a return to red

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



red shoes, west dale (p wrad 2013) red shoes, west dale (p ward 2013)

scratch the stone, west dale (p ward 2013) scratch the stone, west dale (p ward 2013)

white quartzite disc, west dale (p ward 2013) white quartzite disc, west dale (p ward 2013)

wet red stone, west dale (p ward 2013) wet red stone, west dale (p ward 2013)


with love

P Ward 2013

i am utterly magnificent


i am utterly magnificent,

resplendent in my omnipresence,

as old as the hills and as fresh as a daisy,

feet deep in moist fertile soil,

head in the clouds

and joy in my heart.


my eyes sparkle with a million stars,

feet dance to the breaking waves

oscillating to the rhythm of the cosmic spheres

and time in all her many guises.

i sneeze with all my might –

laughing, laughing, laughing…


powerful beyond measure,

knowing all that is

becoming myself

in humble




small things (felt pen, p ward 2009) small things (felt pen, p ward 2009)

whisper (pen and pencil); white birds (oil on canvas, triptych) p ward 2009 whisper (pen and pencil); white birds (oil and earth pigment on canvas, triptych) p ward 2009 

I am utterly magnificent (digital image from pencil drawing, p ward 2009) dust II (digital image from pencil drawing, p ward 2009)

(The images above have been taken from ‘an antidote to grieving’ a body of work completed in 2009 while recovering from the passing of my father, grandmother and aunt, their relevance as pertinent today as when first created. The use of art as a process of healing, acceptance, understanding and empowerment should never be underestimated…)

P Ward 2013

circles around me

expressions of an intimate ecology 1


whatever impression we make

whatever mark or intervention into the world

that we add or subtract from our immediate environment

in the grand scheme of things


it is merely a pin prick


a rudimentary breath of life, in and out,

a statement of our own nature

a purposeful manifestation of our own individual spirit

our essence in relation with all


we pick up matter along the way and cast it aside as we process it

as we use it, enjoy it, ingest, digest and excrete it

sometimes affecting us deeply

and other times hardly touching the sides

circles in the sand, northam (p ward 2013) circles in the sand, northam (p ward 2013)

i was recently informed by a most learned colleague

referring to a prehistoric trace of worm movement in a sample of carboniferous mudstone

that all our actions may be divided into three basic categories:

to procreate

to feed

and to escape


how true this is i have not yet had time to process

but it does beg me to wonder “so what is art?!”

and further, for example, “what are politics and science and faith?!”

into what category may such cultural realizations, exploratory or not, fall?


may our fundamental actions be likened to that of a most simple invertebrate

or do we really embody, within our large brained bipedal opposing-thumb-ness, something more?

more power perhaps

more understanding or more rights to annihilate and create?


and do we really have it in us to make amends

to unravel and undo the complexity

of our previously, largely subconscious, peripheral interference in this earthly dynamic?

for one i fear not


so as i draw giddy circles in the sand

or piece one word against another word most joyfully

expressing myself within this intimate ecology that we share,

i may only ponder what my true intentions are…


am i prancing like a peacock, all full and feathery, to ultimately impress some mate or other?

or aiming to provide nutrition of some kind, putting bread upon the table for myself (or not)?

or am i more reasonably aiming to find another world beyond this everyday world

this world of miraculous mistakes?

P Ward 2013

of this earth


i am of this earth

a participant in this bewildering process

not above or about

or at some anaesthetizing distance


i take. i give.

i temporarily tamper in this wondrous working

for better or worse or simply for a change

under no pretense that my actions will save us all – for it is not my place to do so.

beach debris – traces of life, northam (p ward 2013)beach debris – traces of life, northam (p ward 2013)

but there are those of us who cast from more lofty places

sowing errant aspersions upon the actions of others, upon the doom and gloom of our failing ventures,

self-important interventions amid the mental chaos of some ideal future:

unlike the eagle who simply soars


and unlike the grass that simply grows

or the whale that swims so deep

or the spider that spins so intricately

for the fly who flies…


i am of this earth

a not-quite-really-knowing-co-conspirator in this heavenly firmament

un-carrying the weight of the world that is not mine to carry

nor bearing the brunt of those who choose to blame


i have stepped down from my own irksome pedestal

to taste the sea salty wind, to ascertain a distant gesture,

letting life be

out of my hands

P Ward 2013


home 1513

within and without this proximity
this air and earth
this body and breath
in which we share
through touch and taste and sight and smell and sound
just what we are
and may become
in limitless community
exercising subtle calculations
towards possible mutability
and sense what sense
there might be here
these birds and beasts
and other entities
that befriend us
and listen and learn
to value all
to conjure magic and mystery
within symbiosis
endlessly revealing


shuffle, northam (pward 2013) shuffle, northam (pward 2013)

turning, northam (pward 2013) turning, northam (pward 2013)

copy, northam (pward 2013) copy, northam (pward 2013) 

tracing, northam (pward 2013) trace, northam (pward 2013)

virtual, northam (pward 2013) virtual, northam (pward 2013)


P Ward 2013

how invisible may i become?

how invisible may i become,
how virtual in my being,
how camouflaged among the foliage,
how indistinct from any others who purport to express the same,
how discredited, how disrespected, underrepresented and misunderstood,
how taken for granted, how unacknowledged, how comfortable in my nonentity?
if i were to sink back and back and breathe slowly and silently
or slip my head beneath the safety of the waves and dive down and down
or dig a hole deep and dark and bury myself in it,
would i be walked upon more than i am already
or swept aside and ignored more than i am now?

in the earth, exmoor (f owen:p ward 2013 in the earth, exmoor (f owen/p ward 2013)

do i not shout loud enough or shine brightly enough
or whisper clearly enough or use enough clever words?
are they too long or too short or just put together incorrectly?
or do i not put myself in the right place at the right time
or know the right people or ask for what is rightfully mine?
am i simply missing something, not seeing what’s right in front of my eyes,
some logical conclusion or analogy to make my essence clear,
some distinctive nuance of purpose and worth
to allow others to share their fortune
to become valued in this world?

cordyline tag, westward ho! (p ward 2013) cordyline tag, westward ho! (p ward 2013)

i am often told how gifted and talented i am when on show,
for which I am truly grateful and without which I would not know
how kind and capable, in word and deed,
how practical and sensitive to others in need, how skilled
and just how invisible i have become.

sand, sticks and shadows; northam (p ward 2013) sand, sticks and shadows, northam (p ward 2013)

but then i am a lucky one –
i have a house and a home
i am loved and cared for
i am neither hungry or thirsty or cold or even ill,
i am simply disgusted at how so much talent can go to waste
how these precious resources are more often misused and abused,
how such potential may remain unharnessed, how so much love is lost.
now if i move inwards quickly enough, turn about and within this radiant form to leave an empty space,
maybe i can create a vacuum into which all the wars and stupidity will be pulled at once
and leave us all to wonder at just how invisible we have become?


P Ward 2013

painting with the earth – greencliff 27313

after some years of research into other dimensions of my art practice, i have given myself a small space to paint again. while a greater part of my work promotes an understanding and connection of the places we live through gathering, geological interpretation and creative uses of earth pigments through workshops and presentations, i rarely give myself the chance to explore them myself. for the last 20 years painting has performed a number of functions within my practice, not least an opportunity to connect to the subconscious, bringing forth images and symbols locked within myself, often in response to the materials and landscape i inhabit.

painting with the earth – greencliff 27313 greencliff 27313 (p ward/f owen 2013)

a quiet and meditative afternoon spent in the company of the 350 million year old seam of ‘bideford black’ (about which i am presently leading a project with a local public gallery – www.bidefordblackblog.blogspot.co.uk) prompted the collection of a range of colours and a time to feel deeper emotions. a pair of peregrines flew overhead, announcing their courtship and their power. the sun appeared and reappeared from behind a cloud as we sat in its growing warmth sheltered from the unseasonal icy wind. full moon waves gently rolling the pebbles below us at the base of the ridge…

reaching out - letting go (earth pigments; p ward 2013) reaching out – letting go (earth pigments; p ward 2013)

life blood (earth pigments; p ward 2013) life blood (earth pigments; p ward 2013)

this time (earth pigments; p ward 2013) this time (earth pigments; p ward 2013)

“Aesthetic appreciation of the natural environment is not simply a matter of looking at objects or ‘views’ from a specific point. Rather, it is being ‘in the midst’ of them, moving in regard to them, looking at them from any and every point and distance and, of course, not only looking, but also smelling, hearing, touching, feeling. It is being in the environment, being a part of the environment, and reacting to it as a part of it. It is such active, involved aesthetic appreciation, rather than the formal mode of appreciation nurtured by the scenery cult and encouraged by photographs, that is appropriate to the natural environment.” Allen Carlson, 2009

working hard for what we believe in (bideford black; p ward 2013) working hard for what we believe in (bideford black; p ward 2013)

language (earth pigments; p ward 2013) language (earth pigments; p ward 2013)

pebble ridge (earth pigments; p ward 2013) pebble ridge (earth pigments; p ward 2013)

If you would like to see more of my earlier work and earth pigment paintings please visit www.peterward-artist-illustrator.co.uk …

P Ward 2013


It’s enough to put me off saving the World,

Such bickering and postulating amongst them and us

Dispiculating between somnambulant terminologies

Defining the piecrust while the earth turns to dust.

“All life entails violence” said Mahatma K Gandhi[i],

And while I appreciate the necessity in our nature to conflict,

And the hardships and extremes that this world often employs

To willfully move from one point of stasis to another unknown  –

(to evolve and to adapt from form to form) –

I still wonder if there is a better way to relate within.

francesca talking at the table (pward 2013) francesca talking at the table (pward 2013)

Too often do I become drawn into and distracted by the politics of corporate and institutional self-interest that permeates our culture, the ethos that undermines our quest for an energetic emergent harmony, in the hope that working alongside others may multiply the power for justice and good sense that I pray we all desire, only to find a desire dissipated and frustrated by strategies of mistrust and the insecurities of difference. Thank goodness for phenomenology[ii] is all I can say – a philosophy that observes how the whole ‘truth’ may only be truly perceived by a totality of difference and individuality.

“The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude…” George Orwell

And so I return to my familiarly insular position, comfortable in the knowledge that I can never totally detach myself from the world, happy to make my own carefully determined excursions when I see fit, to add to the milieu with integrity and joy when the world summons me forth or when I am hungry and in need – my only task, to let others know that I am here, what my individuality may provide when the time is right and to develop my skills for the benefit of all.

I would like to believe, and quite often do hope, that my minimal actions and interventions may in some way contribute to the miracle of this existence both for myself and my fellow beings, that my words and images and movements mingle well with the dynamic of well-meaning. But rather I would celebrate the honour and privilege it is to exist at all – to breathe and to feel, to sense the changes and appreciate the simple acts of love about us all and to respond responsibly when I can.

dad and chilli, peppercombe (p ward 2008) dad and chilli, peppercombe (p ward 2008)

I recall my father’s passing, his sadness in knowing that he would no longer see the ocean, the waves breaking beneath the big wide sky, hear children playing or the wind in the trees or the songs of birds, the sun and moon rising and setting, the stars above, the rich scent of earth held in his hands. He did not profess to be a spiritual or religious person or to have any particular politics, other than common sense and a deep respect for all life.

the space between 2 stones, westward ho! (pward 2013) the space between 2 pebbles, westward ho! (pward 2013)

To be alive in this world is a gift that should never be undervalued.

Wherever and whenever and however I chose to give thanks may it be with openness and integrity.

However humble and mundane my actions in this world from moment to moment and day to day

May I never forget the fragility and the power,

the wind and sun and rain and all about

the soil beneath my feet, the foundation of all our lives


I will tread gently

I will speak softly

I will act with kindness

(for there is already more than enough violence and greed in the world)

I will use only what I need

and I will be thankful

P Ward 2013

[i] from Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul (London; Aurum Press, 2004)

[ii] Phenomenology is a philosophy explored in the 20th Century by such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger. From an artistic and creative perspective it offers a means of expression and interpretation through the (sometimes random) juxtaposition of disparate opinions and visions. The philosophy does not offer one Truth but the validity of all chosen or perceived positions. To my mind it offers an important contribution to any ecologically inspired political or spiritual intentions through its genuinely egalitarian ethos.

To find courage

pathways, penryn (pward 2013) 
To find the strength
To walk away from
To leave behind
What has previously supported a way of life of apparent choice
A way of life that once honoured an inner joy and purpose
To leave behind
To do away with (and without)
The things that have been accumulated over the years
That represent a meaning and belief once held but found wanting
To turn one’s back upon
To let go of
To disengage oneself from
Attitudes and behaviour, people and places
That undermine one’s personal power founded in love
To make space for
To open oneself to
To create a new relationship with
To willingly accept
A better way…

digging in the dirt, penryn (pward 2013)pathways; digging in the dirt, penryn (p ward/f owen 2013)

P Ward 2013

timeless discoursed…


what are we doing?
what are we doing right now?
what have we been doing?
what have we done?
what will we do?
what do we do?
what did we do before?
what have we undone?
what is this that we are doing?
what is it that we did do?
what is this that we shall be doing
when all is said and done?
what will we be doing
after it has happened?
what will we become
if everything is gone?
if there is no air
if there is no water
if there is no earth
if there is no food
or fire to keep us warm,
we may feel rather foolish,
we may feel absolutely nothing,
if there isn’t anything at all.
this i understand.

painted driftwood triptych, westward ho! (p ward 2013) painted driftwood triptych, westward ho! (p ward 2013)

On offering the above poetic excursion to a respected friend to peruse it was accused of exhibiting a rather didactic nomenclature, being somewhat opinionated and hence possibly disallowing imaginative participation for many readers. But begging to differ, as is my want, I thereby suggest that any and all statements are contestable. Even perhaps those that are most edifying and offensive to the sensibilities of the liberally inclined deliver most provocatively just such cause for cataclysmic departure (albeit somewhat deterministically limited by dualistic tendencies within thought and discourse). While it may admittedly be declared that my linguistic deliverance is a little wanting within this acclaimed literary genre, it may just as easily be surmised that all statements, literally adroit or not have an equal capacity for creative response.

frosty steps, northam burrows (p ward 2013) frosty steps, northam burrows (p ward 2013)

Thankfully healthy relationships are (most possibly rather than most definitely) based upon an easy acceptance and celebration of difference as well as similarity – difference creating a dynamic for organic and prolonged growth and evolution rather than a dissatisfied sense of compromise; opposition presenting worthy challenges in the face of stultifying stagnation when enjoyed within an attitude of good humoured trust and benign mutuality. Without such obstacles in our path how might we begin or continue to appreciate the many strengths and intelligences of our intrinsic limitations and beauty.

84 dots (bideford black; 112x78cm; 2008) 84 dots (bideford black; p ward 2008)

So, long may we share our ego-fuelled individuality with love, integrity and joy, knowing that it is such enduring diversity that makes a whole world alive in animate becoming and without which any sense of peace might readily be known as death.

P Ward 2013