Wide Angle: Travels with my gran

The prospect of filming a travelogue around the British coast may bring on torpor in most of us, but for former performance artist Andrew Kotting, it provided the opportunity to put his theory of "connect and reveal" into action. And it gave his 85-year-o
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Andrew Kotting's film Gallivant is like the man - larky and anecdotal. Born and brought up in Bromley, the ordinary geezer retailing snapshots from his own Carry On Camping family album just happens to have an MA from the Slade and an interest in conceptual art. Joseph Beuys and Tarkovsky are influences, and there's a performance-art past that includes wearing a giant cod on his head.

Part documentary, part home movie, Gallivant is an eccentric odyssey around the British coastline, stopping to collect interviews with local "characters" while checking a shopping list of anachronistic iconography, from pavilions to bowling greens.

If the landscape is a familiar one, then what Kotting does with it is more unusual, speeding up film, intercutting archive footage and manipulating sound so that his narrative becomes a patchwork of sound-bite, tour guide and philosophical backchat.

Kotting calls this poetic disruption of sound and image "connect and reveal", a device he hopes will create pockets of imaginative disorientation. "I enjoy transposing sounds and images, so you might see an image and store it in the back of your mind, then a few minutes later hear the sound that makes sense of it, or the other way around," he explains.

More idiosyncratic still is Kotting's decision to have his seven-year-old daughter Eden and the doughty 85-year-old grandmother, Gladys, star. "When I suggested the idea of the film to Gladys she loved it," says Kotting, "She never really took it seriously, which was great. If she'd been like `take two' it would have been the kiss of death."

At the emotional heart of the film lies the on-screen development of Gladys's relationship with Eden. Born with Joubert's Syndrome, Eden's condition involves learning difficulties, communication by the sign language Makaton and a short life expectancy. Their zigzagging journey was a chance to spend some time together, before the opportunity was missed.

The film started shooting with no set script or itinerary, crew and stars camping while the director relied on chance to determine the outcome of their endeavours. Kotting's stealthy shooting caught many of the public offguard, eliciting some pleasingly candid encounters.

Kotting's grilling of everyone in his path has resulted in a unique view of British life. "The film's a celebration of humanity," he reflects. "Living in the city, it's very easy to be pessimistic and cynical, but travelling around, you realise there is community out there. We're surrounded by landscape and tradition, but sometimes you have to look at them anew, through fresh eyes."

`Gallivant' (see review, opposite) is on release at the ICA Cinema, The Mall, SW1 (0171-930 3647) and at the Everyman Hampstead, NW3 (0171- 435 1525)

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