bare oak reflected
between sunset and moonrise
in the heart-shaped lake
self-portrait shadow this morning
winter sun on my back
listening to the river
A thread of thought today, about an artist who connects imagination with hope:
The photographer Janelle Lynch has recently made a series of photographs called Another way of Looking at Love, photographs that I saw at the Prix Pictet ‘hope’ exhibition. The photographs are displayed as large format colour prints portraying plant communities. The pictures are taken from a low viewpoint, which has the effect of immersing the viewer in the radiant beauty of the environments she is photographing. The Hudson River Museum website explains a little about the background of the piece:
“the title of the series is a quote from contemporary British philosopher Alain de Botton, who believes that love is about making connections and about long-term, pro-active commitment. His ideas resonated with Lynch, who related them to her own work re-imagining our relationship to nature, the planet, and each other.”
It is so important that Lynch sees her role as that of ‘re-imagining’, and explicitly articulates this in talking about photographs exhibited under the heading of ‘hope’. Lynch clearly sets out in a way that can inspire us all where it is that she holds her hope:
“We are hardwired for connection and our elemental sameness unites us and transcends our apparent differences. Our wellness and the well-being of the world depend on healthy connections to each other and to the earth. Another Way of Looking at Love is borne of awe for the power of nature, and seeks to reimagine our connection to one another, to the planet, and to the generative possibilities of the moment. “
I really encourage you, if you have time, to look at the some of the photos on her webpage:
Today, I’m thinking and writing again about hope and contemporary art.
The thought which I want to follow up just a little today is that an art which is hopeful must address trauma also. It must look at the past and it must look at violence, and it must seek to be with the pain of it, to do something with that pain.
In 2019, the Prix Pictet photography prize took as its theme ‘hope’. One of the nominated photographers, the Côte d’Ivoire artist, Joanna Choumali, exhibited a series of photographs taken within several weeks of terrorist attacks at the beach resort of Grand-Bassom, Côte d’Ivoire in 2016. Choumali had taken the photographs on her i-phone, had printed them in small format on canvas, and then had embroidered on top of the canvases with bright threads. The embroidered series of photographs ‘ca va aller’ are shown on her website:
I saw the exhibition of these photographs in the V&A Museum in London in 2019. Choumali’s photographs are small in scale but very powerful. You must come close to see them, and the scale gives an intimacy, a direct connection to the artist working on the photographs, purposefully going towards the pain and trauma of what has been left behind after the violent attacks.
Choumali comments about her process that:
” Each stitch was a way to recover, to lie down the emotions, the loneliness, and mixed feelings I felt. As an automatic scripture, the act of adding colorful stitches on the pictures has had a soothing effect on me, like a meditation. Embroidery was an act of hope, as well.”
Grateful for the road over the mountain
Grateful for the sky, and for today’s crescent moon and cutting wind
Grateful for my warm green felt hat
Sprouting acorn, seen woods growing on Pentremawr Colliery site, 2 days ago.
It is possible too, in the middle of all manner of things, to look outward or upward, for no particular reason, and to notice that the sky is momentarily on fire – and to be immersed in beauty, and for the heart to be much lighter.
Ash, evening light and oak, morning light.