Andrew Kötting's film By Our Selves retraces John Clare's journey from Epping Forest to Northamptonshire accompanied by a straw bear.
The film will feature Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore, Toby Jones and a Straw Bear. The film focuses on two figures, sometimes Andrew Kötting, sometimes Toby Jones as the middle-aged John Clare. As they channel, in their own fashion, the psychic wound exposed by Clare. John Clare is alone, between the two communities of the Epping Forest asylum and the hospital in Northamptonshire.
Kötting is dressed as a straw bear, (an alter-ego and metaphor for otherness). At the mercy of the voices and visions and the hard realities of the road.... eating the hedgerow, sleeping on gravel, foot-foundered but determined. Framing the narrative momentum of the walk – in the acoustic footsteps of Clare – is the more complex drama of the two asylum interludes. The forest edge in High Beach, the meeting with the gypsies. The desperation of being lost, with no sense of direction, among the ancient trees.
The actor Freddie Jones (father of Toby) plays the older Clare in his final Northamptonshire incarceration. At the point when his identity is lost.
We think, in its apparent simplicity of means, in the bite of Clare’s language and observations of the seasons and the natural world, this is one of the great English stories.