A year ago I was  invited to join a group of twelve artists and poets who were given the opportunity to spend the year exploring and responding to the changing seasons at Birches Farm, Kington, Herefordshire, an SSSI nature reserve and  wildflower meadows run by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. I made a number of visits to the site, on beautiful summer days and cold and wet winter ones.  I found common wild flowers and very rare ones. I heard the cuckoo in spring and the honey buzzard in the summer but it was the traces of the past that really interested me, the traces of long dead and totally forgotten farm workers, their wives and children. It seems to me that we do not stand outside the landscape, looking at it, but we inhabit it, we move inside it, we wear it like a coat and our familiar landscape is an accretion of surfaces and missing parts that layer together to make, not a broken whole, but a complete fragment.  

Shadows on the land, crop marks, ruins, standing stones, stone circles, old rights of way all reveal the past hiding under the contemporary landscape. New archaeological technology like satellite imaging and ground-penetrating radar reveal the traces that remain, hidden but still present, under the accretions of thousands of years.  Every action, every gesture leaves a trace even if it is a trace of what is missing, broken, destroyed. What survives of the past survives by chance and not design.

©2016 by Allison Neal. Proudly created with Wix.com