Nalini Paul’s poetry is inspired by landscapes, memory and subjectivity. Her first collection, Skirlags, was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Award in 2010 and her recent collection, The Raven’s Song (2015) is inspired by raven and crow myths from Orkney, Shetland and Canada. She has collaborated with visual artists, dancers, musicians, archaeologists and the RSPB. Nalini was George Mackay Brown Writing Fellow in Orkney (2009-10); Robert Louis Stevenson Fellow in Grez-sur-Loing, France (Scottish Book Trust, 2017); and took part in the ‘New Passages’ residency in Stornoway and Kolkata, India (Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2017, 2018). She has a PhD in Postcolonial Studies and works as a lecturer for The Glasgow School of Art.
Until the World Awakens (2021) is an audio installation accompanied by poems and fragments thereof, written by poet Nalini Paul with sound art by Suzy Angus. Experienced as a poetic journey into natural landscapes of the real and the imagined, Until the World Awakens reveals where elements of nature, such as birdsong, wilderness walks or the vast seas, overlap and intersect. Showing 12 – 14 November.
Birdsong is not always melodic. It can be threatening and intimidating, especially when it is directed at humans. While walking in Orkney, the ‘wild’ landscapes free the mind. But landscape is not separate from the individual as a fixed or permanent, unchanging phenomenon. Its being becomes as I walk through it, as wind, sky and sea move around me. My presence within this landscape alters it: birds hover closely overhead, screeching at me to leave their nests alone. As I walk along a road surrounded by fields, a lapwing flies close overhead, back and forth at the intersection between land and sky. The sea only listens and offers its constant hum as a seemingly unbiased observer. The lapwing cries at me with urgency. Its movement sends me a clear message to keep my distance. But I am unable to reassure it, now matter how soothing my words. They fall like meaningless fragments along the road, into the grassy verge; or scatter into the sky like alien birds.
Objects take on a strange new meaning, or are stripped of meaning altogether. Without use in the outside world, or within their usual context, they become something other. They lose their vitality and their appearance resonates in the individual who once interacted with them, in ‘the before time’.