on being grounded…

 Arrrrgh, Let me OUT!! (pen on envelope on human head) © p ward 2019

 

there are some of us

who are accused

of being ‘grounded’:

 

perceiving the world and our actions

through a balanced, responsible and rational lens

rooted in practicality and common sense.

 

but then some of us have also been ‘grounded’ as punishment,

our freedom curtailed by a parent or guardian

for actions that often do not lie within preconceived moral boundaries,

 

boundaries of balance, responsibility and rationality,

often rooted in practicality and common sense

often according to Nature and her Laws

 

Teignmouth, South Devon; Big Silver Bentley, Gurnard’s Head, Cornwall © p ward 2019

 

but how we wish to fly

to shed the shackles of good sense

for other and ourselves

 

in search of learning, perspective and sensual joy

defining new boundaries beyond our knowledge

or otherwise fleeting original experience

 

before our time is out

 

in magic

we see

in magic

we live

 

Trease Mine, Boscaswell, Cornwall © p ward 2019

 

© P Ward 2019


and yet…

this climate emergency, part 2

drawing on my face 4: seeing (masking tape and marker pen on human head) © p ward 2019

and yet,

 

the sun and moon still rise and fall

birds sing

grass grows

everything is somehow in place.

 

despite imagery evocative of an abrupt demise,

despite rising popular opinion and attendant fearful frenzy,

despite the corroboration of a high percentage of scientific peers,

despite indicative physical, ideological and pecuniary global suffering and conflict,

despite a lifelong personal acknowledgement of our continuing abuse of Nature…

 

I do not sense

I do not feel

the end.

 

I cannot sense

I cannot feel

the end.

 

I do not, cannot

and will not accept

the end.

 

so what of instinct and intuition (the antithesis of science)?

what of individual response?

what of collective consciousness?

what of the uninformed, the common man?

are we, en masse, running from the ensuing fire?

and anyway, where can we run in this apparent global catastrophe?

 

if I do not feel it,

if I stand aside the mindful stampede,

am I simply burying my head in the sand

in denial of empirical objectivity,

in fear of the inevitable?

 

or is it that

I do not know within my power what more I may do?

 

as I stand on this excellent brink of oblivion, this ending of sorts,

with the knowledge, wisdom and capability of all I have before

there is opportunity

there is technology

and there is love.

 

I must either believe in the magic and wonder of the human spirit within Nature or not

 

like every day

like any day

I breath

I choose

I act according to (my) Nature…

 

drawing on my face 4: seeing (masking tape and marker pen on human head) © p ward 2019

 

© P Ward 2019


it is like being told I am dying

this climate emergency, part 1

 

in a climate of overwhelming societal and professional expectation as an artist and an earth being i have struggled to know how to meaningfully and effectively respond directly to this ever-present issue. here are some of my thoughts and feelings expressed through words and an ongoing visual project…

 

it is like being told I am dying

that I am in the final stages of a terminal disease

after a long chronic illness or complaint

and that if I live the way I always should have,

the way I always have,

the way I have always known I should,

the way I have always said we should,

then maybe, maybe, maybe

I will not die.

 

it is like being told I am dying

but that everyone else and every other life is dying too.

that we are all dying and that it is all our own fault,

well, maybe not allour own fault

but somebody’s fault, some system’s fault, some thought-form’s fault,

that this beauty, this wonder that we experience on a daily basis

will no longer exist (for us)

because of us

 

it is like being told that everything and everybody that we love

is going to die, to not be.

 

it is a just like dying,

my experience of dying and death

in normallife –

 

we are all dying.

we are all going to die.

we are all living with the knowledge that we are all going to die,

that everything and everybody that we love is going to die

and that we shall experience suffering (and joy)

together.

 

it is still a shock when it comes.

when the reality of our imminent passing becomes apparent.

the utter enormity of it 

combined with our inherent inability to conceive of such.

 

and who are we to talk to

other than those others similarly afflicted and condemned,

others who love and feel and care,

those who are afraid of what might become?

 

so

how shall we live?

how shall I live?

how shall I end this final sentence?

 

drawing on my face – smile (masking tape and marker pen on human head) © p ward 2019

 

© P Ward 2019


no light no colour no more

further material responses to existential emergence, crisis and change

I was reminded recently, while gazing fleetingly into the shimmering turquoise green blue ocean here in West Cornwall, of my early art training based in the classical understanding of colour. colour as light. a systematic mixing together of homogenous materials to represent the colours that we observe in Nature from a set of ‘primaries’: reds, blues and yellows. no black. white in moderation. of hue.

iron board, Praa Sands, Cornwall (Cornish earth pigments on rock) © p ward 2019

our perception of colour, of light and shade, and hence of depth, size, form and materiality, is sometimes explained as the processing and communication of visual information created by the reflection, refraction and absorption of light in relation to materials. working with earth pigments has revealed ‘colour’ as more than just a visual ‘scientific’ process of perception. it is more a holistic appreciation of material presence which encompasses not just colour but texture, smell and a provenance of time and place, of formation and decay, of ecology, history and Nature itself.

we may often associate earth colours with a range of browns, reds and yellows. with this latest set of paintings I have been enjoying a more subtle selection of greys, greens, mauves and whites that I have found, gathered and mixed near my home.

I could say that the stories they tell are unique expressions of their own experience that I have been privileged to bring into contemporary form, but maybe that is for you to decide…

aspects of landscape and love – today it snowed (Cornish earth pigments on board; 51x51cm) © p ward 2019

the beautiful things that people say when they are together (Cornish earth pigments on board; 25x25cm) © p ward 2019

facing up to facing up to (Cornish earth pigments on board; 31x33cm) © p ward 2019

rearranging the furniture (Cornish earth pigments on board; 35x35cm) © p ward 2019

like chopping onions in a northwesterly gale (Cornish earth pigments on board; 56x38cm) © p ward 2019stones that stand in fields with swans and cows and geese: penwith (Cornish earth pigments on board; 70x68cm) © p ward 2019

simple communication here (Cornish earth pigments on card; 61x51cm) © p ward 2019

house of power (Cornish earth pigments on canvas; 40x50cm) © p ward 2019

nondescript (Cornish earth pigments on board; 27x26cm) © p ward 2019

turning a new leaf with foxes on my mind (Cornish earth pigments on canvas; 61x51cm) © p ward 2019

© P Ward 2019


Painting with Earth – Cornwall: new home, new works

November 2018

despite the wind

despite the weather

despite the winter

despite the sense of vulnerability

this raw and new found exposure

despite the twisting and turmoil of our times

despite love

and loss

despite it all

this earth still shines

Before I embark on a new phase of experimentation, combining different binders with the Cornish pigments, I would like to share a few paintings that I have made in my new home – a caravan on a dairy farm in the coastal hills of west Penwith, Cornwall.

West Penwith, Cornwall – Morvah, Sennen Cove, Cot Valley and Chun Quoit © p ward 2018

Here, I am surrounded by the historic land markings of the ancient peoples who populated this extremity of the British Isles. Stone walls, reportedly demarcating some of the oldest working field networks in the world, built 5000 years ago. Iron age hill forts, burial mounds, settlements and wells set in the denuded coastal wasteland of heath and moor. It is at times bleak. After the rain and wind that lashes fresh from the vast Atlantic ocean, the colours of autumn shine. The constantly changing hues of the blue and grey and turquoise sea. Rainbows sitting in our laps. The sky heavy and clear and dark and brooding. Salt water permeating. The animals are exposed by their hunt for food, by the lack of cover afforded by the stripped land. It is a place of spirit and history and life, right now.

Penwith dream forms (Botallack black on paper); fogou (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

mineral, vegetable; mist (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

dance on the shore (Cornish earth pigments on canvas) © p ward 2018

virtually vertical; community (Cornish earth pigments on wood); earth bound (Cornish earth pigments on canvas) © p ward 2018

pigment drift (Cornish earth pigments on slate) © p ward 2018

I am slowly learning to listen to the language of the colours here. The earth pigments, their qualities, their sources are unfamiliar. New to me. They are similar in colour to those of North Devon, that I have been using for a long time but very different in other ways. Their formation. Their nature. They have not been part of my own story, until now. The marks and stories they suggest are gradually revealing themselves. Their relationships unfolding. Their dynamic. And despite my attempts at integrity to their provenance and the spirit of this place in which I find myself, it is the freedom of my children’s paintings and drawings that are inspiring me…

noah, agnes, noah, agnes (pastel and paint on paper) 2018

two heads (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

eventual remediation (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

looking for love (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

Cornish Folk Tale I (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

Professionally, I am working on an Arts Council National Lottery Project Fund proposal in association with Geevor Tin Mine to research the creative and educational potential of the pigments. Through recent projects and contact with the staff at the Mine I have started to appreciate and become really excited by the rich historical, geological, chemical and social provenance that the colours carry. After the far-reaching and ongoing success that Painting with Earth – North Devon has brought, let’s hope I will get some real financial support to enable the continuation of this rich seam of work ;-).

© P Ward 2018


burnt CARN

Pendeen, Cornwall 190818

a howling man dressed in black set fire to the hill (carn) behind Pendeen…

burnt CARN, Pendeen, Cornwall 190818 I-III © p ward 2018

burnt CARN, Pendeen, Cornwall 190818 IV-IX © p ward 2018

burnt CARN, Pendeen, Cornwall 190818 X © p ward 2018

burnt CARN, Pendeen, Cornwall 190818 XI © p ward 2018

it has been a while since I have felt watched,

since I have felt the company of an-other.

 

the scent of burnt earth

forms distorted by fire

a thick sea mist blowing through the hilltop

silence…

 

© P Ward 2018


invisible friends

musing upon the muse 91017

.

you warm me

encouraging and invigorating

my muscles, mind and breath

you are so close

yet not here

I long to share a meal, a drink, a show

a long slow walk home

valerian hapa-zome print © eARTh 2017

sometimes in life we encounter people

to whom we feel a deep attraction and connection –

a zap between the eyes

an undeniable pull towards,

unwarranted and unthought-of,

an often beautiful but emotionally inconvenient surprise.

whale shark on my doorstep © p ward 2017

yet circumstances mean our relationships are curtailed

or must take forms different from those we conventionally recognize.

contemporary communications may allow a frustratingly superficial contact,

hand written letters and gifts another, maybe more real,

sometimes even these are not possible

when we honestly crave a wholly physical means –

eye contact and the subtle nuance of body language

the time and space to freely exchange the energetic dynamic

that common interests and diverse histories reveal,

to share a meal, a drink and a long walk home

hands entwined

dragged through sand, woolacombe bay © p ward 2017

as an artist, such desire may act as muse:

a light in the darkness, a spark of imagination

exploring the unknown undiscovered spaces,

a chance to meet the familiar through another’s eyes,

or identify and examine new aspects of ourselves –

dreams undreamt , fears as yet unconfronted, renewed aspirations,

detaching oneself from the mundane,

an illusion or delusion

but inspiration all the same;

or fuel to intention

to communicate more wholly

through pathways beyond the visible

ground earth pigment rings © eARTh 2017

and for those of us who entertain such fantasies about a subtle sense –

who honour a telepathic connection,

like that between a mother and child

or soul-mates

or lovers,

then the distance between may become an ethereal whisper

a breath, a feeling, a warmth, a glow

a longing acceptance of fate

still not manifest

buoyancy aids and clamped wheel, hele © p ward 2017

so maybe this is ‘hope’

or merely wishful thinking

a means to find strength and courage in isolation

to believe in another way

in spirit

in love

.

I do

.

(with love and thanks to those who are not here)

© P Ward 2017