For over a year and a half, Amanda Thomson has been filming an alder by the burn outside her window, sometimes two or three times a day, occasionally once a week, sometimes just once or twice a month. The resulting work in Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation reveals the slow and shifting changes of season, light, and time passing. Aar (a Scots word for alder) also includes notes from a shared diary of recording sightings – often the first flowers or migrant birds of the year: cuckoos, house-martins, geese; spring primroses, summer germander speedwell, late summer creeping ladies tresses. These aren’t necessarily systematically recorded but speak to what is simply noticed when there, and what is seen and heard in the course of the everyday. The diary also records the fleetingness and luck of seeing of residents such as eagles, crossbills, and hares, or a flock of redpolls scared up by a sparrowhawk. Aar is part of what will become a phenological exploration and reflection of a place and ongoing change, questions of attentiveness and care, and human and more-than-human timescales. It feeds into Thomson’s ongoing research and investigations which incorporate a visual arts practice and creative non-fiction and explore questions of slow looking and attentiveness, Scottish landscapes, language (as in her book, A Scots Dictionary of Nature), walking and reflections on the interrelationships of place with self, migrations, native/non-native/‘invasive’ species, and conceptions of home.
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