can reveal, and gently urges each of us towards a more intimate relationship with our natural surroundings.

In January of 2015, Lakeland Arts staged an exhibition of their work at Abbot Hall and Blackwell, under the title Memorious Earth : A Longitudinal Study. The show incorporated printed matter, artefacts, assemblages, music and film from the previous five years, along with new works, including a wolf skeleton focal piece, generously loaned from Kendal Museum.

Memorious Earth is a beautifully produced 128-page book documenting the artists' Cumbrian work over the past half-decade. More than simply a retrospective catalogue, it incorporates all their previously published (and now out-of-print) text works alongside full colour photographs, notes and bibliographies. Crucially, it also adds two new poem sequences, Of the Elm Decline and The Medicine Earth, which situate their earlier, field-oriented studies into an oblique mythopoeic narrative of environmental succession, incorporating material from a wide-ranging sources, including herbal texts and Old English leechdoms.

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