‘Its soil was a plot she do the tree in different voices’ is composed of several connected elements: a single channel 16mm film, sculpture, 4 channel sound installation and print; each strand is experienced as a spectre of the other, to suggest a non-linear, spatial film. The work responds to the landscape around West Yorkshire which, in the Domesday survey of 1086, was listed as being laid to ‘waste’ (‘wasta-est’), uninhabited and untilled for a number of years. Through ‘she do the tree…’, material waste and its sculptural potential are connected with the surpluses of writing and film; asides, footnotes, and the rejected matter produced through the editing process.
Central to the work is the figure of dead-wood, and the woodland as system and host. The single channel film depicts the process of reducing a large, fallen Sycamore tree, where its dismembered limbs are projected as ‘frames’ from the mouth of a wood-chipping machine. These scenes are collaged with images of the rubble of a demolished sculpture department at Bretton Hall College of Education, and extended by an additional, separate soundtrack combining field recordings of arthropods (wood-boring insects) with improvised readings. This strand of the work was originally projected alongside the tree root itself, suggesting a convergence of film and organic material, and accompanied by a printed script that synthesised transcribed outtakes from the recording process, with notes, drawings, and extracts from other texts including the ‘wild and rough and stubborn woodland’ of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ (1320), to become a document of its own making.
The title of the work was revised to refer to a shift in the title of poet T.S Eliot’s modernist work, ‘The Wasteland’ (1921), which was previously named ‘He Do the Police in Different Voices’. This inversion suggests a shift in gender, towards a plurality of voices counter to historically binary modes of sculpture making and display.