Work-in-progress Wongol Artist Residency Korea
Almost half-way into the month-long residency in beautiful Wongol, South Korea.
My process includes walks, rapid sketches, collections, revisiting. I take short walks each day, enjoying the feeling of the forest. The rhythm of walking generates ideas.I like the feeling of strangeness, of the forest being impenetrable because I am foreign. As David Byrne says ‘ I’m not lost, but I don’t know where I am’
I built a crude bench here on the path, with a framed view – to remind myself to be mindful preconceptions. It is easy to fall into habits of looking, and here is one of the great gifts of an art residency: to refresh one’s ways of seeing.
I sketch quickly, trying to let my hand find the essentials. The dark hills and the misty sky have made a great impression on me. I am sure I will always dream of this place, looking up at the dark hills, hearing many hidden birds. When we first arrived, the German artist, Anina, and I thought we would struggle to find paper. So I began experimenting with drawing on seaweed.
The residency allows space to try things, and to fail: e.g. my deer-hide, turned out to be quite impractical. It’s still in progress. I wanted a feeing of fragility, but the technique made it too heavy… not sure yet what to do!
Perhaps a series of nooks, niches, seats and hammocks will be worthwhile. Not a bad idea to provide comfort while communing with nature.
We’ve had some great discussions about nature and art, and the meaning of the Yatoo concept of Nature art. (I have finally learnt to drink beer in order to participate fully). The Yatoo method is purist, using found natural materials and often the body. My path-side interventions are usually quite intimate.
I have forgotten when I began making this kind of intervention- since childhood, but did not realize it was ‘Art’. When I do this I am instantly on holiday! It is wonderful to find an artistic family who shares this habit. These leaf shapes are new to me, so they demanded attention. The pine flowers were caught in a spiderweb, asking to be arranged.
This feeling of openness is important; it is this I’d like to share in my work. I recently learnt a little about labyrinths from Radu Ionescu, a theatre make and trickster from Romania. I have been working in sensory labyrinth theatre and drawing simple walking labyrinths in some marvellous locations. Labyrinths are found in many traditions and take one to a state of borderlessness of ego and environment. This seems to be a method of addressing what the nature writer Eugene Marais called the inevitable pain on consciousness. Perhaps this is what art is for!
I have drawn a labyrinth using found natural materials in contrasting colours. I plan to plant small flowers in the grass, so it can last a little longer before nature creates a different living design. Gueass what: I found vygies in the local street market!
Turning things upside-down often seems a good idea. Nature/art…? HUman/nature…? Are we in it, part of it, too dominant?
I have made upside-down trees before… here I found some beautiful roots, and some fine wabi-sabi objects at the local recycling dump. I had the BEST time at the dump – and have been playing with natural/industrial combinations.
Shocking combinations can be so pretty.
One of my favourite spots is a small wheatfield, where the wind makes waves. So beautiful it makes me speechless. I hang small pink boats on fishing rods, and sail them over the wheaten sea. It is a lovely feeling to steer the boats, so I will install a row of bamboo rods for anyone to use.
Playfulness may seem like a small and unimportant thing, but I think it is the way to become more present. We can set aside our intellectual analysis and art-critical approach. It is useful to practice this opening up, to communicate with the ecosystem where we find ourselves. Humans are too rigid in their thinking and Civilization has lost its connection to natural rhythms, to our cost. Art can teach humans to be playful and light again, to lengthen moments of pre-cognitive perception, so we can learn to apprehend a sense of deep ecology more directly.
If we become more childlike we can become more wise!