Wednesday evening, and the digits on my mobile show that it is a little before midnight. After hours of relentless rain, this is a moment of respite. The wind has dropped too, and the sea is calm tonight. Editor Todd Macdonald and I set off to walk back across the coastal fields to the Northumberland village of Craster. Behind us looms the ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle, in front is a sloping field of illuminated bell tents. In the air is the murmur of a soundscape combining the undulating sounds of composer Mel Mercier with some of the most beautiful love poetry in English – and in Welsh. Welcome to one of the eight locations of Peace Camp, an celebratory installation created by Deborah Warner in collaboration with Fiona Shaw, and realised by event producers extraordinaire Artichoke. I am wet and I am cold and I am tired but I am most definitely contented.
Even a couple of days later I am not sure I have quite made sense of the experience of wandering among the tents, listening to the words, aware of the cold, wet grass around my feet and of the dark sky above, hearing the lapping waves only twenty or so metres away, and reflecting on romance, on my parents, on death, on my friends, on my partner Clare and on our children, and on love, and on lots more. I know it’s an experience not quite like any other – and the journey here has been an important part of that, from the train to Newcastle, the drive to Alnouth (and our slightly eccentric B&B), the further drive across to Craster, and then the walk across the land that runs down to the sea.
Todd and I have been working with Yacine and Steve from Veto Films in Newcastle to document this evening’s preview. We have recorded short interviews with Deborah (who is hobbling around on crutches with a broken leg that is mending), with Fiona and with Mel. Tomorrow Yacine and Steve are returning to make a short film on the first night – and you can now see that here.
We co-ordinated two other films on Thursday night as well – and you can see those below. But if you cannot make it to one of the eight locations before Sunday night (book a free place here) then there are other ways to explore and experience Peace Camp.
You can download and listen to the ninety-minute soundscape here – and also read Mel Mercier’s thoughts about it. Beautiful and, at moments, truly moving, the soundscape features Jonathan Pryce, Alun Armstrong, Bill Paterson and Fiona herself among many other reading and speaking voices.
The Culture Show shot an interview with Fiona which can be found on BBC iPlayer here.
Here is Bip Mistry’s film from Cuckmere Haven…
… and David Varley’s from Cemaes Bay, Anglesey.