Green Language

Created in collaboration with ecopoet Chris Poundwhite, Green Language offers a unique perspective on the ever-present Folkestone Downs, through a blend of transportive soundscapes and poetry, we explore its rich history and ecosystem of plants and wildlife, inviting visitors to consider their relationship with this integral part of the local landscape.

We visited the area known as Holywell Coombe on three occasions during the summer solstice: dawn, the solar zenith, and dusk. On each occasion observations and field-recordings were made at three distinct locations: Holywell Fen (or St Thomas’s Well / The Holy Well – TR222381), Round Hill Holloway (on a chalk mound – TR220383), and beneath the Holywell Coombe Viaduct (or A20 flyover / Holywell Field West – TR217381).

This pattern of documentation gave the work a natural triptych structure, while the audio length of 16 minutes and 34 seconds pays homage to the 16 hours and 34 minutes of daylight on the solstice. Over the length of the piece, high and low pass filters slowly sweep through audio frequencies, drawing attention to the different sounds captured in the recordings. Chris Poundwhite’s accompanying poems dispense with conventional grammar in favour of layered repetitions, fragments and recombinations of language, which reflect the way in which birds are thought to hear not so much individual notes and pitch, but rather the overall shape and pattern in sound.

Green Language was commissioned by SALT Festival of the Sea and Environment 2019 and exhibited in a shipping container on Folkestone Harbour Arm.

Thanks to Folkestone Downs Ranger Alfie Gay and the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership for their assistance in species identification, by sight and by sound!