Julia Parks: The Wool Aliens & other short films

A shiny red gloved hand holds a bunch of green weeds, with leaves and burrs sticking out in various directions. The soft focus background is a haze of green and white speckles.

These films will screen with subtitles for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing viewers

Join us for an afternoon screening of short films by artist filmmaker Julia Parks, whose work explores relationships between landscapes, plants, people and industry, often using 16mm film, archival footage, poetry and song. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Julia and regular collaborator, Cumbrian poet Kate Davis. 

The programme will include 3 films made by Julia in 2023 as part of a 6-month artist residency with Alchemy Film & Arts in the Scottish Borders, through which she researched and engaged with communities along the Teviot and Tweed Rivers. The resulting films investigate the complex, often contradictory, and sometimes comical relationship between humans, plants and animals in industrial and social contexts. The programme will also include a screening of Seaweed (2022) – a moving image artwork that explores the folklore, ecology, and history of seaweed in northern Scotland – and The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk (2019), which reinterprets a series of poems from the debut book of Cumbrian poet Kate Davis, telling the personal story of contracting polio as a young girl, her resulting disability and the slow process of learning to walk again.

In the early 20th century, a botanist named Ida Hayward discovered more than 300 plant species native to Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Africa growing on the banks of the River Tweed in Scotland. Hayward found that the wool industry was moving plants around the globe. The plants along the Tweed had grown from seeds that had been washed from the local woollen mills as part of the region’s world-famous textile industry. The Wool Aliens is a layered cinematic study of the region along the Teviot and Tweed Rivers in Scotland that originated in a residency project hosted by Alchemy Film & Arts between April and October 2022. Working with 16mm, Parks emphasises the tactile entanglement between the wool industry, the local flora, migration and the colonial project. [Open City Documentary Festival, 2023]

An affectionate portrait in 16mm of the Burryman – a long-lasting tactile tradition in South Queensferry, Scotland, in which a man dresses in a head-to-toe outfit of sticky burrs and parades the streets for one day each August. Filmed over a week, the film follows Andrew – the current Burryman – in his journey to collect the burrs, make the outfit and parade the South Queensferry streets during a single sun-soaked day in August 2022. We learn why he does it and speculate on where the tradition might have started, where it might be headed, and why it is important to the town. [Michael Pattison, Alchemy Film & Arts, 2023]

Filmed over four seasons, All Flesh Is Grass explores the contemporary and ambiguous relationship between animals, human customs and the so-called natural world of the Scottish Borders.

A 16mm moving image artwork that explores the folklore, ecology, and history of seaweed in northern Scotland. Voiced by seaweed harvesters, workers in the alginate factories, environmental activists, archaeologists & seaweed farmers behind the miracle resource. The film includes archive footage, oral histories and contemporary documentary footage of people working with seaweed. 

With thanks to Scotland’s Moving Image Archive.

“We never speak of it, but here we know the land can’t be trusted.” This film reinterprets a series of poems from the debut book of Cumbrian poet Kate Davis. It tells a personal narrative of contracting polio as a young girl, her subsequent disability and slow process of learning to walk again.

Julia Parks is an artist filmmaker exploring the different relationships between landscapes, plants, people and industry. She works with experimental documentary forms often using 16mm film, archival footage, poetry and song. 

In 2022 she took part in a 6-month residency with Alchemy Film & Arts in Hawick as part of their The Teviot, the Flag and the Rich, Rich Soil programme. The four films she made premiered at the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in April 2023 & screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival & Brazier International Film Festival in summer/autumn 2023. 

Julia grew up and lived for most of her life in West Cumbria. She is currently based between West Cumbria & Hawick in the Scottish Borders. 

Kate Davis is a poet and storyteller. She was born in 1951 on the Furness peninsula of south Cumbria and has always lived there. Her poems have been published in Iota and Butcher’s Dog, implanted in audio-benches, sung throughout a 12-hour tide cycle, embroidered on clothes, remixed by a sound artist and printed on shopping bags. In 2013 she received a Northern Writers’ Award, New Poets Bursary.

The Wool Aliens 
Tell Me About The Burryman
All Flesh Is Grass
Seaweed
The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk

Dir. Julia Parks
2019 – 2023, UK, 81mins
English

+ a post-screening conversation with Director Julia Parks and Poet Kate Davis

Tickets on a sliding scale:
£5 / £3 / £2 / Free
Ticket guide available here

Watch 'Seaweed' Online:
4 - 18 February

In partnership with Julia Parks, Seaweed is available to book and watch online from 4 – 18 February

Watch 'The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk' Online

Watch ‘The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk’ (2019, 9.5′) + a conversation between Julia Parks and Cumbrian poet Kate Davis (recorded at CAMPLE LINE, Sat 3 Feb 2024)

Watch at Cample:
Saturday 3 February
3:00 - 5:30pm

The screening will be followed by a conversation with Director Julia Parks and Poet Kate Davis, with whom Julia collaborated to make ‘The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk’

Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI