Mediated Objects Here, Chained and Melting
Wax enchained and breathing. The organic material shrinks from the metal. Heated wax cools and retreats.
Wilted violet, not much good for medicine.
I repeatedly dipped a violet in beeswax, wondering if it would somehow preserve the flower. Of course the violet has dried and almost disappeared, leaving the wax impression of its leaves and petals behind, sealed in the hardened wax. All that remains of it is the echo; the empty space, the hollow core.
Although the ruins of megalithic buildings have survived the millennia, archaeology often reveals only the traces of our distant ancestors. We find their broken bones and some of their artefacts, but sometimes only stains remain to show where a body once lay, even the bones being absorbed into the earth. Much of my art is about reviving and honouring the memory of our ancestors.
The violet is used for making love potions.
Lots to think and dream and wonder about. Thank you for adding ripples to the water. Until the book comes out then…
Good questions Janet!
I’ll post pictures of the paintings as soon as I can find time to get over to the gallery and shoot them. I want to spend more time making more work, and I’m worrying about the sculpture that’s going into Simi Valley in two months, and the installation in the CSUCI gallery.
I’ve struggled with finding a way to describe the things I’ve been making for the Cabinet exhibits and ended up with mediated objects. I mean the word particularly in its sense of in-between-ness.
When I’m making things I try to submit to the influence of all the study I’ve done and the experience I’ve had of Neolithic places in Britain, like the barrow mounds and chambered cairns which I’ve walked to, slept in and explored in all weathers, times and seasons, in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The processes of making the objects aren’t entirely the same as the paintings, which are much more self-conscious in their origins and far more based in technique; the objects are created as a mediation of the past, as an attempt to revive the creative mind of my ancestors and the process of making the work is one of accepting the limitations of the Neolithic world. This sounds hopelessly pretentious, I know, but there’s much less conscious thought going on, and a lot of responding to the needs of the making process itself, within a framework of a Neolithic “language” of symbolic shapes, geomancy and remaining artefacts. It’s as though I’m trying to “channel” the creative energy of Neolithic Britons.
It’s difficult to explain the meditative state of mind I get into when I’m making these things. It’s all about the act of making itself, I’m not as interested in the art world or a market as I am in the necessity of producing the things for people (and myself) to experience and enjoy, and perhaps get some spiritual replenishment out of it.
So, I have described the works as mediated, in that they are made in this time but inspired of the ancient past. They’re liminal, in between now and then, and I think of the works themselves as things that come to me from the past.
I don’t think of my work as being art-making as such, as much as it is a simple necessity.
“Neoliths” is a neologism, quite good. I don’t think they practiced witchcraft in terms of the medieval phenomenon, but they were certainly interested in understanding the nature of the divine. Their most important monuments were very carefully aligned to the solstices and equinoxes, even in the very earliest days. Their homes, their circles and their houses of the dead were aligned to the rising and setting sun, which implies a relationship between their experience of life and the order of the cosmos.
Being a medical herbalist, for fun I did once make Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream violet love potion for my daughter. We put it into a beautiful blue bottle with a cork stopper. I’m not at all interested in legitimate magical workings though, and have no enthusiasm for spells and such. I’m inspired by the geometry of the sun and the idea of natural order as the manifestation of G-d in the universe.
I will definitely do at least three performance lectures at CSUCI in July. Watch this blog!
If the May trip goes well, I’ll seriously consider taking an independent group of adults over in May of 2009.
As far as the ritual works in cairns practiced by Neolithic Britons go, there’s almost nothing about it. You might enjoy Eliade’s Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth, an excellent work on ritual and rites of Passage, but otherwise, well, you’ll have to wait until I finish writing my book, won’t you…
Michael, Is it possible to see some images of the paintings you’re working on? Especially since I haven’t seen the new ones for your upcoming shows. Also, how would you describe a mediated object? I’d like to know more about your processes with violets as artefacts and potions as well. Did the Neoliths (is that a proper noun?) practice witchcraft? I’d definitely like to learn more about the rituals w/ cairns. Where shall I research? Do I need to travel in person to the Orkneys to research or is virtual travel possible? I’m enthusiastically awaiting future interactive media presentations of the geologic sites you’re referencing. The Magical Mystery Tour in May should be quite amazing, wish I were able to go. Would you anticipate planning another in 2009?