“In a dark time, the eye begins to see” Theodore Roethke
In the summer of 2015 my vision suddenly and alarmingly changed – anything linear, curved and bulged. Everything became distorted.
Science used advanced optics to ‘look’ deep into the eye and revealed a delicate and beautiful tracery of veins, the layered landscape of the retina, now a mountain rather than a valley. The diagnosis was – ‘an enigma’; ‘’a surprise event’. The beauty of the scans was entrancing.
The embodied experience was multi-layered, visceral and full of dread. Blood pressure skyrocketed, panic flooded all thoughts and fear distorted all understanding.
This current body of work, inspired by the original eye scans, explores the transformation of experience through finding insight and beauty in the darkest of places. Created in collaboration with photographer George Logan, it is a dialogue between the out there scientific ‘truth’ (the scans, the structure of the eye, how we ‘see’) and the inner perceiving intelligence of experience (another form of ‘truth’).
“In the depth of my eye, the picture is painted. The picture, certainly, is in my eye. But I am not in the picture” Jacques Lacan
The Subversive Beauty of Impermanence
In a small private wood in Northumberland is an avenue of ancient beech trees surrounded by yews and pines. Their wounds, fissures, folds, burrs and bosses of scar tissue speak of their lived history and the creative resilience and strength that is gathered into and grows out of vulnerability.
This work is the result of a two-year conversation with these trees. A dialogue carried out in pencil, paint, wax, fire, photographs, words and silence. I use a limited, muted palette on beech wood panels to disclose the sinuous embodied presence of the trees, to capture the beauty that can be found in the healed scars and the marks of time that is part of their reality as beings-towards-death.
Being with these trees has underlined the ambivalent relationship we have with impermanence and the cycle of creation and destruction. In a fast paced world reaching for endless growth and perfection, I am coming to know the potential of a slower, more embodied way of being that is at home with ‘imperfection’ and embraces the potential to be found in vulnerability and ageing.
‘All life is an act of letting go’ Life of Pi