Personal

Legacy

October 16, 2016

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

Rilke

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Turning 70 this year has motivated me — or, more correctly, forced me — to look at my mortality and eventual death and get serious on formulating and legalising what Windgrove’s future will be.

With neither a partner nor any children to give my estate, this allows an opportunity to broaden the nature of just whom might be the recipients. A more altruistic, global endeavour, perhaps?

On the other hand….. having spent the past 25 years — yes, that is a quarter of a century — working almost daily to shape the land (9,000 trees planted), create studio art, create site-specific land art (Peace Garden, Peace Fire, Gaia Evolution Walk), and, clean rain gutters, chop wood and wash dishes along with hosting countless numbers of visitors, artist-in-residents and workshop participants, I could be forgiven if I choose to sell up everything, move to California and rest my butt at a cafe in Berkeley getting fat on an endless supply of coffee and croissants.

But… as the Rilke poem suggests: I live my life in widening circles… and even though I may not complete this last endeavour, I will give myself to it: body, mind and soul.

This is the fearless artist speaking, forever envisioning and walking into the unknown. For now, the more lazy, comfort seeking inner voice is taking a back seat while the Windgrove legacy is being drawn up.

After you finish reading this blog Legacy, scroll back to the top where you will see a posting entitled Windgrove’s Future. Take a moment to click on here and, then, download your copy of the brochure that outlines what has been planned.

And, while there, please submit your name and email address for future updates.

The photo below is an aerial image by Dan Bailey of eight of the “widening circles”.

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May Peace Prevail on Earth

November 16, 2015

If family stories are true, my father started primary school at 18 years of age and went straight through to a master’s degree in accounting.

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He arrived in America by boat and, like most immigrants loved his new country. More often than not his eyes would well up with tears when he sang America’s national anthem.

Throughout his life, though, he felt the pressure of being a foreigner in a new land. His surname Adamov was changed to Adams, not because he was ashamed of his heritage, but discrimination against “foreigners” wouldn’t allow him the freedom to move up the social/economic ladder as quickly as his desires and needs to support a family wanted to move along.

As a young lad, my father spent the entirety of WWI in Serbia. As an adult and because of what he saw and experienced of war, he shunned conflict and worked hard to make friends of Catholics and other people outside his historic ethnic Serbian Orthodox religious biases — even marrying my mother, a Protestant.

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“Within every wound their is the seed of hope.”

Our global society is being severely wounded. And tested.

Every culture, including my “adopted” country Australia, has an unconscious xenophobic fear of immigrants, asylum seekers and those newly arrived. It rises to the surface when stirred up by the insanity of terrorism, but also by shock jocks, politicians and religious leaders looking to promote their particular world view.

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My father chose peace, forgiveness and compassion over millennia of fear, distrust and hatred of “The Other”.

Make no mistake, my father had some wide fault lines in his character after experiencing what he experienced as a youth. But his chosen path — however rocky — was towards Peace.

I can do nothing less than honour him and the path he chose by walking this path myself.

Perhaps, even changing my name back to Adamov?

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To self-medicate or not?

October 7, 2013

“The angina tablet was already doing its work, the tightness in his chest was retreating, the tingling in his arm had gone, and though some wild internal disorder beyond medicine remained in his quaking soul he felt well enough to return from the hotel bathroom to the bedroom.”

Richard Flanagan, from “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”

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Let’s face it, life can be so difficult at times that a bit of self-medication can allow us to get through the day. The inference from the Flanagan quote is that the masking of the problem with prescription or non-prescription drugs or alcohol or, even, hanging out in the garden directly munching broccoli, is never a cure.

It does help, however. And who can blame anyone for doing what they do to ease the pain. I suppose what we have to ask is whether or not the actions we take to lessen the torment also lessens our ability to do the Work required to make the world (or, on a smaller scale, our personal lives) a happier place for ourselves and everyone.

When my soul quakes, I prefer to go to the veggie patch or elsewhere into nature and become — for a moment — distracted by the inherent beauty so richly abundant in all that grows. The minutia of life always astounds and helps settle whatever is troubling.

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Always

Inside the trees, where tomorrow
hides along with years, tomorrow
stirs. And there my sisters
never born touch lips to bark
and begin to sing:

Brother of Air, Brother of Sun,
please tell our story, that we
may live in the brief wind.

Wherever I stand I hear the trees
petition so. By listening
I know I’m born. By turning
the forest back toward itself
I live as a friend of trees:

Listen together; be ready.
You may be born.
I touch the bark
and call deep as I can:
Part of me.

William Stafford

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And so I do what I can to stem the flow of incapacitating emotions and get on with the job of carving sculptures that can help tell the stories of the trees, the stones, water and wind.

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On being naked

May 14, 2013

Just after lunch last Wednesday, with the hope of finding the last two rocks missing from the Drop Stone Bench, I went down to the area just below the 50 foot cliff where they had been tossed off. My hopes were up because the day was wonderfully sunny with a soft off shore breeze, it was a low New Moon tide coupled with an atmospheric high pushing the water even further down, and, the swell had dropped to a manageable size.

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To cut a long search and rescue mission short, I carried two stones home. Boy, was my face beaming. My smile went from ear to ear. And, I couldn’t help but express my joy by taking a Vitruvian stance. This is not “exhibitionism”; rather, a humble unencumbered human exhibiting gratitude to the joy of being alive.

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Below, I’ve photoshopped away half of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” to highlight the pose I take to express this joining of ecstasy with a sense of being animal. A sensual connection to earth rarely experienced by urban dwellers.

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In the movies, the good guy points a gun at the bad guy and says: “Put your hands up!”. The raised arms of the bad guy are an indication of submission, of being defenseless, of vulnerability, of being arrested and held in the power of someone/something else.

In the same way, when one is feeling victorious and there is no need to “defend” oneself by risking total exposure, we tend to uncrouch and — as the stadium fans do when their team scores a goal — throw our hands and arms up into the air in a type of archetypal surrendering to the gods as a salute of joyous thanks.

And by doing this Vitruvian salute, we symbolically become one with sky and earth. Energetically, we are the tree-of-life rooted to the earth extending branched fingers heavenward.

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All my life, whenever I’ve been out in nature and felt moved by the beauty surrounding/enveloping me, I have intensified the experience by shedding clothes with zero embarrassment. I do this as an artist wanting to taste creation. I do this as a lover wanting to express satisfaction in my lover.

Take the “em” out of embarrass.

The word embarrassment comes originally from the French embar: to enclose within bars; to imprison.

When we are embarrassed by nudity, we are closing ourselves off to a direct connection to nature; we are imprisoning ourselves in a religious and cultural mindset that denies our animalness, and hence, our sensual and evolutionary links to Gaia.

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Although not quite proportionally accurate, a more symbolic representation of the ideal human is Cesare Cesariano’s “Vitruvian Man” done 30 years after Leonardo’s drawing.

Just below the belly button is an erect penis. Does this represent the erotic nature and creative aspect of birth — the life potential sperm conduit of the “divine masculine”? Even as it points directly towards the naval — the remnant umbilical cord that connects all humans to the universal through the womb and the “divine feminine”?

I recognize that various friends, colleagues and readers of this blog will view the above photos with a certain mixture of bemusement and even concern; most likely thinking that “Peter” has lived in the woods too long and has, perhaps, gone a bit too feral?

To all who profess an interest in environmental philosophy and education, deep ecology and earth based arts, or, simply wanting to make a more real connection to nature in order to mitigate the causes behind climate change, let me say this:

“To really rejoice in who we truly are as individuals; to have full possession and use of our bodies to partake in all the sensual pleasures nature has bestowed on us; to make sure we embody the wisdom needed to bring about a thriving, just and spiritually fulfilling world…. go hence to the middle of a sunny field, the edge of a cliff top, a waterfall, a lake, a grove of trees. Take a stance. Strip off your clothes. Spread your legs wide open. Thrust your arms upward. Then, from deep within your animal belly, shout a shout announcing your place on this earth.”

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PS. The last photo is a self portrait on Cheju Island in South Korea in 1970 when I was an impressionable 23 year old just beginning my journey towards understanding the real work of this world.

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A privileged life earned

October 29, 2012

Twenty one years ago — against the advice of many well meaning friends — I purchased 100 acres of coastal land south of Hobart at the same time as quitting a tenured teaching position at the University of Tasmania. Thus, in pursuit of a full time 24/7 connection to an actual landscape/waterscape/skyscape, rather than the citified, intellectualized, institutionalized, romanticized view of nature, I ventured onto and into a whole new way of being.

It is one thing to be a student of the environment whilst ensconced in the cultural safety net of urban living. Quite another to abandon this altogether and come face to face with one’s maker on a daily and nightly basis. The first four years were without electricity, telephone, TV, radio, running water or any other “convenience” associated with “civilized” living.

As with any journey of discovery into the unknown, the initial “price” paid for the privilege of living so closely with the earth slowly moved away from the deficit side of the ledger. With each ensuing year, whether it be psychic income or creative/artistic income or emotional income or relational income, all gained momentum. Today, the balance sheet of my small yet sweet life sits comfortably in surplus.

Not that the rains of sadness, grief and pain don’t shower down anymore. They still do. But the ability — and willingness — to remain out in the rain comes with a certain sense of well being attached to contentment.

Soaking in a perfumed bath at the end of a “Work” day, whilst water droplets trickle down eucalypt leaves unto on my wrinkled face, is the just reward gained for perseverance, patience and loving.

Being bathed by the water element in an atmosphere of water is a luxury and privilege known only to those willing to abandon all.

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Finding praise in chaos

October 8, 2012

The full moon fell onto the dining room table where hours earlier I had been re-oiling some small sculptures.

As I walked past dreamily in the wee hours before first dawn, a moment of peace overwhelmed my tender and suffering soul and I had to sit down to take in the pleasure of this felt contentment; of this pure happiness.

Happiness from the root “hap” to be present with what is happening despite any and all difficulties.

During the week the ongoing chaos of three major projects — each with their ongoing difficulties — would exhaust my creative self and lead me to question why it was I felt compelled to manifest these rather large, possibly unnecessary big visions.

The garden enclosure was beginning to look more like an industrialized garage for parked galvanized dirt filled tubs than for anything growing except for some garlic.

The tennis court was already into its third month of construction and into its third attempt at leveling due to seepage problems and inadvertently buried root balls that had to be dug up.

And in the studio, the sculpture started half a year ago in April, was far from completed and proving a technical challenge to carve.

And yet, and yet. There are those moments when gratitude floats down around my soul and the zest for the artist’s life boots up again.

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