Following on from the event on the 19th October, writer, artist and independent film programmer Lucy Reynolds will present her film ‘Silo Walk’ alongside ‘No 8 Bus’ (1983) by Lis Rhodes and Jo Davis. This will be followed by an open discussion on the thematics of suppressed histories of conflict and questions of property.
Made between 2008/10 Silo walk takes four women back on a series of 'memory walks' to recall the time they spent in the peace camps of Greenham Common.
“By consulting the orientation boards which are sited at points around Greenham and Cookham Common, one gets a sense of the palimpsest nature of the current landscape. Different coloured lines navigate nature walks rather than martial trajectories. However, these boards suggest a new form of concealment, as the military past of Greenham is normalised into a form of leisure time spectacle. As our attention is drawn to the rare butterflies and flora which have flourished where the concrete runway once was, the original military purposes of enclosure, and the protests which accompanied them, fade from vivid site of conflict to local memory and a trace in the landscape. Most striking is the dotted line delineating Silo Walk on the map. Appropriately marked in red, this nature walk follows the remaining boundary fence that remains around the ‘Silos’ (in fact shelters), where the cruise missiles were once stored. Silo Walk’s title serves an ambiguous and paradoxical purpose: acting both as a commemoration of the Common’s past, whilst at the same time neutralising the dangerous nature of its military ambitions by inviting the walker to absorb these implications into the pleasurable context of a walk through nature. For Greenham, like Derry in Northern Ireland and other sites of past conflict, now embeds its traumas in the landscape, as nature performs a further act of concealment, and the traces of military activity are lost in the tangled undergrowth of the landscape. Silo Walk unwittingly suggests that this submerged history can be stirred again through the act of walking, re-treading lost ground as an aid to memory.
Between 2006 and 2009, I invited four women: Sama, Deborah, Elspeth and Cecilie, back to the boundaries where they had once protested, on a series of separate memory walks. Their re-encounters with a landscape transformed were recorded, documenting a space which, according to one woman was, ‘caught between two times.’ In their navigation of this altered landscape a visceral and violent territory re-emerged, and was haunted again by soldiers within and protestors without, re-igniting the angry deadlock between military force and civilian insubordinance. ‘This was not a peace camp’, one woman remembers, ‘but a place of war’. However, a space of camaraderie and creativity was also evoked; of dance, song and attempts to paint colour into military grey. Indeed, the traces of colour, symbols of moons, suns and peace signs, decorate the posts of enclosure still. Matching my own steps to theirs, my film Silo Walk attempts to map their remembrances into an alternative orientation guide of Greeham Common, inscribing their personal histories of conflict among the dotted lines and demarcations of the official history”.
Extracted from ‘SILO WALK’ – Exploring Power Relations on an English Common’ by Lucy Reynolds and John Schofield in Radical History Review 108, pp. 154-160.