Most of us have imagined at some time what it would be like to live in another place or time, to be immersed in a different way of life, philosophy, religion or culture. Perhaps we have felt a sympathetic resonance with a particular period, or landscape, or nature of people or style of expression and have been enriched by that experience, with new perceptions and feelings about what it means to be a human and a deeper value for the human story. The artistic legacy of even a small part of the human past is a magnificence, in both its sacred and secular expressions, and it is to this that we wanted to pay tribute in this exhibition.
In preparation, we listened to music from around the world, from the throat singing of the Inuit to the haunting yearning of Iranian song, and the other-worldliness of the Australian Aboriginal digereedoo. As we listened we drew and painted spontaneously, not trying to create finished pieces, but to sense and respond to the nature and frequency of the music itself. It was later that we dipped our toes into the vast ocean of visual art from other times and other places of the world. Then we each selected a place, a time, a culture and made a simple tribute.
We spent an evening telling each other about our pieces, what had inspired them and what was significant about them for us, and through it all could be felt the continuous line that reaches to us this very day, the line of being moved to be alive, on this planet, with a sense of purpose and a great love of all that we can do and be.
I had been reading about the Australian indigenous people and the journeys they made repeatedly covering vast territories of otherwise unoccupied land. The same tracks were walked over and over, through thousands of years. Imagine the stillness of such vast terrain, no vehicles, only the cries of the weather and of creatures large and small. There must have been almost total intactness, the wholeness of the place undisturbed, unbroken; the relationship between human and the land sacred and unviolated.
Mechanisation broke the intactness. The tracks had to alter. They were curtailed and were never the same again.
This simple piece of work is a tribute to the paths walked by man and by animals also. It depicts the physical tracks and also the not physical tracks, the rhythms of the unseen landscape, that most likely determined where the people walked and how they navigated. It hints at the weave and living reality of the relationship between the two.
When I came across this prehistoric rock drawing from North Africa I immediately felt the vigour and dynamic presence of unfettered human life. The drawing represents to me the dawn of a new consciousness in the form of homo sapiens. As well as all the attributes of animal and plant life on this planet this new life form holds a growing consciousness that life exists in a huge and mysterious context. This is why I have added the stars and lines of connection from the universe to the man. As I contemplated this early human I felt in myself a clean place of reverence that can bypass all the manmade assumptions that we are born into. It is astonishing that a simple drawing can, thousands of years later, ‘plop’ into another human being and have such a profound and relevant effect.
Inspired by Aboriginal art and its original meaning, depicting their secret knowledge and sacred stories about the earth, and the cosmos.
These three sticks represent The Creation Story, The Great Mother Story, and The Human Story.
My reason for producing these prayer sticks is as a personal reminder and call over of the truth of Life as best I see it for now. Imagine these sticks standing 5 feet tall!
This art-work is based on some photographs I took during a trip to Peru some years ago when I was fortunate in being able to take a trip to fly over and see these extraordinary desert markings.
The NAZCA LINE are a group of very large trenches in the Nazca Desert, in southern Peru, created between 500 BCE and 500 AD. They were made by scraping off the top layer of reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles to reveal a yellow-grey subsoil. The Nazca lines form shapes that are best seen from the air, with new ones recently being discovered due to changes in weather patterns and the use of satellites and drone imaging.
Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, but in general, they ascribe religious significance to them. There is much well researched work of Andean scholars. Johan Reinhard believes that the lines should be viewed as religious artifacts connected to concepts of water, fertility, and the worship of mountains as divine ancestors (all recognized aspects of Andean religion). Whereas, the most popular theories that emerge about the Nazca lines, are those that involve archaeoastronomy. Maria Reiche was a research assistant of Paul Kosok, the first to study the Nazca lines, and she has since been dubbed the mother of Nazca. Her theories are based on a background in mathematics, revolved around the concept that the lines represented an astronomical calendar and observatory. While a great deal of legitimate scholarship has been written that studies their construction, purpose, variability, and place in the chronology of Andean prehistory, most of this research has been systematically ignored by popular pseudoarchaeologists in favour of more sensational theories that emphasize their mystery, antiquity, and originality for instance Erich von Daniken’s theories of aliens and space travel.
Every year I visit Australia and am flooded with joy as soon as I get off the plane. For me it is a special land I go back to again and again. What I love best (along with the weather) are the eucalyptus trees, the wild life and the bird song. I often go walking in the bush, enjoying the range of trees inside the eucalyptus forests with the black burnt trees a spikey contrast to those with leaves. Sometimes I am brought to a standstill beside a particular tree, fascinated by the bark, made up of wonderful patches of colour, pale mint, blue orange, violet and white in different combinations. I also have a great love of aboriginal paintings, and in these glass pieces I have tried to catch the feeling of these trees using some of the dot technique often used by the aboriginals, as a tribute to this special land and people.
This portrait appeared in my mind whilst watching a TV show on zen gardens. I was caught by the flowing lines created by raking sand around these large stones. In that moment it seemed to me that a human life was composed of three parts, the immovable (rock), the fluid (river/sand) and the dance they did together, and I wondered whether I could do a portrait of myself that described this interplay.
Almost immediately I also realised I wanted a space at the centre of it, not a rock, and a particular shaped space, a threefold space, not subject to the to and fro, ups and downs, of duality. And my portrait in that moment became an intention and expression of a belief. To create a quiet space within, with an immovable neutrality, knowing that the ripples from this space will change everything.