At a basic level I have always wanted my artwork - whatever the medium - to encourage stronger human connections with the landscape. Embed came about as I considered how to get audiences to pause in the forest and experience it more holistically. I wanted them to see different perspectives, really root themselves for a good length of time, become intimately familiar with a particular spot. I wanted them to put their phones away, to look and listen more intently. To employ all their senses. I decided that getting horizontal, getting really comfortable, was the way to do it. Humans love to lounge.
Hammocks. Beds in the woods. Let's hang out.
The handpainted signs are designed to evoke hotel door hangers, the purple and yellow colour scheme reminiscent of a popular hotel chain. The unspoken sentiment? Do not disturb.
The instructions - hunker down, look up, listen out - lean into the counter-culture phrase popularised by Timothy Leary in the 1960s: turn on, tune in, drop out. Very loosely, this can be interpreted to mean turn on your neural receptors, be harmonious with the world around you, and enact a graceful detachment from involuntary commitments (Leary, 1983). The original turn of phrase likely came with a hefty dose of hallucinogens but, whether you subscribe to that or not, it's still an excellent set of instructions for luxuriating in your forest surroundings.
My one big regret about this iteration of Embed was its lack of accessibility for those unable to use a hammock.
I was aware of this before I set out and intended to supply three chairs but circumstances meant I was only able to bring one, and that mysteriously went missing very quickly. I hope someone used it to enjoy some quiet contemplation elsewhere in the forest. I continue to search for it each time I return.
It is hard - impossible? - to make all experiences accessible to everyone, but this is a particular problem with outdoor activities. I am open to discussion about how to improve it next time I deploy this piece of work.
Photo credits: Colin Tennant for Upland CIC / Anne Waggot Knott
Embed was conceived as part of ROAM (West), an experimental project exploring the potential for ambitious contemporary art in rural western Galloway. Anne worked in collaboration with Upland CIC and six other artists whose work was also exhibited: Del Whitticase, Frances Ross, Hope London, Jack Y Tan, Sarah Stewart, and Savannah Crosby. Roam (West) was supported by Creative Scotland, Upland CIC, and the artists themselves.
Thanks to Kilsture Forest and its Trustees for hosting our pop-up exhibition.
Thank you to all the visitors at Kilsture Roaming, August 2023, for bearing with us through Storm Betty (link to blog) and taking the time to connect with the forest and with our art.