Motherland, 2018. Silver gelatin print, 30x40cm

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In the vast spaces between sky and earth, I roamed far and wide. I ran across sodden expanses, propelled by the wind faster than my legs could bear, and I shrieked joyfully at the top of my lungs. I felt the exhilaration of reaching the summit of a rocky peak, at the top of the world, and sinking back into the springy turf, a circle of soft grasses blowing about my face.

I felt protective of the wizened trees that grew sideways on the high moor, in the unrelenting wind. I spent hours in their welcoming branches, my cheek cradled against rough bark, listening to oceans move through the leaves. I hid in the hollow hearts of twisted gorse bushes, amid damp drapes of lichen, and sheltered in the dark crevices of unforgiving granite rocks, where the smell of sheepshit mingled with the smell of wool and wax.

Suddenly a mist would be drawn over the land like a blanket, suffocating sound, numbing my sense of direction and wetting me more than rain. I feared the rusty stains on the hillside, or grass that was green, too green to be right, hiding a quivering, hungry bog. I feared above all the dead darkness of pine plantations that oozed like ink across the land: forests that neither sun, wind nor birds dared to enter.

I scratched my arms on boulders, twisted my ankle on tussocks, wrestled twigs out of my hair and cut my fingers on bracken stems. I thrust my hands into the turf and soft moss growing in dark, gravelly soil and I was home. I learned how to return blind to the farmhouse, following the contours of the land, meandering sheep paths and the shape of gorse bushes looming out of the mist, each one a different letter in the secret language spelling out the way.

I left Bodmin Moor when I left home, and I did not return. But its driving winds blew lingering mists into my skin, and its dark soil seeped into my blood. Many miles and landscapes later, the moor abides as a space deep within me: a rush of life, an uncompromisable wildness and a peace. It is my determination, my honesty, my aloneness. It is my reference for the deepest shadow and my awareness of the brightest light.

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