5. A proposal for Black Loch

Wednesday 31st August 2011

They have returned to the forest to meet Keith Muir beside Black Loch. They are to determine a position for the Yird Muin build here. In the spring they had rejected this place for its enclosure and limited sky access, so to have to build here might seem galling. However, all sites they have so far proposed create problems for the Forestry Commission, largely to do with public access, health and safety issues.  Their designs have therfore needed to be compromised, embracing such factors as any semi permanent build must be fireproof, not attract vandalism nor trap people and not be completely enclosed. Overall, it is finally understood that a permanent build is not an ideal solution here.  A sculptural semi-shelter piece would be much more favoured and Black Loch, they are encouraged, would be the place to do it..










Meeting Keith on this site then is good after all this time. He is behind the Park’s Dark Sky award and now feels like a true colleague. It’s a year since they met him, urban and breathy with naive enthusiasm at what they could possibly do. Now, relative forest professionals, they march about, assessing the North and South facing aspects of the sky, machine access for digging and transporting materials onto the site. Matthews heads off for a slightly higher mound, trying to find just somewhere that would give a little more sky space in this sheltered valley when lo! There is a hole in the ground.

With no electricity, no on site maintenance, now a relatively flat location and the brief to build a sonic interaction for this permanent shelter, Matthews’ current proposal is to make a silent space for listening. Nature is noisy here, water running 24/7, so silent star gazing (ah- the music) without sonic intervention is impossible.  She had proposed an underground chamber, a burrow, with 2 holes, one for access via steps, the other to gaze through lying down, but had never tested the..’ lie in the ground and it is silent’ idea.


So she gets in the trench and it’s stunning. It’s only a metre or so deep but take your ears below the surface and all sound switches off. Lying inside the earth, seeing the rock and soils layered down beside she has never felt more alive. And the silence is tangible. McIntosh comes to test and confirms. Then they find other trenches and realise they have been dug by the FC for tree planting and that there are quite a few. They shake on it. Overlooking the fact that some of the trenches are full of water and it is August and has been one of the driest years on record, they decide to dig 4 trenches. Silent holes for gazing.  Aspected carefully around the shelter. An excellent solution they think.