spindle trees

I planted trees just after I moved here 14 years ago. I planted the trees in the area all around our back garden gate, on the land that belongs to our local authority – it used to be coal board land. I had grown them all from seeds and cuttings with a friend where I used to live, and I brought some here and I dug holes and I stuck them in the holes. It used to be a metal-workers yard, it is quite hard to make a hole, they were more like shallow scratchings, but I did my best.

I didn’t ask pemission. I didn’t use any special methods or technologies. I didn’t make a fuss or care for the trees in almost any way. But I do pay attention and watch them grow.

The poplar that I planted is the furthest away. It is taller than the houses and has huge silver leaves that turn to gold at this time of year.

The crabs have an abundance of apples each year, and their blossoms are a local landmark by now. They were from the same batch, and planted next to one another, but their shapes are almost opposite. One is tall and graceful, one short and solid. They were labelled damson anyway, so that puts me in my place.

The horse chestnut and the beech and the birch are all tall and beautiful young trees now.

The willow and the dogwood might be my favourites. They grow their branches across the track, which scratches the caravans of the man who parks all his caravans up the top end of the track – in the area he has marked off. He cuts the branches back. I think the fences and signs made him feel like he owns the land, but it will be there long after he is gone.

And the spindle trees. The spindles have had a set back, after being cut to the ground gratuitously by a man from the council in a tractor digger. It meant that they had to grow back – and that means that they are not as tall and stately as they might be. But I have enjoyed their colours so very much, and I have little else to show you for today, although I feel like something is coming into fruitfulness – something that I will try to share very soon. So anyway, here is to the spindle trees.

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a very short video exploration today

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A tiny video clip today. Pond skaters. Very fun. Totally mesmerising. Downstream of a footbridge in a place where I walk. I don’t know why they congregate there, but they are the main reason why I congregate there… There is something completely wonderful about pond skaters – these creatures actually skate on the surface tension itself, holding their position in the flowing water.

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mindful photography

Today an online session with my arts group led by the photographer Ray Hobbs. Ray showed photos from his own home, photos of family pictures, objects, places. And encouraged us to walk around our home mindfully, and with a camera, looking at things around us. At the end we shared our photographs and stories. It was a very simple instruction, and seemed like a very small thing; but it was not so very small, and not so completely simple after all.

I took my own photos within a few feet of where I am sitting here – photos of the shelf, the table, under the table, outside the door. In the first, the wooden bricks my father made for me as my first toys, that have been with me from before memory starts; my brother’s small pop-up painting journal that arrived here a few months ago, via a Devonian chimney-sweep lady. In the second my books, the work I am doing right now. In the third my yellow bag, a gift from my mother. In the fourth my dog, working hard with me from her suitcase bed under the table. In the fifth, the music station outside my door that fills up the space at the top of the stairs.

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truth & art

This is a post to help me to think about truth & art; about information and misinformation.

Because I have been thinking about them this week, I am going to show you in the direction of a group of creatives who were nominated for the Turner Prize (for Contemporary Artists) in Britain in 2018 – called Forensic Architecture.

Forensic Architecture don’t call themselves artists or creatives. They call themselves a ‘research agency’. They do often choose to exhibit their work in art institutions and museums. Which is really interesting, because they are very very political. They speak about the need, when they show their work in those kind of art settings, to take care, to avoid trivialising the violence about which they speak. Which is also interesting, because it implies that that there is a potential for triviality in our galleries and our museum settings (in our art).

The practice of Forensic Architecture involves co-operation between experts in various creative disciplines: architecture, film-making, software development, law, sound engineering, and so on. The focus of the co-operation is evidence-based examination and reconstruction of acts or systems of state or corporate violence. The moral space delineated by these creatives is very clearly stated and set out:
“We want also people to know that art is not only a license to fictionalise, that the aesthetic practices could be very useful, that there are things we could do with the very basic tools and techniques we have as architects, as filmmakers, as artists. The software that we all have on our laptops could be very powerful tools in confronting state and government lies.” Examples of their work, from the top of their website: an investigation and compilation of data on the systemic crisis of justice in the US; an investigation into discrimination against migrants from sub-Saharan Africa at the Spanish / Moroccan borders of the EU.

What I think is perhaps most interesting, is that the work of this ‘agency’ is a practical extension of the notion of ‘commons’ – the investigative practice of Forensic Architecture is premised on ‘truth’ being a part of our commons. Commons meaning that which is collectively owned by everyone, for example we have common grazing land, here on the mountain in Llangyndeyrn. This takes the idea of ‘commons’ into an area where we have not been accustomed to place it. The organisation’s Director, Eyal Wiezman says:
“In my understanding, truth is something that is like a common resource. The truth is just like air or water, something that we all need in order to understand our position on earth… “

This in turn is interesting, because if truth is a commons, we need to do work, the same sort of work that needs to be done with the commons on the mountain (and the air and the water for that matter). We need to figure out ways of valuing our treasure, of tending it, allowing it to be itself, looking after it by respecting it, avoiding polluting and destroying it.

(quotes from Tate Shots Video).

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good enough

This is about publishing. Putting the work out there.

Good enough. Not good enough. Invisible.

And now I realise that ‘not good enough’ is good enough.
(It is good enough because it is good enough for now, for today. It is good enough provided that there is generosity of intention, and provided that there is integrity).

‘Invisible’ is the option that is not an option, that is not good enough.

I still feel that in some senses, hiding is part of living a dignified life. Part of the transformation of living – the part that happens in the cocoon. There will always be the need to protect a solitude, the need for a privacy.

It is when hiding becomes an unexamined habit, a denial of transformation and of growth, that hiding starts to do damage to the fabric – to the fabric of oneself, and because that fabric is woven in, to the whole fabic.

This is because there is no such thing as passive. Passive is an action. Just like ignorance is a position. We may wish we had the option, we may actually have the option (temporarily), but in the long run, we do not have the option. To not feel it. To withdraw indefinitely. To sucede. To never trust. To never love. To never give.

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Imagining today the things that we do – rippling outwards in intersecting circles.

A video that I made yesterday, walking out in the rain:


evening rain

A listening link for the sound of rain in my garden yesterday evening, just after nightfall.

Listening to the sound of the rain is so lovely, and so soothing.


and looking down…

And on the mountain – at Garn Goch near Ammanford. Looking down.

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turning / troi

a video for today