Sunday, 22 May 2011

drawing threads

A visit to the Tarset valley in Northumberland  on Thursday placed me in a different landscape and stimulated some new drawing. However, within seconds of laying out my materials, my attention was drawn to the ground around my feet, where fresh wood sorrel (oxalis) was growing through the leaf litter and moss.  I became engrossed in the same old topic of the adaptive cycle, and the same old obsession with triadic form and composition. Sorrel, moss, and leaf litter were representing the stages of development, consolidation and release. The leaves of the sorrel were divided into three.

After the sorrel, I turned my attention to a dead tree that had fallen across a drystone wall. Here again was the same adaptive cycle. The dead tree had created a new and vibrant environment for insects and therefore a food source for birds. The wall had lost its original purpose of creating a boundary; it was keeping nothing out or keeping nothing in. It had been colonised by plants, some seeking shade, some seeking dry rooting and others seeking shelter from wind.

Light gives way to dark, dark to light, death to life, life to death. Everty time I draw I explore and excite new relationships.

  By drawing the rotting wood, the rusting iron and the crumbling stone of the farm buildings at Tarset, I understood a little more about the buildings' history, and how it was connected to the changing practice of agriculture from pre- to post-industrial times. The farm buildings are now used for more than stock and crops. There is a studio for artists who stay for a year's residency and an office for the publishers of poetry. A barn is used for exhibitions. So the cultural space, too, has adapted to change.

As I was drawing, I reflected on what I was doing. This was my way of experiencing 'deep ecology'. I continue to struggle with the question - is this the way I see things, or is this the way things really appear? I feel part of,and apart from, this place and its inhabitants at the same time.

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