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
at times of loss and grief
we may turn to Nature for solace,
to water, wind, fire and earth
to rocks, soil, fungi and trees
to insects, animals and birds
we may immerse ourselves
in the mundane, in the everyday
in routine and simplicity
not to avoid the pain
but to live with it
to feel it without distraction
we may assimilate our feelings and thoughts
through our work
through creative activity
through cathartic acts
I sit in the flowing river
the cool water moves around my stationary working form
touching my legs, ankles and hips, hands and forearms,
I feel connected to life
or through physical activity
where the rhythm of movement,
of muscles and breath and heart working in time,
lift us to an alternate state
to see our situation anew
in a different light
not with mind
but with body
and in fantasy and dreams
the world becomes larger
not illusionary but more real
past present future revealed
through our actions we may sense
the wonder of each passing moment
of being alive with our pain
of feeling at all
and with thanks
we can move forward
and in love
© P Ward 2017
more new paintings (and thoughts about my practice), summer 2017
“I am no longer sure of what I am doing. But then, quite simply, I am painting. I am putting together objects from materials that I gather locally, here in North Devon. Materials that are significant to me. That have stories to tell. That connect me to this place and to my being. The objects created are celebrations of this life. They are explorations. Simple, intuitive journeys of making in the here and now…” (Artist statement, summer 2017)
At the tender age of fifty I am finding it harder to define exactly what my artwork is about. In the past I might talk about the power of art as an agent of change but no longer feel this is my main inspiration. Its power is now subtler both within my life and in the world. No longer do I work obsessively, searching for meaning and understanding – indeed my life does not allow it – but see it as a means to share my sense of wonder with the world, through both the materials I use and the approach I take to making. It is a space for myself, to come to terms with life, to find balance and peace. For whatever reason art and making has become a central aspect of my being, like a good friend. Whether this has a positive value to society as a whole I am not sure but in society, art is always there, in whatever form, quietly infiltrating the rigid constructs of our existence.
However comfortable I may personally feel with my artistic practice I still feel a need (and this is where an issue/dilemma arises) to verbally justify and explain it to others, both for the sake of art historical context and as an aesthetic anchor within the art market – people seem to like to know what they’re buying into. To say that I enjoy mystery or the process seems simply not enough. Intuition is very important to me – to make, to work with the materials, until a piece ‘feels’ ‘right’ is essential to the process.
To approach work not necessarily from any literal or narrative starting point, beyond the constraints of my chosen materials, but simply as an act of trust or sense of belief in the creative process and in my simple intent – to share my sense of wonder and beauty in existence. I have been slowly building my own language of marks and forms in response to the process of gathering and making paint with earth pigments. As such I feel the work is a celebration of our connection to place, and the physical matter of place, and our evolving relationship with them.
The titles I enjoy as a poetic response to the work, often with reference to personal experience, and as a means for others to access the work.
Politically and spiritually the work I do is significant through its lack of ‘control’, through its trust in simple processes and its respectful empathy with natural materials – it is made in mindful contradiction of the current worldview of human superiority, of ‘power over’, in denial of our supposed ability to know what is the right thing to do – we have already endangered existence through our arrogance, maybe it is time to step back a little before we create more problems. To live simply, in peace with ourselves, with others and all of existence is maybe all we can do…
Infiltration is the process by which water on the ground surface enters the soil. Infiltration rate in soil science is a measure of the rate at which soil is able to absorb rainfall or irrigation. It is measured in inches per hour or millimetres per hour.[i]
© P Ward 2017
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
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
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…
© p ward 2016
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
a way to describe
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?
© P Ward 2015
This morning I awoke to the sound of birdsong drifting through dawn-lit windows
The small, humble things in life offering sustenance in this big, big world
Spring hath sprung…
“Curiously in amongst this plethora of Buddhism there was one token of Christianity – the autobiography of St Teresa of Lisieux. In spite of Tenzin Palmo’s antipathy to the Christian religion in general, she was drawn to the French saint who had entered a Carmelite nunnery when she was just fifteen and who had died at the age of twenty-four. She read her story several times and could quote from it at will.
‘The ironic thing is that the “little way” that she wrote about had nothing to do with the Way that I practiced. What I liked about her, however, was that she was very sensible. She sometimes slept through the church services and it did not worry her that she slept. God would have to accept her as she was! She never worried about her faults so long as her aspiration was right! She had this thing that she was like a small bird scratching around looking for seeds, glancing at the sun but not flying near it. She reasoned that she didn’t have to because the sun was shining even on a small being like a bird. Her whole attitude was very nice. She described herself as “a little flower” by the wayside which nobody sees but in its own self is very perfect as it is. And to me that is her primary message – that even in small, little ways we can be fulfilling our purpose and that in little things we can accomplish much.’[i]
(Drawings from recent experiments with compressed charcoal.)
© p ward 2015
[i] From Cave in the Snow by Vicki Mackenzie, the inspiring true story of how an English woman from the East in of London became a fully ordained Tibetan nun, spending 12 years in isolated meditation in a cave in the Himalayan foothills during the latter half of the 20th Century.
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…
© P Ward 2014