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WATCH: New Darren Hayman Video
Luke Turner , September 13th, 2018 13:56

Watch a film from the Thankful Village of Wysall below, and read some words by Darren Hayman reflecting on it and the project as a whole

Wysall, Nottinghamshire - Thankfull Village #40

Darren Hayman's Thankful Villages project has been one of the most rewarding creative endeavours we've encountered over the past few years. In it, the artist visited al the UK villages from which every soldier returned from the First World War. A thoughtful meditation on change and rural life, the project has now come to an end, with the album that makes the final part of the trilogy being released in November. We've got the film from the village of Wysall for you above, along with some words by Darren below in which he bids farewell to this phase of artistic activity, and explains the context to this village, film and song. You can preorder the final Thankful Villages album here and check The Quietus soon for a large feature on the project.

"I have finished my project 'Thankful Villages' now. I have visited the 54 villages in the UK that survived the Great War with all their soldiers returned alive. I have filmed them, sung in them, slept in them. I am releasing the final third volume of this record on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War but the project was never about that. It was about dice being thrown across the British countryside and deciding where I would sit and watch and listen.

"We are overwhelmed by great ideas these days. The concept piece, particularly in popular music, has become more commonplace and I am frequently jealous of other peoples' creations. When I ever I feel in competition my instinct is to leave the contest.

 That's what this project ended up being about, not the chasing of ideas but sitting still and waiting for them to walk past you on a country lane.

 Wysall, in Nottinghamshire is almost a metropolis compared to some of the 'blessed' villages. It has a pub that does food, a village hall with events, and a church which shares a vicar with another village.

 It also has a website and that's where I found a notice, three-years-old, of an evening showing of cine film of the village from 1969.

 Twin sisters known only as 'the Miss Evans' lived in the village from the 1960s until the 90s. No-one remembers their first names and it seems they were a quiet presence in the community. When they passed, rolls of film were found in their home in a house clearance; the footage was transferred onto DVD and returned to the village.

'I'm not sure who has that DVD, it's around somewhere', says Councillor Sam Stephens of what seems to me like a pot of gold. He eventually tracks it down and presents it to me in The Plough Inn the day after President Trump's election. Sam suggests I watch the footage with Julia Savage who remembers the Miss Evans and could provide a commentary.

The footage taken by the Miss Evans is extraordinary. We are conditioned to film and take photos of events so that we never record the everyday. I have photos of friend's weddings and birthdays but not the shops where I grew up or the posters in my teenage bedroom. The Miss Evans recorded exactly what was outside their door, the hairdressers, the mobile library, the grocers and the school. All gone now. It is as if they knew; this is worth recording for someone, somewhere.

"I expect Julia to be wistful or regretful when watching the footage but despite all the things missing from the present day village she remains firm that the community is as strong as a rock, just as it was in the time of the film.

That's what Thankful Villages taught me over and over. Don't go in with expectations, don't try and shape and influence what you want to tell. Just sit and watch and listen and luck will bring the story to you. 

Just like it did with the Miss Evans." - Darren Hayman, Autumn 2018