Monday, October 22, 2012

The living willow boat

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Andy Goldsworthy is a British artist who works with natural materials in landscape. I watched a video about him a while ago and found his work to be in line with many of my own ideas. I dug around in an old sketchbook and found my drawing for a willow boat to be planted, grown and woven together in the shallow end of my pond.

Conditions happened to be right. The pond was almost dry after a long hot Summer and Fall. I scythed down the cattails and water iris`, mattocked out a 16 foot boat shape in the dry muck and with a steel pry bar sunk a series of narrow holes around the edges. I then climbed a nearby willow tree and cut a bunch of tall willow wands. Ready to begin!

Each wand was pushed into the ground and quickly a fence of willow sticks was formed around the boat outline. A mast was added and then watered in by bucket from the watery end of the pond. An afternoon’s work for no practical use. But such fun and with such future growing prospects.

We watched the film ' Finding Neverland' staring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet the other night and were reminded how important the imagination is in our lives. Neverland being the story of JM Barrie’s' researching and writing the story of Peter Pan. It portrays the tremendous strength of the imagination to access those deeper places from whence our ideas flow. As I too spend some of my time far off in that creative space the story was very supportive for my kind of personality.

It is commonly assumed by 'practical down-to-earth folks' that the creative side is suitable for making nice things to hang on walls. Not much good for the everyday business of living, but pleasantly decorative. If you browse through my sketchbook however you will not see pretty drawings. You will see plans, visualizations, a working out in scrappy little sketches of ideas that will then take shape. From dream to reality. Like the story of Peter Pan.

The forested and rocky land on which we live has taken many years to develop and is still growing and changing. Drawings like my willow project litter the sketchbook pages. Our sailing trip around the Pacific began as a big dream. The next step was to begin to develop the fuzzy into something that could be become reality. All ideas begin in Neverland and are then coaxed out into the open.

The imagination is not just restricted to making things. Concepts, systems of thought, all the cultural ideas that make us human, originally came via the imagination. As Goethe says, if you have a dream,“Begin it now.”

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