Emma and Taylor Nuttall

Is This Just One Day?

Emma no longer lives in Cumbria, but grew up in Kentmere; her father, Taylor, now lives in Grasmere. In 2019, they came together on a creative journey to create soundscape pieces inspired by individual locations across the Lake District – places that meant something to them.

For Artful Ways, Emma and Taylor wanted to repeat one of these journeys, and collect new images and sounds. These would add not only to the 2019 work, but also to their memories, layered over their lifetimes. “Somewhere,’ says Taylor, “I have photos taken by me from this location when I was about 11 yrs old with my new Kodak Brownie Reflex camera…”

Circumstances didn’t allow for them to get out and do this, so instead, they reflected together on their past journeys, and on the project questions. Towards the end of the summer, they were eventually able to take a stroll in Kentmere Valley, following the trail from the house where they used to live together.

The audio piece shared here was created by them as part of their series for the Aerial Festival, which was scheduled to take place in 2020 but could not go ahead. This is how they describe it:

“Is This Just One Day? is an evolving ambient and multi-layered soundscape experience of a journey through the Lake District. The piece picks out locations around the Lake District, which have particular value to us. From these areas, field recordings from the landscape were taken and put to music to form a collection of sonic verses and words. This piece is a meditation on the passing of time across in the Lake District, of the repetitions of our experience and of our overall lack of agency with how this space can change.”

Answering the three Artful questions

What does creativity/culture mean to you?

E – Creativity, for me, is the process of thinking/feeling out an idea or exploring a curiosity by channeling it into something tangible – this tangibility might be text on a page, the sounds within a score, or the steps through a landscape.

T – Creativity is innate and implies the making of something new. A meal, a stone wall, a spreadsheet, a phrase, an idea. For me personally creativity involves being inquisitive and exploring, trying something out or testing an idea, taking risks and going where failure is a possibility. Culture is our expression and appreciation of these things in a tangible form as a shared and collective experience.

Covid-19 has forced us all to reimagine ways to connect. What have you missed – and what new possibilities have opened up?

E – I missed so many things! Creatively speaking, I really missed the energy that comes from talking to friends, peers and colleagues in-person about an idea. Enthusiastic and interested discussions provide new perspectives but they also offer the opportunity to circle a subject for much longer than anyone would ever do independently which is helpful as you usually have to dig deep to get at the true kernel of an idea. Unfortunately the energy and enthusiasm needed for that doesn’t translate easily over the flat medium of presentation-via-monitor. On the other hand, I’ve attended online festivals, events and conferences which have given me access to thoughts and ideas happening across the world. When creating ‘Is This Just One Day’ we collaborated online whilst living in different parts of the country – I’m not sure this project would have ever come about prior to the ‘normalising’ of Zoom throughout lockdown.  

T – During the lockdown of Covid-19 we became very firmly rooted in place. I missed exploring new and other interesting places, but I enjoyed the daily reassurances of the familiar. Opportunities to allow the imagination to take us on journeys have been invaluable. One such journey was a collaboration with my daughter Emma leading to the production of a new work ‘Is This Just One Day?’

How can we, collectively, and artfully, better care for our environment?

E – If the creative process is a way of exploring ideas, then the output is very often a final piece of work that presents new ideas or challenges the status quo. Creatives express their ideas in subjective and emotional ways, rather than through the objective lens of science. ‘Is This Just One Day’ is a meditation on the passing of time in the Lake District, of the repetitions of human experience across this landscape, and about our overall lack of agency with how our environment can change. Emotion and subjectivity are powerful tools that help affirm cultural beliefs, values, and our understanding of humanity’s relationships in societies and the natural world. 

T – This is such an enormous question which has local and global perspectives. We need to think more about the planet and how we organise this human endeavour of being. At a local level we need to be more aware of how our cultural participation is an act of consumption that requires us to develop creative ways to have at least a zero or better still a positive impact on the environment. More generally our voices need to continually make the case for change and connected thinking at an international scale.

Old Forge Cottage: Where we used to live

To listen to more of Taylor’s work, visit his Sound Cloud page here: https://soundcloud.com/taylornuttall

For more of the tracks Taylor and Emma produced together, visit the Aerial website here (and you are likely to get distracted as you discover the work of many more artists on this website!)

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