The Artist who Drew with the Sun; the Meissner Effect and the Apostle Paul


The Artist who Drew with the Sun is the heading over an article in Resurgence & Ecologist magazine. The artist is Roger Ackling, who died in 2014. Excerpted: “One does not have to know how to bring meaning to one’s life: searching is to bring meaning – the journey.”  “Art has nothing to do with money. Art has nothing to do with fashion.
Art has nothing to do with success or self-promotion.” “[Art] is about being united with our true self, which is the spirit of the world. Love is the world’s true spirit. Art is love.”

You can buy Resurgence & Ecologist magazine online. It’s worth the subscription just for this article alone, but there’s much much more. Here’s some of what Resurgence says about itself:  “The Resurgence Trust is a UK-based educational charity that has become the flagship voice of the environmental movement across the globe. Our mission is to inspire each other to help make a difference and find positive solutions to the global challenges we now face. To do this, we publish Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, run The Ecologist website and host regular events – not just to share our collective concerns about climate change, social justice and ethical living but find solutions. The magazine, two websites and our events provide a forum for information and debate on key environmental and social issues across the globe.”

“Ackling draws scorched lines by concentrating the sun’s rays through a hand-held magnifying glass.”  Tate, in describing Ackling’s Five Sunsets in One Hour (1978). 

Here are links to some other of Ackling’s works:
http://imprints-galerie.com/worklist
http://www.pierartscentre.com/roger-ackling

The text of the Resurgence article was drawn from Ackling’s notes for a talk he gave in conjunction with the Ishikari Project. The project was launched in 2012 and is about Applied SuperconductivityWhatis.com“Superconductivity is the ability of certain materials to conduct electric current with practically zero resistance . This produces interesting and potentially useful effects. For a material to behave as a superconductor, low temperatures are required.”

“Superconductors have been employed in, or proposed for use in, an enormous variety of applications. Examples include high-speed magnetic-levitation trains, magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI) equipment, ultra-high-speed computer chips, high-capacity digital memory chips, alternative energy storage systems, radio-frequency … filters, radio-frequency amplifiers, sensitive visible-light and infrared detectors, miniaturized wireless transmitting antennas, systems to detect submarines and underwater mines, and gyroscopes for earth-orbiting satellites. The Josephson junction and the superconducting quantum interference device use superconductors.”

The Meissner Effect    When a material makes the transition from the normal to superconducting state, it actively excludes magnetic fields from its interior; this is called the Meissner effect.”  The You Tube video at the head of this article contains the best definition for the layman of the Meissner Effect.  It looks like a magic trick, but it’s a magnetic trick – magnetic levitation – the science behind the super-fast Maglev trains.

Aside from trains, Sustainable energy is the goal of  Maglev wind turbines. Sustainable energy may have been one link between  Ackling and the Ishikuri Project. I’m conjecturing as I’ve no idea as I write, what was the nature of the talk given by Ackling that conjoined with the Ishikari Project. A more accurate answer may lie within the newly published book about the artist, referenced by the Resurgence article, Between the Lines: The Work and Teaching of Roger Ackling. I’ve only just acquired a copy of the book, which is a compilation, edited by Emma Kalkhoven, published by Occasional Papers, of little essays, including Roger talking about his work and other friends and artists talking about Roger and his work. There’s a preface by Ackling’s wife, Sylvia. It’s a touching memorial and much more than that. I’m dipping in and out of it like a seagull diving for food. And getting it, for every page contains a tasty morsel of nourishment for any artist-soul.

It was no surprise to read, in the first essay in the book, by John Haldane and entitled, Reason to Believe, that numbered among Ackling’s lifelong friends, were the land artist Richard Long and the walking artist Hamish FultonThey met in 1966 as fellow students at Saint Martin’s School of Art, London. John Haldane was Ackling’s student at Wimbledon College of Art between 1973-1975. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, (Scotland).

Ackling’s entire body of work arose from his sensitivity to nature and his practice of conducting – the sun’s rays – through a magnet – onto a piece of wooden flotsam or jetsam washed-up on the shores around his coastal North Norfolk (Weybourne, England) home, or found elsewhere on his travels and walks. I’ve not tried this (I will have, before the summer is out) but I can imagine that it must look like magic – lines and other marks appearing on the found wood without any visible physical intervention.But it is science, not magic and there is a source of the intervention. It is 93 million miles away. Likewise, there is a scientific source for the levitating magnet in the video above – it is not magic.

Eco Print on Silk

Eco Print on Rhubarb-Dyed Silk

Forces and energies is one of my preoccupations.  It is behind my enthusiasm for eco printing, which I discovered only last year. The eco print is the result of forces and energies – pressure, heat, chemistry (the dye source, the dyeing tools).  Ackling used the force and energy of the sun to draw on found materials. It was a contemplative process.

I have recently begun checking, in the topics I find myself blogging about, what might be found in The Bible about them. It’s a more interesting, engaged way of reading The Book. (One day soon I’ll write about what I found out in The Bible about seagulls). I searched for mention of forces and energies at Bible Gateway. I found that forces is invariably associated, in the Old Testament, with military forces, forces of war.  There was no entry in the Old Testament for energy/energies. Energy comes up in the New Testament in terms of spiritual energy. My search led me to the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Colossians.

I was struck by a parallel at 1 Colossians 15, (NIV): ” The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, …”  Here again was visibility and invisibility. In Ackling’s work, it manifests in the action of the invisible rays of the sun becoming visible in making marks on wood, directed through a magnet. In Superconductivity, the Meissner Effect results from another kind of invisible force – magnetism. In Colossians, Paul is saying that the invisible God has been made visible in Jesus. That’s spiritual energy at work. Paul writes of energy at Colossians 1:29: “… I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

There’s another aspect to this. Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote his letter to the Colossians. He didn’t let his limitations stop him doing his spiritual work. I don’t suppose there’s a soul on earth who hasn’t felt at some time or another, that he or she were in prison. The message must be to strive to render the invisible visible no matter the exigencies of one’s situation. I need to take note of that idea.

 

 

 

Posted in Aesthetics, Art, Christian writing, Creativity, Eco/Natural Dyeing and Printing, Ecology, Inspiration, Reviews, Science, Sculpture, Walking, Walking Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Landscaping Your Life with Alison Smith and King Hezekiah


I’ve written in recent blogs about the metaphors relating to the square – that have impinged on me while I’ve been tending to the blocks of squares in which I’m growing veggies at my allotment.

Following on from my previous post, in which I wrote about how I’d discovered the importance of tending the areas surrounding the squares, it came to me that I was facing a situation at home about untended areas of my life. Yes, it’s that awful stuff we refer to as paperwork. Yes, it’s fallen into chaos; such chaos that it has – almost on its own – overwhelmed and smothered the square that is my creative life.

Since the realisation, I’ve begun the process of handling this crisis. And I came across Landscaping Your Life, a process developed by Alison Smith which uses the metaphors that can be found in Nature to help folks get back on track. I thought it might be useful to reproduce LYL’s compilation of short You Tube videos. As always, take what is useful and discard the rest.

Pondering these videos, it occurred to me that what I was doing was putting my house in order. I looked up the expression. It comes from 2 Kings 20:1-6:

“In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” 

King Hezekiah didn’t die, just then. He recovered to become known as a religious reformer. His father had turned the kingdom back to idolatry. Hezekiah undid his father’s work and restored it to the faith. He put his house in order. In The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Hezekiah is defined as an ” …expression of spiritual strength in the executive power of the mind.”

Curiously, my husband spotted a pigeon sitting in front of one of the flower pots in our parking space when he came home from work yesterday evening. It was raining hard and the bird was absolutely drenched, freezing cold and very light in weight. We took it indoors. I wrapped it in a warm towel, made a snug house for it in the cat’s carrying basket, in which I placed a bowl of warm sugared water and bread, and set it in the airing cupboard with the door open. I warmed a pad of wheat grains in the microwave and placed this along one side of its body as a hot water bottle. Sadly, it did not survive the night.  I was glad that we’d been able to put its little house in order and give it as comfortable death as was possible.

Was this event a portent, omen? At the very least, it was, according to Jung when defining Synchronicity: an acausal meaningful coincidence. 

Sorting out my utility bills has suddenly taken on a much higher meaning! And makes the task more palatable. Wish me luck.

Do you have a workable method of keeping life in balance?  I’d like to know.

 

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Squares Activated and the Importance of Boundaries


Beans Arch Lottie 9 July 2016I took the photo on the left a few days ago. Had I taken it the day before, you’d not have been able to see the squares of veggies (the wooden frames) for the height of the grass surrounding them.  We went away for a couple of weeks and like Time and Tide, Nature (and grass) waits neither for man nor woman.

Since I took this photo the grass has been further trimmed, using a petrol-fuelled trimmer.  It still took all day to restore order and control.

The spaces around the squares make it easier to move around the plot and weed inside the squares. Without these negative spaces around the wooden-framed squares – their boundary-markers – chaos would reign, resulting in fewer veggies. Less food. And our survival relies on food production, it’s not just nice to have these squares and spaces, but necessary.

Park Seat July 2016

The greater world is an arrangement of activated spaces contained within boundaries. I recall my first assigned project in my first year at university, when I was doing my fine art degree. I was to go out into the town and make some drawings. The project sheet referred to the process as activating a space; the briefing made mention of the urge one gets, standing on the edge of a cliff, of wanting to throw oneself off. I’d not experienced this desire, as far as I knew and I wondered at that point whether I had what it takes to be an artist. I ventured out into the town, however and by the end of the week I had a decent charcoal drawing of a set of winding stone stairs belonging to what remained of the town’s castle; this, despite the fact I hadn’t felt the urge to throw myself down them. I think the drawing was mysterious. I guess I was drawn more to mystery than suicide.

Red Apples Lottie 9 July 2016It was not until a few years after finishing my degree that I had my first artistic insight. We had bought a terraced house – one of 16 erstwhile miners’ cottages set in the moors in the region of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. I was doing a drawing from an upstairs window of the terrace’s gardens below, strips for growing food each fenced from the other and the whole fenced off from moor.  I found myself pondering fences and boundaries and how breaches of these caused so much trouble; of the relationship between humankind and boundaries. And it came to me that all of the world’s wars stem from boundary disputes in one form or another. Wars cause death on a grand scale, so boundaries are important.

Lottie Row of Squares with Nasturtiums, Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes, Brassicas Potatoes Red Geranium 9 July 2016I have a One World view. There’s only one planet available to humankind for its sustenance. Yet millions starve to death each year. I am well-fed. I’m very unhappy indeed with that inequality. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in boundaries. On the contrary, like the boundaries in place at the allotment, it was the collapse of the management of the boundaries that caused the chaos. And threatened the food production line.

Pears Lottie 9 July 2016There are always boundaries to tend. Even if there are no fences, the boundary is there. I seem to be forever defending mine from folks who are not aware of them (even where there are fences and walls) or don’t care beyond their own wants (as opposed to needs). There have been, there are and there will always be, boundary wars in my life.  I’m weary of them. But they have made me sensitive to the importance of boundaries and I take great pains to respect the boundaries of my neighbours, in every sense of the word, so as not to start a war. The compliment is not always returned and so I must act in one way or another, to protect the spaces I have the right to activate.

Lottie Squares with Sweetcorn Squash Mangetout Squash Courgettes Onions Shallots 9 July 2016The second photo here is of a bench in a park I pass through. This bench is invariably surrounded by litter. I had my thumb partly over the lens (doh!) when I took the photo so I made the scene more picturesque than it is with the aid of my new friend, Adobe Photoshop Elements 14. There’s irony in that, somewhere. Teenage schoolkids congregate at this bench most evenings. They are the source of the litter, mostly empty pop bottles, and the wrappings from other junk foods. It is clear they have no notion of boundary, are blind and deaf to their environment and the other folks and critters who share it. They don’t know where they are.

Hoop House Beans Aubergines Cucumber Lettuce Garlic Chives Lottie 9 July 2016Knowing where we are requires a knowledge of who we are. That’s an important part of education. Or should be. If education, both at home and in school, doesn’t address who and where we are, we can’t know where we are going. The result is the breakdown of boundaries; wars ensue and food production decreases; so people are killed or starve.

P S  Britain recently voted to leave the EU, largely because of a perceived problem of uncontrolled immigration. The real problem is ill-managed boundaries. The boundaries are still there.  Still mismanaged. Barricading oneself in doesn’t work and gave birth to the development of Total War. Arising from the philosophy of Total War, is Scorch Earth policy –  leave nothing behind that can be of use to the enemy, which includes food and the ability to grow it.

Carrot Celeriac Squash Courgette Baby Sweetcorn Leek Beans Square Lottie 9 July 2016The grass around my food production squares is scorched, but that’s by the sun.  And I’m including a few other photos of what’s growing at the lottie right now, just to raise the tone of my conversation.

Enjoy!

We just ate half of the first marrow of the season. Stuffed. It’s actually the first marrow I’ve ever grown. The other half has been stuffed, cooked and frozen for consumption in the autumn.

 

 

 

Posted in Aesthetics, Allotmenteering, Art, Blogging, Creativity, Ecology, Inspiration, spirituality, Vegetarianism | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art Quotes I Like and Why


Stained Glass Norfolk 2 June 2016“A painting [work of art] is a layering of thoughts and visual impressions piling up history and sensations. An open ended experience where the viewer adds his or her own notions to those of the artist.”    Richard Diebenkorn

I particularly like: ” … where the viewer adds his or her own notions to those of the artist.”  The artist can further develop from the notions of the viewer. In this, the artwork has triggered dialogue.  

Great art throughout the ages has always invited the viewer into the cycle of communication. When today’s art fails, it is not because it is non-objective, but because it fails to attract the viewer into communication with the work. 

Attract, attraction, attractiveness. Aesthetics is part and parcel of art because it is part and parcel of the communication cycle.

Well, I’m not saying anything new here. I think it needs repeating, though, because some art today fails to attract, is not thus, communication and thus is not art. 

What do you think?

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One Square at a Time


Lottie Nine Square III June 2016

Allotment: nine-square with carrots, beans, celeriac, squash, courgettes and leeks. June 2016

There is a lot of weather going round at the moment, physically and metaphysically. Since I’m talking about squares, forgive the play on words, though the round in my first sentence ought really to be around. Poetic licence. There is a deal of unpredictability, highs followed quickly by lows of pressures; peaks and troughs. I’m having to do a lot of running for shelter.

I like the concept of round weather. Suns are round. There are cycles; these are round. And around. Being out-of-doors, dependent on weather, round or otherwise, reveals, reminds, how much we occupants of the human form are dependent on weather for our food and general well-being. And fertile ground. Unlike the wild creatures, however, we have created a society that has distanced us from the fundamental significance of weather and the importance of fertile earth.

Allotment: 16-square with sweetcorn, mangetout,

Allotment: 16-square with sweetcorn, squash, courgettes, and mangetout, June 2016

We’ve constructed all these squares – houses, factories, churches even, over the top of the soil on which we were meant to grow food. And we continue to do this at the proverbial alarming rate and let’s not forget all the felling of trees – for meat production – lumping great squares of them, ignoring wilfully that we need trees to produce our oxygen. Food production – I’m talking grains and veggies – is being squeezed into ever-dwindling spaces, resulting in a flood of biblical proportions of fast-food factory farming industries. The earth in these dwindling spaces becoming stressed and exhausted, we stir-in (there’s another round) artificial fertilisers and then plant artificial fast-food seeds which we shower with anti-pest poisons, which infiltrate the plants and the plants in their turn, poison us human form inhabitants.

Farmers have become little more than employees of big agricultural monopolies, as they are contractually obliged to use the seed given to them by the companies. They are not to collect seed for future use (and are fined heavily if they are caught doing so). Eventually, the breakdown of natural diversity has resulted in the breakdown of resistance to pests and diseases and then further resulted in resistance to the pesticides developed to control these.  And so we are poisoning ourselves for nothing. To solve the problem of diminishing food supplies, we develop GM foods, further imbalancing nature’s cycles (another round). And we navigate through our square lives blind deaf and dumb to our destruction of the planet by default and thus the very stuff we have to have for our very existence.

Allotment: Pumpkin: Turk's Head Turban, June 2016

Allotment: Pumpkin: Turk’s Head Turban, June 2016

So there I was, a couple of days ago, pondering all this gloomy stuff while weeding out  a little square of fertile earth in which I’m growing food sans any poisons. My square is miniscule in proportion to the size of the planet. I’ve divided this square further into nine squares and each has a different veggie growing in it. In one square there are five celeriac; the middle square has a square raised bed on top in which I’m growing carrots (the additional height and central position is to protect the carrots from the pesky carrot fly – they are low-flying pests – and I seem to have succeeded as the carrots are flourishing) and in the other squares I’m growing courgettes, squash (pumpkin) of different kinds, leeks and aubergines. It’s kind-of my root vegetable square.

I have an identical big square adjacent, in which I’m growing several different varieties of potato, beetroot and radishes. Between the two squares there’s a metal arch over which I’m growing French beans (blue, purple and yellow ones). I’ve two other squares, in which I’m growing sweetcorn and more courgettes and pumpkins; and mangetout peas. Elsewhere are squares in which I’m cultivating asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, salad veggies, onions and shallots, cabbages of several varieties and shapes, kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, marrow, cucumber and more beans and on my square veranda-turned-greenhouse there are half a dozen tomato plants, from cherry to beef and everything in-between.

Each square has some kind of blossom to attract bees so they help pollination, and also to help the bees recover from the viral and other diseases that are killing them off globally.  Here’s an extract from a February 2016 article in the journal Sciencevia the web site Take Part.

“The transportation of European honeybees that pollinate a third of the food supply is driving a deadly disease infecting beehives around the world, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

“What we can say in our research is that the spread of this deadly virus across continents would not have been possible without the human-aided transmission of the European honeybee,” said Lena Wilfert, the study’s lead author and an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

The disease is called deformed wing virus, and it’s just one of a number of culprits impacting the health of pollinators. Researchers have also linked parasitic mites, viruses, bacteria, fungal diseases, and intensifying pesticide use to the overall decline in bee populations worldwide.”

Posted in Allotmenteering, Art, Creativity, Ecology, Photography, Quilting, Research, Science, Vegetarianism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Nature Journal 6: Buttercups and Herb Robert


Buttercups and Herb Robert Norfolk June 2016
Buttercup
“The common Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) bears among rustics in the midland counties the vulgar name of “Crazy,” for which, until lately, I could never account; but it would appear that this meadow plant is considered an “insane herb” by country people, for I heard lately, from a trustworthy source, that the smell of the flowers was considered to produce madness. “Throw those nasty flowers away,” said a country woman to some children, who had gathered their handful of buttercups, “for the smell of them will make you mad.” This must be the origin of the term “crazy” applied to the plant, but biting as the leaf is when chewed, what should have given an ill-reputation to the golden flowers@ We are reminded of the name Drunkard, as applied by the Devonshire lads and lasses to the Horse Buttercups or Bull’s eyes, as Marsh Marigolds are called in the West of England. Let no one after this despise our common flowers, or think lightly of their vulgar names, for much treasure may sometimes be found hidden under a rough expression or name.”  Chapter X, Superstitions about Flowers; Flowers & Flower Lore; Revd Hilderic Friend.

Herb Robert …

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Nature Journal 5: Hawkweed, Hawkbit


Common Hawksbeard June 2016“Coles tells us respecting the Eyebright how “Divers authors write that goldfinches, linnets, and some other birds make use of this herb, for the repairing of their own and their young ones’ sight. The purple and yellow spots and stripes which are upon the flowers of Eyebright, doth very much resemble the diseases of the eyes, as blood-shot, etc. By which signature it hath been found out that this herb is very effectual for the curing of the same.” In similar fashion the eagle brightens its eye with the Wild Lettuce; and the Hawk-bit or Hawk-weed was used by the hawk for the same purpose. “ – from Flowers & Flower Lore, by Revd Hilderic Friend, Chapter X, Superstitions about Flowers.

 

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Nature Journal 4: Dog Daisies


Dog Daisies“Against another wall were white apple blossoms on branches cut into sharp crucifixes and forced to lie flat against the stone. Below, the huge frilled lips of giant tulips in shades of white and cream nodded in their beds. They were almost finished now, spread open too far, splayed, exposing obscene black centers. I’ve never had my own garden but I suddenly recognized something in the tangle of this one that wasn’t beauty. Passion, maybe. And something else. Rage. ”
Meg Rosoff:  How I Live Now

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Nature Journal 3: Red Campion


Red Campion Norfolk June 2016

Red Campion

 

 

Alfred Deller:  “Shall I Come, Sweet Love, to Thee” – Thomas Campion

Shall I come, sweet Loue, to thee
When the eu’ning beames are set?
Shall I not excluded be?
Will you finde no fained lett?
Let me not, for pitty, more,
Tell the long houres at your dore.

Who can tell what theefe or foe,
In the couert of the night,
For his prey will worke my woe,
Or through wicked foule despight :
So may I dye vnredrest,
Ere my long loue be possest.

But to let such dangers passe,
Which a louers thoughts disdaine,
‘Tis enough in such a place
To attend loues ioyes in vaine.
Doe not mocke me in thy bed,
While these cold nights freeze me dead.

Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

 

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Keeks June 2016


Keeks June 2016“Name the different kinds of people,’ said Miss Lupescu. ‘Now.’

Bod thought for a moment. ‘The living,’ he said. ‘Er. The dead.’ He stopped. Then, ‘… Cats?’ he offered, uncertainly.”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

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