Spanning the Material Field no.2

Found a great book in Oxfam, St. Ives, some months ago. Finally had time to have a proper look. It’s called Himalayan Art, by Madanjeet Singh. There are some wonderful little paintings depicting humans and animals. And some interesting dream accounts and stories. …”According to this story, Gautama’s mother Maya Devi dreamt of a white elephant entering her body from the right side…according to the dream interpreters ‘the child of her womb will assuredly be a holy child and grow up to achieve perfect wisdom’.”

“Tsahna was a lazy individual who was disowned by society because he was fond of sleeping… he lived in a cemetery, and at last he met a Yogi, who told him to ”imagine that you draw all the phenomenal objects into your spiritual self, then meditating on an ocean, perceive that your awareness floats on the water like a duck’….”

“He also taught Godhava to meditate at every dawn by concentrating on the songs of the birds and identifying himself with them.”

“Kukuripa was a Brahman who became a Yogi. Once when he was on his way to Lumbini, he found a stray puppy and took care of it for before 12 years before he went to Heaven. The gods entertained Kukuripa lavishly but he was unhappy without his pet. So he came back to earth and, as soon as he touched the dog, she was transformed into an angel. She then taught him the Tantras of Prajna (knowledge) and Upaya (method) and thus both achieved salvation.”

I was working today on a piece with a deer and disembodied wings. A tree is a companion; above,  an animal-bellied budding-breasted cocoon is appearing. I think there is a story in there but I don’t know what it is yet.

Works in progress in my studio, August 1st 2012


New Opening Date for Show at Newlyn!!

I heard today that my show ‘The Secret Worth A Thousand’ will open on Friday December 7th, not the 30th of November. We will install the show during the last week of November so the work will be available to view from Tuesday December 4th.

I worked this morning on tiny piece with a figure and a horse, a kind of energetic mesh connecting them.

Setting out on a long walk in the New Forest; it was the day we saw the white deer.

Dreamed of my special dog last night, she was asleep at the bottom of a pool, curled up; there was a sense of distance between us.

Sunday 29th July

A piece with winged beings, woman-like and deer-like, worried me so I turned it on its side and another face appeared, a green woman, in the mesh of the flight feathers. The green woman has gone now, two days later, but I am still not sure about this one. I feel the two aspects need to be contained in the same body somehow. I will work on it tomorrow.

This afternoon in the garden I potted on coriander seedlings, planted out mange tout seedlings, picked the last of this crop of broad beans and pulled up the old stringy plants. Their string ties holding them to bamboo were turned into complete knotty cats’ cradles by the sparrows who had fancied the string as nest material. They had routinely taken all our string garden ties so that Andrew’s wonderful pea support actually lost its top tier and had to be re-done.

I have put two dishes full of water on the large table in the garden where we eat. The female sparrows come to drink when we are sitting there eating or reading the paper. Last evening a racing pigeon came and drank her fill as we sat inches away from her. She was very beautiful.

In the studio this morning I worked on a piece about composite humans/animals. Together they form an arch, with a view through to a landscape suggested. Visiting the V&A a few months ago to research Indian miniature painting I saw exquisite little watercolours and gouaches. Sacred cows supported the cosmos on the tips of their horns.

Began a very small piece where a figure is lying on the back of a horse. A wash of water down the material ground immediately suggested a figure, and beneath her a very strong horse. I like working small and making very concentrated, powerful images with the minimum of means and scale. I like to find the most stripped down essential part of an impulse, gesture or relationship and I work hard to pare away anything superfluous. I don’t always succeed!

Early morning, natural spotlight of the sun.

Spanning the Material Field

Welcome to my new blog about my work preparing for my show ‘The Secret Worth A Thousand’ at Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall. The Opening is on November 30th, and it will run until February 9th 2013.

The title, ‘The Secret Worth A Thousand’,  refers to what Goethe believed we could gain from entering into a conversation with Nature. In my work I seek to become quiet in order to hear what Nature has to tell me. I work with watercolour in an unorthodox way which I have developed myself; I also work with digital photography, taking photos of the plants, flowers, birds and insects in our  small but vibrant garden.

The phrase ‘spanning the material field’ refers to a recent work in which I appear to be lifting my special dog skywards. I see that I have drawn/painted myself with arms outstretched, fingertips almost touching the edges of the material darkness – the opaque matter, our physically manifested bodies, the span of our (human) knowledge.

Responding to the lessons animals have to teach us is part of my work. Last week I was working in another garden. As I prepared to gaze with the poppies a newly fledged dunnock flew towards me and jauntily, gaily, she sat on an iron hoop a couple of feet away to regard me. I kept very still, hardly daring to breathe, amazed at this special and unexpected encounter. She came and sat right next to me on the stone bench. I stopped breathing and absorbed the magical nature of this feeling, alone and yet finding myself with a new and ariel companion.