Megaloceros is about longing – or perhaps hiraeth – for a lost way of being that calls out to us; a voice within that is growing ever distant.
It evolved over a three year period following its first manifestation as The River Of Time; a projection across the River Alyn and the culmination of a Creative Wales Ambassador Award from the Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Government (2013/14). A slow burn such as this is a feature of the labour-intensive process of experimental animation which is rewarded by unparalleled levels of nuance and content. Animators have a unique relationship with time – maybe one that is shared with geologists, palaeontologists and others whose minds occupy atypical time spaces.
The piece is a meditation on wilderness and re-wilding, exploring their many manifestations but being largely suggestive of what, as social constructs, they really are. That is; states of mind that reflect a way of being which lies beyond structures and laws, which transcend boundaries – and that are fundamental components of creativity and creative thought. Perhaps because opportunities to experience wilderness seem increasingly rare within our increasingly micro-managed and linear society, Megaloceros has an elegiac air, inspiring melancholia and a sense of loss.
Both ‘wilderness’ and ‘creativity’ are often perceived as spiritual entities, but for those who occupy their spaces they are more processual and part of a deeply familiar ‘toolkit’. This echoes aspects of some ‘indigenous’ cultures – including perhaps that of our own ancestors – in which the spiritual and practical did/do not occupy separate compartments. Ceremonies and ritual (including the making of images) represent a pragmatic means to a specific end and the creatures of the wild reside within our making tools, just as they did in those of our ancestors.
The beasts (wilderness = wild-deor-nes = ‘place of wild beasts’) that inhabit the piece are very consciously puppets; human constructs whose surfaces are suggestive of carved bone or ivory and reminiscent of both Palaeolithic and more recent figurines made in Arctic cultures. The species depicted are curated, each bringing their own sub-narrative which is conveyed in a booklet that accompanies the piece.
Megaloceros has been presented within a number of different contexts in Wales and England since 2016. In each it has taken on new time-and-site-specific resonances, most recently through a collaboration with Amgueddfa-Cymru – National Museum Wales and the Pembrokeshire National Park at Oriel y Parc, St. David’s, where (according to audience feedback) it resonated powerfully with themes of extinction and the climate crisis.
Paper cut-outs in motion; animation stills