What is your INSPIRATION?

This is a time to receive
(Rather than push out some utterance of whatever consequence),
We must firstly learn to listen, deeply and profoundly and actively,
We must administer our ability to absorb the detail and the wholeness,
We must register the connective threads,
The structures of power and strength,
The energetic as well as objective entity,
And our place, entwined as it is, our realm of influence,
Before we inflict our response upon the world.
We must learn to give audience to ourselves as well as to others
As we talk with brush with word with sound with movement,
Learn to respect another’s and our own subtle expression of intent
To evaluate our own emotive sensual intellectual response to what seems as not I…

 my dog’s eye, farnham (pward 2011); empathy (earth pigments; pward 2008)

I wander in the forest by the river’s edge
Seeking connective experience of some kind more than human;
I hear a sound not familiar and unlikely in that place
And quietly wait for whatever consequence such splash belies;
So you swim strongly past me, urgently, surprised and staring, white-eyed as I,
Antlers thrown back, water flowing around and off your thickly matted dun coat;
And some distance past you clamber confidently from the stream
Your objective accomplished, much scratching branch avoided,
A statement of your local knowledge much richer and practiced than my own;
I did not know or expect your fluid movement beyond an explosive land-locked grace –
You have broadened my perception of your being and I feel closer and enriched;
We may never meet again but still we share a memory of each and all.


Through such deliberate but consequential synchronistic experience of the natural world I am creatively challenged to respond in some way befitting and intrinsically implied and respectful of this magical circumstance and privilege. And as an individual who treasures this abundant nature, who drinks such happening as nectar, how might I share and inspire others through this to protect and conserve the miraculous beauty that hopefully will continue to nourish us but which is now under threat?

 seeing a dolphin where there should not be one (oil on canvas; pward 2008)

So, may we truly listen to the wind and waves and utter her words for all the world?
And what processes might enable and enrich our perceptive audience?
Then what expression might most fully encompass and engender such intent?

In years passed I may have attempted to convey my celebratory revelation through pigment and brush in two dimensional convention, and by such means I admit much good work may be done. But more recently my impatience and disappointed expectation of painterly effectiveness alone has led me to question and explore more direct experiential means to communicate and impress. For many to even see a wild animal of any kind in its indigenous environment is beyond sensible imagination (and often interest) let alone the more intimate or unusual moment described above.

So how can a simple but powerful experience, or beautifully rendered image, of such a strange or alien beast inspire or stimulate interest or empathy to the plight of our fertile earth? Carl Jung would possibly venture ideas of a collective subconscious, of a pertinent potent primal connective language of symbols through which we might communicate our intrinsic nature, and through which our latent sensitivity to an ecological sensibility might be positively catalyzed. Despite a partial belief in such psychological process and invention, I would rather rely on a more direct approach – to create environments and events to allow first hand contact and reflection upon our relationship with such primitive earthly and animate experience.

To look directly into the eye of a wild beast, large or small, in its own immanently charged habitat while it also gazes back is surely the most honest holistic approach. The experience might not be enjoyed, indeed it might deeply unsettle and confound those of a more urban inclination, but to purposively avoid the mostly convoluted medium of civilized technologies can but provide participants with a profound connection to something beyond the everyday. The challenge, it seems, is to create and provide circumstance for such experience within this consumer-biased society, and invent an inclination to participate; to make such experience part and parcel of our indigenously inspired education, and to thus inform ourselves of our innate interdependency and respect for this place in which we live.

 2 orange spots, alice holt (pward 2012)

I believe this to be my work – to experience and to reliably and respectfully communicate the more-than-human, the conditionally unnoticed everyday realms alongside the everyday to which we are accustomed; to enrich and acknowledge the power of the seemingly mundane and to evoke a sense of wonder in it all. As a contemporary environmental artist I confess to be inspired and informed not only by the previous creatively academic admonishments of my historical peers and the critically confounded art of galleries, books and markets, but by the very substance and utterances of nature itself. Through such direct correlation may my work share the sense of spiritual purpose that I gratefully receive…



2 Comments on “What is your INSPIRATION?”

  1. Clare says:

    It is strange to read your words, Pete, since you talk about something I have always done, and so taken for granted, wherever I am, urban or country. Which is to allow myself to swim in the elements, to take notice of and be a part of, the living world around me. And also of the human-created world, including the cityscape and art: as I write I am listening to Bach’s Cello Concertos, a piece of truly sublime music in which I can also swim. For me the experience in nature and the experience in man-made art are two sides of the same coin. It is the gift of being human, our ability to mediate our relationship with the world through art and culture, and our free will to choose wether and how to do so.

    • pw130524 says:

      Thank you Clare.
      I wrote this piece as a response to the feeling that during the process of my MA I have drifted further and further away from that very direct experience of nature which has always been been primary artistic/creative inspiration, into a world of books and critical theories and obtuse contemporary approximations of experience. Without the animate, temporal, emotive relationship with the natural world, which it seems we share and which you describe, I end up feeling utterly disheartened with my own work and purpose for doing it.

      It is also a reminder for me to sometimes stop (pushing out the work) and really feel again – to let the earth and all its inhabitants give me guidance towards my next intentional and inspirational step, to absorb the voices that do call so softly amidst our dreams…

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