Allenheads – Land inside out

Things of course are nothing like what they appear. Land like any other time-based and event-based instance needs to be decoded or requires literacy to understand its stories.

Last week I was generously welcomed to Allenheads Contemporary Arts by founders & artist producers  Alan Smith and Helen Ratcliffe, and by Hannah Marsden, curator of their recent show Exploring Nostalgia (see earlier post on dead moles in dresses). Alan gave me an intense tour of the land, 2 hours of condensed experiential learning by car and foot – jumping up and down on the watershed land (a spongy trampoline), looking at charming, flower-strewn brooks (actually garbage middens from 19th c lead miners), and learning to read the vertical scars on the hills – channels made by huntsmen to drain the highland moors for better pheasant and grouse hunting conditions. Underground, a white-lime painted maze of tunnels that takes you forward in time as you go further in (newest last); this work of burrowing has, like worms, left giant-sized man-castings on the surface which look like naturally  picturesque bumps and hillocks.

Sheep up on the high moor
Sheep up on the high moors, Allenheads
Allenheads, old house remains
Allenheads, old house/smelter remains
Allenheads - near the original cart road into Allenheads
Stream at bend of the original cart road into Allenheads
Alan Smith
Alan Smith
Allenheads Contemporary Art Center family members Kaiser and Messerschmidt
Allenheads Contemporary Art family members Kaiser and Messerschmidt
Allenheads community member
Allenheads community member

I thought there was an odd and distant kinship to New York/Staten Island’s Fresh Kills Landfill, of a long term land shape that’s formed from the inside out, entirely by man (see “Why Call Them Landfills? They are dumps, eyesores, middens and disgraces.”)

Fresh Kills - Then and Now (over the years)
Fresh Kills - Then and Now (over the years)

2 Replies to “Allenheads – Land inside out”

  1. Hello, just accidentally stumbled across this, what a pleasant surprise.

    How are you and what are you up to?

    all the best

    Alan from Allenheads

Comments are closed.