Ginnel

2014 - 2015

A project exploring the links between language and landscape in the North of England, created in collaboration with David Chatton Barker and Sam McLoughlin, resulting in a short Super 8 film and publication.

Funded by IdeasTap and the British Library as part of the Sound Edit: Accents and Dialects commission in January 2014.

Writing on the project published in Ernest Journal Vol. 2 in November 2014. Available here.

Released as a 7″ flexidisc, DVD and booklet by Folklore Tapes in October 2015.  Available here.

Ginnels are spaces in between: the paths and alleys that cut hidden channels through many towns in the north of England. Often following historical routes that pre-date urbanisation and are now squeezed by encroaching buildings, the dialect word for a ginnel varies across the north: snicket, gunnel, jinnel, twitchell, jitty, gitty, ten-foot, passage, shut.

Ginnel and its variants are amongst a narrow set of dialect words which are still strong in daily life: a local knowledge of short-cuts and escape routes, yet to meet a linguistic dead-end.

In many cases, ginnels represent a tangle of lines: blurred spaces between what is safe and what is dangerous; what is natural and what isn’t; what is conserved and what is left to fall into ruin. Snickets cut nicks in the fabric of the town: routes to sneak along, cobbled channels trodden down. Moss on stone on moss on stone.

Brambles tangled in barbed wire. Holly bushes poking through the dull, mottled metal of turnpike fences. Ragwort, buddleia and Japanese knotweed the ambitious upstarts amongst all the spikes and sharp edges.