On The Up? North-of-Ireland Uplands in Times of Change

On The Up? North-of-Ireland Uplands in Times of Change

Date: 15/12/2021 16:06

Northern Ireland Screen, in conjunction with quarto collective, announces the release of a beautiful film and accompanying essay curated in response to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland-supported programme of digitisation of the Ulster Television Archives.

Bryonie Reid and Gemma Reid formed quarto a decade ago. Combining experience in visual art, heritage practice and cultural geography, they work at the intersection of people and place in past, present and future. They write, curate, facilitate, reflect, create and collaborate in arts, cultural, heritage and educational contexts.  

Quarto Collective tell more about this specific project, which uses the Digital Film Archive combined with the work of film-maker Colm Laverty:

We have been thinking about the marginalised uplands of the north-west of Ireland for some time. We are interested in their characteristic conifer monocultures and stretches of blanket bog. While one swallows human traces and the other preserves them, one spreads and the other shrinks, both acquire new significance in the context of climate change.

Human communities here are oft-neglected, but strong cultural traditions and the intimate knowledge they enshrine, of peripheral landscapes and how to survive in them in unsettled times with little or no outside help, is a rich resource. When we were invited in 2021 by Northern Ireland Screen to curate a short film from their Digital Film Archive, we jumped at the chance to explore the Sperrins through film and television from the last 40 years. We aimed to tell an open-ended story through clips of forest and bog, ancient remains and working farms, people, plants and animals.

Old debates are raised, with ongoing contemporary resonance: whether about living on a remote hillside, making a local living from a bog or passing on a farm to sons and daughters, these debates essentially concern those relationships between people and place that form a constant theme in our work. We intercut our archival choices with footage of our own, filmed on a day’s walking in the Glenelly valley.

An essay by Bryonie accompanies the film, moving off from her lived experience of an uplands landscape to consider the complex histories and myriad meanings of this landscape and others like it. You can read it and more of Quarto's work here: https://quartocollective.com/blog/on-the-up-north-of-ireland-uplands-in-times-of-change/