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Back Tor

Anna Thew
colour 16 mm
seven screen installation

Back Tor

A multi- screen installation work consisting of colour and black and white film prints from seven reels of 16mm negative shot once every year for seven years above Back Tor near Strines, where my Father's ashes are scattered.

The installation is accompanied by text and photographs.

My Father died in January 1999. When my mother died no-one took control of the funeral. She was cremated, called the wrong name by an alien vicar and my father never collected the ashes. So we dressed Dad in his best suit like you see in the films. Laid him out in an open coffin. I drew portraits and photographed him laid out. We played Paul Robeson from a ghetto blaster in the church (the church for the oldies), mixed Chinese poems with Bach and had live music on violin and organ. It was a dead good funeral and the place was packed. His ashes we'd collect in style. We took them to the boulders at Back Tor, a long walk over the moors above Strines near Sheffield and scattered them to the wind. Every year we would return to these giant boulders, the land of our ancestors, and come rain, come snow, we would walk up there from Strines Inn and eat a picnic in the shelter of the rocks overlooking the heather. I would take one reel of film each year and one reel of 35mm stills up on Back Tor. And this is that process laid bare.

1999 - visibility 30ft. Mist, rain, rain coats. Thin horizons. The ashes are thrown over wet heather. The children write R.I.P. with his ashes on a flat rock. The print is blue and dark.

2000 - bright sunshine. dramatic sunset. Mauve snow clouds against shafts of rose pink light.

2001 - black and white film. Patches of snow. Close ups of frozen grass. The camera wobbles and is blown sideways by the icy wind. My fingers freeze numb to the metal of the camera. A pile of black rocks.

2002 underexposed for some reason... is it the print. Rain, drizzle, cats paws on puddles forming in pools of peat. The slabs of dark mill stone worn to the shape of a primeval animal.

2003 - 7245 daylight film. Extra-ordinary blue. Expanse of coarse maram grass flattened pressed like bronze filigree from the recent snow, round dense strips of deep purple heather. Blue horizon. Strange forms. A molten moon.

2004 - glints across the black reservoir far below, a fresh route past towering rocks and across the open moor. No longer so rigorous. His ashes must have spread. In another climate this would be the Sinai desert.

2005 - I cannot find a 2005 entry. There is only the log of edge numbers. Perhaps the process is complete. I went home and played a tune on his piano instead.

2006 - continued.

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