Glen Lyon, Perthshire
May 19th - June 4th 2000
Watch The Path Movie
In May 2000 NVA staged what is already being heralded as the event of the millennium. Over a two hour night-time walk audiences encountered a range of artistic responses, from light and sound installations to more complex international performance and music, built around key natural features within the glen. For The Path walking itself became significant. The ‘horseshoe’ route followed an old drove road/peat track rising to 1,500 feet past a flowing burn with deep pools, rockfalls, ancient trees and scattered shielings.
This unique journey into the heart of a powerful natural landscape had the central aim of rediscovering what we might have forgotten, rather than just creating something new. It crossed a place ‘alive’ with history and atmosphere, carrying traces of our cultural and practical relationship with the land over the last thousand years. Linking in with old associations through procession and pilgrimage, the event picked up on the spirit of wandering, where the action allowed time for discovery and reflection at the participants chosen pace.
Extending this connection, The Path made an elemental comparison with one of the world’s other great highland cultures, that of the Himalayas, where Buddhism has underpinned and sustained a remarkable connection between people and place over the millennia. In an unprecedented move, nva brought musicians, singers and sherpa guides over from the East to create a specific transformation of a section of the landscape from a Nepalese/Tibetan perspective.
The walker may have encountered great hospitality, exquisite mantras, singing bowls in concert, helping hands through difficult terrain and the ever present sacred cairns (stupas) which mark significant passes and summits in high places the world over.
The incredible lighting of David Bryant and Midnight Design was used to illuminate the entire route and bring previously unseen features to attention, in an event co-directed by Angus Farquhar and Hilary Westlake. The main soundtrack for The Path, composed by Gus Ferguson, used the natural sound of the environment and through manipulation evoked a sense of magic - amplifying the resonance of the ‘power places’. The use of more traditional instrumentation highlighting the east / west aspects of the geography was fused with the organic sounds of the landscape. From the western perspective the ‘Bombos de Santo Andre’ Drummers from the northern mountains of Portugal created an unforgettable live “launch” for every traveller.
The emphasis was on participants making their own choices and deciding their own level of involvement. A number of interventions offered the possibility to participate directly in building cairns, carrying mani stones, collecting amulets or just leaving a pebble or something personal at an auspicious point on the journey. Even if participants had come with a partner, friend or group, nva organisation recommended that they walk without company. On completion with outlooks shifting from a literal to a mythical reading of the landscape, the participants had been brought closer to the heart of a powerful and timeless natural landscape.
nva organisation are committed to expanding the Glen Lyon Millennium project to include an innovative education programme and the tangible legacy of a mapping publication and long-term environmental improvements in the area.
The Glen Lyon Gallery http://www.glenlyongallery.com
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