I heard cranes from the moment I arrived – the valley rings with their voices – and saw my first within ten minutes of setting out the next morning, foraging along an orchard edge, white in the morning mist.
For now, my aim is just to try and get my eye in, and my hand. The cranes are not as shy here as in Somerset, but still it is difficult to get close enough and for long enough to draw. I begin to remember the frustration and excitement of drawing wild birds in the field – a world alive moves too fast to catch.
I’m drawn to the working landscapes as well as the managed reserves. What interests me is the entanglements, and the ways things become staged. I watch an agricultural worker stepping out with a mirror to scare the cranes off the crops – later I chat with another, who has given me a short lift, and wish I’d had time to ask more questions.
Alongside the drawing and the practicalities of getting around (hitchhiking, getting hold of a bicycle) there are the conversations – In one instance I find myself sitting between an Arab lorry driver from Nazareth and a messianic Jewish woman from a settlement (?) near Jerusalem. Switching back and forth between languages and frames of reference, taking bearings and describing boundaries in the tight confines of a driver’s cab.
And then there are the materials – I work the peat with a little gum arabic to make an inky paste for drawing, and collect scraps of this and that by the wayside, for future experimentation.