The magical North Pennines landscape of deaf shepherd-poet Josephine Dickinson, which inspires her life and work and is the fertile backdrop to her real and imagined sound world. Welcome to her remote hill farm near Alston – near the highest market town in England – where Josephine looks after her sheep and writes her poetry. It’s her in-between land, a place between hearing and deafness, art and reality, home and you listening to the programme. It’s a challenging environment, too: in 2018 the ‘Beast from the East’ cut the local community off and emergency aid had to be airlifted in by Chinook helicopter, but in the spring the wildflower meadows are alive to the sound of curlews, lambs and bumble bees. This peat landscape is ever-present in her life and increasingly a source of inspiration for her environmentalism. Born in London, Josephine moved here in 1994 and fell in love with the moors - and with Douglas, an elderly sheep farmer who took her under his wing and married her. Josephine’s deafness started at the age of six, but hearing aids enabled her to pursue her love of music, and she taught piano and worked as an arts development worker at the South Bank. But seven years ago she lost her hearing completely, plunging her into a hallucinatory inner soundscape that tormented and fascinated her in equal measure. She can now hear her lambs and the wind in the cotton grass, thanks to a cochlear implant. In collaboration with BBC Radio 3 and sonic artist Andrew Deakin - from Full of Noises, based in Barrow - Josephine invited local people to share her Ark of Sound in Alston Parish Church, a powerful sound installation demonstrating that a deaf person doesn’t live in a silent world. Produced by Andrew Carter A BBC Radio Cumbria Production
12/17/18 • 29 min
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