Tiree

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2016 has been … I haven’t yet found the word to sum it up- lets call it ‘eventful’ for the time being.

Apart from the global political and economic events which appear to increase proportionately with the fragmentation and dissipation of ‘the World as we used to know it’- this year was very much a journey on a personal level, which saw me travelling every single month, very much exhausting my carbon footprint for the next decade.

Some of this travel was for professional reasons, most travel however being a logistical reality of living away from one’s family, whose individual members aren’t getting any younger and physically fitter.

Having unknowingly immigrated to the UK 19 years ago (the plan was to do a three year degree and then return home to the continent) it has been rather poigniant how health scares and the passing of my closest family members had to happen in the same year Britain voted to leave the EU.

I wouldn’t go as far as calling it an existential crisis on my behalf-rather I would describe it as an involuntary adventure track through the ever expanding and shape shifting world portrayed and imagined for me by the mainstream-and my very own instincts and values increasingly under threat from the surge of banality and populism that appears to expand at the expense of beauty, ingenuity, care and kindness.

So what initially was just another journey in this years calendar-the family trip to Tiree for the October week-seemed initially just another project of potential stress and upheaval to my mind which really just wanted some time out, or hiding under the duvet, not to be seen for a very long time, and just sleep, sleep, sleep and ideally when waking up finding it’ll all was just a bad dream-which I may add was even before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States…

However stressed and distracted my concious mind may have become this year with all the nonsense fuelled by the worshippers of nihilism, something somewhere in my mind, it’ll have to have been my subconsciousness – was clever enough to book the ferry and the cottage on Tiree regardless to all the other mayhem pushing and pulling plans, energy levels and sanity all over the place.

So the night before we had to pack the car and start on the motorway out of Glasgow, over winding roads alongside Loch Lomond, through hills and valleys to get to Oban for our ferry crossing-I had very much reached the height of ever experienced personal stress levels – magnified by a jet lag from a journey to the ‘temple of simulacra’; Los Angeles, 2 weeks prior to this.

In reality I think I knew how disorientating and challenging this trip to LA would be for me personally and professionally, so Tiree was a bit of an antidote to rebalance myself after LaLaland. I know the effect the Scottish landscape has on me and not long into our car journey, the landscape did it’s thing…colours, shapes, lines, curves, clouds, skies, mountains, water, sea, grass, silhouettes, shadows, shapes, wind, gusts, warmth, salty air, red cheeks, tangled hair, squinting eyes, crashing waves, seagulls croaks, clear night skies, highland cows, many sheep, kites, surfers, croft houses, conversations, hearty food, cups of tea and coffee, walking, hiking, climbing, laughing, shouting, building sand castles, collecting shells, stones, sticks, playing with dogs, children, watching sunset, sunrise, sketching, drawing, inventing games, making new friends, ideas and inspiration, excitement, happyness, freedom;

…feeling and being human…

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The ferry journey to Tiree from Oban via Coll and Tiree through the Sound of Mull. 4-45

A rainbow, it was so big and wide I didn’t get it in it’s complete width! Plus there was another on top of it, and I already was up to my ankles in the sea!

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Silver light…and the spray of of the waves…

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Light and dark, clouds and blue sky, light beams, reflection, motion, lines and patterns…

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Kaleidoscope

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sunset

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…a year on from the Environmental Arts Festival Scotland

On September 1st Super Moon will be in full view in Seoul, Korea. We celebrate the beauty of our ability to orbit our dreams and consciousness into reality.

Commissioned by Lotte World, Super Moon is a 60-foot inflatable sculpture surrounded by a garden of 8 symbolic planets of color and light that will float on Seokchon Lake. The installation glows and courses with life and color while holding us in its cosmic presence. Super Moon is a shared experience meant to induce a sense of peace and serenity in a communal way, as an experience of unification and stillness.

 

The ‘Moon’ – Super or not – this update by ‘FriendswithMe’ reminded me of my three day weekend in August 2015, in the Hills of Dumfries, with my tent pitched up near a 14th Century ruin…

On the saturday night we had an incredible display of the Moon (and the 14th Century ruin was some backdrop!), A blue moon-I think, regardless, it was very large and very round and very: bright!. So bright that at midnight our silhuettes were casting Picture2‘s along the landscape.

I stood at the lake around the Morton Castle, with five other people, learning all about night sky photography. After this night course on my way back to my tent I got side tracked by a group of people sitting around a camp fire, and joining their conversations. These were quite something, even though I can’t remember what we all talked about. The content wasn’t maybe that important, or communication as a means to exchange information and fact was replaced by communication as an avenue for sharing, painting pictures, being playful…regardless it turned a switch in my head which must have been out of action since leaving those innocent childhood years behind to become a teenager – and probably was only possible to re discover by returning to a setting similar to the one I grew up in as a child; nature.

During my first expidition to a ‘burn’ near by, earlier that day (in broad daylight) I got chatting to an artist from South Korea. Stomping and tumbling through the deep grass, and ‘abseiling’ down the burns side to get to the flowing river, to witness carbon off gassing with the environment (it is called the Environmental Arts Festival for a Reason!); we helped each other, not to fall over, or disappear down a mud slide, while exchanging our stories as to how we got to be there.

I admired her, as she simply decided she wanted to learn from meeting people accross the World and be inspired by them and their stories, instead of attending a dedicated training or study at  a prestigous institution to obtain a certificate. So she left and abandoned everything and just with herself as company embarked on her journey.

Her English was sporadic, my Korean language skills non existent; yet despite our cultural complexities and differences our brief encounter on Mother Nature’s terms and conditions provided a shared experienced connection.

I have no idea where she may currently be (physically and/ or spiritually), but the ‘FriendswithYou’ collaboration with Lotte World in Seoul for the Supermoon on the 1st of September; opened up that random connection as a memory in the present of that brief encounter in the past, a single fleeting interaction…

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The Journeyman – the Art of journey

The journeyman years (Wanderjahre; ‘hiking years’) refer to the tradition of setting out on travel for several years after completing apprenticeship as a craftsman. The tradition dates back to medieval times and is still alive in German-speaking countries and in France Compagnons du Tour de France.

WALZ

image from: http://www.zimmerei-sieker.de/docs/tradition.html

In the British Isles the tradition is lost and only the title journeyman itself remains as a reminder of the custom of young men travelling throughout the country.

In medieval times the apprentice was bound to his master for a number of years. He lived with the master as a member of the household, receiving most or all of his compensation in the form of food and lodging. An apprentice could not charge a fee for his day’s work (the French word journée refers to the time span of a day) in Germany it was normal, that the apprentice had to pay a fee (German: Lehrgeld) for his apprenticeship. After the years of apprenticeship (German: Lehrjahre, literally “teaching years”) the apprentice was absolved from his obligations (German: Freisprechung, “being declared free”). The guilds, however, would not allow a young craftsman without experience to be promoted to master – they could only choose to be employed, but many chose instead to roam about.

In parts of Europe, such as in later medieval Germany, spending time as a journeyman (Geselle, literally “companion”, or in France, compagnon, with the same meaning), moving from one town to another to gain experience of different workshops, became an important part of the training of an aspirant master. Carpenters in Germany have retained the tradition of travelling journeymen even today, although only a small minority still practise it.

In the Middle Ages, the number of years spent journeying differed by the craft. Only after half of the required journeyman years (German: Wanderjahre, literally “wandering years”) would the craftsman register with a guild for the right to be an apprentice master. After completing the journeyman years, he would settle in a workshop of the guild and after some more years (German: Mutjahre, literally “grit [courage] years”) he would be allowed to make his masterpiece (German: Meisterstück) and present it to the guild. With their consent he would be promoted to guild master and as such be allowed to open his own guild workshop in town.

The German “Walz”

The tradition of the journeyman years (German: auf der Walz sein) persisted well into the 1920s in German-speaking countries, but was set back by multiple events like Nazis allegedly banning the tradition, the postwar German economic boom making it seem too much of a burden, and in East Germany the lack of opportunities for work in an economic system based on Volkseigener Betrieb (public or civic owned business).

Beginning in the late 1980s, renewed interest in tradition in general together with economic changes (especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall) have caused the tradition to gain wider acceptance. The tradition was brought back to life mostly unchanged from the medieval concept since the journeyman brotherhoods never ceased to exist.

The journeyman brotherhoods had established a standard to ensure that wandering journeymen are not mistaken for tramps and vagabonds. The journeyman is required to be unmarried, childless and debt-free – so that the journeyman years will not be taken as a chance to run away from social obligations. In modern times the brotherhoods often require a police clearance. Additionally, journeymen are required to wear a specific uniform (German: Kluft) and to present themselves in a clean and friendly manner in public. This helps them to find shelter for the night and a ride to the next town.

A travelling book (German: Wanderbuch) was given to the journeyman and in each new town, he would go to the town office asking for a stamp. This qualifies both as a record of his journey and also replaces the residence registration that would otherwise be required. In contemporary brotherhoods the “Walz” is required to last at least three years and one day (sometimes two years and one day). During the journeyman years the wanderer is not allowed to return within a perimeter of 50 km of his home town, except in specific emergency situations, such as the impending death of an immediate relative.

At the beginning of the journey, the wanderer takes only a small, fixed sum of money with him (exactly five Deutschmarks was common, now five Euros); at its end, he should come home with exactly the same sum of money in his pocket. Thus, he is supposed neither to squander money nor to store up any riches during the journey, which should be undertaken only for the experience.

There are secret signs, such as specific, involved handshakes, that German carpenters traditionally use to identify each other. They are taught to the beginning journeyman before he leaves. This is another traditional method to protect the trade against impostors. While less necessary in an age of telephones, identity cards and official diplomas, the signs are still retained as a tradition. Teaching them to anybody who has not successfully completed a carpenter apprenticeship is still considered very wrong, even though it is no longer a punishable crime today.

As of 2005 there were 600 to 800 journeymen “on the Walz”, either associated with a brotherhood or running free. While the great majority are still male, young women are no longer unheard-of on the Walz today.

Journeyman uniform in Germany

Journeymen can be easily recognised on the street by their clothing. The carpenter’s black hat has a broad brim; some professions use a black stovepipe hat or a cocked hat. The carpenters wear black bell-bottoms and a waistcoat and carry the Stenz, which is a traditional curled hiking pole. Since many professions have since converted to the uniform of the carpenters, many people in Germany believe that only carpenters go journeying, which is untrue – since the carpenter’s uniform is best known and well received, it simply eases the journey.

The uniform is completed with a golden earring and golden bracelets – which could be sold in hard times and in the Middle Ages could be used to pay the gravedigger if any wanderer should die on his journey. The journeyman carries his belongings in a leather backpack called the Felleisen, but some medieval towns banned those (for the fleas in them) so that many journeyman used a coarse cloth to wrap up their belongings.

The traveler books or Wanderbücher are an important research source which show migration paths in the early period of industrialisation in Europe. Journeymen’s paths often show boundaries of language and religion that hindered travel of craftsmen “on the Walz”.

The following people are known to have completed the traditional journeyman years:

  • August Bebel (turner) – founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany
  • Jakob Böhme (shoemaker) – mystic and Christian philosopher
  • Albrecht Dürer (German painter)
  • Friedrich Ebert (saddlemaker) – first president of the Weimar Republic
  • Adam Opel (mechanic) – maker of sewing machines and bicycles, later a car maker (‘Opel’ cars in Germany are ‘Vauxhall’ in the UK)
  • Wilhelm Pieck (carpenter) – first president of the GDR

(from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journeyman_years)

When I grew up in Germany, I remember occasionally seeing men dressed in flared black trousers, white long sleeved shirts with a black vest, gold buttons and a hat, carrying ‘backpacks’ and a wooden stick with them. They seemed somewhat out of place in a modern city landscape a midst all those city dwellers.

When I inquired my mum explained to me the ‘concept’ of the journeyman; which I thought sounded like the most exciting adventurous thing you could possibly do!

Today, with crafts and manual skills rapidly disappearing or being outsourced to machines, computers and algorithms-the concept of the journeyman may somehow seem to be obsolete.

…yet in a way during medieval times ‘journeymen’ may have been the medium of carrying messages, information, knowledge, and skills from one location to the next- like an analogue or physical world wide web, and those ‘diaries’ must be surely insightful documentation of that experience. Just better in regards to the quality  of the message-knowledge as opposed to information only (statistics, data, statements)- as this was not only exchanged and perceived by verbal, written and visual actions- but through the physical shaping, making, repairing, fixing of physical objects, structures in exchange for food, shelter, and company.

Just a simple but direct exchange of activity (or energy) – no money or commodities and burning of natural resources required – a sustainable and community engaged journey of applying human ingenuity, experience, and manual skills for moving forward, shaping and determining ones own future path .

An interesting alternative to our modern dependency on ‘objects’, regulations, laws, restrictions, infrastructure and chase to reach destinations like data points.

Maybe everyone should have the opportunity of being a journeymen/woman for a time during their life…

1636497_3_548727716_7002Image from http://www.stimme.de/heilbronn/nachrichten/neckar-zaber/sonstige-Wanderjahre-einer-Gesellin;art1910,2212127

 

 

Documentation of a journey: The Crash Reel

I watched this documentary while traveling back from Australia.

It is exhilarating, funny, devastating, upsetting, and life reaffirming all in one…

…watch the incredible journey of equally incredible Kevin Pearce and his family and friends.

Love Your Brain

Denise’s diary of her journey to EAFS

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images of my journey to EAFS 2015 – as far as the eye
can see.

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Air

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Water

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Fire

My boxes: I made 4, one for each element –
earth, air, fire and water – containing curious and beautiful objects
and alluding loosely to some participating artists and their projects.

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and this was Earth and its contents connected to the sensing life
workshop guide by Bill Coleman, a choreographer from Canada, who likes
to tap-dance.