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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
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David Blyth

Knockturne

2006 – 2007

Bravest of the brave! Valentina!
Thanks to you we can all walk with pride
With heads held high.
Translated by Josephine Forsyth
Looking at notions of life and death through participation in a lambing season and other incidences

During the lambing season of 2006, David Blyth embarked upon a year-long research project and collaboration with local sheep farmer Duncan Connon.

 

Huntly is sheep farming country. While sheep farming has been one of the staple economies for a century or so, it is now in crisis. At the local Tesco supermarket lamb from New Zealand is far cheaper than local produce. A potent catalyst for David's work during the residency was the news that he and his partner were expecting a baby. Through being by his wife's side and also in the midst of artistic research, David unavoidably forged links between his and his partner's experiences with that of the natural world in the locality. The tragedies, miracles, cycles and rites of passage that punctuate and define the natural world grew more familiar to David. But how do we relate to this order of nature, and how does it manifest itself in human activities? Is there an ontological, even magical or spiritual link between the animal kingdom's biological turmoil with human technological development?

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David teamed up for this project with local sheep farmer Duncan Connon and helped him to deliver the lambs during the 2006 lambing season.

Throughout the years, David has worked closely with animals, taxidermy and the human-animal relationship - showing how our paths can converge through universal life-cycles, and yet also violently clash according to our nature to survive and develop. Autobiographical details informed the development of Knockturne, as David's empathic consideration for the safe-delivery of new life during the lambing period forced him to review his position as an artist working with still-born carcasses. Idyllic notions of shepherding practices are disrupted by David's presence on the farm as a collector of the dead lambs - revealing not only the stark reality of the animals' life-cycle, but the attachment of human emotion and psychological investment. The loss of lambs and ewes is a disappointing event, highlighted the fragile innocence of new life, exposed to the unforgiving laws of nature. The desire to control these elements and thus deliver us from the harsh, overriding natural world is manifested in human development, as David refers to through his interest in space travel, particularly in the journeys of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereskova. Valentina represents on one hand the human achievement of overcoming natural boundaries - making physical contact with the moon, a celestial body once revered as a potent symbol of life-cycles, and now a tangible, charted mass of land - and on the other hand, she is someone who has transgressed between two worlds, dependent upon the safe-delivery of both her body and mental state, back into the human world, from the disorientating void.

      

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