Thursday, 14 September 2017

St Anne's Well

There is little known about St Anne's Well – an ancient holy well, originally called Wealletune after the place-name (Welton, East Yorkshire), adopted by Christianity and re-named St Anne's Well in c.1080. Prior to that it is believed to have been a place of pagan ritual, the well being a portal to the Otherworld. It's particularly meaningful to me as I played around the site of the well as a child. Unaware of the history beneath my feet at that time, I continue to be drawn back there in dreams.

"... the holy well stands before a long, if tiny and ill-lit, corridor of history with doors leading off into many unexpected and little-visited rooms..." James Rattue, author of The Living Stream.

The well has been covered with stone slabs for a long time, a tree has tried to grow over it.  It has been sheltered here over the years in the grounds of Welton House, a large estate which was demolished in 1952.

An archeological report made of an area near the well recovered early prehistoric, Iron Age, Roman and early medieval pottery from a  layer of ‘hillwash’ above the natural chalk; the presence of these pottery fragments testifies to early settlement in the vicinity of the site, including some which could date to the late 11th century, when the well came into being.  

Welton House 1923
I was fortunate to be granted access to the site recently and was delighted to discover the well and natural spring which is still seeping from the ground. It is awe inspiring to imagine the people gravitating to this water-source with their fears and desires over the years. For at least a thousand years, this ancient spring has served a multitude of needs. I hope to convey a sense of this timeless promise in the photographs below. 

The water is trickling into here. The well itself is about 3 metres to the right.
St Anne's Well (covered)

There are deer who have been on this plot of land for decades, they eat these leaves, a neat fringe.
Ganoderma Applanatum 
White Holly

This is an excerpt from my 40 minute immersive soundscape, incorporating CymaScope imagery by John Stuart Reid. It was first shown at Islington Arts Factory in April 2017 on the opening night of my solo exhibition How Shall I Get Elephants To Stay. Within the Cymascope instrument the surface of pure water offers a kind of super-sensitive membrane and by imprinting sounds onto the liquid surface, unique patterns of sound energy are created for every unique sound.

As the soundscape evolves, various bird calls sing out, while at the still centre is the heron. The heron is an enigmatic being richly featured in mythology and folklore. For me, herons can be the most beautiful creatures to grace our skies, and whenever I see one I instinctively feel it is a 'good omen'; somehow they chime with me.  In St Anne's Well, the heron may be both guardian or oracle, but always an enduring presence in our subconscious landscapes.

Ganoderma Applanatum

Ganoderma Applanatum, otherwise known as The Artist’s Conk. I found this one growing on a tree next to the well, I didn’t know its name at the time but thought it looked interesting, so I took it as a memento. It was fed by St Anne’s Well, Wealletune. So, apart from dreams where I roam these grounds and sleep in the water, wrapping it around me like a blanket, it is now tangible, I can hold it in my hand.