Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Annapurna Forest Colour Diamond

Before the waffling starts I will tell you a little about this sculpture. It was made in the rhododendron forest in the entrance to the Annapurna Sanctuary in the Nepal Himalaya. I sat on a rock and made diamonds of the coloured leaves I found on the forest floor, whilst the dappled sunlight danced on the dusty path. I stitched them together with berberis thorns that grow naturally in the Himalaya, I use them at home too but I am only able to due to the plant collecting Victorians. A tree, some sunlight and camera. Job done.

Sew (I've always been told to not start paragraphs and sentences with 'So'), just where have I been? Same place as you have, out there somewhere in the world.

Sow (female pig or scattering seeds?), what have I been up to? Same as you out there somewhere doing stuff.

If I was trying be self-important then I'd probably say I've been having an identity crisis. But that isn't really true. 

For a while it seemed like I should be a card-carrying, union-represented 'Land Artist' as though that is a profession that your school careers adviser says you should be when he's asked you a barrage of questions, crammed the answers into a computer before it spat out a dot-matrix  print-out with a route map for your life.

Careers Advice Super Computer - has spoken
Richard will be, one (or more) of the following:-
Land Artist
Computer Programmer
Phone Answerer
Sympathetic Ear
Computer Keyboard Tapperer
Grammar/Spelling Pedant
End of Life Path Prescriptor

And to be fair it was pretty accurate, I have indeed been one or more of those things at one time or another. But it did miss off something very important:-

You see, what I really am is one end of the telescope looking in or out. In fact all of us exactly that, nothing more, nothing less but it is everything.

I am the moment when picking a blackberry, when watching the squabbling cloud of comedy sparrows on the seed feeder in the back garden, the breathless exultation when reaching the top of a hill on my bike. I am the sharpness when I stab my finger with a mis-directed thorn while constructing a leaf sun wheel, I am jolt of the thrill when the setting sun is ever-so red. We are all those things over and over and over, every moment of everything, always.

Creating sculptures is that, riding my bike is that, drinking tea is that, doing any and everything is that.

So what? You say!

I'm not a Land Artist. Making sculptures is something I sometimes do.

I'm not a blackberry picker, it is something I sometimes do.

I'm not a professional sunset watcher, it is something I sometimes do.

I'm not a cyclist, but riding a bike is something I sometimes do.

I'm not a professional waffler or rambler, but if there was market for it I would try to be :-)

I went through a prolific period of making natural sculptures pretty much everytime I could. It drove me, it obsessed me, I loved it.

Then I stopped being obsessed.

The obsession evaporated as miraculously as it arrived. And so I did something else. I got a bike and rode it for mile after mile and explored everywhere I could and I loved that too. And I still do. And sometimes I make sculptures but neither of those activities define me.

The product of my activity may have changed but everything else is the same, I'm still standing on tip toe peering into the end of the telescope to find out what I can see.

I've always just followed my nose, lived from day to day and whatever happens, happens, I rarely plan in any detail but just go with the flow. From the very first days I can remember it was always so, obsessive-always-doing-it-land-art was just one small chapter in a multi-season box set always constructed around the same theme. 

It's what I see through the telescope that defines me not what ideas I bring to the seeing, at least that is what I hope to be.

A blog writes itself up to be a platform for you to share your life, thoughts, musings with the world. The word 'share' naturally implies that someone else is on the other end of the sharing and you imagine they naturally agree with you. But really it is just a virtual soapbox upon which to stand and shout. Passers-by might point and laugh at you or perhaps there aren't any passers-by at all. 

These days there are vastly more of us standing on soap boxes all believing we have something important to say and probably vastly fewer listeners. But it offers us the illusion we have a voice whether or not the output enters an ear, and I like that. 

It's all out there somewhere if you choose to look for it, and one person's dross is another's wisdom. In the end none of it really matters, all that does is each moment peering into the end of the telescope.

This is my round-a-bout way of introducing my new blog - Art of Slack. Ignore it, wander past and point and laugh and throw a few rotten tomatoes if you like, or whatever you feel is appropriate. I feel like writing about it is a subject, despite it not appearing as a subject line on my Career Computer Print-out Prescription.

All the waffle above is only about mindfulness, not a new concept of course but a fundamental one all the same. I'm not sure I practice it in the true sense of the word, as practice implies training and it not coming to you naturally. Whereas I think I do it automatically to some limited extent and I am very fortunate to do so. I am not unique in that respect as all us sensitives who marvel at everything around us and value peace and quiet will testify.

The Art of Slack, however, is an idea I've seemed to always know about. I thought I'd read it somewhere but cannot now find its origin but no matter, wherever it comes from I think there is something tangible that I feel the need to try and explain, to myself more than anyone, but feel free to eavesdrop if you like.

A hint at what it is, is what happens when you can't remember a word or someone's name. The harder you try the harder it is to conjure it up. But as soon as you stop trying (not pretend to stop trying but actually forget you were trying to remember) it pops into your head. But, with the added bonus that if it doesn't you've forgotten you were trying to remember anything so you no longer worry.

Anyway that is just the tip of the iceberg. My term 'The Art of Slack' is the art of not-trying, not-doing or perhaps tapping into the unconscious mind or perhaps it's something magical, who knows! It isn't being lazy or callously uncaring but letting go to allow something to be. But I think its power extends into many, many things.  I could well be very wrong but I will have some fun finding out one way or another even if I find out nothing at all. 

All the while I will be peering into the end of the telescope...

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