Early Works

All the 16mm films in this series have been recently re-graded and digitised using a frame by frame film capture scanner.

Track 7 mins 22 secs 16mm (1980)

Track is a structural film, exploring interactive relationships between the subject matter (a train journey through orchard country in Kent) and a systemised, serial mediation process. The latter comprises a range of cyclic panning and tilting actions, which relate and respond to the actual movements of the carriages and perceived movements of windows and landscapes, inside and outside the train. This palette of repeating actions was then choreographed into a seamless, metrical continuum inspired by the mechanical rhythms encountered during the journey.

The film is designed to be viewed in a stretched, anamorphic format to draw the material away from conventional representation towards kinaesthetic abstraction.

Arts Council England funded. Distributed by Lux

In Motion 12 mins 50 secs 16mm (1981)

As a companion piece to Track, In Motion takes further journeys through three landscapes, represented via moving text and kinetic light play. The first sequence is built around an animated poem, inspired by the first timetable printed by the Grand Junction Railway in the 1830s. ‘You feel a deep, strong, tremulous motion throughout the train, and a loud jingling rattle is heard…The country opens rapidly but beautifully, and the scenes shift and pass away as if by magic.’ A thesaurus of words and phrases, written in this style, become the view from a train window, displayed in a way that provokes the back and forth scanning the eye might take as it absorbs the passing views. The poem cannot be read in a linear fashion, and becomes instead a series of fleeting impressions: as concrete metaphor for the observed landscape.

The second sequence takes the eye along mountain streams in Cumbria. As in Track, the camera executes repetitive cyclic traces, this time across the water surface. In this way the play of light is choreographed into repetitive patterns, linked to an equivalent sonic treatment of the rushing water.

The third sequence is set in the plantations of North Norfolk. The light and shadows between avenues of trees is rendered via time exposed sequences and rapid zooms, creating a rhythmic montage of camera movement on the edge of pure abstraction. A wide variety of exposure times are applied, sometimes radically over-exposing frames. The resulting serial montage is intended to echo the work of pioneers such as Hans Richter (‘1921’ etc) in its choreography of visual and audio dynamics, rhythm, and motion.

Arts Council England funded. Distributed by Lux

First screened at Festival Jeune Cinema, Hyeres 1981

East Coast 12 mins 16mm (1982)

East Coast responds to the textures, forms and elemental light play observed along a stretch of coastline in Happisburgh, Norfolk. It was first screened on BBC 2 television in the UK, where it was likened to the work of visionary film maker Pat O’Neil and his innovative multilayering of images using optical printing. This film creates similar effects by exposing each roll of film up to five times, using a Bolex 16mm camera.

The film opens at Wells Next the Sea, and observes beach life in the gaps between the long row of beach huts. The walls of the huts create a frame within a frame, whilst brief family dramas are captured in the spaces created. A fast film stock adds an intense painterly grain to the scene.

The following sequences were shot in Happisburgh. Repetitive geometries of groynes, breakwaters and beach huts are transformed via pixillation into evolving serial patterns. The movement of waves drying on sun bleached sand are overlapped and rendered as kinetic abstractions. Each sequence is accompanied by a montage of natural sounds, which seek to suggest a formal and dynamic equivalence of treatment, alongside the visuals.

The film ends in a cliff top rape field next to the beach.

Arts Council England funded. Distributed by Lux

Lichen 3 mins (1983)

Lichen was hand painted onto 16mm clear leader using photographic opaque, coloured inks and scratching tools. The drawing was extended onto the area normally reserved for an optical soundtrack, so that graphic marks would be translated into sounds by the optical head on the projector. Visually, the piece gradually increases in rhythmic and textural complexity and was inspired by the colours and shapes of rock lichen observed in Norwegian mountains.

Freefall 7 mins 16mm (1983)

Freefall is a dance piece which explores the theme of twinned energies acting in harmony. Two continuous flute tones gradually move apart, defining a range of tensions as they do so. At the same time, two dancers move through a sequence of static tableau which act as a graphic notation for the film score.

In the second sequence, the dancers improvise accelerating gestures, moving ever closer to an abstracted choreography of kinetic shadows and light.

The third sequence ties the physical movements of each dancer to a minimal piano score, in which each note or phrase corresponds to a fragmentary gesture or action.

The film was co-directed by Nicki Darrell.

Arts Council England funded.

Thera 15mins 36 secs 16mm (1984)

Thera was shot over Easter in the hilltop village of Pyrgos on Santorini in Greece. It adopts a ritualised shooting style which involved walking ten paces, waiting for an event or ‘interruption’ to occur in frame, which would then prompt a 10 second shot of film. This took place from dawn to nightfall, beginning in the lower outskirts of the village and ending at the hilltop chapel. In the interim, the camera explores the narrow, whitewashed alleys that circle the hill.

In the evening, the camera watches the villagers entering the chapel, to perform their Easter rituals, then records the start of a procession of the epitaph back through the alleyways, as the priest blesses each house in turn. Small cans with lights (seen in the final shot) are set along the streets where the epitaph passes. The explosions heard off camera are fireworks used to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

The film attempts to strike a sense of empathy for these Easter traditions by undertaking a village procession on its own terms. In doing so, it reveals the tension inherent in the process. The film maker finds himself in a lonely, voyeuristic role, observing day to day life in a rural community to which he does not belong. We hear activities off screen and behind walls. When we encounter the locals, they return the camera’s stare with polite, questioning looks of their own, before returning to their Easter preparations.

Arts Council England funded.