Who Felled The Mighty Oak?
A modern-day morality tale… The brilliant audio recording comes from Russian field recordist, Vladimir Kryuchev (thank you Vladimir!) who describes his tree thus: “There’s an old tree near the railroad in Sergiyev Posad. It seems to be still alive but there are lots of hollows and cracks running through the bark. It sways noticeably in the wind. On one winter day I put the microphones into those cracks, and since then each listen brings a feeling as if this is what the insects living inside could hear… This is a humbling listen suggesting that we are part of the world, not the masters of it.” If you visit Vladimir’s website https://www.oontz.ru/en/ you will be intrigued and delighted by his chronicling of life in his home town 70 kms north of Moscow. Many thanks also to Eleanor McDowall and her brilliant podcast ‘where audio-makers stand silently in fields (or things that could be broadly interpreted as fields).’ https://fieldrecordings.xyz
The Ebbing Tide
A film of the beach at Walton-on-the-Naze with a remarkable interview from the British Library Sound Archive with retired railway engineer, Ken Leighton, of Ipswich who fondly remembers the times when paddle steamers used to steam up and down the east coast with a full orchestra playing and railways employees only paid 4d. a trip. Hope you enjoy this plunge into another era. Filmed in June 2020 as the country was tentatively emerging from lockdown.
Les Fleurs de Chenonceau
The flowers of the chateau of Chenonceau filmed at the beginning of September during a new wave of the virus….tapestries, chatelaines, urns full of flowers set to the virtuoso accordion-playing of Yvette Horner who was famous for accompanying the Tour de France. She died in 2018 aged 95. Thank you to the Internet Archive for the recording of her music.
Low Tide, Sunrise, After the Fire at Wrabness
I went out early one morning to walk along the estuary. I’d heard there’d been a fire. I love watching the sand martins and crouching to look at the seaweed left by the tide. The sand cliffs collapse a little more every year and the trees and the beach huts cling on.
Song For Working In The Fields
I found this song recorded in the Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1947 on the Internet Archive. It is beautiful and holds centuries of history in its words and melody. I’d been filming the Essex fields under lockdown and kept thinking of what it would be to have to work in the fields your whole life dawn to dusk belonging to someone else with no hope ever of freedom.
“These songs belong to the musical tradition which Africans brought to the New World, but they are also as American as the Mississippi River. They were born out of the very rock and earth of this country, as black hands broke the soil, moved, reformed it, and rivers of stinging sweat poured upon the land under the blazing heat of Southern skies, and are mounted upon the passion that this struggle with nature brought forth. They tell us the story of the slave gang, the sharecropper system, the lawless work camp, the chain gang, the pen.” –Alan Lomax
Gallivanting After Moths
This is a short film taken on the Essex coast where a particularly rare moth breeds on Hog’s Fennel. This moth was discovered by Benjamin Fisher in 1968 and given the common British name, ‘Fisher’s Estuarine Moth’, following the honourable tradition in the UK of naming moths after their discoverers. In this film, taken on an early late June morning while the country was just emerging from lockdown, you see a lot of fennel and none of the elusive moth….but one Essex Skipper butterfly (I think?!)….. The music is ‘Bats In The Belfry’ by Billy Mayerl played by Henrietta and Thomas Faire. This is a film by Sarah Vermont.
The Jewel of Poitiers
As I walked into the Eglise de Notre-Dame-La-Grande in Poitiers I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…a harlequinesque mirage of Romano-byzantine painted columns with sunlight pouring through the high arched windows. I was transported to another place…somewhere ethereal. For this film I searched high and low for the right music and luckily found the flautist, Kevin James, who recorded this flute music in, as he says, ‘an old church in France’. You can listen to his playing at www.kevinjamesmusic.com.