Here are some stills from my short poetic film ‘We Dance, part 2’ . It is the next part of ‘We Dance, part 1’ and it also references a short film I did in 2017 for my degree show called ‘We came from the Sea’. The sea is part of my visual language and I use it to refer to emotion and the sub conscious mind, as well as to the wilder elements of nature and our own human nature. We are not so very different. These still images and the accompanying film are part of my development work and research for my Masters studies, Illustration and Animation at Cardiff School of Art and Design. My work is an exploration into how collaborations with natural forces in art, writing and music help to ‘re-wild the human’. Depth of meaning is enhanced through the layering of metaphor and by collaborating with natural forces combined with poetry, music and artwork created within the natural environment and in response to it.
My research and practical work is also an investigation into the materials I am using in order to achieve all of the above. Encouraging nature to ‘help’ create the image using natural forces such creating cyanotypes using natural sunlight and water. What is nature’s ‘language’ ? The images captured on a page? I present the ‘voice’ of nature alongside my own voice and music, in combination with evocative imagery. My aim is to intuitively act as a conduit for the living world and increase connection to nature within myself and hopefully the viewer too.
I found it significant that the images appeared 3D due to the fact they were activated by sunlight and therefore there were shadows at play. This reminded me of a quote about shadows from David Abram in his book ‘Becoming Animal’.
‘Has my shadow now dissolved and dissipated? Or is it still present but hidden, swallowed within the wider shade of evening? Or is the evening itself nothing other than a garment woven from all our disparate shadows, from those separate darknesses that walk on their own during the day, yet gather themselves into a common thickness as the sun slides behind the hills? So that our individual shadow, as we have said, is our own private patch of night, torn from the black cloak every morning as we stumble out to greet the day?’
(Page 19, David Abram, Becoming Animal, An Earthly Cosmology)
I can see that the images created using the cyanotype method are like the writings of nature directly onto the page. In ‘The Practice of the Wild’ Gary Snyder writes about nature’s writing:
‘One of the formal criteria of humanistic scholarship is that it be concerned with the scrutiny of texts. A text is information stored through time. The stratigraphy of rocks, layers of pollen in a swamp, the outward expanding of rivers winding back and forth over the land leaving layer upon layer of traces of previous river beds is text. The layers of history in language becomes a text of language itself.’ (Page 71, Gary Snyder ‘ The Practice of the Wild’)
I created a lot of these cyanotypes on sheets of paper or ‘texts’ as I call them now. They are like the writings of the living world, in her own language. I filmed their creation which became a part of the resulting film, this meant there was a strong sense of the film’s narrative to be about human creativity as well as the creation and creativity of the living world as a whole in the life cycles that are constantly occurring around us. As Snyder states, our own human languages have layers, history and that ‘becomes a text of language itself’. Language evolves just as nature’s own language does too.
My voice and words in combination with these ‘writings’ and the ‘voice’ of the living world, creates metaphor. My creative choices and words inspired by places and my own experience in collaboration with the forces of nature used, water, sunlight and air etc… all combined to create a narrative which I was not entirely sure of to begin with, over time, during making, recording, filming and editing that narrative evolved, gestated and revealed itself. I am interested to find out how other people interpret the film and narrative. What others see, feel and intuit is dependant upon their own experience, however there is a shared experience that we all have, there are universal messages.
I found myself feeling a deep connection with the places I worked. I thought this process of connection would come to an end once I was at my computer screen during the editing process, however this was not the case at all. As I played with different combinations of imagery, changed the order of the poems, ‘micro’ songs and artwork, the process became organic. I worked intuitively and the story unfolded before me.
One of the images used in the film was actually a cyanotype made by my 11 year old son and I used it in the part of the film which explores motherhood. It is hard for me to say whether the fact I know my son made that particular art work means I have a stronger connection to the image in the film, or whether the fact that the image is a child’s comes across to all viewers. It looks to me to be an image that is being moulded like a child in the mother’s womb. The image was however ‘moulded’ in collaboration with the earth. The water necessary to wash the cyanotype out, the natural objects chosen by my son, the sunlight at that particular time of day hitting the objects and of course the shadows which powerfully create a 3D image. Those shadows which are interlaced with the world and ‘woven in’ as stated by David Abram.
I never intended for my son’s cyanotypes to be included in the film. I was worried about including my ‘mother knows’ poem as I was unsure if I had the right imagery to illustrate it. However, through the editing process it became apparent that this was the poem upon which the whole film pivots. The film is steeped in creativity and the power and magic of it. This process and development created an enormous sense of connection to the world around me, to the places I worked in, and yet I was sat in front of a computer screen. I was being re-wilded by the imagery on my screen, I realised how my connection to nature is achieved through creativity, through allowing natural forces to work with my intuition. To become hyper aware and mindful of the meanings and metaphors emerging, to trust my instinct, to trust nature and her intelligence as well as my own.
As you will see from some of these images, the film is very dream like, it is a collaboration with nature’s forces, exploring transformation, trauma, healing, nature and our relationship with the Earth and language, where they merge and start communicating. Due to my methods of layering the metaphors by combining the images made in collaboration with nature as well as my own music, poetry and narrative (also written in the natural environment), the meaning and narrative is deepened and enhanced. I have deciphered themes of the creative process in humans and all the living world and how they are deeply connected, motherhood, sisters, daughters, feminism, eco feminism, environment, nature, great goddess, mother earth, sirens, death, destruction, creation, pandora’s jar, persephone, child birth, warriors, witches, fragility, gentleness, beauty, love, pain, strength, womxn, power, magic and finding balance. A balance which is so beautifully expressed in nature.
I am very interested to hear people’s response to my work. I hope my film and artwork leaves a meaningful impression and encourages re-connection to nature, the desire to sit with the living world and really listen, feel, intuit and be inspired to create, write and re-wild yourself!