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Voyage into the Interior of Volcrepe

Posted: Fri, 14 Nov 2014 11:55 by Amy Barnes

Voyage into the Interior of Volcrepe

By Mark Goodwin

[You can read Mist's Rave - Mark's response to the Affective Digital Histories' Creative Commissions call - on the Centre for New Writing's website here]

Back in May of this year I went on location with my field-recorder to Volcrepe Mill in Glossop. (Glossop nestles itself into the western edge of The Peak District. For some years now, I have imagined this town as an outlying cog of the great engine of Manchester – a cog that grinds against the edge of the gritstone plateau.)

I'm a sound-artist as well as a poet, and so the mission for me was to bring back some sonic textures, as well as some spoken poetry improvised in the moment in response to Volcrepe Mill's derelict building-scape. Derelict buildings hold a fascination for me, and this location – an extensive abandoned rubber mill – is probably the best derelict building I've ever visited. It turned out to be a sound-recordist's dream: the interior of the main building was one huge resonance chamber that picked up and mixed the sounds of jets in the sky, pigeons in the rafters, the gurgle of Glossop Brook, and church bells some miles away.

Decaying buildings are intimidating spaces, and for good reason. It's important to approach such places with close attention to staying uninjured. It's also important to have the right skills – I'm also a rock-climber, and so I'm very used to being careful in potentially threatening places. (I was also not alone on this trip.) So, I first took a recce through the buildings: climbing paint-flake carpeted stairwells; making my way across a rotten wooden floor by balancing along the line of a joist below the boards; moving from one building to the other through an enclosed steel walk way; and exploring the expansive factory floors, empty but for broken glass, cooing pigeons, and rows of ceiling-supporting columns. I was taking careful note of all the dangers; remembering the reliable places to step on and getting my route fixed in my head. I then retraced my steps to outside and had lunch in the May sunshine. Having taken refreshments, I then repeated my dereliction journey accompanied by my trusty, fluffy field-recorder ... and, as I went, I improvised spoken poetry in the moment, sometimes making use of the 'echoey' space.

The produce of my wee adventure – 36 minutes of poetry field-recording – informed and inspired my written poem – Mist's Rave – which you can explore here.

You can take my sonic audio-tour of Volcrepe Mill here.

The poetry field-recording – Glossop Brook & Volcrepe Mill – is very different in form and content to Mist's Rave and although it is not essential to listen to it to gain access to the written poem, it is certainly one half of a duo that meets haunting dereliction and abandoned industry.

Mark would very much like to thank Arts Council England who provided the funds to purchase the fluffy field-recorder that accompanied him on this trip. He is also hugely grateful to the Centre For New Writing and Affective Digital Histories for commissioning Mist's Rave. Mark's latest full-length collection, Steps, which includes a sound-enhanced poetry CD, is very recently published by Longbarrow Press.

Read Mark's blog here.

Photograph: Mark at Volcrepe Mill.

Tags: sounds, stories, creative commissions, creative writing, Volcrepe Mill, Glossop

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