Monday, February 25, 2008

Glen Nevis, glen of stones

Saturday in Fort William may have been one of the wettest and windiest this year, but it didn't deter twelve workshop participants from joining me to respond creatively to the experience of walking beside the swollen river in Glen Nevis. Note-taking as we went, we used observation and imagination to generate words.

We got tuned into the place with senses of touch and sound and smell by denying our sense of sight, working in pairs - one guide, one blindfolded. One person trusted their partner enough to end up lying on the river-bank, head hanging over the racing river; another knee deep in a ditch, plunging his hands underwater to feel the skin-like texture of the bottom.

We created a character to inhabit as we walked - on a journey as film-maker, stalker, cattle drover, munro-bagger. We imagined what they had on their feet and what they carried in their pockets, what filled their heads as they walked and how their state of mind shaped their perception of the landscape. This led to some very interesting pieces including one from the point of view of a dog.

We changed scale - looking closely at a rock, lichen, moss, tree bark – and imagining it is a vast plain or forest or sea. What would it be like to walk through this landscape?
Back at the Ben Nevis Inn, participants wrote up their notes into short pieces. The diversity was astonishing - historical stories; a description of music created by the combined rhythms of river and footfall; the reaction of a rock to the fierce river that is challenging and overwhelming it today, etc. Each piece of writing was unique - the individual's response to the world in that time and place expressed through their own idiosyncratic choice of words.

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