Monday, 25 January 2021

Wise Words: The Presence of the Past

An irony of our technological advancement is that it has created a society that is in many ways scientifically more naïve than the preindustrial world, in which no citizen who learned physics through backbreaking work and understood climate through subsistence agriculture would have assumed that he or she was exempt from the laws of nature. The “modern” kind of magical thinking is characterized by the belief that repeating falsehoods like incantations can transform them into scientific truth. It is also yoked to a quasi-mystical faith in the free market, which, according to the prophets, will somehow allow us to live beyond our means indefinitely.

The problem, in essence, is that rates of technological progress far outstrip the rate at which human wisdom matures (in the same way that environmental changes outpace evolutionary adaptation in mass extinction events). Critic and author Leon Wieseltier contends that “every technology is used before it is completely understood. There is always a lag between an innovation and the apprehension of its consequences.” The rapid obsolescence of digital technologies and the cultural flotsam they deliver corrodes our respect for what lasts (“That was so five minutes ago”). And just as reliance on GPS navigation systems causes our capacity for spatial visualization to atrophy, the frictionless, atemporal instantaneity of digital communications weakens our grasp on the structure of time. Our “modern” idea that only Now is real is arguably delusional, while the medieval concept of “wyrd” [the power of the past upon the present] seems positively enlightened. And our blindness to the presence of the past in fact imperils our future.

(Marcia Bjornerud, Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, 2018, p. 164)

Friday, 22 January 2021

Connecting with Cycles

This is a study made in preparation for a larger work, complete with wonky moons and spirals. But then, I am a bit wonky myself. 

Summer is not an easy season to move through, and my energy levels have been low, so it feels good just to complete something, however wobbly it is.


Progress in my studio is slow and sporadic at present, but there are ideas a-brewing. I have also set up an artist page on Facebook, to keep things a little more seperate from my personal profile. You can follow me there if you feel so inclined.


I don’t know precisely what I want to do with my art, seeing as illness keeps me regularly fluctuating between enthusiasm and apathy, but I think it is good to be taking tiny steps towards whatever growth and change may occur.


Connecting with Cycles, felt tip pen, ink and gold paint on paper (2021)

Monday, 21 December 2020

A Year of Happenings

To paint an image, or write a story or poem, is to make inchoate ideas or unnameable feelings into tangible realities, to turn them into happenings in my life. 

To create works of art is to prove that however small life with chronic illness may be, there is an unfathomable largeness at the centre of it, from which wonders can emerge, if I allow belief to triumph over doubt.



By making art I circumnavigate that core largeness, not always knowing how to make contact with it, and not brave enough (yet) to enter it wholly, but often siphoning some gift from the depths, some vision from Source that feeds me in ways I do not understand, yet know are vital. Though while my soul is nourished by this work, the hunger always returns, which keeps me continually seeking a way inside, to see what more I can find.

To touch and converse with the largeness I know I must nurture a discipline of withness,* though it seems impossible right now, except perhaps in small, blessed moments. My capacity to receive, to engage, to participate fully, is impaired and diminished. But I do aspire to the discipline—to be a follower–partaker–knower of life’s rhythms—and hope that my heart-mind finds its way back to the experience of connection and possibility I have known before. 

One day, perhaps, I will fall unexpectedly back into grace, and dwell there for a time, where I will make the art I need to make to bring magic back into the world. 


*


The beginnings of the above thoughts came to me one night recently when I couldn't sleep, and they seemed a good way to end this turbulent, uncertain and testing year. 


I feel as if I have made less art, though that isn’t actually true, as I’ve made two more pieces than I did last year. I am, however, less satisfied with a few images, whilst also delighting in the fact that my work is becoming more visually complex, and thus more difficult to create. My problem-solving skills have been put to good use many a time, and I am rising to the challenge of drawing tricky things.


I have also learnt to sew, and have so far made three tops, a skirt and a dress, with more projects in planning, whilst continuing with knitting—including the Deer with Little Antlers Hat by Tiny Owl Knits for my niece! So once more I have achieved more than I realise.



Here are some of my favourite paintings from the year that was:


Matrix

Beneath the Mountain

Our Lady of the Stars

Our Lady of the Seeds

Mundus

Sacred Mountain


There are some exciting things afoot for 2021, so I’m going to devote myself to studio time as much as I can this summer (which hopefully will be much easier to do than it was last summer).


Thank you to all my readers and new followers for accompanying me on my creative journey, and to the people in the US and France who bought some of my work on Redbubble. I will be putting my modest earnings towards art supplies. 

  

Summer/Winter Solstice greetings, and Happy Holidays, however you may or may not celebrate them.


* ‘… a discipline of withness—of seasonal rhythm, of internal bodily rhythm and cyclicity …’ (Monica Sjöö & Barbara Mor, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, Harper One: New York, 1987/1991, p. 326)

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