A Road Less Travelled


Blog post by artist in residence Angela Alexander Lloyd

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Good day Dumfries and Galloway… I’m back! Over the next 6 months, much like the migrating birds at WWT Caerlaverock I will be travelling back and forth from my home up north to the familiar softer rolling to flat landscapes of Dumfries and Galloway.

On the journey, it feels very apposite that I pass Dumfries and Galloway college where I started my creative career several years ago.  So many fond memories are associated with this place, in terms of the challenges and discoveries associated with learning to the friendships built with fellow like-minded students and the generous enriched sharing from the tutors. The knowledge of the familiar is a great comfort as I commence my engagement with the WWT Caerlaverock site, where I am truly a stranger in so many respects.

The unfamiliar of the residency permeates everything, from the new environment of the bed and breakfast to the people, sights and sounds of the wetland centre. The rewarding aspect of being a stranger in a new environment are the benefits that come from a heightening of the senses.  For my first three-day visit, I decided to resist dipping into my burgeoning rucksack and just absorb.

Looking, watching and seeing are three quite different aspects of the same sense. What immediately struck me on my first day as I navigated myself around the site were the windows. Everywhere, the opportunity for intense focus, a similar pattern of frame allowing and encouraging the unobserved gaze.

The necessity of affording time to observe and reflect is critical to my creative process and a luxury often forfeited in contemporary society, yet here, the opportunities present themselves repeatedly. I have something in common with my fellow strangers!

Of all the hides at Caerlaverock I am particularly drawn to the small old ones dotted along the banks of the path ways.

Unfamiliar with these structures, the small enclosed spaces, elevated on the banks were of immediate interest. Inside, the view to the outside through the rectangular windows is unclear either because of the Perspex material or the incessant rain distortion on the surface. To reveal the hidden the widows unhinged and I found myself visiting all these little hides and revelling in this process. I had my own journey of landscape “unboxing”.

Navigating the site, I have had the serendipitous pleasure of encountering several incredibly interesting characters. The passion and dedication of staff members and the visiting public is very evident. One regular volunteer and visitor who I feel will have a great bearing on my time here is the “Swan Lady”.  Her dedication to the migrating Whooper swans is quite something else. However, before I reveal her and her meticulous dedication to the whooper swans, I need her agreement to any collaboration that is bubbling.

Till my next post, I will leave you with a key inanimate object at Caerlaverock. A bright yellow wheelbarrow, that is heralded three times every day with a historic whistle that is very much ingrained in the history and memory of this place.

I will be at Caerlaverock from Sunday the 26th till Wednesday the 29th this week and would love to hear and engage with anyone that has an affinity with this special place.