simple tasks


as an artist experiencing cessations in the creative flow

or an utter lack of enthusiasm for making from time to time

it is heartening to experience how the most simple actions

no matter how difficult they may sometimes be

like folding and tearing paper

grinding some local earth pigments

and painting basic patterns

(with the intention of creating a set of cards for sale)

can enliven my spirits

get the mind ticking again

and lead to a bounteous plethora of new ideas and directions

earth dots (north devon pigments on paper) © p ward 2016earth dots (north devon pigments on paper) © p ward 2016

whether it is something particularly inspiring about the whole process

of collecting pigments in the landscape and making paint

or whether it is evident in all forms of simple creative actions

i’m not sure

but it feels good

and reminds me of how art has enriched and inspired my life for so many years

earth lines (north devon pigments on paper) © p ward 2016earth lines (north devon pigments on paper) © p ward 2016

i like my work

i like what I make

and i am eternally grateful to the universe for offering me these gifts:

the ability to perceive beauty

the aptitude to make beautiful things

and the opportunity to inspire others to do the same…

painting with eARTh day, Hele Corn Mill 15216, images courtesy Sophie Twisspainting with eARTh day, Hele Corn Mill 15216, images courtesy Sophie Twiss

© p ward 2016


valentines card 2016valentine (coloured pencil on folded paper) © p ward 2016


with all the love

in the world

our future yet to unfurl

the clouds above

revealing beauty


for Francesca 14216


© p ward 2016

From love to nothing 21015


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

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

the value of art (life)…

for me, the making and appreciation of objects and acts within an environment describes the intrinsic quality and value of art. it is a process that may celebrate and affirm the miracle and wonder that is existence, our dexterity to observe, interact, learn and communicate (with) such awe and innate ability. as we continue to learn, to place our aptitudes and ourselves in relation to this world, its abundance, so our artwork may evolve and reflect any newly found position. art by its very nature observes and reflects how things act by bringing them together in relation to others[i].

common toad (bufo bufo), dale, pembrokeshire, p ward 2014common toad (bufo bufo), dale, pembrokeshire, p ward 2014

“Even though it is the same quarter acre, the farmer must grow his crops differently each year in accordance with variations in weather, insect population, the conditions of the soil, and many other natural factors. Nature is everywhere in perpetual motion; conditions are never exactly the same in two years. 

Modern research divides nature into tiny pieces and conducts tests that conform neither with natural law nor with practical experiences. The results are arranged for the convenience of research, not according to the needs of the farmer. To think that these conclusions can be put to use with invariable success in the farmer’s field is a big mistake.” from the One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka[ii]

new home I, north devon, p ward 2014new home I, north devon, p ward 2014

new home II, north devon, p ward and f owen 2014new home II, north devon, p ward and f owen 2014

briefcase of earth II, hele, north devon, p ward 2014briefcase of earth II, hele, north devon, p ward 2014

compost balls, hele, north devon, p ward 2014compost balls, hele, north devon, p ward 2014

“The fact of the matter is that whatever we do, the situation gets worse. The more elaborate the countermeasures, the more complicated the problems become.” from the One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka[iii]

more recently, my past obsession with making (and often attempting to tamper with the way things have become) has been replaced by a simple sense of wonder at being in and of this world, of the dynamic physicality of everyday acts of living wherever and whenever i am. an attitude fostered greatly by my experience of the creative process, both artistic and otherwise. i express myself in this world and enjoy the interactions with other, in this sense of being alive with no other purpose than just that – to be. my work has changed from a process in my mind, expressed predominantly in isolation through the traditional media of art, to the more physical, bodily and experiential process of exchange called life.

(but how i’m going to pay the bills is another matter!?)

P Ward 2014


[i] …whereas science may be seen to divide and dissect in its efforts to understand.

[ii] Masanobu Fukuoka,One-Straw Revolution (New York; New York Review Books; 1978)

[iii] Masanobu Fukuoka,One-Straw Revolution (New York; New York Review Books; 1978)

an interlude

Many apologies for my recent lack of posts – I have been rather busy and somewhat otherwise engaged of late. Here are a few pictures and words to fill the gap. Many thanks for your continuing audience and support…

welcome noah! (p ward and f owen 2014)welcome noah! (p ward and f owen 2014)


after the storms

after the spring has sprung

we may begin our gathering

of old and new

to make way for,

in preparation for




how different is this world

from one place to the next

from one day to another

holding hands with you…


car park graffiti; squid ink bowl drawing ( pward 2014)car park graffiti; squid ink bowl drawing ( pward 2014)

afternoon storm, torquay, and storm watchers, westward ho! (p ward 2014)afternoon storm, torquay, and storm watchers, westward ho! (p ward 2014)

gathering firewood, westward ho!, and perusing bundles in ikea, bristol!? (p ward and f owen 2014)gathering firewood, westward ho!, and perusing bundles in ikea, bristol!? (p ward and f owen 2014)

‘the story of bideford black’ display case and ‘pots, fish and ships’ exhibition at the burton gallery, bideford (p ward 2014)‘the story of bideford black’ display case and ‘pots, fish and ships’ exhibition at the burton gallery, bideford (p ward 2014)

how different this soil, how different this place… cheddar gorge (p ward 2014)how different this soil, how different this place… cheddar gorge (p ward 2014)

woodland stairway, cheddar gorge (p ward 2014)woodland stairway, cheddar gorge (p ward 2014)

indigenous spirit – art:cycling:mapping:earth pigment:drawing process project (p ward 2014)indigenous spirit – art/cycling/mapping/earth pigment/drawing process project (p ward 2014)

bir! bir! bir! bir! – invitation to exhibit some old work in manchester, june 2014 (paintings p ward 1993)bir! bir! bir! bir! – invitation to exhibit some old work in manchester, june 2014 (paintings p ward 1993)

local earth pigments used on historic roodscreen, st peter and vincula church, combe martin, north devon (p ward 2014)local earth pigments used on historic roodscreen, st peter and vincula church, combe martin, north devon (p ward 2014)

st audries bay and porlock weir, west somerset (p ward 2014)st audries bay and porlock weir, west somerset (p ward 2014)

home life, old and new, westward ho! and ilfracombe, north devon (p ward 2014)home life, old and new, westward ho! and ilfracombe, north devon (p ward 2014)

materials for an ark (p ward 2014)materials for an ark (p ward 2014)

with love to Francesca, Noah and all my family

P Ward 2014

i walk this earth 2214 (f owen, p ward)

a simple film about connecting with the earth – just walking barefoot along a muddy track in west somerset. the film was made with francesca owen as part of our ongoing collaboration and research towards the SOIL CULTURE project 2013-17 led by CCANW and RANE ( the images were captured on continuous shooting mode and edited using i-movie. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAi walk this earth – cold feet (video still; f owen/p ward 2014)

© Francesca Owen & Peter Ward 2014

for love of soil

“Everywhere science is enriched by unscientific methods and unscientific results, while procedures which have often been regarded as essential parts of science are quietly suspended or circumvented.” Paul Feyerabend, AGAINST METHOD

Does not the science of soil, the chasing of numbers and factors in the name of human value, merely further commodify that which is magic, mystery and worthy of worship, (despite its heady fascinations)? This is not to diminish or undervalue technology – the application of disciplined research – nor the multi-disciplined experiential processes of our enquiry.

Are not those things that we do not know those things that make it all so wonderful, and that lead us to further investigate or invest most heartily? Like the questionable possibilities of ecosystem services, is it possible to measure the fullness that is life? Those in power, or with power, more often do not act favourably beyond their purse strings, despite the truth and compassion of our already excessive and rigourously construed perceptions.

The soil in miraculous evolving living entity – like the shifting, pounding, endless sea – in awe and full of inspiration, of factors beyond our forever faltering, non-sensical, empirical economic motive,

Like culture

Like identity,

Like society

Like life…

the earth bleeding, west somerset (p ward 2014)the earth bleeding, west somerset (p ward 2014)

I watch the fields wash away across the carbon-fuelled tarmac of haste

The ocean muddied with fluvial fertile red earth

Homes fill with the turmoil of our greed, ignorance and waste

The innocent mole drowning forever in its tunnel-tomb populace

human intervention, west somerset (p ward 2014)human intervention, west somerset (p ward 2014) 

There is a popular belief amongst the current ecological art* movement, and other environmentalist groups and individuals, that artful communication of scientific data will sway political opinion and action in favour of more sensible behaviours. However, I personally question the logic that empirical evidence, however true, can transform our hearts and minds due to the very nature of its original form. Our hearts are not numbers – they are beyond measure. The established Cartesian scientific methodology is by its nature divorced from our souls and thus will not affect them. Maybe only through reflective acts and spaces of direct personal relationship can we truly re-evaluate and heal our behaviours. Only through acts of mystery and magic may spirit be experienced and unbound. If we are not willing to get our hands dirty, we will not have dirty hands after all!

“Man takes root at his feet, and at best he is no more than a potted plant in his house or carriage till he has established communication with the soil by the loving and magnetic touch of his soles to it.” ― John Burroughs

source, west somerset (p ward 2014)source, west somerset (p ward 2014)

*For me ecological art is an acknowledgement that by their very nature all our actions, artistic or otherwise, may be seen as affective within the totality as well as affective within themselves. It is an admittance of our responsibility to ourselves and others. It is ownership of our actions. Ecology studies the relationships between entities and actions, how the action of a part may affect the whole…)

reclaimed land, langport, somerset (p ward 2014) reclaimed land, langport, somerset (p ward 2014)

“We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” Werner Heisenberg

© P Ward 2014

the weight of this time passing

Doniford, West Somerset 291113

This day, I was sent two disturbing articles relating to the research I am presently doing about soil. One, posted by the Soil Association on Facebook from the Ecologist magazine, stated how the majority of meat sold and consumed in the UK is now fed with Genetically Modified products, which has led to sickness in the animals and in turn is passing such illness onto humans who (choose to) eat the products[i]. The other, published in the Telegraph was sent by a fellow artist, and expressed the realization by American soil scientists that the biological life and energy in a great deal of US soil may have been irreversibly degraded by continued intensive farming methods similar to those employed in the UK[ii]. The articles unfortunately did not surprise or shock me, but both left me feeling, yet again, utterly helpless and frustrated in the face of such odds. What, as an artist or otherwise, can I do to change or shift human attitudes and behaviour? Why do big companies, governments and the majority of the population continue to adopt, support and employ technologies that have been proven without doubt to be for the good of no one, let alone the few? Just where is the sense in a world motivated solely by power over, by profit and material gain? Is it small wonder that many of us chose to bury our heads in the sand, or to numb our senses to the facts? Just how can we expect to cope not only with the constant barrage of distressing information but also the even more distressing reality?

doniford cliff, west somerset (p ward 2013) doniford cliff, west somerset (p ward 2013)

More recently, with the immanent prospect of my second child, such information leaves me utterly terrified at what the future may hold. While I may personally accept, with much difficulty, the debilitating truth of this present ecocidal reality in which we live, I still have not fully realized the power or belief within myself to confront or even challenge it. Over the last few years my previous optimism and enthusiasm has been sorely tested by the constant exposure through social media and the internet to the cumulative implications of our self-imposed abuse. Can my own chosen vocation as an artist really affect the world, as I once believed, beyond simple and crude awareness-raising? Can it truly reach people who really don’t want to hear? And even if it can, how can I financially sustain my work as an artist? In the current political climate many aspects of the cultural sector, including education, seem to have been deemed such a threat to the status quo that artists are finding it harder and harder to find support for our work beyond the stultifying and questionable confines of academia or, if we are ‘lucky’, the morally spurious world of commerce. How in such a time can we find the strength to pick up our pens, our brushes or our cameras, to stretch and flex our aesthetic and intuitive muscles, to squeeze more paint from the tube, so to speak? What drives us on and inspires us to arrange, compose and juxtapose; to experiment, investigate and perform our plethora of creative maneuvers and how can we not respond to the situation in which we find ourselves wholly immersed?

prehistoric form 1, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013) prehistoric form 1, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)

My own interest in art and my resulting practice as an artist was born out of a desire and an aptitude to observe, manipulate and record the processes and materials of the world – in other words to enjoy and share the process of making things. Alongside this I have had a lifelong fascination and sense of wonder with the other creatures and life forms that share this world. At some point these interests (and every other aspect of my life) merged to create the art practice that I share today. At no point did I consciously decide to make my work political. By Nature it simply is. To make good and affective art, to interact fully and with energy in the world I must allow myself to become utterly absorbed in the processes of creativity and the materials and subject matter that fascinate me. To do this, artists must be fully supported in their role. I find it difficult to tailor my work in response to ecological crisis or to any economic or intellectual climate. My tendency, based most likely in mental and physical self-preservation, is to turn away from suffering and trauma and to make things that bring myself and hopefully others joy – to celebrate the privilege of being alive. This is not to say that I am not willing to accept the facts or implications of the present ecological crisis, nor that I cannot deal with the sorrow and grieving that such suffering entails. It is more that to celebrate existence, to engage with it in all its gory detail – its birth, its life, its destruction and decomposition, its ignorance, helplessness and despair, its beauty and magnificence – is my way of responding. This may not be obvious or directly related to the more empirical evidence that science relies upon as proof; it is more simply an act of defiance! My way of saying my energy will not be subdued! I am not ready to roll over and die just yet…

tribute to ana medieta 1, doniford, west somerset (p ward + f owen 2013) tribute to ana medieta 1, doniford, west somerset (p ward + f owen 2013)[iii]

Art by its very nature is transformative. Our actions as artists do not need to be directed at any particular issue or thing, we must simply do! And the more we allow ourselves to do, the more we allow ourselves and are allowed to become emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually in the work that gives us joy then the more power and resonance that work may hold and convey. This is true of all things.

soft rock forms, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013) soft rock forms, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)

So everyday I continue to act in this world. To walk and observe, to interact with and explore the wonder that it continues to express through its very existence, and to share my own sense of wonder with it all. And this day – a dull grey day in late November – I visited a what-may-seem rather unimpressive stretch of coast along the Bristol Channel in West Somerset. I am presently reflecting upon how my work with earth pigments may engage audiences with contemporary issues relating to soil as part of the CCANW/RANE Soil Culture project[iv]. While there is an obvious relationship between what lies beneath the soil, the rocks and geological structures and their mineral content, and hence its ability to support flora and fauna specific to a particular geomorphological region and then whatever agri-industrial-cultural manifestation that may become evident, how may creative and intellectual engagement with such materials raise awareness about contemporary soil issues? So to follow my own lead, I must simply do and invite others to do the same. Stop the overly analytical head and partake in those things that give joy, that bring peace, and share with others. Maybe that way we will find a way…

fossils; tribute to ana mendieta 2; bird feeding constellation; doniford, west somerset (pward 2013) fossils; tribute to ana mendieta 2; bird feeding constellation; doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)

cave, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013) cave, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)

prehistoric forms 2, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)prehistoric forms 2, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)

a way up and a way down, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)a way up and a way down, doniford, west somerset (pward 2013)

matchbox collection, doniford, west somerset (f owen + p ward 2013)matchbox collection, doniford, west somerset (f owen + p ward 2013)

© P Ward 2013



[iii] Francesca’s work can be found at


St. David’s, Pembrokeshire 29788


purple church

grass slope

mossy ruins.


This is the house of God





We ran around searching for daddy,

Touch the stones, carved,

Amazing at the floors, patterns, the colours.

We shined at the windows sun beaming colours, stained glass.

We craned at the ceiling,

Carving in wood, clean, intricate, detail.


Tom sang with delights.

Tom moaned with anxiety.


Organ pipes lie around in disrepair,

Collection boxes moaned for money.

People stared frankly as we smiled

and smiled, over their shoulders.

‘This is where a man tells stories.

‘People sit there and listen to him,



There is a little house

Just like Tom’s pig house.


We found daddy.

He was looking too.

‘Mind your head!’

Tom carried on running.


Outside the sun was shining.

stone walls

green lush grass.

There was a wall to sit on.

Tom pissed in the gutter

around the church’s foundations,

and it nearly reached the drain.


He gave me a daisy.

I put it in my buttonhole.

Mummy found us.


purple church (acrylic; p ward 1996); mask (watercolour, collage; p ward 1993)purple church (acrylic; p ward 1996); mask (watercolour, collage; p ward 1993)

(I was recently sent this poem, written in 1988 when visiting a friend in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. Some have already commented that it’s ‘better than what I write these days’! Ho hum, how the wheels do turn!? I have also chosen a few old paintings, not quite from 1988, to accompany the piece. For me it is so refreshing, and humbling, to look back over old work and to recognize the spirit of intent that is held over such a period of time.)

© Peter Ward, for Tom Ramage, 29th July 1988