UPON REFLECTION

Extended Foreword

by Maija Liepins

I first became aware of Sarah Misselbrook and her work when she made an application to CAS for a two week artist residency to take place online. CAS, otherwise known as Chapel Arts Studios, is a contemporary art organisation in North Hampshire, England. I started at CAS as an Associate Artist, I am now a manager there, and an independent artist, poet, and creativity guide.

For CAS’ artist residency BlockChain 2018 Misselbrook submitted an image of ‘Affirmation’ with her application along with her statement of dissent, as per our request. Sarah was selected by curator Susan Francis to join one of seven pairs of artists collaborating through a dialogue of visual contemporary art and social media.

The photograph submitted by Sarah shows the artist standing in a gallery with her arms outstretched, her chest bound in bandages and constricted by a ‘body cage’ or armament that covers her mouth and encases her head and torso with a metallic ripple. Her gaze is straight on and direct. The artist is holding a knife and fork on the end of long poles that extend her ‘wing span’ by 2 metres — but I didn’t notice the cutlery at first. It took me a while to realise that this image is, for me, less about silence than it is deeply resonant of hunger, wild appetites, and socially conditioned restraint.

In ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’, Estes explains that,

‘cultural—that is, super-ego—overlays and injunctions, are not experienced by women as emanating from the soul-Self psyche, but are felt as if they come from “out there” from some other source which is not innate. The cultural/super-ego overlays can be very positive or very detrimental.’

(pg82)

Spending time with Sarah and her work, I experience art in the dialogue and the meeting. When I read this book for the first time I found I had tears welling in my heart, ready to burst the banks of my eyelids. There is beauty in this quest. Transformation. In the land she stands. Tears of Love. Tears of beauty. Tears of Life itself. “I am trying to connect with you.” Nature inside and outside. Misselbrook lays bare to me the sensations and questions and rhythms of the forest and I recognise them as my questions. I don’t mean in a possessive way, I am not laying claim to her territories. Rather, she is extending that long-reaching fork so I may taste the fruits I couldn’t reach.

‘Like the tree, growing in a too small space, shaped by what the conditions allow, imbibe, alchemise. There is no separation between me and my environment. Together, this is our moment. We are. This is. I am. We are this.’

Misselbrook’s digital residency as part of CAS’ Blockchain Dissent Art 2018 culminated in a film titled ‘Between Spaces’ filmed in her studio (the forest) in a valley in Catalunya, Spain. What I didn’t know then was that the questions evident in Misselbrook’s performative solitary practice are integral to her approach and were to feed unexpectedly into what I was exploring at CAS. In earlier years as an Associate Artist, and project manager, I had begun an investigation into dissent as a potential emerging methodology. As such, I’ve come to understand it as a dialogic and communally-reflective creative practice. I was about to publish an essay in Chapters of Dissent Vol 1.1 ‘Dissent: a Creative Practice’ (but Sarah didn’t know that yet). And when I accepted Sarah’s invitation to write a foreword for this book I didn’t know quite how resonant her work would become, enriching and breathing more life into the conversational poetry we began to exchange in 2019.

Being with Sarah’s work, not just looking but really ‘being me’ with it, there exists both the discoveries of new meanings—such as those I pen and offer to her, and also the interweaving of text and images in the pages of this book.

Studying further photographs of Sarah’s installation ‘Affirmation’ (pg10) the ‘body cage’ spoke to me of my experience of internalising social constructs and the physical toll it takes when they are not life sustaining and in tune with our human needs and the health of the ecosystems on which we depend. The parable offered by Sarah Misselbrook (pg 8) draws attention to the knife and fork in her hands which I had not noticed before. I thought Sarah was posing or at least performing. No, perhaps she is simply reaching out to us.

With her work and indeed this book, Misselbrook is reaching, asking questions of her audience and herself. We journey with the artist — and that is how I arrive here, having responded to a question: “Can you hear me?”

Engaged and engaging with one another via Instagram and then Whatsapp, the year 2019 brought Sarah and I together in a spontaneous collaboration while we were both contributing to The Laboratory of Dissent 2.0 ‘Inside/Outside‘. We can use the context of dissent to remember to ask of ourselves and each other in all our interactions ‘what is your no? what’s your yes? what is happening in the space between us? What can you do to honor yourself, your environment, and your relations, especially when that means acting or responding differently?’ These questions help us find alternatives to prescribed notions and are especially pertinent for the relationships we collectively find ourselves in, in relation to other living things in our non-human ecology such as our planet itself and our respective beloved forests.

Estes says,

“Being real, doesn’t mean being reckless, it means allowing ‘la vos mitologica’, (the mythological voice, to speak. One does this by shutting off the ego for a while and letting that which wishes to speak, speak.”

This is how Sarah and I have been writing to one another. It is an honour and a delight to have connected bravely, reflectively, and creatively with Sarah Misselbrook as we each weave our own grotesque and beautiful personal mythologies which live and breathe, in dialogue, ‘behind’ our artwork offering (we hope) sustenance to ‘others’.

As collaborator, responder, reader, witness, interpreter, critic, or an ‘other’, when you enter into a dialogue with the artwork, medium and media, senses and matter, the narrative laid out by the artist is no longer only ‘hers’ but ‘ours’. As the words and images in this book pierce your heart there is no discernible difference between the two, the work becomes something else in the encounter with it. A new event in the dialogue between forest, self, I and ‘other’, creation and destruction.

 


Artist interviewed by Maija Liepins 23/8/20

1. Introduction, why I shaved my hair.
2. Into The Forest.
3. Plastered.
4. Nature, connection.
5. Brain orgasm.
6. The Space Between.

 


Conversational poetry 17/8/20-24/9/20

Sarah says:
I am thinking of the physical ‘space between’ us as we connect, digitally.
It is even more apparent now.
When will we meet ‘face to face’, or is this virtual space what we thrive upon for our interactions?
Do you offer me this freedom to express myself, without limitation and judgement?
You never ‘prescribe’ and therefore you ‘allow’ anything to happen, organically.
I am also thinking of the space between my bones and my skin, for there lies the prescribed.

Maija says:
I’m pitting plumbs as we resolve to begin.
There is something comforting in the harvest.
An energy exchange that buoys me up, more so now I’m aware of this give and take that is the harvesting and the planting.
When you meet me I will be on the outside, space and time bound.
Here you are party to my thoughts, as quick as the wind which you can breathe in.
The space between is paradoxical.
Tell me about bones and skin.

Sarah says:
I’m preserving figs as we embark on our second conversational chapter.
The most plentiful harvest in ten years, due to rare rainfall.
The fig leaves cover my body as I harvest them, as if censoring my flesh.
My flesh is what I feel in the space between my bones and my skin.
The bones are tough and strong, the skin dry and fragile.
The flesh in the space between takes up as much space as is allowed.
Flesh of my body,
flesh from the fruit of the fig,
bountiful,
sensual,
sexual,
nature,
connected.

Maija says:
Positively rebellious!
Underground conversations?
Fuck, I see what you mean!
As soon as you said flesh the shout rose up, the voice of the body, You Do Not Own Me!!!!
Perhaps there is a kinder prescription than the condemning judgement, the authoritarian limits, the control…
if so it has been forgotten,
the way of writing and fulfilling a script tenderly,
wholefully, entrusted in thee.
What is this prescription inserted beneath my skin
restricting
confining
inhibiting me
from whence did it come and why do I listen and how do i transmute it
refashion it
for now and then and when
Freedom yes, go ahead.

Sarah says:
Perhaps a societal/cultural and self prescribed ‘adulthood’ of regulation, rule and measurement.
One which, if adopted, can be superseded by ‘childlike’ wonder and a fuller, tender connection with self and other.
A ridding of ‘self-ridicule’.
An adoption of ‘self-acceptance’.
A freedom then ensues.
The fig tree is undeniably beautiful,
bountiful,
ageing,
full of flesh in summer and skeletal in winter.

Maija says:
I imagine this shouted in the forest to feel myself shout. As if to reclaim my voice for myself first.

Sarah says:
Yes! Shouting… a childlike expulsion of emotion.
One which is ‘prescribed’ as ‘negative’ or ‘antisocial’.
Let us shout in the forest.

Maija says:
That sounds like good medicine, whoever told the child to grow up because the world out there is cold has entirely missed the point.
At least, the point we are driving at somewhere on a forested path, self designated not prescribed. Tell me about the cycles and expressions, messages and memories of Fig.

Sarah says:
The fig leaves historically, religiously and artistically have been expressions of censorship, covering genitalia.
Mimicking the covering of its own ripe, soft fruit.
The civilisation of our public bodies to become acceptable.
The withering, skeletal black branches are bare in the winter, hibernating, energy saving.
I am the fig tree.
New growth in the Spring mimics my own energy.
The fig tree offers us hope for the climate crisis, restoration and an affirmation that if left alone, nature will survive us.

Maija says:
A thought came to me between reading you and picking oregano from the garden.
Perhaps that is what dissent is: an invitation to freedom.
A redefining of parameters, a reminder that you are free to find your own way, together, uncompromisingly, connected by dialogue, not estranged by difference.
Hahahaha I want to type but it sounds lewd now.
Interpretation problems.
Censorship dilemmas.
Uncensored but interrupted the stream of response says,
I want to meet your fig trees and listen to their bones,
sleeping beauty,
dressed in the skeleton of hags with knobbly knees.
(Phew i got past the problematic bit 😁)
I didn’t know that about the mimicry,
the fig leaf giving meaning to the genitals,
there then it is the promise of fruiting!
What is this aversion to maturity?
Have we forgotten how to be soulchild, creator/warrior, and wizenedone?
We shall all be starved of life if never allowed to mature beyond our unformed infantile natures.
What more might we become?

Sarah says:
We are warrior women.
Full of fruit and sensual pleasure, owned by us.
To give or to censor, that is ours.
To reveal or to conceal.
When we want.
Our tree, our body.
Fulfilled.
Life giving.
Pleasure.
Pain.
Ours.
Life.
Death.
Grasping hold of the child in us, but forever emboldened by the mature woman.
Knobbly knees 😂 Nature is unforgiving in its maturity.
In its very nature, it conceals and reveals in cycles.
Nature plays, without apology.

Maija says:
I grew up with the candle bark eucalyptus,
slender like me,
pale trunks silver in the moonlight,
olive and red leaves paper like rustling silver in the sun.
Body hugs body to body, ear to bark revealed the air in her crown to be a river of sound gushing and rushing wet and tumbling river on the inside,
gurgling with the pleasure of the winds whisper.
I, walking tree, far from dry earth and hot sun carries the memory like the trees carry the memory of me.

Sarah says:
Your words ‘the trees carry the memory of me’ have brought tears to my eyes. What have the trees seen? What have they lived through? What joys, pains? It lives in them, as do we. Stand fast, like the trees. We will weather the storm. Our roots are deep. Allow the wind to weather us, the rain to give us life. The sun to scorch our skin. We age with and like the trees.

Maija says:
Trees are the largest most unified plant consciousness we experience as present in our lives, Maija ponders.
Their presence is felt. Have you ever moved through the trees at night?
It’s easier to sense their personalities in the dark, some welcoming offering shelter, others hostile or spooky.
A distant friend of mine says the trees collect my songs and she can hear me singing, could that be so?
How connected are we and the trees?
“I am of the forest people” echoes echoing
“I am of the forest people”
Louder, swelling
“We are of the forest people”
Now I hear the heartbeat
Drumming
There was a man who told me trees were the original books
And their wisdom needed no translation raw from source
They are the original guardians of place.
Sleeping beauty says: the watched over me as I dreamed.
There are dreams in which the fire is like lava on a hill and there are dreams where there is a lava pool inside below the tree.
There are dreams where the tree is the portal and there are dreams where the lake is all blood.
There are dreams where there is drought and dreams where there is freshwater.
In one the tree is the hag.
An another I become the tree.
Sometimes I am befalled by pests and I don’t know if this is a balancing or an end. Sometimes the lava is alive and takes Sedna’s fingers. Sometimes I wonder where the fae have gone.
By day the birds come to hear me sing.

Sarah says:
The fig tree that was cut in the email you sent me…
there is hope,
I have witnessed fig trees being decimated by fire, either wild or controlled, and within 1 or 2 years, the tree begins to regrow.
If it is not de-rooted, there is hope.
I will revisit the place where the forest fire burned a vast amount of hectares near to here in October which will be one year on since creating an installation and performance works there.
I will record what has begun to grow again after just one year.
The fig and the olive tree can show us how to begin to restore.

Maija says:
Renewal and rebirth comes after the antidote to our parched striving
where does it become normalised this disconnection
from the sap and the fruit the soil and the heart the water and the wind all echoing me
we echo echo
Yes perhaps I am only just catching it now
a fragment of your utterance
You shouted it in the valley you did, atop the rock:
the widows knee,
the giants table
the sky dancers plateau.
I know you did i sat on chair in darkened lecture hall and saw you reach out again
can you hear me
Yes of course posted delivers and received
But now a heart quiver
A true whisper
The echo echo
Which land formation
Which organic being
Speaks to the heart thusly
Echoes echoes
Not to bounce of surfaces
Not to skid a lonely dance down hostile halls
But to reverberate
With a textured shiver
An emotive piercing
A tender message
This pain is not just my own

Sarah says:
The return to the rock
It’s calling me in this
Darkness
An unlit stage until
The full moon as my guide
Casting shadows of
The negative me
The night offers a cooler breeze to move this body
Of mine
Up, up into the forest
I will return
Dry, aching bones
Still, for now
When September comes
I will answer its call
Until then
Hunker in the shadows
To escape the summer sun
To oil the knobby knees
And then march to the beat of my heart
Echoes… echoes…
in the darkness
With only the mating call of the toads for company
The shadows of the olive trees show the way
I hear you

Maija says:
She claimed the knees!
She claimed the knees!
A susserrarion whispers through the dusk
Alchemical craftsmanship
Nature shows the way

Sarah says:
It is as if through some portal in this natural valleys stone
You bear witness
To this performing body
With your reference to these knobbly knees
And lichen covered feet
Bare and clay clad
Skin darkens and dries with each day
Passing
This baton
To
You

Maija says:
Do you become the land?
or does the land become you?
Do you begin to speak of each other’s rhythms
Mirroring each other like a lovers kiss
in the lake of dreams?
Alone
who is the witness?
Performing,
the action is gathered unto the moment
and
do you surrender to it and to nature in the listening?
or does the land and the nature surrender itself to you?
Its ash, Its sun ripened fruit,
it’s lichen lace and bark crumbs
Who is isolated?
Caught in time
Cast in shiny whiteness
A pose of a former action
Re-placed
Like a ghost of the negative she
whomever they may be
Do you layer time this way inhabiting space with your former expression?
Or do the art objects become alive
less like ghosts and more
like vessels
for dialogue or memory,
material musings to dress and redress
with new layers of the onion
Do you cook with onions in your kitchen?
These onions
I mean
These questions are
Questions of myself,
Of you
Simultaneously.
I ask them,
And they are are OUR questions.
My questions of you, i ask of myself
and the answers arrive
in your voice
Echoes echoes
Not a copy like a record
But a unique carbon echo
Material matters
Willing themselves into
Question
for you and I and us and them without borders suddenly in this dialogue
A mystical place almost with natural laws of its own
A lived process where the performance is not a show so much as a function of the answer
answering previously un-uttered questions
Not to be uttered questions for
Within the action is the feltination
(I just invented that word)
Like sensation but it’s not a sensing into or “a sense of” to understand
More a feeling of, touching
like the words and questions mark the earth and rock and heart and limb
These marks on bodies
Consensual negotiation
Less give and take
More offering and selection
These marks on bodies
Invisible art!?!
Adorning the process with the story of the action
Performed in life

Sarah says:
My hands
my feet
my body
Are no longer mine
Cast, to become
A negative me
Temporarily restricted
Then freed into the world
A shadow cast in pure, white plaster – still and peaceful
An offering
of time
To nature
An utterance
A musical note
Of pleasure and pain
Death masks
Of a life connected
Hands and feet touch every inch of this land
Leaving their mark
A spiritual or religious offering
To place
And shared space
No longer mine
But ours

Maija says:
The constriction of the negative she curled whitely on the floor secured by a metal spine echoed my own constriction
Past present and empathetic
It was Like looking at my insides on the stone floor
Not the organs and bones but the emotional landscape and energy floes like ice floes and riverbeds sunwheels and knitted baskets of memory clogging the stream
I learned one thing though
Feltination can forecast the beyond other me before it is experienced and press on
Like a North Star
Guiding my quest

Sarah says:
‘emotional landscape’ – yes… as if experiencing the work like braille
Navigating over the sculptural surface
Contours
Spikes
Smoothness
Imperfections
The white cast sits within another emotional landscape with its own history, its own story
A medieval vault
An underground crypt
Cobbled stone floor
Dust ridden surfaces
Presenting purity in contrast
A juxtaposition of the visual
Hard against soft
Pure against tainted
Skeletal against fleshy

Maija says:
For me it took on the modern fairytale quality. It’s underground secret body echoing the underneath-inner of Rapunzles tower, where this conversation started. Rapunzle said… “i shaved my head because…” and you echoed for me another layer another layer. These layers of me of space of rooms…

Sarah says:
Hairless she will, forever, remain underground
A closer to the earth cry
With layers of prescription placed upon her
Self determined
Self saving
Her own warrior
Deep. Profound

Maija says:
I am thinking about “Prescription or not”
Wondering about the felt sense of
This word which comes up again and again
To prescribe
To adopt
To prescribe
To rebel
To prescribe
To delineate
Scribe lined
grooved marked
Written
Pre planned script
Whose script is this
Awareness blooming
Inside the body
We take it in don’t we
Inside under the skin
As you say
Into the flesh
And cry it out on rivers
In flow
Flowing with process
Creative / destructive
Exploring and questing
Refining, distilling and stirring
Extracting so we can see it
On the outside
Artifacts of process
More and more I feel like
The art object is not the art but the catalyst for
Conversation
The relic of consummation
Or integration
Or an manner of things
Body to body
My material musings
Hers
The whisper of the land
Beckoning me
Seriously though
Whose prescription is this
That is is the question
Do I have freedom of movement
Is this MY creation?
Do I have a choice
And in that choice what do
I wish to create with you
With this
With the material
Of alive matters?
Rapunzle says:
my hair is growing back and this time it is mine
tendriling up from the not so silent earth
Like vigorous vine
like fire threaded, sun-warmed wheat
I have made a break
from ‘your’ prescriptions
I have taken time
alone and shaven
to rewrite my dreams and
now the energy stirs like
renewal of the fruiting tree
pushing up from the wasteland
alerting us to the secret fertility
hidden in the pause

Sarah says:
your words enrich
the process
Enrich the book
as object
To consume
Non prescribed responses
To the artwork
It is no longer mine
Liberated by the additions of others
The sharing and collaborative approach
The book
printed from the forest
Another offering
Back to the forest
Leaves
Pages
Cover
Bark
Spine
Trunk
Reflection
Connection

Maija says:
Making visible the exchange
The intra-action
The co-creative dialogue
Of meeting elements

Sarah says:
Isn’t it wonderful
This life
Is this life?
Catalunya to reverse lock-down easing
News today
Devastating for local businesses
Health
Wealth
Priorities
Sameness
One world
We are all connected
Caring for you and all
I am here
Isolated
Socially distant
I will remain
But forever connected
Across oceans
Borders
Channel
Energy
Positivity
Calmness
At one with it all
And
For some reason
Such affirmation in this quest
Beauty everywhere
I feel it all
So deeply
Empath
The beginning

Maija says:
Ziegeist non grata
The forbidden spirit of the times
Is THE called for balm
To heal the wounds of this world built and prescribed
By limited minds
I giggle and throw up my limbs like a falling baby shocked with the wide eyed jolt of something new
– Where are the borders of this? – Asks the body
As we tumble joyously down the river of word-wrapped performativity
Living life
Affirming yes, this organic natural happening
It is
Warming to connect
And realise the work of the mystery
so effortlessly…
Affirming because “they” said lock-down was so isolating
And I was confused being so connected and so isolated
Anyway
This is my normal life
Far flung from kin and other ordinary things
Learning this is ok
My way
Learning to balance the invisible incredible with the tangible timing
Trusting that this way is
Useful in the process
And this process so important
Connecting each of us on
Though land and life
Through work and body
Through thought and dream
Through action and
Beginning

Maija says:
I got caught by a rose bush last Sunday, ensnared by thorn gently catching my ear, stilling me arresting by the cuff of my earlip. This afternoon after picking ripe tiny tomatoes from my sunny garden i am readying myself to meet you anew, face to face, voice to voice, what a shock that will be! What an excitingly strange order of acquainting. I have been thinking about how nature is my co-collaborator.

Sarah says:
To ‘meet anew’ – I love that! We will both be inhabiting, in real time, the digital space between us. Which has, until now, been a baton of conversation, with the space to think, perhaps too much! A more ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ encounter ensues, with human interruption, stutter and delay. Bring it on!

Maija says:
I am sitting here with a grasshopper on my palm wondering what they eat and why they are determined to hang out in my kitchen this year. They are so large. How have I not seen one ever before

Sarah says:
Is there a meaning or a certain symbolism to an insect landing on your palm?
I’m sure there is if it’s a butterfly
Something in you attracts fellow creatures
To connect physically
And feel safe to do so
Our hands and feet are the parts of us that physically experience this world
Touch
Feeling
Texture
Weight

Maija says: I felt sure of it the day I let a bee land on my face. I was wondering what colour I might be glowing. Haha

Sarah says:
Realising another duality or contrast
Not only flesh against bone
Hard against soft
Dark against light
But also
Masculine against feminine
Within the same body
The one person
Attributes
Personality
Feeling
Ego
Nurture
Self and other
Another ebb and flow
Of being
The space between
Crack
Wrinkle
That is the far more intriguing negative me
That’s where the beauty lies
I have laughed
And cried
I have cracked
My skin
Surface
Rock
Negative
That is where the story is.

Maija says:
This is a delight
Fucking hilarious
and I have no idea why
Love love love!
Words have such nice textures sometimes!
Crack and wrinkle
The sounds they make
another contrast
Fire and water
Never the twain should meet
Remembering
“I’d rather drown in someone else’s waters”
(Fire to Water 2016) Two contrasting balancing processes
Masculine
Feminine
Archetypal qualities and functions balanced on the wheel of creativity
Merging in the centre of the whirl
Where all is calm and whole
How many times do we need to be burnt out and exhausted trying to live the icon the so called perfection
the godform
the raw material of creative matter-ing
Expressing itself through form and function
And we, people,
holding on to long to the ecstasy of “I am” this
for that’s what identification is
Holding on
Forgetting we are human
Forgetting we are LIFE IN MOTION
exploring/imploding perfectly-imperfect paradoxically
Beginning and ending
Masculine and feminine
Without the structure there is no birth
Without the chaos there is no seeds
Without the nurture
There is no respect
And love is empty
Clinging to mishapen promises of fealty to an hidden king
But then the snakes come
And the spiders weave
And the big cats stalk
And the bat feels the tremors
And the bees bewizzle
And the fig tree drops its fruit into your palm
Plump and new

Sarah says:
‘Be real or fuck off’*
Has to be the way to end this
Whatever ‘this’ is
I feel real
As real as the fig fruit
The olive trunk
Identifiable
I will take up that space
A place in this world
As part of nature’s web
No longer an
‘inconvenient passenger’*
I have broken through the cage
Come with me
For this is it
‘Be real or fuck off’
*(Maija Leipins, Fire to Water).

Maija says:
Reverbrations
Repercussions
Remembering now
The phrase arising
In memory connected
to multiple points
I thought you were
quoting my torrent from last November
same thing I suppose
Seeking that ecosystem
The restorative organic
mutually nurturing pool of lilypad dreams. How bizarre is that
It strikes me as bizarre
until it makes sense, I like that
sense of surprise life gives
when the landscape opens up to you
and you discover something
unexpected.
‘Be real or fuck off’
time to wear that dress
not drown in the sticky white chocolate
of the too good, to sweet lighter touch.

Sarah says:
The reflective process
Of transcribing
The ebb and flow
Of conversation
And connection
With you
Our voices
Difference and sameness
Shared laughter
Confirmation
Further questioning
Pertinent insights
Deep probing
Discovering
More and more and more
Striving for answers
That pose more and more questions
The space between our articulations
Um… er… perhaps… I guess… like… you know…
Yes I do!
I know what you mean
Just wonderful.

Maija says:
It rained here today
Hard and long with rumbles and flashes of storm
At the end of a long and anxious day in which my sons Apprehension had him
Leap at the chance to go for a drive and we went and just went
It was good to be on the move
Exploring the forest of a rainy Sunday town of geese and supermarkets
Flowing river and car parks just for the sake of leaving and coming back
I packed a thermos of got chocolate and we drank it in the car
Internal water level subsided
Storm wracked the sky
Even had to go without internet for a while
The reflective process
The notation
The Pause.
Permission to flow
Remembered renewed
Revived. Here I am

Sarah says:
Storms collide
Rainfall comes to nothing
Still waiting
Temperature plummets
Body revived
Clarity of thought
Anxiety subsides
Forest fire alerts calm
Fresh breeze
Atop the roof
Preparing for rain harvesting
When it comes
Writing to reach you
On the radio
I can reach you
I am here
Too
Reflecting
You

Maija says:
Me too
A chill undertone
Refreshing my lungs
With coolness as a new chapter unfolds itself with
fingers of autumnal cold and the breath of a frosted wind.
And
A frenzy of pruning ensued in the last warm sun as I cut back the undergrowth that has
Burst under my nose
Becoming overgrowth
Like my hair split ended
Or the dust spilling from neglected corners
A new motion begins
The outward tumble of
Flaring leaves will be visible soon as the inward pull tethers us
to the home hearth from which we scatter like crisp leaves laughing over the rocks
I tired to make a circle out of hawthorn and instead it looks like an egg
Did you know I was an autumn baby?
Writing to reach you
From one land to another
Wind between us
Sea between us
Forest connects us
Sunlight reflecting off the moons face
New dreams flutter like fish
Old memories fade like
Withering leaves
Energies gestating
Let the new breath be for a new creation
Materialisation
Tasting autumn fruits for
Winters rest

Sarah says:
Autumn babies
Another connection between us
Veins
Fingers
Wrinkles
Cold
Shocks
Cracks
Bridging gaps
Akin to the book
An autumnal baby
Released
Fruits of the content
Full moon beckons
Walk to the forest
And connect
D.o.b 05/10/1977
Beginning again
To breathe this fresh air
Is to renew my body from within
This body moves materials
pushing and pulling
but inevitably showing me where they want to go
The clay has a life of its own
From the soil, it has a soul
Sculpting, manipulating
Flesh like clay
Plaster pouring into crevices taking up the space between
The positive and negative forms
Leaves fall as source material
Clay hardens
Plaster cracks
Imperfect
Everything is a shadow of its former self
From the fleshy, darkness of the negative mould (‘the far more intriguing negative me’?)
Comes a white, clinical positive, fragile to the end…

Maija says:
Beginning again
To breathe with this heartbeat
Is to steady myself amidst
The flurry of colours on the
Turning wheel.

Sarah says:
Identifying with the turning wheel
Testing patience
Leg shaking
Unusual bodily stillness
Nervous energy
Technology
in sync?
Natural rhythms of blood pumping
Calms
A tool, an extension of self
Supposedly
Controlling
Connecting

Maija says:
Testing patience
There is a cacophony of fast pressing industry driving the pace forward by degrees of charm and alarm
But the wren in the tree goes tweet tweet
And the sunlight flares and fades slowly like the spent leaves glow with the colour of summer sun this season
Sink into the grass with me and count the beetles bugs and flowers with your attention
Noticing again the pauses in between the asking and the answers The tweeting wren

Sarah says:
Rhythm and rhyme
Pace and time
Yours and mine
The year flies
Like the butterflies
Noticing gaining losing
Tweeting whispering choosing
To be here now
To be present somehow
Thoughts of the moment
Of some kind of atonement
For all this effect
And how we affect
The ugliness and the beauty
It is our duty
To ask for forgiveness for being us
To ask for all living things to regain their trust
I want to say sorry over and over again
As if something will listen and drive me through the pain
Of being in and of a body
Of being in and of a body.

Maija says:
Maija offers an audacious play:
Rhythm and rhyme
A pace, a thyme
Yours and mine
A truer chime
The year flies by
We become like butterflies
Noticing gaining losing
Claiming whispering choosing, t’whit-t’who
To be here now
And now
And now
To be present somehow
Thoughts of the moment
(I am of the moment)
Of some kind of atonement
Tone deaf
Toned by effort
For all this effect
And how we affect
The ugliness and the beauty
We are ugly in our beautiful
Or is it the other way around?
The beauty in the everything beauty is life living itself
It is our duty
To ask for forgiveness for being us
So they said,
And the plants whisper
Forgive yourself
Trust yourself
To ask for all living things
Show me how to love you better how to regain my power to act in balance.

Maija says:
Ritual traces in the sands of my desert heart
remembering the body
re-member-ing the body
in all its fleshy sweetness
learning to select that which provides
moisture, nutrients, chemical reactions
fizzing dripping shifting
life is stirring in the wastelands
the alchemist has found her
combination and the conditions that allow
a transformation.
This here altar
This portal
This encounter with the shape of my
unfolding is the way marker
An echo of the deeper wish, the action and re-action
Who is echoing who?
She, He, Me, Nature and her elements
“dancing with the inevitable”

I am reading and writing and absorbing and digesting and loving the experience of being in dialogue with you through words and images. Everything is not a reflection but a resonant diffraction, A mutual entanglement with the forest, the questions, the life living itself And there is so much “food” here. This book of yours feels like a beginning I am trying to focus but I keep getting too enraptured.
(Maija: mock faints)
Spinning off in multiple delicious directions
There is a lot of energy in the subject matter!

Sarah says:
How privileged I am
To know you
How privileged ‘they’ are, to be reading your words soon
On tenterhooks with energy
And yes, the start of something
So powerful
Not the end
Just a pause
No answers
Only further questions
Which adds to this energy
Bubbling up and boiling over
The surface
Tension
I am with you in words and in images
These viscous images and fleshy words
Renewed by your engagement
I am here listening
Shivering with excitement
To share with all
To converse with you is an outlet for something I never knew was possible
Hairs on end as I digest
Catching the faint Maija as she offers up to the process
Something invaluable
Precious.

Maija says:
The hazelnuts are dropping onto an autumnal body of soil and detritus and they rattle in my palm clacking and comforting. As I send you “a thing” nervously trust in the process as best I can and there is a beautiful striped spider in the garden. There are spiders spiders everywhere.

Sarah says:
The autumnal crisp is something I miss. That smell of rotting, composting leaves, feeding the earth, lying dormant, for future steps to Spring forward. My situation differs, with continuing heat of late summer sun, as if a warm second Spring, vegetables thrive, birds soaring and bees hive. Green is the colour cut through by the dusty tracks worn by my feet. Fertile is the land as the broccoli grows at the rate of… broccoli?

 


Full video works from stills featured in the book