Saturday, March 7, 2009

Raven Dreaming. "There is a Dream dreaming us."

'There is a Dream dreaming us.'

One of my favourite authors is Laurens Van Der Post and among his collection of books are two that I often go back to read again: ‘The Lost World of the Kalahari’ and ‘The Heart of the Hunter’. They talk about his experiences on a journey into the Kalahari desert in Africa and his meetings with the ‘Bushmen’ who still lived a nomadic hunting gathering lifestyle and knew their culture stories that had been passed down from the beginning times of mankind. They say that "there is a Dream dreaming us" and this lead me to this carving project.

On the West Coast of Canada the first human inhabitants have a story of first beginnings too: Raven the trickster creator, finds a clamshell on the beach and helps the first human beings (who are peeping out timidly) out of it and into the world. I carved a mask of Raven dreaming of this event before it happened. So, in Raven, there is a dream dreaming us humans. I`m exploring the idea of continuity: of human beings existing in the mind of Raven before he found the clamshell, before the teasing out of the reality there on the beach through his creative act, and finally the reality of human beings in the world. The three steps in creative work: the idea already exists unseen, the artist receives it as a dream and finally gives it form as a reality in the world, - incarnates it, so to speak. Finally, the creation takes it`s place in reality, building new meaning into the world.

In this cedar carving, Raven dreams with hooded eyes as the first man and woman emerge into his dream from the seashell ( from the sea; from first beginnings). Does he know where all this will lead or is he simply the inspired creator whom the Fates use to bring new being into the world: the dream appears, but is Raven himself the creator of the dream? Whatever the process, he is inspired to recognize the dream again the next day in the clamshell tossed up on the beach and to act his part in its realization as he coaxes the first people out into the world. What does it mean? He has n`t a clue, he is just being tricky. He is following the prompting of the dream.

The next layer is of course myself the carver who dreams of Raven dreaming and I play my part in bringing that thought into the reality of the carving. So there is a dream dreaming me too, not just the first people in the Kalahari Desert, not just Raven, not just the first people. Complicated, but reassuring, to be in a partnership through time with a long line of creators.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

My mother introduced me to the books by van Der Post. I was hooked. I actually bought "A Walk with a White Bushman" and returned home to find that he'd died that day. Strange synchronicity to the dream, perhaps?

Have you ever read "Indaba, My Children" by Credo Mutwa? It contains several African creation myths as well as other legends. It's a lovely book. Another of my favourites.