Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thinking about making new work


In considering a call for proposals around and celebrating the work of Fay Godwin, I discovered I was interested in Peter Stokes question “How many more Aveburys will be there, perfect under future moons”

Referring to Godwin's work 'Land' Stokes wrote that she is 'dealing with issues of exploitation and industrial damage;  albeit with the possibility of a suggestion, in the way in which the material is associated, that all things pass, and that the land will heal.'

I remember writing 'This too shall pass' on my wall at home in thick blue paint in utter frustration and in response to a particularly nasty relationship. We sometimes have a nasty relationship to the 'other'. Witness politics. Tara Brach calls 'the other' 'unreal other', it means that we can feel able and justified to hurt 'the other' partly because we are afraid of it/them and partly because they don't exist to us, so far removed from us do they seem. This can relate to animal, vegetable, human, mineral, the sea and the land. We choose. Our rubbish litters the land, the sea and the air making it difficult sometimes to see, to breathe or to move about safely regardless of the physiognomy.

As a vegetarian heading towards veganism I find it difficult travelling past sheep and frollicking lambs on the marshes soon to be travelling to the abbatoir. We used to see lorry loads of animals on their way to death. Now it's rare to see that. Is it that there are now abbatoirs in every town and village? Everything is being cleaned up in terms of what we are allowed to see, so we aren't so inconvenienced or distressed, despite wanting to buy 'meat' at rock-bottom prices which has to equate to rock-bottom humanitarianism. It might be better if instead of 'meat' we selected an animal with an identity at the supermarket. Let's face it, if you're going to eat animal why not have it's name and species branded on it, cheese and wine have to declare what they are. My sister-in-law once yelled out the train window at the sheep at the top of her voice 'RUN!' but then she had visited an abbatoir. I share her horror at what will become of them, a shank on a plate. The rot, in our country, is not just in our minds its in our bellies too, via our attachment to the hog roast. Godwin promoted the organic route not for nothing.

I'm interested in how, as Margaret Drabble wrote (Guardian... ), Godwin's change of diet contributed to her recovery from “advanced cancer”. If our cancers are related to the desecration of the land and life, Godwin's concern over our sites of mystery, pilgrimage and contemplation becoming lucrative sideshows devoid of meaning and mostly untouchable identifies them as also troublesome. Mass conscious life that is out of touch with its centre, with little spirituality or deep meaning other than a monetary drive for survival, allows us to treat each other as unreal and develop deeply rooted psychological pain as a result.

Looking to the sky at night when the land and our destruction of it has disappeared into a shimmering blackness offers hope. The twinkling lights of distant stars, light years away, scribe their images onto my hand-held lens as I, who wobble while looking upwards (not being a tripod), am inconsequential beneath them. Is it my subconscious that has me wobbling an image that might be the equivalent of an ancient chalky white horse or a long man scribed into the side of a hill? 


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