2020 festival exhibition

Where are the birds taking me?

Poems & prints by Ken Cockburn and Lisa Hooper

Hooper Chough
Hooper Crex
Hooper Wren

This exhibition features nine new prints of birds by Lisa Hooper, with poems by Ken Cockburn.

The birds are blackbird, chough, corncrake, goldfinch, heron, herring gull, raven, snipe and wren. All feature in poems written by Ken when he was Spring Fling x Wigtown Book Festival writer-in-residence 2019. The prints were made by Lisa in response to the poems in early 2020.

All these birds have been present in Dumfries and Galloway, though corncrakes are now absent, and choughs the rarest of visitors. They, like most of the others, remain present as place-names, even if the languages spoken by those who coined these names are now also either absent or rare. For example, Drumatrane and Cairnywellan (both from Gaelic) are ridge of the corncrake and rock of the gulls, while Cronkley (from Old English) is the heron's clearing, and Penfran Burn (Old Welsh) flows down the raven's hill.

Hooper More Far

Where are the birds taking me?


More far than near
more guessed than known
more heard than seen

their flight
their calls
their plumage

bullfinch-red or siskin-yellow
black silk of a raven
salt-white of a herring gull
the blue flash of a magpie's wing

as sudden as thought
as absent as forgetting

to apprehend them requires
a focus on stillness

an apprehensive stillness
opening all the elsewheres
the birds are taking us to.

Hooper Goldfinch

Goldfinch


In numbers a troubling,
a drum, a chirm, a charm

as yellow as certain cows,
as seaweed, or as buttercups

red you move among
the fretful heather

as spark, as flashing fire
in the murmuring grove.

Hooper Heron

Herons


A bird the colour of cinders seeks sparks.
Names are lights glimpsed among trembling shadows.


Cranberries in the margins of Cran Loch
near Blaeberry Hill distract from the crane
the Trainpool Burn names too except the word
in both cases probably means heron.

While we grant ardea cinerea
a hill, a ditch and a forest clearing
at Knockiecore, Crandaldyke and Cronkley
as well as the midmost of the Three Lochs

straightforward Chapelheron is a lamp
blazing with the wisdom of St Ciaran.

Hooper Raven

Ravens


Sometime sacred
sometimes persecuted

seek the raven betwee
the eagle’s sublime
and the heron’s in-
clination for still waters

in thinly inhabited parts
of the hill country…

at Craigeach
a farm of nine hundred acres
of which twenty is arable
the remainder moorland

at Carrifran Gans
a hill whose western side
is rough and rocky
in cracks and slits

at Bennaveoch
a rocky eminence
near the cup-marked
Sliddery Stone

at Penfran Burn
flowing its brief course
on the northern slopes
of the Black Hill

at Brandy Burn
flowing into the Nith
on the shore opposite
Ellisland and Burns’ Hermitage.

Hooper Wren

Cardrain


Formerly church lands
and now divided into
several small holdings

discern its future
by listening attentively
to the chirping wren.

Hooper Chough

Drum Kit (1)


Drumawa Drumawa
Drumjargon Drumawa
Drumcagerie Drumawa
Drummatrane Drumawa
Drumagilloch Drumawa
Drumadryland Drumawa
Drumawa Drumawa
Drumawa Drumawa
Crex crex Crex crex
Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Crex crex Crex crex
Gallinago gallinago
Crex crex
Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Crex crex
Troglodytes troglodytes
Crex crex
Lagopus lagopus
Crex crex Crex crex

Hooper Crex

Drum Kit (2)


Drummatrane Drummatrane
on the farm of Dirneark
Drummatrane is the corncrake's ridge

Drumawa Drumawa
near the Knowes o' the Rue
Drumawa is the ridge of the snipe

Drumcagerie Drumcagerie
on the farm of High Mindork
Drumcagerie is the ridge of the chough

Drumadryland Drumadryland
on the farm of Delhabach
Drumadryland is the ridge of the wren

Drumagilloch Drumagilloch
looking east to California
Drumagilloch is the ridge of the grouse

Drumjargon Drumjargon
hill of slight elevation
Drumjargon is the redstart’s ridge

Hooper Snipe

Drum Kit (3)


Crex crex Crex crex
Troglodytes troglodytes
Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Gallinago gallinago
Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Crex crex Crex crex
Lagopus lagopus
Crex crex Drumawa
Crex crex Drumawa
Drumadryland Drumawa
Drumagilloch Drumawa
Drummatrane Drumawa
Drumcagerie Drumawa
Drumjargon Drumawa
Drumawa Drumawa Crex crex
Drumawa Crex crex
Drumawa
Drumawa

Hooper Blackbird

Mnemonic


On the path beside the farm
a robin asserts itself.

Among the tall, tall sycamores
a chaffinch pauses on a high branch.

Where the stream loses itself on the pebbly beach
a wagtail bobs and flits.

A steep green rocky slope, not quite a cliff,
is grazed by swallows.

Now seen, now hidden,
a buzzard circles against the blue.

On the return, at the edge of the woods
a blackbird catches my eye and disappears.



Physgill Glen, Portcastle Bay, near Whithorn, 27 May 2019

Hooper Kens Birds Composite

About the artists

Lisa Hooper (ASWLA) is a printmaker specialising in wildlife and birds, who is based in Port William, Dumfries & Galloway.

Website: www.hoopoeprints.co.uk

Ken Cockburn is a poet, translator, editor and writing tutor based in Edinburgh. In addition to his own collections of poetry, he has collaborated with a number of artists on publications, exhibitions and public art projects.

Website: www.kencockburn.co.uk


Prints for sale

During the festival period, Lisa Hooper's prints from Where are the birds taking me? will be exhibited in the Wigtown Festival Company shop and gallery at 11 Main Street.

The prints are in editions of 10 and available for sale framed (as singles or as a group of nine) and unframed. Unframed prints are also available by mail order. Please contact [email protected] for details.

Notes on place-names, Gaelic and Latin bird names

Herring Gull

Cairnywellan Head, from Gaelic cárn na bhfaoileann, cairn of the seagulls

OS Name Books: ‘A head land which terminates Port Nessock Bay on the South side. It is a Conspicuous object & well known to mariners.’

NX091398, Kirkmaiden, Wigtownshire

Goldfinch

Its Gaelic names are buidheag, the yellow one; deargan-fraoich, red one of the heather, and lasair-choille, spark or fire of the woodland

Wren

Cardrain, from Gaelic ceathramh (an) dreathain, or (nan) dreathan, wren quarterland

NX123320, Kirkmaiden, Wigtownshire

Heron

Chapelheron, the second element is probably Ciaran.

NX455416, Whithorn, Wigtownshire

Crandaldyke, from Old English cran, crane or heron; dael, a valley; dīc, a ditch. Listed in Johnson-Ferguson as being in Tundergarth parish, but not on the OS map

Cran Loch, probably from Old English cran, crane or heron

NY005938, Kirkmichael, Dumfriesshire

Cronkley, from Old English cran and leah, a forest clearing

Listed in Johnson-Ferguson as being in Kirkpatrick-Fleming parish, but not on the OS map.

Knockiecore, from Gaelic Cnoc na' corr, hill of the herons

NX256597, Old Luce, Wigtownshire

NB Knockiecore is named Knock Orr on the current OS map.

Loch Heron is the midmost of the Three Lochs, flanked by Loch Ronald and Black Loch.

NX272648, Wigtownshire

Trainpool Burn, from Norse trani, a crane, more probably a heron

NY209930, Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire

Raven

Bennaveoch, from Gaelic beinn na bhfitheach, hill of the ravens

NX108336, Kirkmaiden, Wigtownshire

Brandy Burn, from Gaelic brandubh, raven black

NX923868, Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire

Carrifran Gans, from Welsh caer y fran, fort of the raven

NT155125, Moffat, Dumfriesshire

Craigeach, from Gaelic creag fhiach, raven's crag

NX391561, Mochrum, Wigtownshire

Penfran Burn, from Welsh pen y fran, hill of the raven

NS775150, Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire

Drum Kit

Drumadryland

from Gaelic druim na' dreolan, 'ridge of the wrens'

NX125681, Inch, Wigtownshire

wren, Latin Troglodytes troglodytes

Drumagilloch

from Gaelic druim a' g-coilleaich, ridge of the cock (grouse or blackcock)

NX414400, Glasserton, Wigtownshire

red grouse, Latin Lagopus lagopus

Drumawa

possibly from Gaelic druim a' bhath, ridge of the snipe

NX258657, Kirkcowan, Wigtownshire

snipe, Latin Gallinago gallinago

Drumcagerie

from Gaelic druim cathag-dhearg, chough ridge

NX 298579, Kirkcowan, Wigtownshire

chough, Latin Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

Drumjargon

from Gaelic druim deargain, kestrel, hawk, redstart ridge

NX410505, Kirkinner, Wigtownshire

Redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Drummatrane

from Gaelic druim na traighne or druim a' traona, ridge of the corncrake

NX261707, Kirkcowan, Wigtownshire

corncrake, Latin Crex crex