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 (http://artsandecology.info/pdf/Soil_culture_info_Oct2013.pdf). the images were captured on continuous shooting mode and edited using i-movie.
© Francesca Owen & Peter Ward 2014
get more closer here
to feeling pulses pulsing
touched each other gentle
tasty ground about
breathe more deeper deeply
swim beneath the tall trees
eating rainbow clouds up
in you ‘n’ this ‘n’ that
a slippery wetness
a dirty earth-ness
a cleansing thirst-ness
of air and spirit fullness
we are fools and idiots
and lunatics and mad people
you and I
that we may do well to deny
as i jump at the chance
although there is none
to chatter insanely with thee
face to face to face to face
your heart to start
when dancing and prancing
below the sandy meadows
where loam-filled worms
cast the soil and sand
for the greenwood
to the fair
for our home
the sea and all these ‘ologies
so mole me over more
and time and time and time
will willfully aspire
to inspire to this end
we have no gas or oil
we have but sticks and stones
we have light and fire
we have the power now
to let us fly like birds while we can
and spin fine filament in memory (lest we forget)
for futures not yet set in stone
upon which to build our dreams
© P Ward 2013
birdhill, west somerset, 81113
at this time of day,
at this time of year,
as sun sinks – loosing strength and warmth;
nighttime fills shadow with shifting mutable presence
the rich autumnal rainbow of wet slippery leaves glow upwards,
permeating the visual with resonant fungal scents,
silver light pervading, filling all with luminescence;
even the dead and decaying give their own light,
dark forms shifting as we walk
catching eye and ear and all between,
bark from black to mossy green to grey
it is often said that we may commune more readily with other realms at this time,
with spirits of the dead and intelligences seldom seen;
it is easy to see why.
But how to capture, beyond personal memory, such total experience within which we do immerse?
My camera, despite its advanced technology, struggles.
Yet, whatever impression it does record, accidental or not,
whether ‘correct’ or ‘accurate’ or ‘technically proficient’,
may still find a way to communicate and convey a sense of elemental moment.
Not just through abstract digital process, as clever as this may be,
but through consensual associative creative and imaginal interaction with life itself –
we fill in the gaps with whatever meaning we need…
© P Ward 2013
Happiness is an empty fridge. Heaven is no fridge at all!
It is easy to sit here tapping at the backlit keyboard and reminisce nostalgically (but not without difficulty) about a time not so long ago before such devices existed, before the dizzying acceleration of technology allowed communication across the world at our fingertips, before twenty thousand songs could fit miraculously into a matchbox – remember them?! We lit fires with them. We watched flames dance for a whole evening and spoke and sang and danced and were silent as befitted each moment. We dreamt of friends a thousand miles away and prayed for their wellbeing and happiness. We conjured magic in circles and acted with our feet and hands. There is a smell to such memories, a richness, a fullness, a dampness, not sterilized by the plethora of products that eradicate such earthly, dirt-filled unpleasantry today.
graffitied tomb, wells cathedral[i] (p ward 2013)
What has changed, for better or worse? Are fires and stars and dreams so very far out of reach now or have we just forgotten the threads of the invisible, the wires of wily nature connecting us all? Whatever advances in technology, they are all mere echoes of nature and ourselves; powers made manifest in a more marketable, more user friendly but less skillful form.
I am no more Luddite[ii] than you – sitting with my face buried in cyberspace, ensconced in this creative moment, enjoying the possibilities of global communion with my kind – under no more pretense that technology has not provided so many wonderful opportunities for resolutions to our mortal sufferings, but I do miss the time and space, the pace of life, without the refrigerator hum, without the incessant barely audible but most discernable white noise of electrical wiring or the constant offer of obsessive digital distraction at my fingertips. I walked and cycled to visit friends, I lit candles when it was dark and woke when it was light, read paper books, waited with patience for children’s programmes to finish, made models with matchsticks and glue, I used what I could find and what I had; I gathered wood, built fires and shelters, I moved more, I felt weather, I breathed air. Things were simpler it seemed and more wholesome. To spend half a day walking to the shop and back, relishing every moment, knowing that my work, my time spent without the use of a car was time well spent, necessitating the need for nothing but good strong legs – a different kind of logic not based on money and fuel.
“As technological devices increase the availability of a commodity or service, they also push these devices into the background where people do not pay attention to their destructive tendencies. To use a metaphor, there is a two-edged sword operating here. Technology increases the availability of goods but the devices that we rely upon to provide us these commodities lie hidden in the background and have a profound adverse effect on people’s lives.[iii]”
For every technological advance there is a corresponding fall it seems. I will step outside when I can. Attempt to unravel myself from modernity’s spurious influence and contact a place within myself when I had all the time in the world – time to live and dream right here on this earth.
When I arrived here this evening, at my other half-home, I took the battery from the ticking clock, made a big wood fire in the stone hearth and listened to music from my youth. I greeted the new moon, thankfully nestling in a cloud haze above the tree line and inhaled wood smoke drifting from the line of stone cottages. I heard Nature again.
© P Ward 2013
[i] Wells Cathedral in Somerset, UK, took over 300 years to build, starting in the 12th century. It is hard to imagine working all of your life on one project, one wall, one stone carving and the implications this may have to broader society.
[ii] The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite
a most goodly new turning to all those with their feet on the ground and heads in the clouds!
dawn; four ravens, two pairs, acrobatically energetic, mouths ajar, celebrating animistic reunion.
what better company to have as we enter the dark times again,
one step nearer yesterday, tomorrow, today…
© P Ward 2013
even if our actions in this world are bringing life (as we know it) to a rather messy and untimely end,
even if we are polluting and degrading the soil and the oceans and the skies to an irreparable degree,
even if we cannot seem to work out at this stage of our evolution how to partake in, or to share in, the universal abundance for the good of all (when all it takes is a little kindness and common sense),
even if we continue to abuse and degrade all of creation, including ourselves, through greed, ignorance and fear,
even if we shout and scream (however cleverly) and make compassionate, intelligent and informed choices in the face of adversity and injustice, but sense no change,
even if we can see how everything has gone so dreadfully wrong,
even if we feel completely powerless in the face of it all,
(even if we are fundamentally small and insignificant),
(even if our existence is essentially superfluous to the functioning of the universe),
(even if we will all die one day anyway)…
we may still feel wonder
we may still sense beauty and joy
we may still find peace
we may still love
that we may still survive
© P Ward 2013
What is success?
In this material world it is something I have found hard to come to terms with (or achieve).
As a concept it is difficult to measure, to enjoy and even to aspire to
When judged in terms of, and against, the failings and misfortune of others.
But in a world of animate totality, of dynamic energetic exchange
What might this much-maligned expression denote?
If I do not live among mountains, how may I climb them?
Is it simply a moment of movement,
A statement in time of our good-natured evolution,
Taking all and everybody’s best interests into account?
Is it a milestone of achievement, material and otherwise,
A gateway to another place, another sense of consciousness,
A breath before another, without judgement,
A knowing as yet unknown?
Or is it a building block that we willingly grant ourselves
A stepping-stone, a rope swing, a train of thought, a shift of perspective
That leads us elsewhere?
And who is to say, other than ourselves,
If we have succeeded or not in our own intimately chosen path,
If our own limitations have been reached or challenged sufficiently,
Or if those standards are to be universally acknowledged
And recognized by just a few (who should really know better)?
In an ecological sense
Succession is a phase of transition
A holistic progression towards a more fitful state
A communal symbiotic process in relation to all
I shall keep this in mind
As I fail
As I make fresh and exciting mistakes on a daily basis
As I make ready for change
As I step into the unknown
© P Ward 2013
i am aware of my space
i am aware of your space
i am aware of the space between us
and the space around us
i am aware of space
i am conscious of my movement (and its limitations) in space
i am conscious of your movement (and your limitations) in space
i am conscious of any movements that may interrupt this space
this space around us
that is conscious of all our movement within it
whenever I move I dance
whenever I dance I move through space
in relation to you and me and space itself
wherever I am I am moving through space
whether seated or sleeping or running or riding
this space is in motion
and me within it
in relation with
this constant flow
it is beyond my control
but within my awareness
within our awareness
within this dance
where boundaries blur
P Ward 2013
I want to go nowhere
there is nowhere I want to go
I am quite happy just where I am
getting to know this place in its splendid complexity
some travel great distances
feet barely touching ground
never long enough to feel the soil grow between these toes
or recognize the neighbourhood blackbird raising her new family
with the tides
there is so much rushing around
it is time to slow down
to the pace of a tortoise
or a frog hopping along in long wet grass
I am at peace
looking very closely
listening really deeply
opening oneself to the pull and push
of this exquisite world with you
P Ward 2013
1 hour in west dale 7913
beyond the hubbub and fond farewells
beyond the old friends and celebrations of an age
there is a space for memories made more recently
for futures and time immemorial
sitting between the big red rocks
as sun shines and waves break gently
enjoying the gallery of nature
in its infinite beauty
P Ward 2013