Monday, 15 October 2007


Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Being Blog Action Day for the Environment I thought it might be time for some introspection. Umm? Environment... introspection? Well, yes. But it's not really about me.

For me, environment isn't an external thingie to occasionally be looked at and tick-box admired/appreciated/enjoyed, or something that can be taken for granted as always being there, whether 'there' is here now under my feet or somewhere else, somewhere over there.

Environment is part of us just as surely as we are part of the environment. At least that's how it feels to me. In some places around here, especially up on the moor I feel a deep bondedness with the land, with the atmosphere, with 'place'. I feel we have melded and I move within it, not over it and distracted by other thoughts. I no longer concentrate on direction or footfall, only occasionally being aware that somehow miraculously I am still on track for wherever I already was heading. Now if this sounds a bit flunky, then let me tell you that I – and others – have found our way off familiar moorlands despite sudden windless fogfall. Your head is little use to you at this time, you have to allow all your body's tunings to guide you. Let's face it, your head (mine anyway) would be useless and panic, thinking of all sorts of bad possibilities... like sudden huge endless quaking marshes which you've never seen before so and which seem to have surrounded you! But your body, in harmony with nature, is led with "feelings" (physical not emotional)...

Yesterday afternoon I walked from my house up to Eastmoorgate and on to East Moor. A last minute thought was to take my camera... shame I hadn't thought sooner as the battery was low and konked out just when everything was getting very interesting. Oops.

I walk this way once or twice a week as far as the gate, and once or twice a month out on to the moor. Recently I've been picking blackberries and bilberries (local name, whortleberries). I know the seasonal haunts of jay, cuckoo and golden plover... and appreciate songs and calls of other resident birds. I stop on the bridge over the Lynher and gaze into its water, both upstream and downstream, every time I pass. I've seen herons and an otter here. I walk alongside moorland streams, gazing at their swirling patterns of clubrush. I see the changing colours in the fields, the hedges, the views. I smile appreciatively at the oft-repaired fences and gates. I sit or lie on a large stone at dusk and just listen. I watch the sunset, the cloud patterns, the stars and rising moon. Every time I go this way there's some new marvel as well as the re-assurance of the familiar. And from this place comes inspiration for paintings and designs.

I'm fascinated, hmm, don't like that word. Intrigued, maybe? I'm intrigued... not quite that either. It's that Australian Aborigines have such a deep familiarity, connectedness, with the land that (I have read) they share a surname with plants, animals, land features and areas. They are that close. In the Maori language the word whenua means both placenta and the land. Even in English the root of the words nature and natal is the Latin nasci 'to be born', and nature also implies "identity or essential character" and "the whole system... of all physical life... not controlled by man" (McCleod and Hanks 1985). So being bonded with nature is a pretty ancient way of being!

It's also a zillion miles from the world of objectivity, where everything including nature exists only as we look at it and record it. There is a time and a place for measuring, of course, but I feel it's imperative that as a society we re-learn the wonder and joy of nature, we re-discover our connectedness with nature and grow a familiarity with the nature around us.

And that's the rub. It needs to be the nature around us not the nature in some other place, not that there national park, or them there beaches, or – dare I say it – some other country! Not to say don't go and visit these places... the unfamiliar is great for stimulating the mind! But it definitely can't replace the comfortable familiarity of our own nature.

My painting has always been inspired by and reflected the natural environment around me, (with occasional exceptions of larger environmental issues). I paint what emerges from within, by which I mean what's around, what I have experienced and felt... and I encourage students to do the same. It's my hope my art also plays a part in assisting others' connectedness with nature, to encourage viewers towards their own immersion in nature.

McLeod & Hanks (1985) The New Collins Concise Dictionary of the English Language London: Guild Publishing

...and just when it was getting interesting, the battery conked out! (Also a reason why all the above shots were, literally, first shot.)

1 comment:

Stephie said...

I love the dewy cobwebs! And seeing your picture of the river just takes me straight to your batiks...