Memorious Earth: A Longitudinal Study
Richard Skelton and
16 January - 14 March 2015
Over the past half-decade, Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton have carved out a wholly self-directed and independent niche as artists, releasing pamphlets, books, CDs and editions through their own publishing house, Corbel Stone Press. Operating at the crossover of art, music and literature, the couple have created a deeply engaging and genuinely innovative body of work that draws together these seemingly disparate disciplines.
Their work is ‘informed’ rather than ‘inspired’ by landscape. It is not impressionistic, but the result of extensive research into specific places, topographies, ecologies and histories. Pages from their book-works frequently spill with word-lists drawn from varied 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 late 2008, en route to Scotland, the couple took a detour along some of the Lake District’s lonelier roads; through the backcountry between the Irish Sea and the high peaks of Great Gable and Scafell. This region of crags and scars, heather and bracken, grassland and bogs, scattered with remnants of prehistoric settlements, made a great impression upon them, and they later moved to live in the area, to commence what would become several years’ work.
Their exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House gathers together this Cumbrian material for the first time, comprising music, film, books, pamphlets, prints, artefacts and assemblages that engage with the natural history of this landscape, from the post-glacial wasteland to the present day.
In addition, for the past year Richard has been granted access to the collection of the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry – continuing his decade-long fascination with archive material, as documented in such publications as 'Landings', 'Moor Glisk' and 'Limnology'. One of the rooms at Abbot Hall will therefore be annexed as a ‘Museum of Ferae Naturae’, presenting a series of artefacts from the MOLLI collection in the light of ‘new findings’ by the ‘Notional Research Group for Cultural Artefacts’. The museum will explore the customary persecution and exploitation of animal life in Cumbria, offering alternate historic, mythic and folkloric contexts for these artefacts which imply different attitudes towards the natural world.