Friday, July 30, 2010

Art, Ego and Flux

I've had a bit of an epiphany this week. I feel like my horizons have expanded and along with that a better understanding of where I have come from. But what I didn't expect was how having your horizons broadened decreases your sense of understanding.

I'll try and use the idea of play as an analogy. Let's say that that play has meaning on many levels, Perhaps that first level is simply about the story. Person X meets person Y, they fall in love and live happily ever after. Beneath that is another layer, a commentary on the human condition, our need for companionship, to share our lives with someone else, of longing and loneliness. And perhaps beneath that the playwright is commenting on the brevity of life, the passing of time and what is and isn't important.

Until this week I felt that my understanding of art was limited to that first level. But to me that was all the meaning that there was so it filled my whole world. I was not even aware that there were more levels and because there was nothing within me that wanted to look. And perhaps the most important part of this state is that I was sure in my heart that that was all there was.

But then something opened my eyes and I begun to see that there were deeper things within. At first this felt amazing as if I had landed in a new and exotic country full of rich sounds and smells, hustle and bustle. But as the initial excitement receded I looked back at my previous understanding and realised I was a fool. How could I have missed this before? How could I have been so sure that I understood?

This feeling of insignificance is such a positive thing though. Truth and belief are two completely separate things. The search for truth is a journey not a destination whereas belief means you have already arrived and given up on your search. It is surely not a good thing to close your mind and believe that you understand something because doing so might leave their greater truths hidden forever.

As your horizons are broadened you might expect that there is a whole new world that you now understand but instead you are standing on the edge of a foreign land with no map but an urge to step onto it. And that is very exciting.

As I travel this new world and seek truth and understanding I expect again that I will reach a point where I believe that I understand all that there is, I will reinforce my ego and again be sure that I have reached the deepest level. But I will try to remember that this is natural cycle of understanding, reinforcing the ego and belief that you have found the truth, until your understanding is broadened and new levels are revealed before beginning the cycle again.

I began my journey by discovering the work of Andy Goldsworthy. I was inspired by its aesthetic beauty, by the revelation of how the sculptures were created from materials gathered from nature and I wanted to create my own. I did not seek to understand anything deeper nor did I know there was anything deeper to understand. As I created my own I appreciated it only on this level and along with it my deep fascination for nature: its wonders and beauty and how all the forms of life have evolved to where they are now, grew and strengthened.

Then through this deepening relationship I wanted to express my own creative ideas and developed my own sculptural forms and techniques and continued to learn about the natural things that I found. And then as I did it for longer I started to notice how things change through the seasons and through subsequent years and I noticed the ever present flux of everything around us. I tried to introduce new elements to my work, the sun, the wind, how things change and grow and degrade whilst still trying to surprise and delight through revealing the vibrancy of nature.

But while doing this it was as though I was separate from the environment. I would step into it on Saturday morning and wander and look at the leaves, seeds and colours that I found before me and I would take them, create something with them, then bring them back to my computer and share them with you.

But now I am coming to realise that I am not separate from any of this. I am 100% part of nature too and I too am in constant flux. What began as a process of looking at nature has become a process of looking inside myself by communing with nature. After all this is all about what comes from inside, my life, my heart, my soul and isn't that true of all art? Visual, written, poetic or simply thought about. Creating land art sculptures has opened a window into myself and is now letting me understand a little more about what makes me tick. I could have taken up painting, poetry or many other things and they all would be a way of tapping into and learning about my life and experience right here, right now. It just so happens that land art was the thing that clicked with me and has set me on this path, probably because of how I spent my time during my childhood, forever wandering the woods and the fields exploring and free.

So this week I have looked with new eyes at art that I have looked at before. The expression of each artist's life is coming through to me now and I feel a fool for not seeing it before. Where I assumed their art was simply an expression of aesthetics before, I can now see their search for meaning too and with it I am starting to see my search for meaning too.

But this was all a necessary part of my journey. A foundation course in art if you will but with the discoveries coming from inside and not from the lips of a teacher or the text of an instructional book. Although I now look back at what I have done before and see some of it as superficial, I realise that I would never have got to where I am now without taking those steps in the first place.

As I stand on the edge of this new territory ready to set foot into this unknown land I am excited at what new discoveries I will make. And even more excited that when I reach the edge of the new horizon what new and exciting lands I will discover beyond.

I have a mind full of fresh ideas and projects to explore, some of which may take me away from striking photos and the style I have developed. But I do not care if what I do isn't popular as a journey to discover your true self is much more important than that.

1 comment:

Jo Sanderson-Mann said...

This is fascinating - can't wait to see the next step of your journey