Reflection (Mid April): On a roll!

By 15th April 2022 May 16th, 2022 Creative Practice

(Co)Creations, experiments and doings in the last fortnight

Note: edited later on to include relevant links where I’ve written up a bit later.

Coding: References to codes should be connected to this meta-post.


Ideas have been coming thick and fast, it’s great. I’ve got lots of things to make on the agenda. However, I’m experiencing the same difficulties as my last entry, in that I’m very limited in being able to evaluate the things I’m making because I won’t know if they’re effective or even as expected until summer. I’ve realised that I’ve been prioritising the experiments that need time to germinate or show some kind of effect, so that I might evaluate it a bit easier just before the hand-in date!

Yet, it’s become clear that if I can’t evaluate much of the MATERIAL outcome now, perhaps what’s important here – or at least just as valid – is the PERFORMATIVE nature of my work. Here’s a few reflective and evaluative thoughts on what I’ve been doing and making over the last fortnight.

  • If I were to think of a literal performance, gardening/growing feels like improvisation around a theme. You go in with a vague idea of what you want to achieve but you improvise your actions as you go along. You adapt to the weather. You adjust what you’re doing dependent on your materials, and the needs of your co-actors. Compost too clotted? Add some sand. Will your co-actor (i.e. plant) need good drainage? Add some more vermiculite. The ‘performance’ involved in working with and experiencing the ‘Land’ (EE01), especially in this intuitive, improvisational and responsive way, is really meaningful to me personally (STEK01) and creatively (HNH01; GDGS01). I also laid out some potted up seedlings into an intentional grid and was reminded of Harvey and Ackroyd’s ‘Beuys Acorns’.
  • In relation to the above, I’ve been including some of the old wives tales that I’ve learnt about in Boland and Boland’s ‘Old Wives Lore’ (STEK01). As an example which comes to mind… I have a Border Collie and as anyone who has a BC knows, they shed a LOT. The book advises that hair is placed at the bottom of pea drills… which I’m doing. I won’t know if it makes a difference for a while though! I’ll be able to compare to my direct, embodied knowledge and experience (EE01) from last year, where I didn’t use hair!
  • Seed bombing has been great fun. As a performative act, I think it’s powerful and meaningful (DA01)… although I won’t be able to tell for months if they’ve worked as intended. I’ve been giving seed bombs out to friends, which feels to be very powerful in and of itself. There’s something there about sharing, about comradery, about community. People respond really well when I explain what it is and what to do with it. They like that I’ve made it by hand. They like the instruction and the idea of doing something actionable. I’ve given them a ‘tool’ to become suddenly invested in the small, lifeless patch in which they have thrown their seed ball. They’ll be watching these sites with interest for months, observing, waiting, watching. Is this a simple but effective vehicle for ecological enthusiasm?
  • Collecting donated seeds has been a bit like this too. People are willing to donate seeds for a good cause – has this act of generosity made them more invested in my art practice, I wonder? (EE01)
  • I made a big seed bomb to test out the feasibility of a larger-than-normal-scale, which I placed in the centre of my planted up terrarium to see if and how it’d grow. Upon placing it in the terrarium, and seeing it surrounded by other growing plants, it hit me that what I created there was a maquette of a GIANT seed bomb. Which made me want to make it even more. The vision is that of a giant living sculpture, that will bloom to life with native wildflowers and, over time, break down and degrade into the soil. Seeing the big seed bomb germinate as expected has been very exciting, as this suggests that it’s feasible to scale up! And almost as exciting… Hull Samaritans said I can place my hypothetical giant seed ball out the front of their building! (DA01)
  • To my surprise, burying and water-ing artworks felt very much like a ritual when I was doing it? There’s something there about leaving intentional offerings to the ‘gods’. As an artist, traces of my soul are left in my artworks (what are artworks if not an extension of yourself?), so it felt as if I were offering a piece of me to the Land. There could be something in that. A ritual. A ritual where I offer up my soul:artworks, invite collaborations, and retrieve the works (otherwise it’s littering!). Could a ritual performance be developed? I’m reminded again of Joseph Beuys. (EE01; STEK01)
  • I engage in herbwork relatively often, and I don’t make a big deal of it because it’s just normal to me. I am, however, starting to document some of these interactions, such as in baths or using teas medicinally. I find them really grounding and ‘real’ to engage with. I’m not doing as much of it now though, in all honesty, because there’s not much yet to harvest and many of my supplies from last year are thin on the ground! Again, seasonality is a barrier to immediate outcomes! (EE01; STEK01)
  • I made a mini terrarium inside a ziplock bag, placed a runner bean in it, and displayed it on my studio wall like an artwork. Legumes germinate and grow quite quickly – a deliberate choice! I’m hoping that the rhyzomatic roots will be soon be able to be seen and appreciated. This is just a simple display bringing attention to the complex beauty of nature. Thinking of rhyzomatic structures, it reminds me SO much of my earlier work – which was, again, about understanding direct experience. (EE01)
  • As a person who considers drawing (yes, in the loosest sense lol) to be the root of her practice, I think about additive and subtractive methodologies. When you make marks, you either add a medium to a surface (e.g. drawing on a page) or take it away (e.g. rubbing out, etching). Land artist Richard Long creates lines across the landscapes he’s walked. He adds his mark onto the landscape. But if we consider subtractive drawing, what if I physically ‘take away’ from the surface to encourage the landscape to make a physical mark on me instead? Me meditatively walking in black socks is an experiment in this. My theory (although it admittedly may be the wrong time of year for it) is that the land will deposit material (i.e. mud, seeds, fungal spores, bacterias) onto me, using the socks as a removable interface that I can retain. The life now living on the socks will be nurtured to grow and develop as part of a human:non-human cocreation, produced through an exchange of additive and subtractive line drawing. A friend thinks this is ‘genius’, not only building on but going far beyond Richard Long in his shoes. Pffft what an amateur! (GDGS01; EE01)
  • The meditative practice is an important performative part of what I’m doing, but aside from meditation logs (which I despise because I had to do them for M-CBT and keeping a reflective journal is a complete waste of time for me), I don’t know how else to document them? Documenting practical meditative activities is self-defeating as taking photos/videos or recordings breaks your focus. Gardening is meditative for me -so isn’t the documentation is in the things I’m growing? Drawing is meditative for me – isn’t the artwork a record in and of itself? The only times that I meditate that isn’t ‘outcome’ based is cuddling my cat, and in the shower (I religiously shower in the dark, at nighttime, to focus on the feel and sound of water)… and I ain’t photographing that! Perhaps the only way is to ‘reenact’ those moments for the camera – but that feels wrong because it’s disingenuous and I’m not about that. It’s like closing your eyes and posing for an Instagram post. How else can I share this part of my practice? Aside from moaning about the difficulty in doing so! (EE01; STEK01)

 


 

Hope. A lot of what I’m doing  – at the moment – is based on hoping certain things turn out a certain way. As a simple observation… climate activism is around a hopeful vision for the future. My micro-hope for my human:non-human collaborations is a reflection of a macro-hope for the same?

 


 

I have been trying to read more into British TEK, but like before, I’ve come up with blanks. Perhaps I just need to develop my own at this point? In my Lit Review, I mention how Kenneth White speaks about how were in a period of ‘ungroundedness’, where we’re abandoning our earthy roots. In this sense, to pursue something based in nothing feels… ungrounded. I think there’s value here in me connecting to my ancestral roots and building upon the traditions that came before me – even loosely.

I also feel the time is right to read back into and around Quaeria. I started the course just over a year ago, but found it difficult to follow it in the disciplined way you’re supposed to. I don’t have that privilege to do that, unfortunately. It is, however, fucking fantastic, and I’m determined to work through it properly one day. For now though, I’m going to do what you’re not supposed to do and skim through it to get an idea of the spiritual/psychic/intuitive exercises that I’m keen to develop for both my artistic practice and my self. There were really interesting parts I learnt about before surrounding environmental magic and geomancy… and this feels relevant. I think Quaeria will be a valuable font of ritual/magic/spiritual based inspiration for me at this time.

 


 

My tutor introduced me to the concept of ‘coding’ within research. And I LOVE it. I will be using it from now on!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.