You must have faith. Walking through the woods, you often come across owl pellets . . . When you find one of these, you know an owl is sitting on a branch over your head, looking down at you. You may be overcome by the urge to look up and see the owl for yourself. But the moment you give in and look up, the owl will fly away. I trust the owl is up there and continue on my way. This way, the forest avoids a small disturbance and maintains its peace. Trusting an animal is there by looking at its traces rather than pursuing the animal itself: this is faith in nature.
The Great Soul of Siberia ∞ Sooyong Park
…it appears to some like a star or a cluster of gems or a cluster of pearls, to others with a rough touch like that of silk-cotton seeds or a peg made of heartwood, to others like a long braid string or a wreath of flowers or a puff of smoke, to others like a stretched-out cobweb or a film of cloud or a lotus flower or a chariot wheel or the moon's disk or the sun's disk…
Visuddhimagga VIII 215
I used to worry a bit that to be drawing a dragonfly, or magnified fish scale as I sat by a remote river was perhaps an irrelevant, even escapist activity. What is the significance or relevance of a gentle curiosity about creatures which live in air, mud and sand in a world of increasing famine, new wars and continuing ecological suicide? I realise more now that the apparently subtle manifestations of nature - “the murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves”, or the choreography of walking birds on a estuarine mud flat are all a most significant measure of the state of the world. You could say that the stains on the trunk of the Mangrove tree, while drawn in an understated way with subtle nuances, are hinting at much larger forces. I hope that kind of understatement could be strongly effective when it is linked to the huge movements of tides - and the dramatic changes which will happen to billions of people whose land would be swamped as a result of global warming. I like to think that “my bits of paper with marks on them: - my works - are directly connected to the physical world where they were made. Just as the creatures of the natural world are “the canaries in the mine” so also I would like my bits of paper to be seen as Litmus papers. Litmus, which absorbs the nuances of air, or water, or honey, or the tracks of hermit crabs.’
John Wolselely, 1991
Watercolour, gouache, white ink, and pencil on balsa panels
As earth-bound creatures we tend to be terra-centric, but our planet is almost two-thirds water; much of it marine. Marine health is crucial to the health of our whole planet, however in the process of absorbing all the carbon we produce, the oceans are becoming dangerously acidified.
Plant biology text-book, pencil, tea bags, gouache, watercolour, & collage
All traces disappear with time. The wind removes them, the rain washes them away, and the snow covers all. The cleaning crew of the forest takes apart the carcasses of living things, and time silently erases everything, including the traces of seasons … Traces are physical things that sometimes have spiritual properties that reverberate in our souls. And so the traces I find always remain in my heart.
Sooyong Park, The Great Soul of Siberia
Knitted copper wire, Bohemia glass beads, stitching, & collage on gouache-painted balsa.
The solutions to the changing climate, although in the news frequently, do not seem to be easy for most people to contemplate.
Part of the problem with getting people to engage with climate change is that it exists mainly as an idea that comes to us through science, and many people hold the communications of science at a remove from their everyday lives. Climate change is not yet integrated into our society culturally, through the arts.
Engaging with climate change through art gives us a chance to bring this topic into an accessible, human-scaled arena.
"When we love one another the most delicate truth of that love is held in the spirit, but my body is the record of those I have loved. I feel their bones as my bones, almost literally. This record is autonomous. It continues, dumbly, to persist. Its power is independent of time. The love is fixed, instantly accessible to memory, somehow stained into my body as colour into cloth."
Anne Truitt, Daybook
She climbs easily on the box
That seats her above the swivel chair
At adult height, crosses her legs, left ankle over right,
Smoothes the plastic apron over her lap
While the beautician lifts her ponytail and laughs,
“This is coarse as a horse’s tail.”
And then as if that’s all there is to say,
The woman at once whacks off and tosses
its foot and a half into the trash.
And the little girl who didn’t want her hair cut,
But long ago learned successfully how not to say
What it is she wants,
Who, even at this minute cannot quite grasp
her shock and grief,
Is getting her hair cut. “For convenience,” her mother put it.
The long waves gone that had been evidence at night,
When loosened from their clasp,
She might secretly be a princess.
Rather than cry out, she grips her own wrist
And looks to her mother in the mirror.
But her mother is too polite, or too reserved,
So the girl herself takes up indifference,
While pain follows a hidden channel to a deep place
Almost unknown in her,
Convinced as she is, that her own emotions are not the ones
her life depends on,
She shifts her gaze from her mother’s face
Back to the haircut now,
So steadily as if this short-haired child were someone else.
~ David Levine ~
"Until the late twentieth century, every generation throughout history lived with the tacit certainty that there would be generations to follow. Each assumed, without questioning, that its children and children's children would walk the same Earth, under the same sky…" Joanna Macy
… And now…?
Watercolour & gouache on balsa
"For three years he had been planting trees in this wilderness. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of the hundred thousand, twenty thousand had sprouted. Of the twenty thousand he sill expected to lose about half, to rodents or the unpredictable designs of Providence. There remained ten thousand oak trees to grow where nothing had grown before." The Man Who Planted Trees, Jean Giono.