The rovers, the rootless, those not under the spell…perhaps they were simply allowed to go free. To start again. With no frontiers to extend, no homes to guard against imagined attack, they had never been the destroyers. There was no danger in them. He had imagined, sometimes, a great line of them stretching through the centuries, differing in nature but not in kind: the wandering scholars, the Romanies, the monks and adventurers and aimless, amiable men. The weak ones. The mercenaries, who would indifferently kill for their hire but never motivate the war. The travellers, wandering all countries without discriminate love, in search of something they might one day find but would never recognize.
Susan Cooper, Mandrake
In Mandrake, Susan Cooper’s first novel, the Earth gains some kind of revenge on mankind. So many of her later books are about people who belong in their landscape that it surprised me that her first novel had not-belonging as a positive for some of her characters.
Is this a root nodule, a seed?
This one doesn’t have a title yet
Gesso on photograph
Fallen trees, isolated
I originally intended to paint areas out completely with the white gesso, but I like the hints of sunlight and shadow that come through. It still highlights the strange forms of fallen trees which was my main intention.
I confess to having been influenced by seeing the erased photographs of Emilio Isgrò at Rome’s Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna. This installation, L’ora Italiana was part of that exhibition – the partially erased figures referring to the bombing of Bologna train station in 1980.
Am I referring to a bombing? No, but these are trees that died during the drought two years ago. A slower, less dramatic death, of trees not of people, of ‘natural causes’ not of terrorism, but a death and decimation none-the-less.
We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified – how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of things. It is possible to live and not know.
Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
A big part of making any artwork (or science discovery since Feynman was a physicist) is living with not knowing. How will this turn out? Will it be interesting or a complete failure? And anything I think I know usually turns out to be wrong. But in letting go of certainty, and the need to be right (or keep my favorite bits), I get to make discoveries. Usually right after I decide that I’m going to burn the canvas and call it a performance.
Rock, shell and feather stack by the white cliffs
I think the expression “small rearrangements of the environment” is a great description for the rock stacks, shell circles and sandcastles none of us can help but build on a beach.
A collage of Shetland images
I lived in Shetland for four of my teenage years. A set of windswept, treeless islands where the North Sea meets the Atlantic, north of Scotland, south of Iceland. I used copies of photographs I took back then for this collage; back in the days of film. They are pasted to canvas on card.
Wrapped stone slabs in Rome
I saw these beautifully wrapped and arranged stone slabs on a dig site in Rome. Such care was taken and yet they have clearly been there some time since the weeds (or are they wild flowers?) have taken over the spaces between them. They made me think of .