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:
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 Superconductivity. Whatis.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 Fulton. They 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 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.