Transcribing Landscape – a reminder

Transcribing Landscape (portraits and tales)
residential short course at Schumacher College
Monday 20 – 24 June 2016

Reminder about this residential short course happening in June in the UK.

A rare opportunity to work with two of the region’s most renowned artists: poet Fiona Benson and artist Garry Fabian Miller. Together with sound artist Richard Povall, who facilitates the week, they represent three voices from across the artistic spectrum. So all are welcome, whatever your creative inclination, and all will find ways to connect in to this rich array of creative input.

We are exploring landscape: it’s touch, smells, sights, sounds, and stories (be they invented or real). You might work with the river, or in a field, or with a tree, or even in the splendour of Dartington’s famous formal gardens, or within the medieval Deer Park in the North Wood. You’ll find new voices and new stories and new ways of telling them, giving you new skills and new models of working.

So please join us if you can for this residential week as we explore our relationship with landscape; part of Schumacher College’s Art and Ecology Programme. Transcribing Landscape is convened by poet Fiona Benson and artist-researcher Richard Povall. Our special guest is the renowned photographic artist Garry Fabian Miller.

The narratives of landscape expose how we feel about our planet, how we act in it, how we care for it, how it moves us. Deeper forms of connection to the non-human through word, act, and imagining help us find other forms of knowledge and ways of being in the world. Can we gain new understandings of the ecology of our planet and our world at a time when this seems perhaps more important than ever? Science and its knowledges are failing to move us, to jolt us into feeling the fragility of the planet in which we all live, despite the clarity of their evidences and the increasing baldness of their language.

You will spend time in the landscape of the beautiful and diverse estate at Dartington Hall, walking, listening, meditating, making, marking, exploring, accepting, questioning, and writing. There will also be time for private making as well as group sessions and critiques.

Get more detailed information at

The course links to a two-day symposium the following week (June 29-30) entitled ‘Language, Landscape and the Sublime’ which picks up on many of the themes you can explore in this short course. Find more information at


Richard Povall FRSA is a sound artist, researcher and educator and is on the faculty at Schumacher College. For many years he co-led Aune Head Arts, an organisation commissioning artists in communities in rural locations across the UK, and working with the natural world in a wide variety of creative ways. His own work with sound and installation has been shown internationally and he is best-known for his use of sound in interpreting and re-imagining landscape and place.

Fiona Benson lives in rural Devon with her husband James Meredith and their daughters, Isla and Rose. She was educated at Trinity College, Oxford and then St Andrews University, where she completed the MLitt in Creative Writing and a PhD on Ophelia as a dramatic type in early modern drama.  She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2006, and was a participant in the Faber New Poets programme in 2009 with the pamphlet Faber New Poets 1. Her first full-length collection Bright Travellers (Jonathan Cape, 2014), won the Seamus Heaney Prize for first collection, was a co-winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize, amongst others.

‘There are two types of poet – those who see spirits, and those who just drink them. As Sean O’Brien noted when reviewing her Faber New Poets pamphlet in these pages in 2009, Fiona Benson is a sober, contemplative sort. But as her first full collection Bright Travellers reveals, she is as much drawn to the metaphysical as to the mystical, treating the poem as a kind of secular prayer…When [she] crafts her poems out of blood and muscle, memory and music, they stay with you.’ The Guardian

‘The pictures I make are of something as yet unseen, which may only exist on the paper surface, or subsequently may be found in the world. I am seeking a state of mind which lifts the spirit, gives strength and a moment of clarity.’ Garry Fabian Miller

Garry Fabian Miller creates glowing abstract photographs by casting shadows, or blocking and filtering light on photographic paper in the darkroom. He walks on Dartmoor for inspiration, the location of his home and studio in south-west England.

He has a deserved reputation as one of the most progressive artists working with photography today. Much of Miller’s early work was landscape based. He gained international acclaim in the 1970s for his photographs of sky, land and sea, particularly for the series titled Sea Horizons of England that were first shown at the Arnolfini Gallery in 1979.

Since the mid-1980s, Miller has worked without a camera using the techniques of early nineteenth century photographic exploration to experiment with the nature and possibilities of light as both medium and subject. His earliest camera-less photographs look back to the pioneers of photography in the 1830s and 1840s, passing light through translucent objects, principally leaves, seedpods and flower heads, into an enlarger and using them as transparencies through which light passed on to light-sensitive paper.
Since 1992, Miller has explored a more abstract form of picture-making by passing light through coloured glass and liquid and cut paper forms. In sharp contrast to the norm of photographic exposures that last for a fragment of a second, Miller often uses long exposures lasting anywhere between one and twenty hours to create his unique and luminous images.

Miller is represented in numerous private and public collections worldwide. In October 2010, he was one of five artists in Shadow Catchers, a major survey of camera-less photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Until January 2016 new work is included in the Royal Academy’s exhibition ‘White’.
‘The mysterious beauty of Garry Fabian Miller’s images makes us crave a practical explanation. How are these works, that seem to emanate an inner luminescence, achieved? Essentially, these are photographs made without a camera. In his darkroom Fabian Miller works intently. He shines light through glass vessels filled with oil, water and other liquids, which give the works their colours. Sometimes he constructs simple cut paper forms and places these on wooden columns at varying distances from the light beam to cast shadows on the photographic paper. Exposures can last several minutes. The results are hand printed by the artist. This is not a process where more images can be produced from a negative: light is recorded as light, dark as dark. The special type of photographic paper used renders a lustrous, direct colour positive, making each image a unique creation. As such, there is an importance about the physicality of the photograph as object as much as image. The results are skilfully controlled lights events caught in time. The simplicity of the method does not diminish the allure of the final creation: rather it has a deep and satisfying physical and conceptual purity. On one level, these images can be absorbed for their visceral pleasures of sensing light and colour. To be understood further, Fabian Miller’s works can be positioned simultaneously in the development of abstract art and in a lineage of innovative minds – fascinated with the almost magical interaction of light on paper – that can be traced to the dawn of photography.’

From the essay by Martin Barnes, Curator, Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Garry Fabian Miller, Blue Gold, 23 April-29 May 2004, Hamiltons, London.

June 20, 2016 - June 24, 2016

Schumacher College
The Old Postern, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA