My parents have a home in Scotland, and I have grown up wandering the beaches and hills of Sutherland. Not far from our house is a Viking settlement up on a rise looking out to the sea. A river sidles alongside the settlement, with old mooring points for the long ships, now broken down into tumbling lines falling into the ebb and swell of this tidal river. They are markings of the day when the Vikings lived in my own home country. The lines of these stones have become repeating symbols in my work-- and I now know why. I live in Iceland now, the country of Vikings, and I've never felt so at home with a group of people. This is a society so far from the wars and ways of their history-- they are the most peaceful, innocent, intelligent and open hearted culture I have encountered. They have evolved toward heart-centeredness, their passion has steered them from conquering toward art and nature and healing. This is what the trail of stones means to me now, as time and tides brings them slowly into the sea.
Art is a union of sense, self and subject, and for me is the result of a compassionate dialogue with Earth. By making art with senses raw and awake, our unique perceptions can develop inner understandings of the natural world and of our roles in the interweaving. There are messages from animals, plants, trees, stone, bone, eco-range and insect—that assist us in understanding the moments of our lives, and will divulge the emotional history of a place.
Each earthbound entity is in communication. There is a constant river of communication that networks the globe and beyond. With connections grander than telephone and internet, satellite and all else within human bounds, this source is available to all by tuning the intentions of the heart, rebuilding an ancient intimacy with all things.
This fishing boat hull lies in quiet decompose. It waits for a tidal kiss morning and night. I am drawn to the form, the slow erosion, the signature of ribs built to bound air from water. I am also drawn to the phantom energy of the sea life, memory and imagination held within the bones.
In the British Isles, there is a story that has long assisted a balanced relationship between humans and seals. The Selky is a seal-woman, who climbs on the rocks and sheds her skin to reveal a beautiful woman within. If a fisherman is sly enough to steal the woman’s shed seal skin, she must return to land and become his wife and bear his children. Should she ever find her skin, her passionate love of the Sea will draw her into the waves. This core love runs deeper than her love for her family. Because of this shared genetic history, the seals were protected for centuries until industrial fishing plowed a divide between the species.
Owls have the physical forms to capture light to sight and sound to hearing, allowing them access to the night. I think of owls as guides for transformation. When in the darkness of mind and spirit, climb on the back of Owl and ride with silent feathers through the night. With owl's heightened senses, the night forest becomes rich and navigable, with so much to learn and see and understand before the dawn.
Mountain gorillas share our genetic foundations. When we look into the eyes of these great apes, we cannot help but recognize a deep kinship. The gorillas have an important role to play as Ambassadors between ourselves and other species on the planet, for this recognition we feel with them-- their human-ness and animal-ness, bridges a gap and helps us to connect with our own nature.
A number of years ago, I found a mortally injured Snapping Turtle. Her shell was broken and eggs were spilling out of her back, and she was still alive. I brought her to the roadside pond which had been her destination for laying her eggs. It took me a long time to figure out what to do. I decided to kill the turtle and plant her eggs for her. After she died, I pulled open her cracked shell and reached inside of her body to pull out thirteen perfect pearly eggs. I was midwife into death and midwife into life at the same moment. I dug tunnels in the sandy earth next to the pond and planted her seeds. Eleven weeks later, I drove by the pond to see "our" babies lined up on a log in the water.
Elephants are the great listeners of the planet. They communicate over long distances with a low frequency called infrasound, which carries for miles across the deserts and forests, and can be felt as a rumble by humans, but not heard. They listen with their ears, they feel vibrations from the ground into their feet. Our largest land mammals, known for their wisdom and matriarchy, are truly sensitive with all aspects of their body and personality.
These are the creatures of stillpoint.
There are times when I close my eyes and a flash of an image is lying beneath my eyelids-- and in the time it takes to blink, it is gone again. This was such an image. I call it rise, because it was gone in the raising of eyelid, and like a boat on a wilderness of blackness, it rises from the depths of the subconscious for a moment and is gone.
“In art there is only one thing that counts; the thing you can’t explain.”
Georges Braque, Notebooks (1917-47)
Georges Braque, Notebooks (1917-47)