Heard tiny chirps,
Admired cosseted new life,
Watched first flight.
Rescued shelter from winter’s grasp,
Goldfinch nest – part of my research into the notion of home.
“To communicate is to be alive, to be active, in relation with others…For communication is essentially an interchange, a question and a reply, an action and a reaction between an individual and the environment in which he lives.”
Maurice Fabre A History of Communications
Our preoccupation with computer technology creates a symbiotic relationship that endorses a dependence on staying in touch by harnessing electronic media as the vehicle – but is this preference an opt-out or opt-in for meaningful dialogue? Text messaging, emails, blogging, social networking using Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc all require writing and yet our literacy standards are going down – is the power of the written word changing to mere elemental levels?
Does the sequestration of technology limit our ability to communicate with our environment and therefore inhibit our understanding of the natural and untamed? The irony of posting this on my blog is not lost on me but the query is a genuine one for a dialogue on the subject – what do you think?
The image below was taken of a fragment of moss using a scanning electron microscope at the University of Central Lancashire during my residency there. The digital montage features computer mice collaged onto the photograph to mimic the seed pods growing out of the plant.
The work was shown as a research drawing for my Beautiful Dystopias exhibition in Preston last month.
What and where is home?
Is our home a place of refuge from the outside world?
But what if the world was our home, where is the refuge then?
‘A home does not simply specify where you live; it can also signify who you are (socially, economically, sexually, ethnically) and where you ‘belong’ (geographically, culturally). And a house or a dwelling is full of the occupant’s corporeality, of sleeping, eating, loving: of its existence as a home. Moreover, a house contains evidence of the intimate relationship between space and time. While the space of the constructed building may shelter people or families over long periods of time, the evidence of more transitory individual lives is visible in traces in and on the building and its furniture. These ‘traces’ may take the form of damage, dirt, dust, decorations, scratches, repairs and so on.’
(Extract from Gill Perry ‘Dream houses: installations and the home’ in Gill Perry and Paul Wood (eds.), Themes in Contemporary Art, Yale University Press in association with the Open University, New Haven and London, 2004)
Applying this idea of home, as described above in the quote from Gill Perry’s ‘Dream Houses: Installations and the Home’, but to the Earth, rather than a building, invites a new perspective on our custodial duties.
The Earth is home not only to us but also to many other organisms – it provides the right elements: atmosphere, temperature, sustenance and time, for us to prosper. Sustaining a world with a sense of equilibrium towards these fundamentals and appreciating the interconnectedness of them all is vital for our home to flourish.
One of my new sculptures ‘Home: 3 bed semi’ is created from three rusty beds I found washed up on the beach. The waves had ravaged the upholstery leaving a tangled web of rusting and flaking metal armatures. Salvaged, the beds were crushed and compacted into a cuboid by a baling machine normally used for condensing old metal cans into bales ready for recycling. The spirit of the springs, now largely tamed, was further restrained to prevent the metal’s memory returning.
Five fragile birds nests rescued from local hedges in mid-winter adorn the ‘bed’ and remind us that a shelter is temporary if not nurtured.
The coming into being of ‘Home: 3 bed semi’.
This week I am researching ways I can visualise the concept of the Earth being our home and how that has the potential to reconfigure our perception of the planet. Professor Brian Cox confirmed this notion last week on his television programme ‘The Wonders of Life’.
On one of my local beach walks, with my dog Dill, I discovered several rusty mattresses – the sea had stripped the fabrics and abandoned the metal armatures on the shore.
The rusty tangled web of bed springs was highly evocative of home: a fragile nest symbolic of the natural home.
The photo shows a sample of the idea with a bird’s nest cradled in a bed spring.
The Japanese have always been clever and quirky, (they bought my fashion textile designs many years ago as proof), and now it seems they are turning moss into interior air filtering systems for public spaces. This is an interesting article for all those who enjoy the natural lush green velvet carpet and acknowledge its importance as a useful indicator of air quality.
May I also draw your attention to my sculpture ‘Book of Revelations: Prognosis’, above, which highlights moss and lichen as bioindicators – but who got there first????
Sometimes it’s the little surprises that bring the widest smiles.
Tufts of the freshest greens carpet the woods and walls with a luxurious velvet texture – moss – inspiration and joy.
Who cannot marvel at the beauty of moss – nature’s carpet?
Since a teen I have been in wonder of moss – of the thousands of varieties, of the glorious range of greens and its amazing habit of carpeting walls, trees and banks in a luxurious type velvet or ferny down. So you can easily imagine my joy when I found out that scientists use it as a bio-indicator for measuring air pollution.
Here is a specimen of moss photographed using the scanning electron microscope, even at only forty times magnification it is a joy to behold.
The next photograph shows James, senior lab technician, putting the tiny piece of moss into the machine to cover it with a fine layer of gold particles to avoid any moisture, still present in the specimen, reacting with the electricity.
New wall based sculpture finished.
Our view is framed. The duality of being is that we seek the security of frameworks in our lives whilst remaining curious about the wider world. Science and art informs and nurtures our quest for expansion to the physical and metaphysical worlds we inhabit. The magnitude and monumental narrative of the planet ignite wonder yet conversely endow a sense of insignificance to mortal man.
Harnessing the redundant golden frame as a symbolic border, one that demarcates the contents as worthy of being luxuriously wrapped, the sculptures present artefacts dislodged from our focus of possession. The discarded, retrieved and redefined objects are imbued with metaphor and meaning.
The damaged frame, holding fragmented spaces whilst clinging to the precious cargo, defies the loss and reveres its ostentatious past. Metaphorically, the frame highlights the paradoxical interconnectedness between destruction and renewal, past and present, consumption and disposal. The fractured structure signals the frailty of the framework as an illusion of security.