'Demons Land: a poem come true' is a collaborative research project led by Professor Simon Palfrey of the University of Oxford. Funded by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) and the AHRC (Art and Humanities Research Council), it employs film, paintings, sculptures, music and text to create an exhibition telling Demons Land's imaginary history.
Palfrey's partners were artist Tom de Freston, film-maker Mark Jones, actress Stephanie Greer with myself and Jethro Cooke working on the film's music and sound design. The exhibition is set to be installed at a number of heritage sites and was initially placed in gardens and buildings of Stowe National Trust in spring/summer 2017. For this installation I created a site-specific sound piece too, a little sample of which is below:
Demons Land is the story of an island underneath the known world, where in the early 1800s a man called the Collector brought a poem terribly to life. That poem is The Faerie Queene, a romantic epic by Edmund Spenser, first written in Ireland in the 1580s and 1590s. Spenser was serving the English crown, subduing the native Irish, and composing his shimmering, hallucinogenic poem. Amid the beauty, much violence.
Spenser never finished his poem – but colonial history would do it for him. In the centuries since its publication, The Faerie Queene has been coming true, over and over again, in colonised lands across the planet. It is coming true now, today, even as we breath.