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ADS12: Melee

Felix Scobie

My practise explores the value of physical labour - specifically the innate, immaterial, poetic faculty of making.

Degree Details

School of Architecture

ADS12: Melee

J I M M Y

view from the island


Jimmy - a Highlander turned Cornishman built three stone houses. He did so with the unwritten rules: not to move a stone twice and to never move a stone further than you have too. Jimmy built the first and last house within the granite moors of Land's End, with the loose moorstone that litters the lonely interior.


The project has aimed to narrate the poetic faculty gained in the participation of labour through an exploration of the memories of an individual. While simultaneously creating a portrait of a man called Jimmy in the Penwith landscape he inhabits. The project asks: Can an individual’s memory of making be abstracted within an archival landscape to view the value of labour?

When the head and the hands are separated, it is the head that suffers.
When the head and the hands are separated, it is the head that suffers. — Like a drystone wall or Cornish Hedge, the walls of Trenow were not drawn before construction, instead they rely on an individual’s direct interaction and empathy with the material in front of them.
Turning every stone in hand, each one revealing its unique place in the wall.
Turning every stone in hand, each one revealing its unique place in the wall. — With the unwritten rules – not to move a stone twice, and to never move a stone further than you have too, Jimmy built this wall with old stone from moors and mine dumps. A typology emerges through every course, the largest stones occupy the lower half and the smallest, the upper.
Stones align across the interior with meaning lost in time.
Stones align across the interior with meaning lost in time. — The relationship between body and stone is carved into this landscape and transcends the corporeal. Granite cliffs surround this island peninsular and moorstone litters the empty lonely interior, with a rocky subsoil that restricts trees from growing. It is here where the Neolithic people landed, creating quoits, stone circles and menhirs. The stones align across the interior but they stand with meaning lost in time.
Jimmy’s houses and memories are pulled into a momentary point.
Jimmy’s houses and memories are pulled into a momentary point. — Across Land's End, an archival landscape of episodes and views to specific values of labour is created. The Stones on the Moor, The Stranded Whale, The Guddle Spike.
Tools of Jimmy. — Human occupation here emanates from stone and the ability to control and shape it. The Pobel Vean were said to hide masons tools in stone crevasses and under fern fronds. And giants would throw mighty stones that are still visible across the quiet moors. These spoken tales, told for centuries, have become inseparable from land’s end and act as a universal shared memory.
The Raconteur
The Raconteur — Jimmy and I talk most weeks… from our conversations a series of topics have been recorded. Using this, his family organised them into memories of him, revealing common themes like rugby, Scotland and Cornwall. But these written fragments exposed something else - they mostly reference Jimmy himself as a recounter of memories.

A memory is not just a passive recording mechanism, information is broken down into shards of perception then stored as fragments – to be reviewed, abstracted, embellished and even entirely fabricated. This project is interested in the malleability of memory. 

The narrativisation of the project stemmed from Jimmy’s own methods of recounting memories as well as from the context of Land’s End; An environment that is full of spoken legends and holds an atmosphere within the landscape that demands a lore. But the role of the narrative in itself is to act as a mediation between fact and fiction –a facilitator of quasi-truths.

view from the island — An amalgamation of Jimmy's memories and stories are freed from their original context to frame views of his past labour.
stones on the moor — A distorted stone on the moor pulls towards the episodic point - a view physically stretching across the landscape.
Breezeblocks in the view to Kitty Noys — The foundation of this project is built from quasi-truths. While the material focus has been on moorstone, another material has been lost through the abstractions of memory. The stone houses were double skinned, breezeblocks hidden within the walls with an external granite façade. Throughout the project there is reference to this forgotten material.
View to Kitty Noys — The view to Kitty Noys denotes demarcations: crop rows, hedges claiming land from the moors, scars of industry, Neolithic stone monuments and the guddle spike episode. These markings on the landscape can be paralleled with the marking of Jimmy on stones - an indentation from a tool as a declaration of existence.
Steps towards the View to Trenow — Here, a merger between the reality of Jimmy’s labour and the idea of metaphysical value beyond the corporeal functionality of making takes place. A transition between Jimmy’s experienced ‘world’ and my interpretation and adaption of it.
View to Trenow — The importance of the physical connection with a material, a momentary joining of lives between body and stone, is centred in the view to Jimmy’s wall at Trenow showing the Stranded Whale and Stones on the Moor episodes.
stones on the moor - stranded whale - guddle spike — Episodes in the landscape that distort to form specific views of the value of labour.

From a Land’s End vantage point, a Domestic Episodic point views the value of labour across the moors to the stone houses. Leaving Gwelenys behind, an amalgamation of memories and stories are freed from their original context to frame views of Jimmy’s past labour.

These episodes in the landscape explore specific values of labour gained innately in the pursuit of making, using memories from Jimmy and the structure of Land’s End. The stones on the moor reference Jimmy’s rules for wall building at Trenow and are based on the importance of the connection between the material and the hand for the mind, when the head and the hand are separated it is the head that suffers. The Stranded Whales of the moors are typically either connected or have their context removed, normally too big to shift, here an equilibrium between body and stone is created, it can be said an individual can be humbled by the limitations of the body within this symbiotic relationship. The Guddle Spike, in the view to Kitty Noys marks the landscape, just as a stone layers mark the stones they work with as a declaration of existence gaining a sense of ownership, Jimmy too marked his initials into a whetstone and placed it into a wall. In order to frame these views, the episodes within the landscape distort and morph like that of one’s own memory.



Land's End — Yn howlsedhes pell Kernow, owth omherdhya y’n keynvor Atlantek, y kevir an konna tir Pennwydh ha'n ranndir aswonys avel Penn an Wlas. Ow koskeusi pervedh enyshes, heb gwedhen vyth, tir a henhwedhel ha myth, le may ma an gonyow kudhys gans vayl a niwl an mor.

Animation provided a method in which to orchestrate these quasi-truths, merging real scenes and objects with constructed fiction. Early vertical tests combined the footage I was able to capture on site with digitally and physically created environments and objects to create an altered and sometimes ambiguous landscape. Some animations of the landscape were devised from real descriptions of Penwith but digitally fabricated, focusing on environmental conditions and descriptions of light and shadows, in these examples, details are lost which is in reference to the abstraction of memories. Throughout the project animations slowly distort from reality to total fiction.