Kavanagh and Biggs Lecture

Erin Kavanagh and Iain Biggs: The Crow Road

Wednesday 16 May, 2018 – Wednesday 16 May, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Newton Park Campus, Commons, 226. 

This performative presentation has at its core a new poem by Erin Kavanagh entitled The Crow Road, taken as a basis for reflecting both on aspects of the relationships between non-human and human beings and on related issues of place, presence and absence.

We take as our academic starting-point two observations: Firstly, Barbara Bender’s view (broadly interpreted) that: 

“Landscapes refuse to be disciplined. They make a mockery of the oppositions that we create between time [History] and space [Geography], or between nature[Science] and culture [Social Anthropology]” (Bender quoted Massey 2006: 34)

and secondly, Gaston Bachelard’s provocative suggestion that:

“It might even be a good idea to stir up competition between conceptual and imaginative activity. In any case, all efforts to make them cooperate are doomed to disappointment. The image cannot give matter to the concept; the concept, by giving stability to the image, would stifle its existence.” (Bachelard in Guadin 1994: 6).

Erin Kavanagh’s poem evokes imaginal reflections that both converge with and counterpoint Iain Biggs’ long-term research concerns with an animism ‘hidden in plain sight’ in traditions of Scottish vernacular culture. This provides the productive tension that animates their collaboration. The performance itself will consist of a resonant constellating of interrelated images through the process of both convergence and counterpoint.

About the speakers 

Erin Kavanagh is a poet and photographer, artist, archaeologist and academic based in West Wales. Her research concentrates upon the space between disciplines, encompassing narrative and knowledge representation, with a particular emphasis upon submerged landscapes. In 2015 she created a deep mapping project called ‘Layers in the Landscape’ in which to bring many disciplines into conversation with one another. This is ongoing and has piloted a POC employing poetry as archaeological method for public engagement.  

Iain Biggs works as a doctoral supervisor, artist, researcher, and writer based in Bristol who regularly visits the north of England, Scotland and the Irish republic. He has a long-term interest in deep mapping and is currently contributing to an AHRC-funded project on hydro-citizenship. He has been exploring ‘lost’ vernacular quasi-animist traditions through site-specific work on the English/Scottish Borders for many years, and has a related interest in convergences between ‘subjugated’ traditional ontologies and contemporary theory. 

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