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
(Thanks to Mat for a good conversation about politics, age and forward thinking)
while the universe may be perceived as infinite,
as our imagination does allow,
this world (upon which our existence depends) is not.
there is life
and there is death.
beginnings and ends.
throughout our history, especially in certain cultural geographies,
there has been a gradual shift towards arrogance as our understanding has increased.
with our own permission, in the names of progress, evolution and survival,
we have plundered, transferred and transformed the dynamic integrity of earth.
yet for us, as humans, omnipotence is not a possibility.
and while we may have broken it
and know how and why
we are not capable of mending it
beyond abstaining from activities and attitudes
that may perpetuate such demise and hopefully promote a self-sustaining recovery of sorts.
the universe is quite simply too vast, too diverse for us to knowingly manipulate or predict.
although we may want more,
whether that is peace or possessions or power,
there is little more to be had.
there is already more than enough.
we are simply regurgitating past revelations in a different guise,
re-appropriating wisdom again for our own selfish ends.
to be grateful
to be thankful
to appreciate what there is and what we have
to strive for less
to recognize our own limitations
and to live within them
while not profitable or fashionable
may provide and define a feasible space for creativity, for resourcefulness, for compassion and for joy…
but then, who am I to say?
© P Ward 2019
In darkness, I think of you
And in my thoughts
I cover you with flowers,
A multitude of colours, shapes and scents,
And remove them one by one
To reveal you anew
In beauty and in wonder.
May your world be full of light and joy,
Inspiration, warmth and love
© P Ward 2019
with thanks this midwinter…
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see Nature at all.
But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is imagination itself.”
© p ward 2014
[i] This quote from 17th Century visionary and mystic artist William Blake was taken from the January February 2015 issue of Resurgence/The Ecologist magazine (http://www.resurgence.org/) where I am fortunate enough to have a painting published to accompany an article by environmental activist Vandana Shiva – ‘We are Soil’.
Falmouth University, 2-5 July 2014
The first major event of the Soil Culture[i] programme organized by CCANW[ii] and RANE[iii] at Falmouth University took place over the last week. The event brought together talks, workshops, social gatherings and exhibitions of artwork and posters from local and international artists, soil scientists and agriculturalists to celebrate and investigate how the arts may contribute to shifts in attitudes and understanding of a matter we take very much for granted – soil.
My own contribution included the forum logo, a small display of soil inspired work with Francesca Owen in the Woodlane Campus Library, a poster commissioned and printed for the 20th World Congress of Soil Science in South Korea by Alex Toland[iv], a Painting with Earth workshop and a number of art works in a pop-up exhibition on site. It was good to meet, hear and see the rich and varied work of those of like minds and inspirations, and especially to hear the no-nonsense common sense of Graham Harvey, author of one of my favourite books, The Carbon Fields[v]…
“Why, she wondered, were Indian peasants being pushed into debt and penury by a system of agriculture that was supposed to bring prosperity to rural communities? And why did monocultures, which were intrinsically of low productivity, come to be accepted as highly productive though they required huge inputs of chemicals and fossil fuels, and then produced less food than traditional, diverse farming systems?” from The Carbon Fields by Graham Harvey, p.100
“Organic milk, for example, is a blend of the good and not so good. Organic standards require that at least 60 per cent of the ratio must be in the form of grass and forage. In terms of its nutrient content, milk produced to this minimum standard won’t compare in quality with milk of cows getting 80 per cent of their feed in the form of grazed pasture, organic or not. And, as on conventional farms, milk produced to higher standards will be diluted with milk produced to the bare minimum standard.” from The Carbon Fields by Graham Harvey, p.136
It is always exciting how participation in such events can provide the space to create new work and to make and renew contacts. Let’s hope that the forum will lead to increased future awareness, projects and collaborations towards our need for changes in attitude and policy around issues of our care and relationship with soil, a living substance upon which our and all life depends. Also thank you to Daro Montag for all his hard work organizing and raising funds[vi] for this event.
© P Ward 2014
[v]THE CARBON FIELDS – GRAHAM HARVEY (Bridgewater UK; GRASSROOTS; 2008)
[vi] Funding for the Forum was provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
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
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