So far, with regard to the path I took in the creation of my upcoming exhibition, I have been concentrating on the technical aspect of the photography.
This is a long blog post but I would really like the chance to explain the expressive part of my work, why it means so much to me and why I am going to such lengths to gain the knowledge to express myself through art. If you are prepared to share my journey please read on –
Apart from in the rarest of cases of natural talent, as in the greatest of artists, it is challenging and almost impossible for an artist to express themselves without experience and knowledge of their medium. This is qualified by Matisse, in a quote from ‘Jazz’ – “A musician once said: In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows, and when there remains an energy that is all the stronger for being constrained, controlled and compressed. It is therefore necessary to present oneself with the greatest humility: white, pure and candid with a mind as if empty, in a spiritual state analogous to that of a communicant approaching the Lord’s Table. Obviously it is necessary to have all of one’s experience behind one, but to preserve the freshness of one’s instincts”
And so, I do believe that ability is essential in order to express oneself succinctly. However to think like an artist is wholly different. As an artist, (and for those of you who are reading this and struggling to believe themselves to be such, just say it often enough until you wake up and realise that you are searching for a way to express yourself – as in the words of Duane Michals, “Don’t try to be an artist. Find the thing within you that needs to be expressed. You might find it is art.” ) ……
So, ‘as an artist’ I knew that there were certain places where I felt on the threshold of something very special. Be it knowledge, inspiration or something more spiritual, I am not quite sure. But I do know my hope would be that everyone could experience that wonder of spirit when you feel at one with the world. My artistic hope is to portray the world in such a way that inspires my viewer to believe this is still possible, even with the world as it is.
I was drawn to the Standing Stones and then to the Ancient Woodlands of Lawrenny but was not sure why. Then, during my research I discovered that the Druids believed that the Oak tree was the doorway, the threshold to the higher plains of knowledge. Drui was sometimes translated as ‘door’ or ‘Oak’. I previously knew none of this and whilst everyone might feel as if they were sharing a part in the past when stood close by a Celtic Standing Stone or a Druid Circle, the same feeling might not be so prevalent when in an ancient woodland. Not so for myself; I can only express quite simply how I felt in the ancient woodlands of Lawrenny; the best way I can put it is that I was in awe of nature.
From that point of revelation in my research, I knew how I wanted to portray the Submerged Forest of Borth & Ynyslas. It was the threshold to the Lost Kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod; a kingdom which, legend says, disappeared in an instant, flooded by the seas of an incoming storm.
My Final Degree Show would be ‘Spirit of Ynyslas’ – Lost Kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod.
I am delighted to have been asked to exhibit the images at Oriel Q, Queens Hall, Narbeth alongside work created by the Artist’s of Borth. The exhibition opens tomorrow, is showing until the 25th March and if you are reading this and are in the vicinity, please do come to see it. Alternatively, the full installation exhibit, including Light Boxes and Silks of ‘Spirit of Ynyslas’, can be seen at the Set House Gallery, St Brides, Pembrokeshire.
My next post tells of the extraordinary events which followed – how fate played a part and a storm such as had not been seen for many years exposed parts of the Submerged Forest of Ynyslas that had not been seen in fifty years, and, to the best of my belief, has not been seen since.