What place has PAINTING

within this ECOLOGICAL conversation?

And having struggled and aspired for many years as a painter, wishing and believing that I might inspire and communicate an energetic spiritual intent through the careful manufacture of objects of art, it has been with great interest, although some reserve, that I have recently revisited the world of unction and brush, mark and mask, but this time from the relative insight of an Art & Environment dialogue. Despite a gradual evolvement in practice away from the ‘traditional’ setting of gallery and shop, toward more ethereal and appropriate settings for my creations, I continue to rigorously question the point, purpose and place for such manifestations within the contemporary social condition. In so many ways I would like to believe that I might while away my days dabbling in the security of hermetic relations with canvas and paint, perched on the precipice of postmodern possibility, referred to and revered by the rat race of commercial restraint, desperate for recognition – for my place in the limelight, my fame and fortune. But what of politics and what of integrity to one’s spirit’s goals; what of community and emancipation, and what of an art of the people and what of all life around?

a conversation (mud & acrylic; pward 1993)

So, after all those years of squeezing and scraping, emulating and emolliating, to paint pictures as a professed and economically sustained vocation is no more than ticking all the boxes yet again, skilfully manipulating media and market toward one’s own material ends. It is simply a self-referential, overindulgent creation of distraction, determined within this inequity of rich and poor – affirming for those of us that have, that we are the ‘lucky’ ones; and that those that have not have no use for such ridiculous trivialities. Let us surround ourselves with such pretty things, such pretentious portents and perverse property while we starve our brothers and sisters of the right to freedom and food! Such connotations may seem somewhat contrived but then what real use is a palette of paint to a starving child, to a war-wounded woman, to a non-virtual victim of vitriol and violence?

But, since the world has walked a-right we have washed the walls with works of wonder; we have written our world in lines, colour and form to convey and affirm this mystery of relationship. And not always did the likes of you and me provide a pedestal of power and pomposity for the artist and scribe – needs must we all enjoyed that space, that place of communal mutual celebrity and uplift. If I were to write my name in the sand it might soon be seen as a gift to the sea, or sung a simple song to the wind or any pensive passer-by, entangled in the entropy of this deeper ecology. So, how might such an integral occupational aspect of our human nature be revitalised to fulfil a fruitful and creatively motivational force for our futures and presently pertinent preconceptions? What wonder might we worry from the workings of composition, juxtaposition, form and function, to move the masses, to transform the train spotters, to tell the tellers to tell no more but to share in the caring? 

north devon landscape (ground earth pigments; pward 2009)

Maybe I could offer you a moment to reflect in, a place to depart from, an action to accommodate your already fertile footing, your taste for adventure, our exceptional inquisitive exploration, this exquisite intelligence. Eventually the shape of the world might revolve round about each other and the others who share the air but not the word of thought. If I gave you a paint to paint with, a pigment to pigment from, a thought to draw upon, a rock to roll, a stick to stroll with; would that not inspire you more than just sitting, chin on hand, to stare at ‘me’ with stultifying insistence, relying on a knowledge of acquisition from antiquity or a rampant rapport with the ramparts of the regal? If we were to just touch the process of inner power with our actions and our minds then we might begin to re-know the changing, the moving, growing emergence, this excellent energy evermore.

To eventually conclude; pray grant me patience to pervasively persuade the altering perception of the powers that be, most certainly likewise weary of this worrisome world; and jubilantly and joyfully reassure the spirits of trust and sensibility and truth, enabling the organically excursive experience, reassembling the reactive responsibility redolent within this ecozoic philosophy. And if I were to paint again, I hope you will paint along with me, telling the stories of our time to each other from directions fresh and new – this world is pregnant with perfect possibility and performative potential that some would say we should only dream of, but others would call a calling of this universal reality.

 6 minutes to save the world 2, group participatory painting; st. agnes, isles of scilly (pward 2011)



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