Saturday, February 27, 2010

Grass Flower Doodles

Grass Flower Doodles, originally uploaded by ...escher....

I'm hoping that the arrival of spring will kick start my ability to be inspired. Land art hasn't been all that I have wanted to do recently when it was that way for all of last year. I've been able to work from home quite a lot over the last few months and I wonder if being away from an office environment has reduced my craving to seek the solace of the outdoors which drove my need to create.

This has left me in a bit of a quandry. I've not been driven to go out and make something, in a way I could take it or leave it but this has left me feeling that I want to have that drive, once again, to make something. There is safety in being driven, as the need to do something is all you require to get out there and do it. But when you have to choose and there are many different things you like doing it makes you question why you should do it at all. I feel my land art has become part of my person and defines me as a person too. So where am I left if I don't want to do any?

I normally start by just opening my eyes and seeing what inspires me - a leaf, a rock, a place - but the sparks are few and far between. I am intrigued to discover whether the season of new growth, which is nearly upon us, will once again ignite ideas in my mind.

I guess it is not surprising after such an intense and prolific year of creating, that I find myself where I am today on the cusp of another spring ready to begin anew. Will I have to try harder to make new discoveries or will a year of peeling back the layers of nature mean that I can start from where I left off? I don't know the answer but art is nothing if it isn't a voyage of discovery. Sometimes you are in control and sometimes you are a passenger. At the moment Mother Nature is at the helm and I long to see what she can show me.

This morning I thought I ought to go out and do something even if I come back empty handed. So I headed off towards the Trough of Bowland to balance some rocks. All I took with me was my camera, I hadn't brought lunch, any thorns or suitable footwear. Lacking in passion means I set off disorganised.

As I headed towards the hills I was surprised to find how much overnight snow had fallen. Clougha had a hat of white and the sky was blue and bright. Despite the wintry coat, the light definitely felt spring like.

As I dropped over the saddle into the valley the surrounding hills were all snowy and it was the first time I had seen such extensive snow up there, it was beautiful and breathtaking but was soon to thaw. A bird dashed out of the hedgerow and flew at bonnet height only a metre in front of the headlights. The wingshape was unmistakably falcon, the wingspan small and compact, it had to be a Merlin. It soon glided away from the road and into the adjacent field. Close up encounters with wildlife always leave me excited and this week has been a good one. Mid week we were treated to a pair of boxing Hares who, completely oblivious to our presence so wrapped up in their fighting as they were, ran right in front of us at Cockersands rewarding us with a magnificent display of typical behaviour.

As I drove into the Trough it got snowier and snowier and the road became slushier and more slippery. As I wasn't expecting snow I turned around from my original destination thinking that a crash into a stone wall would ruin my day and headed back to have a look around the banks next to the river Wyre.

In the field opposite several people were exercising fox hounds. All I could hear was excited barking and a hunters horn being repeatedly blasted. I am not sure why it was necessary to make quite such a racket but I did chuckle when all the hounds disappeared off for an hour and no amount of tooting and calling brought them back to heel. They came back when they were ready and that meant there was more peace and quiet to be had.

The North West Air Ambulance flew over several times, very low and they seemed to be searching for something. I hope that there had not been an accident and they were just looking for landmarks to follow.

I was having difficulty concentrating and choppers and canines weren't helping. My unsuitable footwear was sodden, the snow quickly thawing and my brain was full of nothing so I started just doodling to see what would happen, thinking that one idea might lead to another.

First I made a little symbol, like the equilibrium stack and I thought it looked like a calling card and I imagined what it would be like to leave a version of this next to anything I had made, like a signature if you will.

Some weird tendril like branches hung from a fir tree. I liked the bulges and nodules that adorned it so I took some and wove them into a circle. I placed a sycamore leaf within and immediately thought of the Canadian flag which must have seeped into my unconcious what with the Winter Olympics and all.

Next the endless knot came to me once again and I wondered how I could make one. The round grass all around there would be suitable but how would I shape it without thorns? I checked in my camera bag and found a leaf with three thorns attached to it. I normally have and use loads so I would need to be clever how I used them.
flowers is made from a single piece of grass and one thorn holding it together. I like the simplicity of the result and the challenge of having limited materials to construct with and that process has left me with new ideas.

So indeed, one idea does lead to another. I've always said that land art is about the doing, not the planning or the seeing. The inspiration comes from the making itself and so it is clear to me that I am lacking in ideas because I having been creating less. The two are intertwined and you need one to feed the other. Doing it gives you more drive to do more. But what seems like such a simple and obvious solution can often be the hardest to find, despite it being there right in front of you.

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