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
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
© P Ward 2019
this climate emergency, part 2
the sun and moon still rise and fall
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
I cannot sense
I cannot feel
I do not, cannot
and will not accept
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 act according to (my) Nature…
© P Ward 2019
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)
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?
how shall we live?
how shall I live?
how shall I end this final sentence?
© P Ward 2019
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.
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…
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
© P Ward 2019
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 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.
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.
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…
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
Pendeen, Cornwall 190818
a howling man dressed in black set fire to the hill (carn) behind Pendeen…
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
© P Ward 2018
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
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.
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
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
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
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
so maybe this is ‘hope’
or merely wishful thinking
a means to find strength and courage in isolation
to believe in another way
(with love and thanks to those who are not here)
© P Ward 2017