still working (together) to unearth a sense of ecologic expression
Despite prolonged respite from the imbalance of intellectual restraint and academic conceptualisation it is with some regret we must announce that this most personable aesthetic conversation is struggling to reveal the treasures that such shared passions have promised. It is certainly not a matter of lack of talent, or lack of desire for that matter – we have bucket loads of both. Nor is it through misunderstanding or dishonest perception of our circumstantial condition – we can see our world with all four eyes, looking outside and in. But practically speaking the economic, or at least financial climate within which we currently reside, and our own malingering downtrodden sense of poverty has temporarily overwhelmed any sense of optimism that henceforth breathed and pulsed within our eloquent evocations of spirit and love…
So then what shall we do, if not buckle beneath the oppressive dominance of capital and self-imposed slavery and familial media negativity? We shall dig in the dirt and walk in the rain and relish decay and be awestruck by beauty and age and kick shit in the faces of those who would wish us ill through greed, ignorance, pity and petty law making.
We touch the earth and sense the power that is held within.
We hold the earth and listen to the wisdom of its age.
We shape the earth and share its stories with the wind…
Or more simply we shall give ourselves the time and space to spend doing those things that give us joy, that make our hearts and minds sing and that make life so special and full of love.
P Ward 2013
What has gone wrong?
What has gone astray (within the critical framework of suggested crisis)?
And where is the sense in ambition unfounded in practicality and passion,
Or meaning lost in a dry process of unfathomable wordy rhetoric,
Fulfilling the well-oiled trends of contemporary academic consumption
But missing the point most poignantly?
And how might we retrieve that feeling
Of hope and joyful purpose that set our innocent imaginations reeling
At the beginning of our journey, or even sometime before
When inklings were astir within the weighty cauldron of this vivid sharing
And only understood as intuition or dreaming of a resolute future,
Resilient and honest and rooted in the love of all?
Are we left to simply pray,
Or act most guardedly of our brave and brilliant intentions,
Whether sensible or responsible or even just beautiful,
Founded in the wisdom of our heartfelt animate belonging
Our earth and soil and blood and water in which we breathe –
The power of fire and light and darkness?
I ask for strength and clarity.
I ask for the means to perform my preferred and peaceable purpose in this place.
I will make my way with whatever is at hand
And step one step and each most gently
As springtime rises within
Amidst Nature’s tireless glory.
P Ward 2013
On a recent visit to my local beach I stuck a stick in the sand.
The various elemental forces in play instantly transfixed me, filling me with a sense of exhilaration – the wind, the weight of the stick, its texture, form and flexibility, the tentative support of the sand and shingle creating a viable tension and suggesting a living, breathing entity through which I might relate to my place within the world.
I have since been playing with this idea using a variety of sticks of different weights, lengths and thicknesses and in different weather conditions. This short film documents some of my initial experimentation…
For me the installation brought to mind David Abram’s analogies of air as the living elemental entity within which our collective thoughts reside, …
“Finally, and most profoundly, this invisible medium, in which we are bodily immersed, is what provides us with the capacity for conscious thought.” from The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
… and of fire, being a product of the other elements, as well as the animate nature of all being, a belief in which gives faith and understanding to indigenous cultures around the world …
“With everything having life, with everything having speech, with everything having the power to breathe, with everything having the power to teach and guide, with that in blessing we live.” from the Navajo Blessingway ceremony, recorded by Gary Witherspoon, also from The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram[i].
(Coincidentally, I am also presently enjoying a course of acupuncture!?[ii])
P Ward 2013
[i] David Abram, The Spell of The Sensuous (New York; VINTAGE; 1997)
[ii] The principles of acupuncture and holistic healing within the context of art and ecology are presently being explored by American ecoartist Aviva Rahmani in her Trigger Point Theory, whereby interdisciplinary actions are defined and implemented through a range of analytical tools within specific ecologies to catalyze an effect. To find out more visit http://www.avivarahmani.com/. I have also previously written about such ideas on this site https://intim8ecology.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/art-as-flux/…
a short film documenting the eventual (and ritual) burning of 9 bundles of sticks that have been used in various projects over the last 6 months – from ecological art workshops, community dance performances and contemporary art exhibitions the bundles have been enjoyed by and inspired many people taking on a powerful presence of their own. But the bundles were made to be burnt and so they have come to their fitting end. Many thanks to COURAGE COPSE CREATIVES and HOME GROWN KIDS in North Devon where they were made and to where they were ultimately returned…
“ The ability of each thing or entity to influence the space around it may be viewed as the expressive power of that being. All things, in this sense, are potentially expressive; all things have the power of speech. Most, of course, do not speak in words. But this is also true of ourselves: our own verbal eloquence is but one form of human expression among many others.” from David Abram, Becoming Animal – An Earthly Cosmology.
P Ward 2013
May a single action be creatively catalytic in effort and effect?
STICKS AND STONES
(MAY BREAK MY BONES BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME?!)
A ritually inspired process designed to gently re-evaluate, share and transform our relationship with the animate world through memory, magic and tactile engagement.
INTUITION INSTINCT nature BEHAVIOUR COMMUNICATION MEMORY ritual MAGIC ANIMISM
you will need
A STICK, A STONE/some earth or pigment, A metal BUCKET, A BOWL, A CANDLE (preferably beeswax) to be lit, SOME WATER (preferably from a natural source), possibly A FEATHER, SOME PAPER (cut into notelet size)+ MARK MAKING TOOLS and A HAT
Preferably this action would be performed outdoors, possibly using objects gathered from the immediate environment…
- invite your ‘audience’ to sit comfortably and quietly in a circle; ask them to close their eyes and listen carefully to their environment
- announce (casually) that you are about to perform some ‘magic’ for which you will need a hat – place the hat upon your head (humourously)
- pass around the objects one at a time, and carefully contemplate their elemental nature and any memories they might evoke for you, depending on the situation discuss…
- to enable the next exercise engage the group in a quick word association game – this exercise will hopefully promote a more automatic/intuitive response…
- when all objects have been returned invite the participants to quietly recall any events, happenings or experiences from their past that have brought them closer to nature and made them feel more connected to it, and that have in some way made them the beautiful, life-affirming, ecologically sensitive and creative person that they are today
- ask the group to hold the feeling of that experience, the sensation it brought them, the power of it, and to then write or draw the experience onto the piece of paper you have passed them, (reassure the group that what is written on the paper will be treated with the strictest confidence)
- then place the piece of paper into the bucket,
- pass around the objects again, this time contemplating how they may have changed or recognizing how your relationship with them may have changed since first ‘meeting’ them, (and again possibly discuss)…
- the ‘responsible participant/process facilitator’ will then place all the objects into the bucket with the paper and pour water over them; the contents will be stirred while singing/joking about ‘there’s a (w)hole in my bucket and other ‘magic words’,
- a small quantity of the liquid will then be poured into the bowl and passed around/shared/sprinkled/daubed onto the foreheads of the participants
- ‘close’ the ritual with an offering of food (cake) to all the participants
- inform the participants that the paper used will be mulched and then made into more paper for the next time the process is performed, or an art object (a ball perhaps); the objects will also be used again, hopefully accumulating more ‘memories’ of their own,
- open a discussion to reflect on the process/elements of the process just experienced and the nature of ‘communication’, between ‘objects’, and through non-verbal means,
- suggest to each participant to write a longer list of events/experiences/happenings in their lives which have brought them closer to nature and made them feel more connected to it – this list may be very useful in their own practices for initiating/sharing such activities with others or may simply become a personal affirmation or even an artwork in itself…
DREAMING THE DARK – Starhawk
WHAT IS ART? – Joseph Beuys
THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS – David Abram
THE LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS – Richard Louv