How lovely to be here again.
It’s been two years since Echo-Maker lit up the wetlands around Langport – in the teeth of a gale at the Willow and Wetlands Centre Christmas extravaganza. I won’t forget that in a hurry – we all needed a mug of cocoa-with-something-in-it after that one…
BUT… we haven’t gone away; the echoes reverberate – and may soon grow louder again. At the end of September, as you can see in the above video, the Hector family hosted an event at Stathe Bungalow Farm; a Crane Calling to mark the return of the Somerset flock to its wintering grounds in the landscape around West Sedgemoor and Aller Moor.
There are crane festivals all over the world, seasonal markers celebrating renewal, continuity and the beginning of another cycle. ‘His annual return is the clicking of the evolutionary clock’ as Aldo Leopold wrote…
So why not in Somerset? That was the question posited in Roderick’s ‘Philosophy Barn’ to an eclectic gathering of farmers, conservationists, locals, academics and creatives – some of whom would answer to every one of those designations (don’t tell Roderick, but we even managed to smuggle an archaeologist in!)
It’s amazing how, when y’all get together and talk, perceived boundaries become porous – and everyone begins to find that they had more in common than they had previously imagined, a fact borne out by the events leading up to the Crane Calling.
For who’d have thought three years ago that Roderick Hector would become the UK’s first farmer/animator?
Or indeed farmer/foley artist?
Or recording studio proprietor?
Or celebrity tour guide and sometime media personality?
But he did – all of those things. And it strikes me that farming – and indeed conservation – will, in a time of great change, more widely need to embrace the adventurous spirit of collaboration that he and Damon (of the Great Crane Project, now RSPB conservation officer for the Levels) have brought to this endeavour.
Bertolt Brecht described art as being not a mirror held to society, rather a hammer with which to shape it. The blows, however, need not be harsh; artistic process carries a soft power – is a means of building bridges, a vessel for gentle activism.
There’s more to come…