Laura M R Harrison

Holding Darkness (we looked so wonderfully wild)

I undertook two walks with Alison Critchlow at different points along the Solway coast, firstly at Bowness-on-Solway, then Old Sandsfield, Burgh-by-Sands.

Alison and I have been aware of our shared interest and love of darkness for a long time and Artful Ways proved to be our opportunity to spend some time together out in natural darkness. The most fascinating thing that came from the walks for me was the difference in approach to darkness in our thinking and practices. I tend to focus on the things near or below me, focusing on very specific points like a small area of water for instance. I rarely look up when working out in the dark. Alison, I believe, spends more time with vistas, horizons and the sky which feels wider or more expansive. My approach feels more inward looking, Alison’s more beyond and external. The discussions we shared about this gave clarity to my thinking and proved to be a reminder of the rationale behind some of the ways I work as an artist.

Watch the film here:

Answering the three Artful questions

What does creativity/culture mean to you?

This is such a big question that I’m going to let collective voices speak:

#ArtisEssential :

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

From an arts perspective it’s far more important that I mention what I gained, rather than what I missed during the pandemic. For me the world opened up via the digital and particularly video calls. I attended international conferences, joined arts groups that I otherwise couldn’t have attended in person, I got to share thoughts and ideas with others who without the digital I would never have spoken to. As an artist living in the rural north, I really hope that this approach continues, and access isn’t again restricted by geography or difficulty travelling.

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

As a lover of natural darkness, I think the best thing I can do is direct people to the International Dark-Sky Association website.

Protecting our planet is about everyone taking whatever small steps they can. Even within dark sky conservation there are so many small actions that people can take to protect the night sky and the creatures (including humans) that need natural darkness. Darkness is so essential to a healthy ecosystem and every action matters.

I also think that it is really important that we slow down and notice the things around us. I think we need to do this in a non-judgemental way with openness at the core of our thinking, something I think art can do very well when at its best.

Laura’s photograph of red light shone through water: inspiration for Al Critchlow’s Nocturne 4

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