Tiree

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2016 has been … I haven’t yet found the word to sum it up- lets call it ‘eventful’ for the time being.

Apart from the global political and economic events which appear to increase proportionately with the fragmentation and dissipation of ‘the World as we used to know it’- this year was very much a journey on a personal level, which saw me travelling every single month, very much exhausting my carbon footprint for the next decade.

Some of this travel was for professional reasons, most travel however being a logistical reality of living away from one’s family, whose individual members aren’t getting any younger and physically fitter.

Having unknowingly immigrated to the UK 19 years ago (the plan was to do a three year degree and then return home to the continent) it has been rather poigniant how health scares and the passing of my closest family members had to happen in the same year Britain voted to leave the EU.

I wouldn’t go as far as calling it an existential crisis on my behalf-rather I would describe it as an involuntary adventure track through the ever expanding and shape shifting world portrayed and imagined for me by the mainstream-and my very own instincts and values increasingly under threat from the surge of banality and populism that appears to expand at the expense of beauty, ingenuity, care and kindness.

So what initially was just another journey in this years calendar-the family trip to Tiree for the October week-seemed initially just another project of potential stress and upheaval to my mind which really just wanted some time out, or hiding under the duvet, not to be seen for a very long time, and just sleep, sleep, sleep and ideally when waking up finding it’ll all was just a bad dream-which I may add was even before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States…

However stressed and distracted my concious mind may have become this year with all the nonsense fuelled by the worshippers of nihilism, something somewhere in my mind, it’ll have to have been my subconsciousness – was clever enough to book the ferry and the cottage on Tiree regardless to all the other mayhem pushing and pulling plans, energy levels and sanity all over the place.

So the night before we had to pack the car and start on the motorway out of Glasgow, over winding roads alongside Loch Lomond, through hills and valleys to get to Oban for our ferry crossing-I had very much reached the height of ever experienced personal stress levels – magnified by a jet lag from a journey to the ‘temple of simulacra’; Los Angeles, 2 weeks prior to this.

In reality I think I knew how disorientating and challenging this trip to LA would be for me personally and professionally, so Tiree was a bit of an antidote to rebalance myself after LaLaland. I know the effect the Scottish landscape has on me and not long into our car journey, the landscape did it’s thing…colours, shapes, lines, curves, clouds, skies, mountains, water, sea, grass, silhouettes, shadows, shapes, wind, gusts, warmth, salty air, red cheeks, tangled hair, squinting eyes, crashing waves, seagulls croaks, clear night skies, highland cows, many sheep, kites, surfers, croft houses, conversations, hearty food, cups of tea and coffee, walking, hiking, climbing, laughing, shouting, building sand castles, collecting shells, stones, sticks, playing with dogs, children, watching sunset, sunrise, sketching, drawing, inventing games, making new friends, ideas and inspiration, excitement, happyness, freedom;

…feeling and being human…

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The ferry journey to Tiree from Oban via Coll and Tiree through the Sound of Mull. 4-45

A rainbow, it was so big and wide I didn’t get it in it’s complete width! Plus there was another on top of it, and I already was up to my ankles in the sea!

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Silver light…and the spray of of the waves…

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Light and dark, clouds and blue sky, light beams, reflection, motion, lines and patterns…

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Kaleidoscope

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sunset

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Stille Nacht

…silent night’ the opening words of the hymn that will be sung at the climax of the Christmas mass.

At the end of a year which appears to have been one acceleration of violence, wars, conflicts, polarisation, death, abuse, aggressive rethoric, bullying, scare mongering, terrorism; Christmas seems somewhat confusing this year.

The consequences of the hostile and negative conditions and environments affecting the individuals and their communities, politics, economics, the environment and culture wreaking havoc on our perception of the state of the World. Confusion, worry and sorrow in abundance seem to have replaced hope, kindness and peace, and cause paralysis and increase frustration of feeling increasingly powerless with the only coping mechansim to disengage from it all.

So for Christmas this year, my wish is for a ‘silent night’. A night of rest and recovery for all. A pause from the race of life with all it’s difficulties and highs and lows.

When our mind is full with worry, it keeps us awake. Stress keeps us awake, nightmares make us restless. Yet for our physical and spiritual (mental) well being a good sleep allows to recharge and recover.

Having witnessed much of the suffering of humanity through modern communication and news media this year, I am paralysed by the vividness and assault of imagery of human suffering and disregard for any values of humanity by the purpetrators and those who excuse and whitewash their ideologies- I feel in particuar for the parents and their children in not only Syria but also in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and many parts of Africa, much forgotten yet afflicted by poverty, oppression, corruption, conflict, terror and abuse.

As a mother myself, I can’t even bring myself to try and imagine the fear and worry of a woman to become a mother for her and her child(ren)’s future when finding herself in what must feel like hell on Earth, in any of these regions at her  most vulnerable and relient on others care and kindness.

Apart from the violence all around, with no means of santitation, warmth, food and medicine, what strength and where from must a mother and father conjure up to continue to cope existing ?

The parallels of these contemporary experiences to the narrative of the nativity are plenty. A highly pregnant woman and her husband on the move in winter with no shelter, food and warmth, two humans enthralled in the turbulence of their times.

When taking this story out of it’s religous/ Christian context it becomes just another story of human vulnerability and fragility of life, and even though we all understand the desperation of the parents to be and the innkeepers apathy fuelled by their own circumstances, fears and worries, we don’t seem to act any different when we are the eye witnesses of such circumstances, conditions and behaviours.

The story doesn’t end with the birth of the child in a humble stable with only a donkey and an ox as the other wintesses to the miracle of bringing a new life into the World.

It is the beginning of a new journey, a new opportunity, hope for a better future. It is a new glimmer which can only grow into a warmth gving fire if nurtured and protected.

The moment of marveling at the newborn child is one of stillness and silence. There aren’t any words that allow for the ocean of emotions engulfing the parents. A mix of pride, relief, euphoria, but also fear, anxiety, and worry – polar opposites at the same time – the irrational and instinctive overlapping with consciousness – resulting in a momentary experience of life.

The child, the protagonist, blissfully unaware of it’s parents aspirations, wishes, fears and worries, recouperating from his/ her traumatic experience of being born, settling into sleep with not a care in the World, the sleep of innocence.

I wish that we all will have the opportunity to have a rest-a calm and restful sleep, free of worry about harm to us or our loved ones, financial anxieties, worry about our or a loved ones health, upset from abusive and bullying behaviour, stresses from environmental disasters, paranoia from media reports of World politics and economics…, to recharge and renew our motivation for the journey.

I wish that everyone will just for a moment stop and pause, halt what they are doing, clear their mind of all the negative information they are bombarded with day in day out and put themsleves in the narrative of the nativity and reconnect with that energy inside us all that drives and sustains live: care.

Care is giving, a selfless act that puts the well being of the other before ones own advantage. It is what makes quality of life. Placing the worries of the other before ours allows to gain perspective, not only on one’s own problems but much more so on one’s strength and abilities. Receiving care without an exchange of a currency is the greatest gift to give and priceless to the receiver. Our consciousness gives us the ability of free choice, the choice to act in kindness to others and ourselves, especially when challenged to do so.

The rewards are intangible, the action often hard and difficult to the one who provides care, they can’t be measured in quantifiable outcomes, and the effect of care may be small, short lived and unnoticed by others.

But just like the one individual providing the stable for Mary and Josef to rest, a gesture of kindness and selfless care is what defines humanity and its entire beauty and wonder, and is each and every time an affirmation. And we can all experience this affirmation of life. It goes without saying that the more gestures of care through kindness the better the quality for all.

I am convinced that we all have in common the ability to care, so I propose to everyone to be kind and to care, by pausing and listening to the needs of the people  around us and the environments we are part of, and to be there for them with no fear. This may be lending a helping hand to an elderly neighbour, treating and talking to the unruly teenager in the street with the intent to gain insight into their perception, making that phone call to someone we know is lonely, doing the washing up, sharing the food instead of throwing it away, clearing the rubbish from the garden or close, visiting friends, relatives, whatever may help the other in any shape or form.

If it means it allows them to have a better nights sleep it’ll also allow oneself to rest in the knowledge to have done a tiny bit to make the World a better place.

To stop all this nihilistic nonsense we currently find ourselves in we only need to ignore the communication of extremist’s armageddon and silence it through acting and expressing the values which drive and sustain our existence; the ability to care, which every moment bares an opportunity to do so.

Merry Christmas

 

 

 

…a year on from the Environmental Arts Festival Scotland

On September 1st Super Moon will be in full view in Seoul, Korea. We celebrate the beauty of our ability to orbit our dreams and consciousness into reality.

Commissioned by Lotte World, Super Moon is a 60-foot inflatable sculpture surrounded by a garden of 8 symbolic planets of color and light that will float on Seokchon Lake. The installation glows and courses with life and color while holding us in its cosmic presence. Super Moon is a shared experience meant to induce a sense of peace and serenity in a communal way, as an experience of unification and stillness.

 

The ‘Moon’ – Super or not – this update by ‘FriendswithMe’ reminded me of my three day weekend in August 2015, in the Hills of Dumfries, with my tent pitched up near a 14th Century ruin…

On the saturday night we had an incredible display of the Moon (and the 14th Century ruin was some backdrop!), A blue moon-I think, regardless, it was very large and very round and very: bright!. So bright that at midnight our silhuettes were casting Picture2‘s along the landscape.

I stood at the lake around the Morton Castle, with five other people, learning all about night sky photography. After this night course on my way back to my tent I got side tracked by a group of people sitting around a camp fire, and joining their conversations. These were quite something, even though I can’t remember what we all talked about. The content wasn’t maybe that important, or communication as a means to exchange information and fact was replaced by communication as an avenue for sharing, painting pictures, being playful…regardless it turned a switch in my head which must have been out of action since leaving those innocent childhood years behind to become a teenager – and probably was only possible to re discover by returning to a setting similar to the one I grew up in as a child; nature.

During my first expidition to a ‘burn’ near by, earlier that day (in broad daylight) I got chatting to an artist from South Korea. Stomping and tumbling through the deep grass, and ‘abseiling’ down the burns side to get to the flowing river, to witness carbon off gassing with the environment (it is called the Environmental Arts Festival for a Reason!); we helped each other, not to fall over, or disappear down a mud slide, while exchanging our stories as to how we got to be there.

I admired her, as she simply decided she wanted to learn from meeting people accross the World and be inspired by them and their stories, instead of attending a dedicated training or study at  a prestigous institution to obtain a certificate. So she left and abandoned everything and just with herself as company embarked on her journey.

Her English was sporadic, my Korean language skills non existent; yet despite our cultural complexities and differences our brief encounter on Mother Nature’s terms and conditions provided a shared experienced connection.

I have no idea where she may currently be (physically and/ or spiritually), but the ‘FriendswithYou’ collaboration with Lotte World in Seoul for the Supermoon on the 1st of September; opened up that random connection as a memory in the present of that brief encounter in the past, a single fleeting interaction…

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Denise’s diary of her journey to EAFS

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images of my journey to EAFS 2015 – as far as the eye
can see.

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Air

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Water

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Fire

My boxes: I made 4, one for each element –
earth, air, fire and water – containing curious and beautiful objects
and alluding loosely to some participating artists and their projects.

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and this was Earth and its contents connected to the sensing life
workshop guide by Bill Coleman, a choreographer from Canada, who likes
to tap-dance.

Question 3: What is your experience of the journey?

Where to start?

What was the journey?

I decided to document the actual travel from Glasgow to Morton Castle with a ‘GoPro’ camera. Attached to the inside of the windscreen of my car, I positioned it so to capture the changing landscape, not so much the street (I also wanted to avoid filming cars number plates) but the changing ‘architecture’ (urban and rural) and the sky.

I am a fan of the sky here in Scotland. In Glasgow it is often hidden by what I call ‘a thick grey ‘mono cloud’, obscuring and blocking warmth and light from the sun. But when it clears up, the sun rises, dawn, dusk, incoming storm fronts, rain and sunshine simultaneously, basically when weather happens the ‘skyscape’ here in Scotland is a captivating, dramatic, tranquil, lush experience.

As a technophobe I expected a struggle with the cables and equipment of my documentation media (the camera), and ended up accidentally recording the quizzical expressions on my face while wondering if the camera is ‘on’…

Once the camera was ‘enabled’ to do it’s thing despite continuous interference through my human irrationality (Is it still recording? Is the battery empty? Does it record sound?) I started to re focus on the other things I had planned and prepared for.

This led after an hour and half way near the Festival to the realisation that I left all of my food nicely packed in a single bag at home!

Driving along I weighed up the pro and cons for continuing without food, including a bag full of cinnamon swirls I baked the night before- or to turn back and pick up the carefully arranged survival package for a weekend of Wild camping.

I drove back, which also helped re charge the battery of the camera (down to nothing after 20 minutes of filming) and picked up that bag of food, my children had already claimed into their possession and made plans what to eat first- so I got there just in time!

Once I was back on track, with food, and on a country road weaving along the river Nith through forests and hills excitement about the location, people, encounters, art and Nature started to grow.

To keep in line with being reliable on always being unreliable- the camera abandoned me just when I turned of the main road to follow the signs through ‘wilderness’ to the most stunning camp site: an open field embraced by a forest and mountains as the backdrop, a 14th Century ruin atop of a Loch. The battery was empty and the camera cut out just when I turned into the forest.

The first thing I did was to put up my tent, it was still light and dry. The tent went up within 10 minutes I am proud to say. I also did some material testing of my own on utilising two sheets of polyethylene foam we use in the museum for storage and packing of objects in regards to the materials insulating properties and performance, by covering the tent floor. The sheets are flexible and can be rolled up just like a yoga mat. I was also hoping for some provision of cushioning which lasted for about two minutes when embarking on a horizontal position with all my weight. I also ended up sleeping diagonally, arranging the shape of my anatomy accordingly to the undulated ground.

The conversations happening all around me into the dark night and the sound of rain (which started eventually) on my tent were somewhat comforting and I drifted into sleep, waking up just once when the sound of a single voice provided an impromptu ‘a Capella’ version of Nena’s 1985 hit: ‘Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann’ (see post)…in German, in the middle of the night, in the wilderness and presence of a 14th Century Castle, deer and other animals in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.

Here I am at the Environmental Art Festival Scotland.

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