Artist-in-Residence

Dan Bailey at Windgrove

January 15, 2016

It’s been a whirlwind of drone footage and photos for the past month by long time friend and guest artist at Windgrove: Dan Bailey.

windgroveaerialcircles Dan

For a visual treat, go to Dan’s own blog to see more images and read what he has written about his time here.

www.panopicnic.com

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My long time friend Dan Bailey is visiting Windgrove for a month. Here’s his first video of the area.

Enjoy this visual treat.

Emily at Roaring Beach from Dan Bailey on Vimeo.

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While having a residency at Windgrove, what does an artist do the majority of their time ?

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Good question. But the most obvious answer — make art —is not the correct one.

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On the Windgrove letterhead is the strap line: “Refuge for learning”.

It does not say: “Refuge for doing.

Or, more specifically, a requirement to continuously make art while tucked away in a studio with or without other like minded artists busily being artists.

Usually, when artists are given a residency, they’re required to exhibit a body of work at the end of their residency. In most cases, this works well for both the artist and the facility that offers the residency, because it’s a given understood by all and easily followed.

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At Windgrove, however, other than helping to share in meal preparation and an hour or two in the garden, I like to push the notion of allowing the artist complete freedom from obligation.

If one is to be in a residency and come away with new ideas and a renewed passion for life and one’s life work, a nurturing gestation period of contemplative walks and observation is, in my view, not only a better way to stimulate the muse, but a necessity.

A necessity few artists, let alone the general population, are able to access.

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Windgrove is no Club Med. More like a Zen retreat for the creative spirit.

For that reason, I have no photos to show “the art work” that American furniture designer/sculptor Miriam Carpenter did while staying here for five weeks; just photos of her more meandering times.

If interested, Google Miriam for a look at her professional capabilities.

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What I can offer, though, is one section of an email she wrote from New Zealand after leaving Windgrove. The poem Atavism she refers to is printed below.

It will take me a while to process everything I have gathered from Windgrove and my time with you, but for now I can offer up the initial bits and pieces.  As I read Atavism to myself time and time again, and to others (as I did throughout CollaboratioNZ), I feel an ever increasing resonance.  I have done my best to see, and am aware that the world has and is happening a third time in all I suspect I will never be able to see.  Standing at the foot of Tane Mahuta, I felt my whiskers wider than my mind, away out over everything… and the strength and vibration of the forest stroking my fur.  My perception and seeing has shifted as anthropocentric thoughts dissolve into viewing life as an integral part of Pachamama. 

Windgrove is alive and thinking.  Consciousness is the land, not from it.  Your vision is sharp and I have deep respect and gratitude for your ever increasing tenacity in cultivating a rich opportunity for emotional, physical, mental and spiritual enlightenment.   I am honored to be the Maiden – for I have three more phases on this journey, and I am rich, content and inspired beyond my wildest dreams.   

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Atavism

1
Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait. A dim feeling comes
you were like this once, there was air,
and quiet; it was by a lake, or
maybe a river you were alert
as an otter and were suddenly born
like the evening star into wide
still worlds like this one you have found
again, for a moment, in the open.

2
Something is being told in the woods: aisles of
shadow lead away; a branch waves;
a pencil of sunlight slowly travels its
path. A withheld presence almost
speaks, but then retreats, rustles
a patch of brush. You can feel
the centuries ripple generations
of wandering, discovering, being lost
and found, eating, dying, being born.
A walk through the forest strokes your fur,
the fur you no longer have. And your gaze
down a forest aisle is a strange, long
plunge, dark eyes looking for home.
For delicious minutes you can feel your whiskers
wider than your mind, away out over everything.

William Stafford

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I’m sure everyone has heard the proverb: “Give a person food and you will feed them for a day, but teach them how to fish and they’ll be fed for a lifetime”.

I’m also sure that anyone who follows my blog will know that I’m an ardent believer in empowering women here at Windgrove — a refuge for learning. Not by giving them food for a day, but providing them with those technical skills normally “reserved” for men.

She’s only been here for a week, but visiting American feminist artist Margaret Wingard has already “squared up” a construction site applying the “3,4,5” technique, plumbed underground water pipes, measured and cut beams with power tools before nailing them in place with a nail gun, constructed tree guards and, as well, planted out three different species of ecualypt trees: blue gums, ribbon gums and silver peppermint.

Gutsy, hands on, real bloke stuff.

By providing such opportunities, I feel that I’m doing my bit to help shift the global mountain of culture that denies women a full, equal place in society.

Out here on the land with the sort of people that come through Windgrove, I get the sense that we’re winning in this shift towards gender equality, but yesterday morning I read that the Australian Anglican Church says that their new wedding vows — which involve a woman pledging to ‘submit’ to her husband — are not sexist. According to these recently re-written wedding vows (based on the Bible), the man doesn’t have to submit to the woman.

Where’s the equality in this? To me it’s just another slam dunk for atheism. And that’s a pity.

A Chinese proverb states: When the sleeping woman wakes, mountains will move.

And it ain’t going to be some Prince Charming who will wake her. She’ll wake herself up. And when she does, she’ll not only wake up with a keen, imaginative desire to create a better world, she’ll have the skills to actually build whatever it is she wants to build.

The mountains will be moving all right. Just to get out of her way.

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Walking our past

July 2, 2012

Two friends of mine, Mick Carter and Aviva Reed, are on the recently created Gaia Walk at Windgrove looking out across coastal heath and pondering on the evolutionary history of our planetary home (as one would do when on the Gaia Walk).

Questions they might be considering:

When did the first flower announce its fragrance to the world?
When did bones first connect hip to thigh?
When did the dragon fly first zip?

Actually, for Aviva the answers come quickly as she has already done extensive work as both artist and scientist on these questions and more. The visual result is an imaginative series of evolutionary paintings. Three of which (out of 12) — The Jurassic Era, Carboniferous Era and Quaternary Era — are shown in today’s blog.

While not exactly fossils, for the past 20 years whenever I have come across bleached animal or bird bones, I have wondered about their evolutionary history. It is an intensely fascinating story. As paleontologists and other scientists discover more, dig deeper and build up the picture of how the earth has evolved over the past 4.6 billion years, the “unscripted” cosmic story that has led to you, the reader, being able to sit in front of a screen deciphering its scribbles, is almost beyond comprehension.

And what is most difficult to comprehend is the length of time required to get here. Hence, the 1.2 kilometer Gaia Walk; a walk that represents the last 600 million years of our evolution out of the 4.6 billion years since our earth was first formed. Upon completion, and seeing that our “modern civilization” and the formation of all the world’s major religions equals just a scratch mark on the final pole, one can only come away slightly sweaty and a little humbled over the tiny length of time humans have been around.

Still, its been a magical journey and if we humans can come to grips with our physical linkage back to the oozing slime and moss of the Silurian Era and before, than we might better understand how we connect to all that is and, therefore, work to maintain, not just a sustainable world, but a thriving one.

I mentioned the creation of the Gaia Walk in a previous blog. Its story is evolving also. This past week Aviva spent five days here getting familiar with Windgrove as a first step in the production of original artworks displaying the plant, insect and animal life from the Cambrian Era to the present Cenozoic Era. Her work will be reproduced on weatherproof panels and placed along the length of the Gaia Walk along with other panels of factual information.

How exciting.

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So what are we looking at here? It’s an exposed section of tons of earth avalanched off a cliff near the Point at Windgrove. Approximately 100 feet in width (notice silvered trees along top edge for relational perspective), it demonstrates rather graphically and with force the 2nd law of thermodynamics: entropy and the irreversibility in nature.

But, hey. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. What’s physics got to do with love? Lots.

Every step of the way, I will always love you.

Heart wrenchingly sung by Whitney Houston, these lyrics tie in with words by spiritual teacher Jack Kornfield:

The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to the world. With compassion we come to trust our capacity to open to life without armoring. As the poet Rilke reminds us, “Ultimately it is on our vulnerability that we depend.”.

The American poet John Caddy spent this past week at Windgrove as poet-in-residence. At the airport he arrived last off the plane, walking slowly, step by step with his cane; a physical disability the result of a stroke 18 years ago.

Now 74, and definitely feeling the effects of aging (of the slow dissolve of the physical body), John and I spent many an hour discussing how Cupid’s arrow of love is an antidote to the “arrow of time” that points to our ultimate death.

If I should stay
I would only be in your way.
So I’ll go but I know.
I’ll think of you every step of the way.

What sustains John, what allows John to remain vulnerable and with grace in the world, in his world, and not succumb to cynicism nor an unbearable grief, is the deepest of felt love for his mistress Earth.

It is this intimate connection to Earth and all her multitude of exquisite manifestations of form, function and beauty that gives John — and you and me — a reason to want to live.

With stories of personal remembrances laced with humour and holding wisdom only an elder can give, I and the several other visitors at Windgrove this past week were blessed with his presence. Not only was it a pleasure to have him here, but a privilege.

Eating the sting

Caught in the snapped circle of light
on the cookshack oilcloth,
an upright deermouse, holding yellow
in her fine fingers
like an ear of black-striped corn,
a wasp I’d slapped dead earlier.

She stares, belly resonating, round above
a scatter of brittle wing, bits, a carapace —
she has already eaten the stinger —
stares at me, still,
something thrumming in her eyes

beyond herself, a mouse stung
onto an edge as far from cartoons
as the venom she’s chewed into food.

She cocks a fawn ear now, trembling poisonchanger,
caught in the circle of light
I’ve thought myself in at times,

but never sure, I ask her softly how
she does it, if I can learn this turning
of sting into such food as startles in her eyes,
learn to suck pain into every sense
and come up spitting seeds, force poison
to a tear held fierce between my lips
and whirl it into tongue which sings, but

here I’ve come too loud: She drops the husk,
fusses whiskers with her paws, kicks
a scrap of wing aside, and whispers
thanks for the corn,

steps backward off the table
(and so potent she is with wasp)
flips a circle through light and
lands running on her leaf-toed feet.

John Caddy

You, you, my darling you.

Bittersweet Memories.
That is all I’m taking with me.
So goodbye please don’t cry.
We both know I’m not what you
You need.

I hope life treats you kind.
And I hope you have all you dreamed of.
And I wish to you joy and happiness.
But above all this, I wish to you love.

You, darling I love you.
Oh, I’ll always, I’ll always love you.

I believe in you and me.

I will always love you.
I will always love you.

As we climb the ladder of physical decline, perhaps, approaching the top is a kinder, gentler way of being in our bodies. May it greet all of us.

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