I was fortunate enough to take part on a guided walk led by the talented Emily Wilkinson up to Castell Dinas Brân (known locally as castle of crows) in Llangollen to explore the idea of A/r/tography.
Emily is currently working on a research paper which she will be presenting at a conference in March called Therapeutic Landscapes: Ritual, Folklore and Wellbeing. Her paper is called Kinship & Crows: An A/r/tographic Journey into the Mythology of Dinas Brân the landscape.
A/r/tography is a field defined by Canadian researcher Rita Irwin as a method of combining the roles of artist, researcher, and teacher. So far, this idea is rather academic. Emily is beginning to helpfully translate this into a more accessbile approach which she describes as follows:
“Essentially, a/r/tography combines the roles of artist (A), researcher (R) and teacher (T) in a way where they exist simultaneously. The idea of contiguity is important: things being in continuous connection or contact with each other. The ‘graphy’ part relates to writing or recording to make meaning. A/r/tography also contains in-between spaces where inquiry can unfold. It is a practice-based type of research, dedicated to living inquiry and curiosity.” Wilkinson, E. (2023).
Along the walk, we used site specific mythology and local heritage as our starting points, talking about crows, ravens and border conflict, Brân the Blessed’s journey to recover a magical vessel of plenty, Gogmagog the giant and his treasure buried under the hill, a giant walnut tree where the fairies (the Tylwyth Teg)celebrated marriages, Nant yr Ellyllon, the hollow of the Goblins and the quest of suitors to win the heart of Myfanwy.