This collaboration grew out of a collaborative paper at The Royal Geographic Society and a collaborative presentation at The University of West of England.
The creation of gifted objects (Richardson 2001) given to my co-collaborators shifts the idea of objects placed at memorial sites (Maddrell 2009) into a gifted object as a memory of a ritual journey that also calls to mind the presence of an absent person or an absent place. In this project the gifted object was a pensieve (a ‘pensieve’, from Harry Potter, allows for the sorting of thoughts, or memories. Pensive can also refer to a tense mood someone seems to be in, and indeed many of the memories Harry views in it are of tense or awkward moments. It is a glass dish cast from one of the three remaining trees from when the land was Owain’s childhood farmland not as it is these days a large housing estate.
There is resonance between a space unutterably altered and the loss of a person through an object in death, both prompt an awareness of a larger scale that our individual human life is a very small part, which can trouble at our notion of control. How do we deal with feelings of powerlessness? Transforming materials and trying to create images that provoke the presence of absence is a way of connecting, managing the pointlessness. It seems that much of Owain’s passionate defense of the River Severn is tied to trying to save something that has already been lost once already – the magical wild land of childhood place and the trauma of witnessing “its slow death” Jones (2005:241).