Physic from Sundog Media on Vimeo.

Year of release: 2001
Original format: DV and digital rotoscoping
Running time: continuous loop
Screening format: digital screening versions available
Credits: A film by Kayla Parker
Director/producer: Kayla Parker
Cinematography: source material is 27 frames of digital video footage filmed by Eric
Sound: Stuart Moore and Kayla Parker
Production: Sundog Media
Commissioned by Aune Head Arts for Dartmoor Lives and Landscapes; the project was realised through a Key Fund grant

Distribution of Physic by Sundog Media
The Dartmoor Lives and Landscapes DVD, a collection of short films about Dartmoor by people who live and/or work in the National Park, which includes Physic, is available from Aune Head Arts (AHA-007 £10)

Lavender in bloom sways to and fro in a restless summer breeze, accompanied by monks’ singing and a tolling bell. Digital embroidery, stitched pixels of a late summer visit to the monks’ physic garden at Buckfast Abbey, Devon.

Production notes
In September 2001 Stuart Moore and I were appointed video artists by Aune Head Arts for Dartmoor Lives and Landscapes, a project that had been abandoned at the start of the year: movement restrictions imposed because of Foot and Mouth Disease made it impossible to film beyond the main roads across the moor. Our role was to review the documentary digital video filmed by the project participants in 2000 and provide a conceptual overview, to shape a coherent and professionally produced programme of short films suitable for distribution, and to work with the remaining participants on the creative and technical post-production of their short films; in addition, we were to make our own ‘signature’ films as artists, using the video material gathered on the project, which would form part of the Dartmoor Lives and Landscapes collection.

We were based at Aune Head Arts’ post-production HQ, a barn at Higher Michelcombe next to the village of Holne on the southern edge of Dartmoor. The barn had once been Greatcombe Equine Clinic, an A&E for horses, and belonged to Robin, a farrier and vet who was the brother of Peter (Comic Strip) Richardson. The edit suite was set up in the old equine x-ray chamber: a Mac with Final Cut Pro, an old desk, with three screens and three chairs, and our source material on a little ledge: 60 - 70 unlogged DV tapes.
Kayla's photo of the edit suite in Michelcombe showing the sliding door and interior of the old x-ray chamber, used for horses when the barn was an equine clinicFrom the hours and hours of mostly hand-held filming with ‘camera mic’ sound we selected less than an hour of footage that we felt had potential for development into our pieces. I chose a short sequence of a bed of lavender, filmed by Eric on a sunny afternoon’s walk through the physic garden at nearby Buckfast Abbey, a 27 frame section in which a honeybee visits the flowers, swayed by a late summer breeze.

Secret barn: There are elder berries, but still green. The temperature has dropped a few degrees in the last week, the sun’s still hot but with a cool breath. There’s a rustling outdoors as treetops begin to turn, seeds heads rub together in the hedges. On the ground leaves curl and gather.

I meet a new doggie friend, bright eyed and eager to please. He takes me outside to see the sheep he’s found in the holding pen by the barn. Sheepdog slinks through the fence and sneaks up among the long grass, nettles and thistledown. Lamb looks at me with pointy pink ears and stamps a cloven hoof. Dog springs back to my feet, licks my hand and wags his tail.” (Extract from my production journal 8 September 2001)

The collies of Michelcombe: Top dog, brown nose with special powers, he can see beyond walls into the shady insides; spotty nose, pup dog, second in command. Tabitha squeezing through the long grass under the Golden Delicious tree; sleek, dark tabby a sneak among thistles. Dozy sunshine, nettle stem scrapes against a fence post. Leaves shudder, a wishing percussion. The south wind shifts and rubs against the trees.” (Extract from my production journal 6 October 2001)

Watercolour: A track cut through the rock wall north up to Wallaford Cross. Dripping bracken, shreds of burnt out green, grass sucking water down from the sky. To the west on our left, wild open moor, no roads till Sheepstor. A plague enclave from the 17th century through the mist beyond Fernworthy. People gathering at the walls to throw over food parcels to relatives in quarantine. Bleak slopes with water running through. Bones, moss, heather, bilberry, granite, wind, crusts of lichen.

Each layby fenced off, tracks blocked with plastic tape. No stopping. Foot and Mouth. This part of South Dartmoor still at risk. Down to tiny Coombe, across the L-shaped bridge over the river Mardle, then up, up, up to Scorriton.

Outside the barn at Higher Michelcombe, the sun broke through and the birds started singing. Beyond, up to Greatcombe I could hear a torrent of water pouring down the hillside. Holne moor above, a giant sponge squeezing out water into the valleys below.” (Extract from my production journal 11 October 2001)

Publication and comments
“Their work was extraordinary” Richard Povall and Nancy Sinclair, Aune Head Arts (AHA)

Hand Eye Visions: the Films of Kayla Parker and Stuart Moore Cine-City, the Brighton film festival; Lighthouse, Brighton, UK. We presented a programme of 17 direct animation films, made over the last 20 years, for the third and final Hand Eye Visions event, curated by Ian Helliwell (27 November 2010)

Fairfields Art Centre Basingstoke, UK
Dartmoor Lives and Landscapes exhibition, Higher Moorland Centre Princetown, Devon, UK

Aune Head Arts’ annual dinner at Moorish restaurant in Ashburton, on the southern edge of Dartmoor; after everyone had eaten, we all went upstairs to watch the Dartmoor Lives and Landscapes collection of films and a shadow puppet performance by Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Education Officer, Willem Montagne (premiere, December 2001)