“The more one learns of this intricate interplay of soil, altitude, weather, and the living tissues of plant and insect (an intricacy that has its astonishing moments, as when sundew and butterwort eat the insects), the more the mystery deepens. Knowledge does not dispel mystery.”
Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain
Anna (Nan) Shepherd has spent a lifetime in search of the ‘essential nature’ of the Cairngorm Mountains, a mountain range in the Scottish Highlands. The resulting essay, ‘The living mountain’, has the depth of a meditation around the magnificence of the mountain and the imaginary relationship with the environment that surrounds us.
It took thirty years for Shepherd’s book, written during World War II, to finally be published.
Awoiska van der Molen, in her third publication of the same title, builds on the pages of Shepherd to explore the essence of remote, unspoiled natural worlds.
The book was published on the occasion of what was supposed to be the premiere of composer Thomas Larcher’s concert ‘The Living Mountain’ in Amsterdam, which was postponed due to the pandemic. Archer’s work in entirely inspired by photographs Van der Molen took in the mountains of the composer’s birthplace, Tyrol, Austria.
The Living Mountain is a delicate interlocking of musical scores and images: the vast white spaces left on Larcher’s staves are filled by the intense blacks of van der Molens’s photographs; the composer’s tiny scribbles between the notes find a breath in the slowness that the analogue image brings with it and grants.
The brilliant combination of music and landscape tells of an environment that can enchant, showing so much beauty to take your breath away, but that is able to become so harsh to reject man, remaining inaccessible.