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.’
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.
“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
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.
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
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.
A frenzy of pruning ensued in the last warm sun as I cut back the undergrowth that has
Burst under my nose
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
Another connection between us
Akin to the book
An autumnal baby
Fruits of the content
Full moon beckons
Walk to the forest
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.
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
This here altar
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