Monthly Archives: August 2016

A Lands Triptych – and a Twin Event!

Completing a Lands Triptych – and doing a Twin Event!

Two years ago I found a triptych – I mean I had the idea for a conceptual triptych. Specifically, I meant a cultural/land triptych which I called SSS: Scotland, Samiland and Siberia. I felt that Scotland and Samiland (‘Lapland’) were the heads of many countries, i.e. they are the northern tops of Britain (for Scotland), Norway, Sweden and Finland (for Samiland). And Siberia is the last vast north-eastern side of Russia.

The first step in this triptych articulation was at the Further North conference in Newcastle in September 2014. I have then titled the projects: ‘Triptych Grids and Unconscious Beyonds – Way Up North’.

I have so far travelled into two steps of this triptych: I have written on Scotland and Samiland. Siberia is still some distance away….

Then, earlier this year when I went to Cornwall, and then later when I was getting ready to go to Wales, it dawned on me that here was another land-triptych: Cornwall, Wales and Scotland! This time going to Scotland will be going far: I am going all the way to Orkney, and within Orkney all the way up to Papa Westray – or Papay!

And then a whole big project developed: my artist friend Irene Lafferty and I decided to go to Orkney and meet there. There were lots of reasons for this.

Then another close friend of ours, Esther Bunting, who runs Spirited Bodies, and where I have modelled before and Irene had drawn before, is doing a life drawing event at the Edinburgh Fringe (and also with a group called All the Merry Nudes). So we had the idea of coinciding with her, to do a parallel sister event – life drawing and poetry – at that time, so we run in synchronicity!

And there we are: a Triptych and a Twin event! 3 + 2.

Triptychs. Grids: because they map landscapes and find similarities, like twin towns or triplet towns, but as a land pieces – and coastal pieces, seaside sides.

So now I had Cambourne and the Coast in Cornwall, Pembrokeshire in Wales, and I will have Orkney in Scotland! Lots of coastlines, lots of water, lots of rock alongside it!

The photos here are from the middle part of this triptych, ie. from Wales – here Pembrokeshire.

Papay Westray seems to be full of art! There’s an Arts Centre called Papey Listskjul and there is a cultural centre called the Kelp Store!  That’s all around the amazing visual and archeological sensation and Neolithic settlement which makes that island so special.

So for the event the 23rd August is the date! This day also is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition! So we are also inspired by the road to freedom and self-determination.

We will be at the Kelp Store from 7 – 9 pm (so Irene draws, plus anyone else who would like to join in, and I will model and also perform some of my poetry: and together we are the Escape Artists). Esther’s Twin-and-Fringe event is from 8 – 10, so we overlap in the middle.  At first we were going to coincide fully with the time but latitude plus wind movement made us decide to do the event in wave-form – like a time-wave or an event-wave. So therefore we’ll be Papay Meridian Zone, collaborating with Edinburgh Fringe time zone.

And also what makes Papay special is that they are so art-active! On a small island with less than a hundred people on it! If any place could be an Art Republic, they could!

And there’s a lot more writing to follow on all the three bits, and all in one and each and every which way, there is a lot to write about these magic triple journeys. So more is on its way!

Now it’s the Olympics as well, so these triptychs become a triathlon as well!




Brita: This is what Britain would be

If it left the EU

If it was no longer in

You wouldn’t even be able to spell it!

It wouldn’t be in one piece anymore!

Something would have broken off it

So BritaIN is in by default

As part of its anatomy, its grammer,

Its consistency: that’s what the word says!


You can’t change it

Without changing Britain to Brita

Losing it’s ‘in’, feeling short-changed!


So you can’t take the EU out of Britain, it’s IN!

So you can’t take it out

Without changing the whole language

And is that worth it?


Who would want to live in Brita?

Who wouldn’t feel

That there is something missing?                                                                    © Ursula Troche, 8.16

Break-off     As the referendum drew to a close, I returned from work. I had been working at Morley College, just south of the river, and not too far from the Houses of Parliament across the bridge. As I finished at 9 pm, I walked across that bridge, across the river, past these oh so familiar Houses, as the sky had gone into evening mode. It, the sky, was some sort of hazy, foggy orange – maybe an effect of the flood that morning. I was looking sharply at these Houses (as sharp as was possible in that foggy light) and asked myself: would these Houses continue to stand, or what they swim away, disintegrate, break off and out, or roll down the River Thames! Would the land hold or would the water take it? And would the water then submerge the structure until no more structure, no more framework, prevails?

By next morning it had indeed gone swimming! It had left! Houses in the water!

The Parliament of course hadn’t, government had – but at that moment the flux took all, it had taken all of us who were in shock!

Like there was no more leg to stand on, no more land to tread on, live on, and rely on like a rock, as we had done all these years, even in opposition! Even though capitalism bugs us and colonialism bugs us, we had still somehow believed in the land – knowing that there are ‘people like us’ here and across the borders.

This shaken land was somehow still there, but now, having left, it had estranged itself from its neighbours. It now felt like a ghost town, ghost land, ghost country, ghastly lonely, deserted, surreal, ‘left’ alone.

The good irony of course, is that the Thames flows into the North Sea, and the North Sea takes its waters further into Europe! It’s part of a system that it can’t deny. It can flow but it can’t hide. Norway and Iceland have never her ignored this system because they contribute to the International Community in the EEA, and as Nordic Neighbours. Now this country didn’t want EEA, it didn’t want the EU, it has denied itself.

It has to be said that the water too, is not to blame: listen to the Shipping Forecast and you will hear!  – Europe is all around us. There should really be no illusions over where we belong.


Though we somehow know that the land can’t escape, it had pretended that it can, and so that ‘Brexit moment’ was one of homelessness (and hopelessness). If it leaves the EU, where will it go? There is no other family that could take it in, because if you look on a map, you will find that there is no other Community it could belong to than the European one!

It could cut itself off but then what? What will it do on its own, without people coming and going, no hussle and no bussle, just a lonely island in need of love and affection. It had severed itself from its cozy home that it had all these years.


Some of us had been used to feeling and living otherness, mostly for postcolonial reasons, identity and all that. But with the referendum a further, totally new dimension had come in. Like a curtain call – but we don’t show ourselvs to an audience after. Like an Iron Curtain or a Veil.

Oh please let the sun shine in! I want the Age of Aquarius, I don’t want separation, I don’t want to come to a standstill!

Like a lost belonging – like a belonging lost.

The ‘Right to Remain’: this is an organisation campaigning for refugees. And now have to campaign for the right to remain in the EU, now we have become refugees. We are all refugees now! Will we get Leave to Remain for the UK?

The Political is Personal


(The Referendum, the EU): Sociology / Psychology / Thought / Intuition / Division / my Mum

Remember the good old and true feminist slogan The Personal is Political? Now, after that so-called Brexit referendum we’ve had, the political has become personal!

It’s been true before, in both directions: the personal has been political and the political has been personal, but it never applied to all of us intensively, maybe for some it hovered just a little bit in the ‘underground’ and often barely noticeable – but now it has come out wide and bright for many more of us!  It’s because this hasn’t been simply an election, it’s been a decision that could cost us our passport, our ‘passing rights’! When was a vote ever as far-reaching and consequential as this? When did a vote ever affect a passport, a birth-right, something that has already happened?

Our ‘passing right’: it’s funny for me to say ‘us’ here, not because of what I think but because of who I am: I am not British So I am not affected by the British passport as such, but I am affected in other ways. So in that sense, it is still ‘us’ who are affected: it’s just that we are, at its most extreme, two sides of the same coin, and, at its most likely: friends.

So it is us, it is we: we who are worried about our separation from each other, and worried about how a country can ‘live’ in isolation, how a country can manage separatism and survive – and how other countries could manage this separation! Because separation affects both sides of a division! Even the thought of having a division where there was none before! It’s a strange thing! Why make a division when we lived happily without it?

So it’s the political gone personal. Division. divorce. Separation. Seclusion. What more do we need against each other and why? Who gets what and how do we define this – or how will this be defined by whoever the definer will be – or signifier?  This sort of definition is not all black and white by any means, so:  50 shades of… well, Article 50? 50 shades of cloudy prospects for the future? 50 shades of shadows (over our future).

Referendum and Mum

Personal, Political intrusions. Families too perhaps or all too often I think of the likelihood of my own mum being a leave-voter if she could, if she had been asked. She hasn’t of course, only Britain had the referendum, Germany and all the other EU countries didn’t. But the thought that she would have been no different than to confirm the division we are facing here. Any country could or would  have been divided – how lucky they are, that no division was exposed, and life seems much easier when nobody knows!

Personal. Political. Division. But no, in my case it’s not a personal division really that I am talking about: I am not a divided personality, I am neither hesitating nor confused – but I am nevertheless surrounded by division. So it’s interpersonal, not intrapersonal! It’s not to be with my internal inner life, it’s to do with the fact that my mum doesn’t understand what I am about.

Interpersonal division brought on by politics.

Thinking – and Mum

How does division happen then? One thing I observed is that it can centre around people’s attitude towards thinking. Some of us, including me, like to talk about things, to think about them and to discuss them, others like things to be more simple and straightforward that they don’t need to be discussed or thought about. Many of us might be somewhere in the middle between these two polarities.

Me, as a poet and writer in particular, is on the thinking-and discussing end, and my mum, as a person who likes practical things, is on the non-thinking end. We all have to be practical at times, of course, but she has been to straightforward to understand me: taking time to think means for her that I might as well be dreaming!

And yes, there is a link between the two, I am ‘a dreamer’ (but I’m not the only one!), I think about me and the world, I could be a utopian, as long as it makes sense and is aimed at world peace! And because I think, I like expression, so I am an artist!  And I am interested in the world, and in society, and how things work, so I am political, and I am left-wing. My mum says she is non-political: she doesn’t think about these things, they don’t matter to her. And I think – I think! – it’s irresponsible not to care about the world, society, community, each other!

My mum thinks that to care about these bigger things is a sign of adolescence! And she ignores the artists and writers and so many others, who write books, for example, until well into their eighties. The irony is that I didn’t really have a ‘teenage rebellion’: I am just a different sort of person, who is different for life – or she is different for life, whichever way one may want to look at it. So we are different from each other.

In a way thinking is not considered moral either. Thinking makes you go ‘out of bounds’. Thinking is too experimental, too imaginative, too out of the box, too unpredictable, too smart, too clever! It’s not humble to think, it’s not modest – they think… !

It’s dangerous to engage in something your mum doesn’t understand. It’s too much like role reversal.

Thinking is too unknown to be controlled. And it doesn’t look like work! Thinking is a bit like getting an education, but perhaps even more so.

Intuition – Order – Generations

I am not – or maybe not only – talking about thinking as opposed to intuition: I work intuitively too, in my poetry, my art, my life. But intuition has in common with thinking that it does not follow an order that is already known: both intuition and thinking establish their own order.

For my mum that is once again too airy-fairy, too esoteric, too spiritual. So, I am both on the thinking level and the intuitive level too unusual and too eccentric for her to follow her well-trodden predictable path.

Thinking and intuition, too, have some internal order, but it is either a self-made, theorized, or a spiritual order – which is not the kind of order my mum is patient enough to even consider. It’s simply not simple enough.

I wonder how she was vis-à-vis her mum, whether she had ‘fixed energies’ in opposition to her mum, or whether this ‘fixedness’ developed later on. And am I more like her mum, or am i completely different?

Divided families or new developments? Expected or revolutionary?

Back to Brex problematic

With that ‘brexit referendum’ it all came out: those who like things to be simple and straightforward found the ‘leave arguments’ to be more simple and not needing further thought – whereas those of us who thought about things – and the bigger picture – could foresee the then-unmentioned consequences of a brexit, such as loss of passport, loss of freedom to travel, loss of friendly relations, an obstacle to trade.

It’s the thought that count! I have been having this ‘brexit division’ with my mum for a long long time. She doesn’t like to think about the bigger things but only about what’s very immediately in front of her. My ‘discussions’ are too complicated for her, and when I try to explain things, I am ‘making a fuss’: so I am in a Catch 22: if she doesn’t understand me and I don’t explain why this might be, she will continue not to understand me; and if she doesn’t understand me and I do explain why this might be, she will tell me off for ‘making a fuss’.

I do understand my mum: her world is much closer, much tighter than mine, and she finds reaching beyond her horizons too dangerous, too anxious, too frightening, daring, improper, inappropriate. And so I can’t make myself understood to her: that I don’t have those anxieties because my nature is moving naturally into a different and wider direction. I love unknown and/or foreign territories, new things, different things, entanglements, complications, unexpectations. I am in her blind spots, and in her weak spots. Spot on.

I wasn’t raised to look out into the wider and further world, but I did. I wasn’t brought to ‘make up my own mind’, to think critically, to ‘hold my own’ but I do. This is the irony: I do things that others credit their parents for, but I had to fight for this! Where other parents would be proud, I am beyond recognition!

Division continued

This sort of division is very ironic and absurd as well because people like me talk about – and live – ‘coming together’ and ‘living in peace’ and my mum would find this too wordy to listen to or to participate in. So how can we get together if some of us – literally! – don’t think that there is a need to come together!

I mean: maybe on an unconscious level there is the same need somewhere, but it’s not articulated and even denied. And it’s even voted against.

How to

And there is another side too: there is all this division but there are also entanglements, deep ones. And how to disentangle, how to divide, even if some people ask for this?

Imagine going through a forest, and not just disrespectfully fell all the trees, but try to take out the roots as well! The roots are so finely fiddled into the ground, branching out into hundreds and perhaps thousands of finer roots, getting ever more thinner and spindlier and intermingled with the earth that you will find you just have to just give up disentangling! What has grown together has simply grown together, thicker, bigger, fertilized, cross-fertilized and grown larger. Where roots have spread there are roots! Simply and eternally!

And imagine trying to take milk out of a tea-cup once you’ve poured it in! It’s impossible, it’s everywhere, it’s inseperable, it’s reacted and it’s in there, all is inside the other, all is together, and all are one!

So, as much as there are divisions about what people want, there is also the opposite: there are amalgamations, which cannot be separated, even if some might want to try. It’s a matter of recognizing this. We are divided in our recognition, once again, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things and relations that have indeed grown together.

Recognition in this is not about making up reality, it’s the awareness that the political has arisen out of the personal, and vice versa.