The sculptor/artist Laurence Edwards is becoming the voice of the voiceless. In the premier at Snape of the film Yoxman and in the discussion is which he was present that followed afterwards he spoke of his “figures percolating doubt” and “uncertainty”. What do these figures represent?
He spoke of his interest in patination and illustrated this by how much of the locality has been incorporated in his work eg the fragiiity and the markings on the cliffs at Covehithe, elements of trees, eg bark. He summarised the message of Yoxman as: “watch what you do to this place, you are it”
He’s not a man with an ego ,as he remarked he’s “looking forward to when it is no known who made it (Yoxman)
It was described as “vulnerable” “reticent”, “in a daze”” at being “exposed” in the specially created landscape setting of mound and lake at Yoxford
Robert McFarland spoke of a magic as this figure was conjured up, Laurence himself of the process of creation being akin to Shelley’s Frankenstein
Calvin of the Sainsbury Centre commented it was specifically “non heroic” or macho”.
Perhaps as a token to the period of covid we have been living through there is no evident mouth, as if masked …
As if voiceless. All the wild places that are endangered by destruction and removal by money greed insensitivity unaccountability unconnectedness with with these local quasi-animistic forces even spirits.
It is as a cry to those who are here who truly belong to reconnect with the coastline the streams rivers mud-creeks the Sandlings woodlands and hedgerows countryside – all the wild places – to stand up for and truly represent , and to save these wondrous elemental forces and energies from threatened obliteration
He perhaps doesn’t intend this? but it is possible to read into his conception the idea of an equivalence of a people with their landscape and the cry for them to awake to take responsibility for what and whom they are there to care
Perhaps there may be a connection or parallel between the Yoxman and Tolkien’s Ents who were to join forces with the Fellowship of the Ring in that wider confrontation of the age?
An interesting collection of sculptures by the now renowned Suffolk sculptor and artist Lawrence Edwards greets the visitor to Snape for this year’s Aldeburgh Festival Exhibition: Remains to be Seen
We are pre programmed to expect these figures to be sub Saharan African but no on the contrary these appear as middle aged moustachioed white men, surprisingly
Entitled “tribe”. We are also accustomed to hearing of the denigratory term white privilege”, but belong to a tribe is significantly one thing white people are not privileged to know much about let alone enjoy
Any sense of the collective has been purposely cut out from the corporate consciousness by the historic divisive attacks of notions of class warfare. Gone are any sense of a collective common interest. Similarly sex warfare between the sexes cuts and divides the folk when naturally together they would naturally be as “one body” against any common enemies
Africans (from sub-Saharan Africa) customarily address fellow Africans as brothers, or Muslims their Muslim brother in a manner shockingly unthinkable or embarrassing for white people
They’re missing out on that sense of togetherness, of being one – part – of a collective or entity. The nearest remnant in the folk memory may be suggested at in the Scottish clan system
Perhaps the last sense of tribe was the likes of Boudicca seen highlighted in her resistance against the brutal Roman invading imperialists?
Perhaps it has taken until BLM to rekindle some innate consciousness that it is not only black lives that matter? There had been romanticism and dreams of tribes expressed eg by the likes of Rousseau. Psychologists such as Jung invoked the notion of collective unconscious. Raymond Bamford controversially that of a race ”soul”
As those who have lost all sense of collective appreciation value or self worth perhaps it is telling that our love of neighbour is seen as of anyone other than those of our own ‘tribe”. Exemplified perhaps by the hierarchy of bishops of Church of England’s anti-racism and opposition to attempts to push back against immigration including deportations to Rwanda? To whom we belong one time used to be to whom we have the greater responsibility of cohesive love and care (not exclusively of course)
And that includes particular collective management of our own society and homeland and ensuring there shall be a future , for “the tribe” in particular to which we ourselves identify as historically belonging
While the Government is carelessly trashing the countryside with “same-y” housing estates it’s worth a glance to see whether there’s any thing there left of value worth keeping?
it is the people of any place that matter, and who characteristically define it
The essential value of rural communities apart from landscape setting of farmland and wildlife habitat is not meant to be picturesque for the Airbnb customers or second home owners and now being despoiled by inappropriate development, it’s to provide a location for lively living communities of families who know one another live alongside one another interrelate through time, in community
A shadow lies over rural communities
A chance meeting with Wayne in Charsfield sharpened my thinking. I had stopped to enquire about the Three Horseshoes, but our ensuing conversation heightened a sense that all is not well in Suffolk villages. I had enquired about the one pub in the village which has remained empty for some while. Wayne explained he was care-taking there after a number of break-ins. He further suggested an unsuccessful attempt had been made by the owner to sell to the village community, but that it’s now available for them to rent if they can agree terms, the owner being prepared to renovate first. The above photo is from a BBC report 2012, of villagers who formed Friends of The Three Horseshoes to try and re-open the pub. How sad their hope has not been realised
It was not just the one outstanding issue of the village pub, as a traditional place of meeting and the lack of a successful community initiative. It appears the village hall isn’t used or cared for as it once was, neither either the Recreation sports grounds or other amenities
Atomisation of individuals
The picture emerges of residents who chose to stay at home or walk the dog rather than go out of their way to make an effort to engage with one another, this may be a caricature, but it does convey a sense of isolation a withdrawal inevitably exaggerated by covid and its restrictions made on social interaction. It probably doesn’t help that children nowadays rather than playing with other kids maybe are more involved with their screens
This being not any old village but Akenfield or rather the community on which that iconic Suffolk village is based, film and book. It may perhaps provide a bell weather test of whether all is well in our rural communities. I have had heard similar misgiving expressed elsewhere including notably Stow on the Wold where McCarthy and Stone are building for the elderly as they are eg at Lavenham
Social change and rural deprivation
There has been the appealing even romantic dream of a blissful rural life to be had in the country, although in reality it’s been very hard and historically poorly paid work in the countryside The villages now are not so agriculturally based for employment so there is a looser connection with the soil and the land when collectively folk were working together for a common purpose. Even so a small community where people can know one another and be known has its appeal as well as downside
Those who do work commute
Few residents – a minority – are those related to the folk of the old village, and although there is a swish new housing development on a rise above the village they would not be affordable housing to locals
I heard recently expressed by a councillor and pub owner for Weybourne the problems with airbnb and how there is an absence there of families and those who work
Where are the village schools, where are the young families and their children?
Yet people want to escape from what? to live in the country
It’s not as it once was when each village more or less had its own resident parson and all things were “bright and beautiful”, yes rich man and poor men all had their place and worshipped as a community together. The church facilitating community life for the local people, but this has weakened eg Charsfield is just one of eight parishes in the Mid-Loes benefice
I can recall a Ralph Marriott who seldom left his village. There was a time when villages were said to have their own variation of the local dialect. Lark Rise to Candleford maybe
It’s down to roots and belongingness
The elders in any village everywhere are especial and not only for being the carriers of memories of what had gone before
When the elderly have passed away the folk’s active memory dies unless it has successfully been passed to a new generation
The future lies in new families and children carrying on the lifeblood with its sense of belongingness of a people
Everyone needs roots identity
From this sense of belongingness and integration with people and place comes unselfconscious pride expressed not only eg in cottage gardens and care of the countryside as a green wildlife rich environment These are the people of that place
The vision thing and the need for rebuilding
What is more worthwhile than to fight for a strengthening of this sense of folk-community before the elusive dream has gone forever
“Building Jerusalem” is a task that needs to be re-embarked upon without delay, before an entire way of life has been replaced by estates of residents who may never know just how onetime it has been