Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Indian Well

I started writing poetry a month ago, trying to find a formal pattern of language that could express ideas that came to me but sounded not quite right in prose. Of course in writing this poem about another culture I have reached for the long European tradition of holy wells, mostly forgotten too in our modern world.
The ink painting, I made some time past.

                               The Indian Well. 

Somewhere on this island,
A dark pool we call the Indian well,
Just back from the beach.

Our island is burdened with the material parts of our culture:
 Houses, roads, schools, churches, hospital .....
Our dominant ways of thinking - beliefs, ideas, imaginings - are here too.

Some old settler story perhaps,
Of native people coming in canoes from all up the coast
To visit this well, drink, take the living waters home.

Oh, we could simply drive down a side road today
And slash our way through the undergrowth to that rock-rimmed pool of water,
But that would not be the Indian well, not really.

If we paddled up the inlet by moonlight,
Pulled the canoe onto beach logs and walked naked into the shadows,
We might be getting close to the well, but not quite.

If we had lived a long time ago, and were one of the original tribes,
Then we would easily find it, the magical, curing water
Reflecting the trees overhead, the shadows of the people, the moon.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The straight and narrow - a creative space

Sometimes it is useful to have a plan in mind, a framework within which to create. It seems counter intuitive, surely complete freedom is best for creative people, but in most cases creating a narrow path down which to venture leads to great things. A structure can form a focus for the mind and of the final product.

A poem these days need not rhyme, or have a steady beat and this can lead to work that, in its freedom, lacks all the other elements of poetry as well, like metaphor for example. Anyone creating music may well stray from historic forms, but at their peril if they walk away from all formal elements and work in a vacuum. Just so in the visual arts, if one is to wander down interesting trails and away from the historic forms of pictorial representation then one should have a very strong rationale to carry the day. Imagination usually requires a form within which to work and that also facilitates communication of ideas to others.

I am still pursuing photography in monochrome and decided today to also limit my photography to a specific theme - trees - their trunks and the texture of the bark, logs washing back and forth in the waves, a grove of oaks poised like dancers, or the twists and turns of arbutus..... I set up a narrow path, thought about composition and benefited from that limitation.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Winter on the Coast

Leaves are gone, stark branches stand against the grey sky and shadows crouch behind tree trunks and bare humps of rock. Here is a time when colour clashes with the steely mood, shapes take on significance and monochrome comes into its own.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Englishman River as Resource.

Recently I visited a familiar section of this river near Parksville BC and took some more photographs. The Fall is an evocative time of year when the salmon make their migration back to their birth river to spawn and die, Their bodies provide the fertility that the next generation will need in their turn and also contribute to the whole ecosystem. This is a climactic event for rivers along the west coast and far into the interior. All those little rivers receive energy from the ocean and spread it around the local landscape.

This particular river is also a resource in the surrounding communities for fresh water and is under pressure to cough up more and more for new developments. We see nature as a resource for human activities, our legitimate needs and requirements, but somehow miss the inconvenient truth that a river is not simply water running down hill to waste in the sea but is a complex of many life forms and has some dwindling rights to be free. Missing that greater truth is to destroy yet another strand in the web of life. A strand that we all need, all our children will need, in the long run.

If you follow the link below you will find a more comprehensive article on this topic.