OLD GODS – An audiovisual exploration of Cornish geology, people, place and story

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Over the coming months we intend to include some of David Bickley’s work and this outline of his current project is an introduction to him and to his approach to working in Cornwall.


Shooting Dalla in Morrab Gardens 2016


Nyns yw gonisogeth tybyans stag – yma edhomm dhedhi a vos gwedhyn, linyel ha personek.

— Culture is not a fixed idea – it needs to be flexible, fluid and personal


David Ian Bickley is a filmmaker, composer and installation artist. Originally from the West Country, David now lives and works in West Cork, Ireland.

OLD GODS is a journey in sound and vision that uses the ancient Cornish track way, The Tinners Way, as a narrative thread. As we travel we encounter ancient monuments, mythic forms, and the remnants of an industrial past, all immersed within an atmospheric and inspirational landscape.

As an artist working with audio-visual materials, I have long been interested in these themes — recently my work has begun to encompass collected folklore stories and has manifested in the form of a series of black and white “film noir” shorts made in collaboration with the National Folklore Collection here in Ireland.

The film stories that I create are composited from numerous sources, in an attempt to incorporate “the essence” of a particular aspect of rural society and interrogate the spiritual connections with the land and its mythology.

This particular project, and the idea of working in film and audio with the Tinners Way, stretches back to the early 1980s when Cornwall-based musician Steve Bayfield brought me down to West Penwith to explore the moors and the stones. This began a long and passionate love affair with the area, and saw me travelling down as often as I could, even, when living in London, catching the bus down from Victoria Station every weekend — roaming the coves and hills with a Hi-8 video camera, and the village halls and barns with an analogue synthesiser, making films, playing in local bands such as St Just’s “Tom’s Island” and recording music sessions.

Original project notes 1984


During lockdown, like a lot of artists, I took the time to appraise my practice and examine long running themes. I also went through over thirty notebooks, re-cataloging ideas, and ultimately uncovering a comprehensive plan for an audio-visual exploration of the Tinners Way.

Once again, it was Mr Bayfield who got the ball rolling by suggesting a live version of my usual immersive film art works — this became the “gold standard” as a possible outcome of the project, with other forms also to be considered — a gallery installation with multiple screens and a multilayered film with spoken Cornish and on-screen text.

One of the first results in my internet research was Thomas Goskar, and his enigmatic 3D scans of some of the monuments along the Tinners Way. A Zoom call revealed other connective tissues — a love of electronic music and synthesisers and an interest in performative folklore. Tom put me onto Lally, from Stone Club, who then put me in touch with a number of cultural organisations who all showed great enthusiasm for the project, presenting me with numerous resources and experts.

Recording at Tremedda 1998


This work has very rapidly developed “serious legs” — Myself and archaeologist / poet Adrian Rodda have now begun developing an underlying narrative, redolent with a dark mythic premise and powerful connections of “people and place”. I have also made contact with Merv Davey (whose brother Neil, co-incidentally, featured in my 2017 Irish landmark TV series, The Celtic Songlines) and also native speaker and linguist Kate Neale, amongst many others.

Shooting Black in Cot Valley 2010


The plan is to now explore and create the musical elements in collaboration with Steve Bayfield on location Penwith — using guitars, electronics, field recordings and snatches of traditional melody. The latter of these will be processed using analogue and digital tool and rendered into an atmospheric soundscape not similar to my work on the soundtrack for Ridley Scott’s “The Terror” which used traditional vocal motifs merged with Artic moods (only here there will be moorland moods and sounds).

Engaging with the musical elements at such an early stage of production will help “lock down” the “vibe” of the project and enable a more cohesive alignment of the team to the concept.

Another practice to be explored in situ is projected augmented reality — this is something I’ve been working with over the past 12 months and the use of this technology within the landscape of the Tinners Way will undoubtably prove to be a dramatic addition to the visual elements of the piece.

David’s previous work in connection with Penwith include; the LP’s BELERION (with The Orb’s Tom Green and Steve Bayfield — https://davidbickley.bandcamp.com/album/belerion) and SLOWBURN (with Dare Mason — https://stormtreerecords.bandcamp.com/album/slowburn-2) both produced at the legendary VIP studios in Penzance, the Arts Council funded MATERIALS (featuring the Nine Maidens at Ding Dong),  “Water on Stone” a Long-form music video for BLACK (“Wonderful Life” shot in various Penwith locations https://youtu.be/z-riUfD5f7M), a broadcast TV documentary on copper mining — Beyond the Dark Mountain (partly shot at Geevor, Lelant and Camborne), a short film for Mayes Creative, the online edit for John Potter’s (RIP) film on Botallack and Irish language series The Celtic Songlines (with Dónal Lunny) for RTÉ and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.


Working on music for MATERIALS Beersheeda Farm, St Ives 2013

Still from MATERIALS 2013

Working on Belerion in VIP Penzance 2014

Neril Davey and Dónal Lunny in Penzance shooting The Celtic Songlines 2016

Shooting Threads 2019

Still from The Bottomless Pool folklore film 2023

Still from The Thorn folklore film 2023



David at the Merry Maidens

David Ian Bickley is a filmmaker, composer and installation artist. Originally from the West Country, David now lives and works in West Cork, Ireland.



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