Lynda Laird

Lynda Laird

Lynda is a photographic, video, sound and archive artist working on long term bodies of work; primarily focusing on landscape and the idea that memory is stored in place; that there are trace's and an imprint of history stored in the buildings, landscapes and spaces where specific events have occurred.

Comharradh is an audio-visual installation, which is the result of an eight-week engagement with the peat bogs and moorlands of the Isle of Lewis.  At heart, it is an ode to the moor; to its component parts – peat, water, sea, and sky; to the wide open spaces that create the sense of what is commonly known as ‘landscape’; and to the local language and poetry which, perhaps hopelessly, attempt to represent it.

Through the eyes of big business, the peat lands of Lewis in Scotland, are seen as a desolate area This idea of desolation has legitimised calls for mass development from energy companies who are trying to build upon and dig up the peat that constitutes the moor in order to construct wind turbines on it. Building upon peat deprives it of the water that sustains it and thus it withers, as well as releasing tons of the carbon stored in its structure.

The project looks at how the landscape affects us. It is not a passive actor and, time and again, human attempts to contain nature are shown as folly. Rich cultural forms are created through the centuries long relationship between people and place and situating the landscape as under threat from development seemed, to me, to paint the land as a rather passive actor: as if it hadn’t been involved in the creation of our very selves all along. Therefore, I wanted to find a way of collaborating with the land, giving it a voice, and bringing nature in to the composition. This was achieved using the landscape as a camera. I placed photographic paper in to the bodies of water, which make up the moor and the peat and exposed them to reveal the patterns and the movement, which is invisible to the naked eye, the idea of the ‘invisible’ being fundamental to the project.

This project is displayed as an installation with a combination of the water prints and video of the moor, principally concerning the plants, water and their dance with the wind as well as looking at how the land has been marked by both the turbines and through the ‘cutting’ of the peat.  A six-channel immersive soundscape will invite the viewer to dwell in the moor, struggle through the squelchy peat bogs, and get to know the wildlife, music and language that make up the poetry of the place. Collections of plants gathered from the moor will also have a role in the installation, these artefacts being a vital testimony to the land itself. Through this process of immersion, the viewer will consider the peat as a living landscape whose importance far exceeds its monetary significance to Britain’s energy economy. Far from a space of “blank empty nothingness,” ripe for development and apparent ‘progress,’ the moorland is sacred and integral to the people living and working on the Island, both as a physical resource and as the basis for place- and self-making, mental-mapping, poetry and song.  

website: www.lyndalaird.com
instagram: @_lyndalaird

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