The Debatable Lands

Zoe Childerley, Mike Collier

    Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored


    The Debatable Lands is a body of work about the significance of borderland identity, inspired by walking the English-Scottish border, exhibited in the region and published as an artist book under the same name. Zoe Childerley was artist in residence at VARC in north Northumberland for six months from April to August 2016. Childerley was particularly interested in exploring the political and human ramifications of the issues raised by the Scottish Independence referendum and the fallout from the decision taken by Scotland - and to examine how this decision affected the people of the Borders; and she said she wanted to ‘experience what I saw as one of the wildest parts of the country’.

    In the spirit of political and social enquiry, Childerley talked to the local inhabitants as she walked the Border. Childerley has captured these quotes on the detailed map she has painstakingly drawn of the route she followed; a route that took her along largely untracked land; beside rivers, through small communities, over fields and into Kielder Forest where she would hear the bark of deer and feel a quiet, soft dampness in what she describes as ‘magical spaces where dappled sunlight breaks through the darkness’.

    Childerley was also fascinated by the local names for the places that seem to define the history and identity of this debatable land. Windy Gyle; Murder Cleugh; Hanging Stone; The Tongue; The Schil; Windy Knowe; Headless Sike; Deadwater Station; Swindle Hope; Thieve’s Sike; King’s Cleugh; Conumdrum

    All of this rich well of information (the names, places, portraits of people, comments made by those living along the Border; it’s rivers, hills, villages, communities, forests, mosses, fields, flora, fauna, geology and geography) is captured on the map and photographs in the book produced by Childerley – ‘The Debatable Lands’. It is a detailed cartographic rendering, lovingly drawn by an artist who has immersed herself within the culture, the politics, the landscape and the communities of the Border.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationNorthumberland
    PublisherVisual Arts in Rural Communities (VARC)
    Number of pages72
    ISBN (Print)9780993349614
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
    EventDebatable Lands exhibition - Highgreen, Tarset, Hexham, United Kingdom
    Duration: 10 Sept 201625 Sept 2016


    • Photography
    • Borders
    • territories
    • Walking
    • mapping
    • Drawing
    • Landscape
    • Portrait
    • Scottish Independence


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