In June, I was fortunate to hear a presentation by Toby Martinez de las Rivas at the Poetry & Image Symposium held at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) and hosted by Reading University and Oxford Brookes University. Toby was talking about his work while he was spending six-months as a Writer-in-Residence at MERL. I was very intrigued by what he was doing with layering text, but equally quite worried about his use of MS Word to do it. I could see so much exciting potential in where Toby is heading but a Word document is an inevitable technical dead-end for reproduction in any other format or media. So we started to talk and hit it off ... we got each other pretty excited about what we might do together.
It's a leap into the dark for us both because Toby is generously giving me free rein to experiment and explore what I can do with his material without a defined outcome. I have his poems that were written as responses to MERL's Eric Guy Collection, soundtracks that Toby developed with musician Neda Mirova, and the original Eric Guy photographs held by MERL.
Eric Guy was a photographer who documented rural life and agriculture in central southern England from the 1920s to the 1950s. MERL has a collection of over 2000 glass plates. It became a tantalising wait until MERL could digitise the relevant glass plates and supply me with high resolution files.
But now I have the images, I've dipped my toe straight in and am getting excited by where we might be heading. Oh ... and I haven't even mentioned that many of the photographs we are working with feature horses - what a bonus :)