Another Roger Deakin book
There’s an unexpected bonus for admirers of the Suffolk nature writer Roger Deakin – especially those joining the Bugs and Blossoms walk on 26 May. Just published is a book written by Roger’s son and the present owner of Roger’s home. Life at Walnut Tree Farm details Roger’s work restoring the house, outbuildings and land, and brings the inspiring story uptodate. It includes some 250 photographs, including pages from his diaries and notebooks. And as well as having access to the garden, the moat and the surrounding land, visitors on 26 May will be able to buy signed copies of the book.
Life at Walnut Tree Farm is published by Head of Zeus at £20 and has a foreword by Robert Macfarlane. Roger Deakin died in 2006.
Doggerland revisited – again
Members may remember the big W&BA Doggerland project in 2015 – about the prehistoric settlements that lay between us and Europe before the sea moved in. Our interest was in both its past and the artistic resonance of its present, and the project culminated in a day-long event with the academics and artists involved. Then this March, we had a hugely successful morning at the Halesworth Cut when local author Julia Blackburn and anthropologist Hugh Brody pursued the subject, focusing particularly on Julia’s wonderful recent book, Time Song – Searching for Doggerland, which she started researching after coming to our event..
Well Doggerland has surfaced again. It’s the title of a new novel by Ben Smith, a creative writing lecturer and poet based in Plymouth. His speciality is oceans, climate change and the ‘Anthropocene’. Doggerland has garnered some great reviews and Jon Reservoir13 McGregor ‘absolutely loved it’. Just 39 pages in, I agree. So far there’s a boy and an old man looking after a decaying wind turbine farm out in the North Sea. The ancient depths beckon…
In a neat literary connection, Ben Smith and Julia Blackburn discussed their joint interest in Doggerland on Radio 4’s Open Book on 23 May (on the programme’s website and BBC Sounds).
And the plot thickens: not of the books, but back in real life. British and Belgian scientists are about to use seabed mapping to produce, they hope, the first detailed 3D charts of the rivers, lakes, hills etc of ancient Doggerland. One of the expedition’s leaders is the archaeologist Professor Vince Gaffney… yes, one of our collaborators in the 2015 project. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/may/08/mapping-begins-of-lands-lost-to-north-sea-during-the-stone-age
There was a short feature about this work on radio 4’s Today programme at about 7.45am Monday 20 May, presumably available on BBC Sounds.
Just to conclude the Doggerland connections, for the time being at least, there’s a Doggerland walk on 23 June, as part of the Two Rivers festival followed by a book signing by Julia Blackburn at Southwold Books. Get your mesolithic boots on.
A book, endangered birds, drawings and a film
An upcoming exhibition in Halesworth showcases three different ways one artist responds to environmental threats. Jayne Ivimey is a multi-media artist, film maker and now publisher, and her show starting 4 June at the Cut features all these aspects of her work.
Endangered birds are one important focus. Visitors to the first Waveney & Blyth Arts sculpture trail in 2015 may remember seeing Jayne Ivimey’s clay birds – modelled on 70 birds whose survival as species are threatened. Such Red List birds include some as familiar in name at least as sparrow, cuckoo, nightingale, skylark, corncrake, lapwing, herring gull and starling. Her biscuit-fired seabirds will be on display at the Cut in an exhibition entitled Land and Sea. There are also portraits of endangered seabirds done in silver point – an ancient process involving a metal stylus drawn on a prepared rough ground.
That theme is picked up in a book published by Jayne Ivimey. Bird by Bird: the red list in thought and image has photographs both of museum specimens and their clay effigies. The text describes how Ivimey came to write the book, but is also something of a meditation about the environmental crisis and its significance. The writer is distinguished local author Julia Blackburn, whose latest book, Time Song: Searching for Doggerland was showcased recently by Waveney & Blyth Arts (as a prelude to their Two Rivers book festival). There will be copies of Bird by Bird on sale at the Cut; it is also available from the Halesworth bookshop (or direct from [email protected]) price £10.
The exhibition will also feature Jayne Ivimey’s response to the erosion of Norfolk and Suffolk’s coastline. There are charcoal drawings of collapsing cliffs, and a film about Happisburgh, made over a period of 13 years.
Also showing is some new work by Gordon Senior, looking at man’s relation to the natural environment; methods of cultivation and natural selection, and the evolution of grasses into food.
Land and Sea Tuesday 4 June to Saturday 20 July; preview Saturday 8 June 12-2.