As part of our In Steps of Sundew programme, exploring the push and pull between nature and human presence and the effect that extracting resources from the landscape has upon those living within it, the artists were invited to remix four Corby heritage films to create new narratives through the extraction of archival film material.
Martha Cattell’s film Subterranean Harvest challenges the idea of the archive as a formal reference point for information.
An archive is traditionally seen as a place for perfect, unaltered preservation. And yet the heritage films used as sources for Subterranean Harvest attempt to freeze a moment of intense change and upheaval in the use of land in Northamptonshire. Just as Donna Haraway’s notion of nature/culture requires changing the methods and apparatuses of study to attend to worlds that are more than human, Martha applies Extractivism (the process of extracting natural resources from the Earth) on the archive itself, pulling and altering images from the digital screen.
Subterranean Harvest is made up of printed stills of Double Harvest, The Great Jib and Iron Ore in Britain, which have been physically cut up, torn, ripped, combined with rubbings from the steel maker statue in Corby town centre and relics at East Carlton Park, and in some cases stained and soaked with water from the River Nene and soil from Northamptonshire – soiling the pristine source and producing shifting layers mimicking the construction and deconstruction of the landscape.
Martha built the soundtrack of the film from recordings of contact with steel objects and ex-steel work machinery now located in Corby, East Carlton Country Park, as well as nature and woodland sounds from nearby Fineshade, Hazel and Thoroughsale Woods.
Pointing to a future of further renewal and change, Martha rephrases the closing words of Double Harvest. “The cycle [continues and is not] complete”.