a celebration 13116

.

at times

i really do not get Art

its place in my life

or the wider world around me

.

seemingly superfluous pedantic intellectual bickering

over aesthetic form and function

for some fashion or other

in the face of pressing global issues

.

not quite big enough

or loud enough

specific or far reaching enough

to make a difference

(although every whisper counts, I know)

.

baggy point from woolacombe sands, north devon © p ward 2015baggy point from woolacombe sands, north devon © p ward 2015

.

without it (some will argue)

life would be just an incessant instinctive struggle and movement

towards food, shelter and a mate

for nurture within our own nature

to survive within this wildness

.

and

for everybody else

this is quite enough

.

our innate beauty

our diverse evolving nature

our ecologically defined behaviour

in such abundant splendour

and complex contradiction

.

humbly seeking our place

within the heave and flow

of ever shifting forces

.

at times

I do not get art

but thank it once again

for bringing me to these conclusions

.

new year, east clare, ireland © p ward 2016new year, east clare, ireland © p ward 2016

© p ward 2016


BREATHING ART

Geumgang Nature Art Pre-biennale 2015, South Korea

7 October – 30 November 2015

I was invited to contribute photographic documentation of 3 works to highlight aspects of my practice (below) and a project proposal (A BUNDLE OF STICKS) to this international environmental art residency programme and exhibition organised by YATOOI in South Korea. The proposal will hopefully lead to a 3-week fully paid residency in South Korea in 2016.

BREATHING ART Geumgang Nature Art Pre-biennale 2015, exhibition full view (courtesy YATOO 2015)BREATHING ART Geumgang Nature Art Pre-biennale 2015, exhibition full view (courtesy YATOO 2015)

The Geumgang Nature Art Biennale is an international Nature Art exhibition planned by Yatoo, the Korean Nature Art Association firstly established in 1981. Yatoo spreads Nature Art around Gongju in Chungnam Province. Based on Yatoo’s experience of planning and hosting international nature art events since the early 1990s, the first Biennale was held in 2004, supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the South Chungcheong Province and Gongju City. Throughout three weeks the artists from around the world live together and create their works. An introductive session for the nature art project and other programs are conducted in parallel. There are two programs for foreign artists and IWO campers. The first is introducing the Korean culture, the second is a project created together with children and other citizens. The works of the artists are displayed at Ssangshin Park allowing the visitors to observe how they interact with the natural context.

3 works

expressions of an intimate ecology:

BREATHING ART 1painted log, earth pigments and driftwood, westward ho! © p ward 2010

I came upon this large driftwood log during a walk along a beach in North Devon and painted it with locally gathered earth pigments. After a few weeks the log disappeared from the beach, taken back by the sea. Six months later it reappeared on the same beach, still painted but altered by its journey, wherever it may have been.

Work is often made spontaneously, in response to and with the environment, using gathered materials and elemental forces to shape its evolution. For me, ART and making are means through which I may learn about the world both practically and imaginatively.

“Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible” Paul Klee

animalistic:

BREATHING ART 21 hour of feathers, fremington quay – bound feathers in antique case © p ward 2012; birdsong – compressed charcoal on paper © p ward 2015

Two works relating to animals: ‘1 hour of feathers’ is made from feathers collected during a short coastal walk; ‘birdsong’ aims to capture some of the varied intonations of sound expressed by our feathered friends through simple drawing. My relationship to wildlife, to the other life forms with whom we share this earth, has been a constant source of inspiration and wonder.

“I think of what wild animals are in our imaginations. And how they are disappearing – not just from the wild, but from people’s everyday lives, replaced by images of themselves in print and on screen. The rarer they get, the fewer meanings animals can have. Eventually rarity is all they are made of.” From H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.

painting with earth / painting together:

BREATHING ART 36 minutes to save the world – participatory stone painting with earth pigments, isles of scilly, shortcourse UK (cape farewell) © p ward 2011 (video still courtesy bryony stokes) 

An action performed as part of an artists’ residency expedition on the Isles of Scilly to explore creative responses to climate change. Participants were invited to make marks with earth pigments on a small, round granite boulder found on a nearby beach while bringing to mind an act they may contribute to earth’s wellbeing. One pigment had been gathered from my home and brought with me. Another collected that morning from the shore. The painted stone remained as a talisman within the space throughout the meeting, then left as a gift to the space.

Painting with locally gathered earth pigments has become an important and integral part of my art practice, offering insights into geology, social history, art and our relationships with earth’s resources. Making has been enriched through a deeper understanding of the materials I use. Beyond observation and a simple response to materials, painting may offer a space for investigation of environment and even ritual. Painting with others may bring together all these as well as a sense of communication beyond self.

“Re-engaging with the raw materials from which our lives are shaped is a potent reminder of the difference between what is real and what is only illusory” Anna Konig

© p ward 2015


Saying hello to the Faeries…

One week on the Isle of Man, 2015

It is nearly thirty years since I last visited Ellan Vannin – the Manx name for the Isle of Man. Situated in the middle of the emerald waters of the Irish Sea, within sight of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Heaven, so it is said, this self-governed commonwealth nation is probably best known for the yearly motorcycle TT race. For me, as an idealistic teenager surrounded by radical older students, it became a place of great significance in my own spiritual development. For the Celts it was the centre of the Faerie Empire, the royal thrones sitting atop the second highest mountain, South Barrule. Even today, respect for the other realms is still very much in evidence. Beyond this the island, once you have accepted the proliferation of lycra-clad outdoor pursuits, the squeals of cliff-leaping coasteerers and the constant stream of motorcyclists, is still a peaceful haven with stunning views and coastline, a place of folklore, local heritage and marine and avian wildlife.

manx dog by unknown artist, fired clay; carpets; crushed quartz pebbledash, Port Erin © p ward 2015Manx dog by unknown artist, fired clay; carpets; crushed quartz pebbledash, Port Erin © p ward 2015

Port Erin garden I-IV © p ward 2015Port Erin garden I-IV © p ward 2015

malachite and sea glass, Port Erin © p ward 2015malachite and sea glass, Port Erin © p ward 2015

found stick figure, Silverdale Glen © p ward 2015found stick figure, Silverdale Glen © p ward 2015

Mull Tomb Circle; Lochtan sheep; Manx thatch, Cregneash © p ward and f owen 2015Mull Tomb Circle; Lochtan sheep; Manx thatch, Cregneash © p ward and f owen 2015

The Chasms I-III, Port St Mary © p ward 2015The Chasms I-III, Port St Mary © p ward 2015

The Sugarloaf; Spanish Head, Port St Mary © p ward 2015The Sugarloaf; Spanish Head, Port St Mary © p ward 2015

Ramsey I-III © p ward 2015Ramsey I-III © p ward 2015

standing stones, Ramsey © p ward 2015standing stones, Ramsey © p ward 2015
discarded herrings, Peel; discarded scallop shells; bracken, Fleshwick © p ward 2015discarded herrings, Peel; discarded scallop shells; bracken, Fleshwick © p ward 2015

full moon, Port Erin © p ward 2015full moon, Port Erin © p ward 2015

from South Barrule © f owen 2015from South Barrule © f owen 2015

heather bundle, South Barrule © p ward 2015heather bundle, South Barrule © p ward 2015

from Bradda Head I-II © p ward 2015from Bradda Head I-II © p ward 2015

from Bradda Head III © p ward 2015from Bradda Head III © p ward 2015

Thank you to my family for treating us to this short holiday and this time to restore my connection to those things that inspire my living.

special people, IOM © p ward 2015special people, IOM © p ward 2015

© P Ward 2015


From love to nothing 21015

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I do not recall the moment

The shift in feeling

From love to nothing

From excitement and anticipation

To no sense

.

Nor what event or action caused such change

A switch switched off silently

A light that goes out

And turning away from

But towards nowhere and no one

.

I do not know what to say or do

(Everything is the same as ever)

How to create new life without a care

To breach a gulf of non-misunderstanding

For a tide to rise again for the first time

.

And carry me

And you

To warmth

And purpose

I will

.
from love to nothing, feock, cornwall © pward 2015
from love to nothing, feock, cornwall © pward 2015

© P Ward 2015


of black and white 15815

3 peregrines, hillsborough © p ward 20153 peregrines, hillsborough © p ward 2015

of black and white i have become acquainted

shifting material tonality contextually alighting itself in emotion

the falcons’ tumbling play from the high hill cliff top nearby

between myself and the evening sun, i became blind

your overarching display tantamount to simple exquisite perfection

as well timed as it was

.

there is black

and there is black

.

there is white

and white

.

a way to describe

imperfectly

a fleeting perception of this place and that

of an occurrence personally experienced

a mere scribble by comparison

a fumbling juxtaposition

in the face of complexity

.

it will just have to do

it is all i have

beyond itself here

.

i do not wish to be spoon-fed

the spoon is soiled with black

.

a black arches awaits nightfall on white bathroom tiles

.

i have had another 5 minutes of fame

when will it end?

fossil tree fern stem and silver spoon used for digging bideford black, greencliff © p ward 2015fossil tree fern stem and silver spoon used for digging bideford black, greencliff © p ward 2015

black arches, ilfracombe © p ward 2015black arches, ilfracombe © p ward 2015

© P Ward 2015


Winter Butterfly 171214

Today I let a Peacock butterfly out of the window of my house. It is mid December but the weather is mild.

We have a number of butterflies – mainly Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and Peacock (Aglais io) – who appear to hibernate in our house. When the weather is mild they wake up. I am never sure whether to let them out or not. Would staying in the house mean further hibernation or slow starvation as they flap helplessly against the windowpane? Letting them out into the changing weather can only mean certain death as their life force is drained by the cold and lack of nutrients from their natural food sources.

From childhood I was taught that a butterfly’s life lasts but one day, as it emerges from its chrysalis with shimmering wings, drinking briefly from its chosen flowery nectar, choosing a mate and exhausting itself in procreative fervour. This seems not so or at least not entirely accurate. I have read that the Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) reaches British shores after a migratory flight from northern Africa and Spain, while obviously the Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell often spend a winter, at least, in dry dark sheltered roof spaces and cupboards before embarking on life once more.

As this butterfly flew out into the dim blustery day I wonder on how much more misinformation I have been fed during my formative years, and if this brief liberation, caused by my own puzzled intervention, was truly for the best…

threshold, digital images from drawings and paintings © p ward 2014threshold, digital images from drawings and paintings © p ward 2014

© P Ward 2014


a soft rain falling 161213 (Soil Culture*)

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A soft rain beneath grey skies

Doing nothing to subdue this radiance

This resonance of photosynthesis singing in the low-lying vegetation

.

Moisture percolating and gathering in the soil

Refilling the reservoirs

Cleaning the capillaries

The essential arteries

The root tunnels, the worm halls, the mole ways

Making ready for the frost-thaw-plough

Lifting

Turning

Breaking the sodden firmament apart again

Rejuvenating and replenishing the mineral microbial composition

Offering sustenance in elemental complexity

Willfully perpetuating an existential flow

 .

I welcome this water of the skies

I thank the ice and sun

I cherish the earth at my feet

Giving life

As in this life itself

 .

hazel leaves, huntshaw woods (p ward 2013)hazel leaves, huntshaw woods (p ward 2013)

mud ball, huntshaw woods (p ward 2013)mud ball, huntshaw woods (p ward 2013)

drainage ditch with iron salts, northam (p ward 2013)drainage ditch with iron salts, northam (p ward 2013)

a soft rain (earth pigments, cordyline fibres and handmade paper; p ward and f owen 2013)a soft rain (earth pigments, cordyline fibres and handmade paper; p ward and f owen 2013)

© P Ward 2013


* This piece of writing was inspired by a fascinating day of presentations and workshops examining the beauty, importance and nature of soil in support of human survival at the Soil Association National Soil Symposium in Bristol in November where I was representing the Soil Culture project for the Centre for Contemporary Arts & The Natural World (CCANW), 2013-17 (http://www.ccanw.co.uk/assets/files/Uploads/Soil_4pg.pdf)