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In the Studio:

Spring Lines - a collaborative project to trace, witness and respond to ancient sources of water in Sussex -  springs, wells, ponds. Together, Clare Best - poet and  writer - and myself are exploring how, over hundreds of years, water has been regarded, revered, cared for, stored and used, in a region where it has always been scarce. We each intend to work in three ways: directly from nature (documentary), indirectly from memory and imagination (associative), and in response to one another's work (reactive/reflective), creating a body of work that will present the story of the complex, fragile and vital relationship between human life and groundwater in the county.

We will make physical and imaginative journeys to water sites of cultural, spiritual and historical/geographical significance, mapping and illustrating the psychogeography of water in Sussex.

I was born in Sussex and have lived in Lewes most of my life. For the past seven years I have been working in a small area of ancient woodland making drawings and paintings across the seasons, which chart the flora, fauna and very particular atmosphere of the place in intricate detail. The landscape of Sussex, its rural history and layers of human occupation, are profound sources of inspiration for my work. The chance to explore sources of water across the county and to work closely with Clare, to whose writing I feel a powerful connection, is an opportunity I relish.

Clare Best studied at Cambridge University and took an MA in Creative Writing at Sussex University. She is a poet and writer. Her poems are widely published in magazines including The Rialto, The London Magazine, Resurgence, Magma, Agenda and The Warwick Review. A chapbook Treasure Ground ( Happenstance 2009 ), resulted from her residency at Woodlands Organic Farm on the Lincolnshire fens. Clare's first full collection, Excisions, was published by Waterloo Press in 2011 and has been shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize.

She writes "I spent my childhood in Brightling, in the high weald, and returned to Sussex thirteen years ago to live in Lewes with my own family. The powerful confluence of place, memory and emotion is at the heart of my work as a writer. I am very excited by the prospect of collaborating with Mary Anne, whose work displays such a deep sensitivity to cultural aspects of landscape". (www.clarebest.co.uk)



© Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis, 2010