I have always loved knowing that if you hold a black crow’s feather to the sunlight it will show you an entire spectrum of colour…..
Nothing is ever as black as it seems!
And crows are most definitely magik.
Before I could even get in my artden to make my annual, handmade, solstice cards and presents I had to tidy my tiny boxroom….so many materials and half finished ideas cluttering up the space.
Recently I have had a creative revelation practically everyday, the list grows and grows, and I experience this as a kind of pressure.
My original healing began when I committed to finishing every idea, in order, it was only then I began to see progress, rather than a disorganised pile of unfinished business….but here I was again…in overwhelm. Where to start?
I tried to begin something new, but this old wasp’s nest kept getting in the way.
It had been built inside an old, spare parts, mini on my husband’s garage premises. It and its inhabitants had been a constant source of worry and intrigue over the year. At one time, during the winds (and inhabited) it had fallen down from its holding on the roof of the cab. We had discussed removing it, but had decided just to leave it well alone until it had served its purpose….I had photographed the wasps on their autumnal feeding sprees in my beans and in doing that gained more respect for this much maligned wonder.
Then one day the empty nest simply blew to my door. Dry and empty and perfect.
I have no idea who or when another here had taken it out of the mini…but there it was, on the doorstep. And I had taken it up to my artden for future exploration.
There simply was no proper place for it until it was ‘processed’ properly…so I decided to begin with that instead.
The first step was unravelling, carefully all the paper. It felt like unwrapping a kind of present! So delicate and beautiful was the construction and subtle beauty in each piece. As an artist it was impossible not to see this as a magical material.
Soon I had a pile of beautiful wood pulp and wasp spit paper and an intricate ‘rose’ of wasp comb.
I ironed all the paper and became further inspired.
Decided to make a digital mandala from the photographs I took. And Lo! There was my solstice image. A wasp cell wreath….
I turned to the internet to fill out it’s meaning and try and understand why ‘wasp‘ had come so strongly into my consciousness this solstice, what relevance it might have to me at this time and I could not have been more surprised or delighted!
‘Wasp shows up when we are learning to bridge the duality of life and death, a life affirming transformation, or a personal healing crisis. She is serious, but teaches us to laugh at ourselves. When you face the big issues of life and death, worrying about anything less is truly laughable.’
‘It is time to allow yourself the notion that all things are possible!’
As often happens the muse took a hold of me and my little artden buzzed with the harmony of spontaneous creation.
I glued some of the ‘paper’ to a board and created several, tiny canvases….I am intending to experiment with different subtle effects on these, but really I find they stand alone as simply stunning. I covered a couple of blown out goose eggs that had been waiting for a purpose also, stunned by the warmth and hand held wonder of these curiosities. I got all my mandala cards printed and sat back and took in the work. Such a busy wee wasp!
So all that remained was to send out my image and dream to the world which I did on Facebook…a couple of days late to WordPress, but here it is….wishing you all a constructive and wonder filled 2019 and a restorative winter.
I was working with used machine oil.
Looking for ways to recycle it as art.
Watching it split and curl on water.
When I suddenly saw it as a fat.
Like butter melted, grease that sticks, that makes watertight.
As a woman I know about fat.
Those deposits that creep onto my hips and belly, arms and thighs.
Calling me to exercise, to balance out….too much weight.
Religiously reading the, small print, ingredients on today’s packaged nutrients.
Fat per 100 gms.
Starving myself. Detox. Giving my body a break. Drinking only water.
Once I vividly recall seeing my own fat, in a wound that cut deep…
We can all see it now…in operation documentaries…in mammograms…….
Human, creamy, lard.
A ventilated , cold, room in which, once upon a time, there used to hang whole carcasses for a, grateful, knife to carve off blocks of precious, tasty, fat. Raw and unhidden. Fat.
Fat that dribbles glistening down the chins of those that gnaw bones, that keeps them either warm….or obese.
And does not wash out easily.
That stains transparent.
I see the fat that so many parallel mammals seek to build up before winter’s bitter teeth bite in.
Protective, warming, fat.
In some countries viewed as beauty…. as a sign of wealth.
Ganesh dances, wobbling his happy belly, laughing, somewhere far away.
My inner bear shakes its skin in ripples of glorious layered muscle and fat.
We press seeds to glean their nourishing fat.
Squeeze them til only husk remains.
Bottling the produce in graded, filtered, qualities of amber.
That seed’s protection and reserves.
We extract it’s future.
And yet our vanity now fights this build up of reserves in us.
We no longer need it.
We pay to have it sliced away.
Who needs it?
(I wonder where that resource goes!?)
And then I ask whose was it?
The animal’s and seed’s?
Whose fat are we now wearing?
In the fragile, Gaian, systems, we ignore at our peril, nothing goes to waste and all spins in cycles.
Something goes to waist, certainly!
Perhaps this black oil, this crude, black gold….that we extract, cut out, go to war over, what I had previously thought of as her blood, is fat?
The eons of collected layered composting Life?
The Earth’s fat? In molten form, before it hardens to seams of coal.
Her reserve? Stored for when it got colder?
Her timeline knows wonders we will never be privy to.
If I imagine being her, it is being taken faster than I produce it.
Perhaps she is becoming chilled to her very bones.
Physically and through our basic lack of care.
I know what I do when I feel chilled.
I put more layers on.
I move faster, jump about a bit, blow on my hands.
She accelerates to get warmer.
So she changes the heating control. Turns up the dial.
Tunes her flows to warming, for she has to be warm to Live.
If she gets too cold she will die.
I used to believe that the Christians got the teaching of Hell all backwards.
‘Underworlds’, ‘hell fire’, ‘hot’, ‘smokey’, ‘lorded over by Satan’…..it was an obvious warning not to go there….but then they did.
I clearly saw the bringing up of oil, to fire the planet, as ‘devil worship’.
And to model their ‘fallen angel of evil incarnate’ on the, previously beloved forest dwelling, prankster and lover, Pan, was surely no coincidence……
Now this feeling brings it even closer Home.
It seems we cannot all just stop making the Earth more beautiful in our eyes.
Giving her free liposuction and expecting her to be grateful!
Dancing around our artificial fires, blinded by our genius, creating false idols.
While she demonstrates her suffering in the only way that she has learned how to get our attention!
We cannot put it back.
But we can plant more trees to shade her,
Whose innate generosity we now, increasingly, depend upon.
We can seek out new ways to fire our imaginations
Redefine our definition of ‘power’.
And try and ‘feed the world’ again.
Help her put on a few pounds.
Put a few pounds onto her.
Put a few pounds (££) into her.
Let her begin again to build up her reserves and glow with health
And restored vitality.
A plump, bountiful planet again.
For where was once a firm, fatty, giving nipple,
I see wrinkles and pruning and dryness.
Cracks and violent rashes.
Dry skin and raw patches.
And I understand her molten need to create new virgin land.
Such a birth.
New basalt ground that for millions of years cannot sustain us.
To increase her ocean cloak,
Creating winds to blow her seeds, to create more energy in the failing pump, to fan the fires, to layer the charcoal that makes the coke,
In order to regenerate that fat.
To shake off miners and pipelines and intrusive exploiters.
Perhaps she needs it now, what has been taken.
We cannot put it back.
We are extracting our own future.
In a different way.
Kat Robertson December 2018
Well, this came fast and furious.
Inspired by a guided meditation as part of my beloved Treesisters and this image became so clear to me I had to have a go at drawing it out!
Seems to fit, too, with my new series committed to ‘Giving the Earth a Voice.’
Below I include an edited version of my written response.
Response to November, Beaver Moon, call.
(working from my notes)
“It felt like I’d had a good , good day as I found myself ready and clear to join you all this month of #Belong. I had finished a piece that had been causing me some trouble and the family was catered for…I had peace. I’d done it, not always easy. Yay!
Happy about the coming of rain to California. Felt relaxed and could viscerally smell that rain ….such gratitude.
Breathing and sinking in. Very aware of whole self and HEAT. So hot, especially my hands again.
I became uncomfortable and tears pricked when asked to receive others gratitude. I am constantly in a state of gratitude these days,so reciprocally, constantly in giving mode, so much to give in return for life! But deep down I know that the act of grateful receiving is an act of giving in itself. I have to work on this. Truth is I feel I need nothing. I am someone whose fierce, learned, self sufficiency led, eventually, to a complete lack of expectation….expecting nothing and generally, through my life choices, not used to being asked to receive. It takes a kind of practise that I simply do not often get! Getting pretty expert at giving to myself, though rather embarrassed to admit that! I HAD to learn this long ago….which I guess is the root of where the tears are coming from….
Then, unexpectedly and quite absolutely, I became a BEAR!
I am no stranger to BEAR, but that was not called or in my psyche in this moment.
I WAS BELONGING THE WAY A BEAR BELONGS.
A HUGE BEAR OF BELONGING!
Feeling every hair and pad and claw and tooth. Could feelmyself sitting like a bear, the way their legs fall open when they sit. Very grounded. Solid. ‘Saw’ my own eyes morph into the eyes of a great, grizzly, bear. My muzzle twitch. Feeling that power and strength in my entire body and yes, such profound belonging in this forest.
Sometimes I became a small human nestling and cuddling into bear’s soft tummy like a cub.
Sudden images of a human egg, nestling in a womb lining.
So soft. So comforted.
Then BEAR again. Yawning big bear yawns. Stuck my longtongue in a bee hive and felt the delicious honey dribbling down my fur. Tasted so good. Needed nothing more than this, and a few berries, fish and other omnivorous snacks to sustain me. Not much of a giver in other than simply being bear….
Creeping awareness that I could become any creature I chose….but BEAR is where I am at.
Then I was outside and watching as the huge grizzly stood and slowly, on all fours, stepped back into the forest…she stopped and looked back and me…we locked eyes and there was a powerful exchange.
While I was bear, bear was also me.
I watched as the bear’s huge, powerful hind quarters as she sashayed into the shadows. Such power in that rump.
Found myself feeling the loss of habitat vividly as bear experiences it. Her fear and lack of understanding of our human ways.
Somehow the need of BEAR to try and understand her own connection with me.
I experienced the relief of feeling her forgiveness as she assimilated that I, also, am innocent of these wider crimes. That so much is done against my will. That I would rather live in harmony with her.
And as the tent grew around us again I had a very strong image of a BEAR holding a candle in its paws and praying with us all.
Woah….tears coming again as I transcribe this simple story…
Big Love As Ever to all who walk this Earth in gratitude x”
This work was done in a straight 5 hour intense, all consuming, ‘sitting’. It under went so many extreme transformations I thought it might be interesting to some if I include Bear’s Journey here!?
I am very happy with this piece.
I love the way there is an emotion in the bear’s eyes that I cannot quite place. Is this me as ‘bear’ praying or is it ‘bear’ as human praying? I was intending on putting a burning forest skyline behind this or in ‘her’ eyes….but on completion felt this was unnecessary.
I am normally drawn to working in line and monochrome, but from somewhere deep in a forgotten drawer my old pastels found their way into my hands! I worked as a pavement artist for many years in my 20’s and I was surprised how much fun it still was.
My studio and feet were covered in pastel dust after though and I am still getting it out the carpet and my ears!
Inspired by the Extinction Rebellion movement to make some kind of a poster call!
Using my art to support the earth is always on my mind. I often want to do something a bit more political….especially as my style with ink is so illustrative and especially NOW! The actions recently have sparked this need again in me and this is what materialised! Aside from the focused energy and intention put into creating such an image I hope it might even be useful!
It is very difficult sometimes to capture a good image of an ink drawing on white paper….this photograph had to be photo-shopped to get it to look like the original….below I include a selection of the many variations on a theme produced in the processing….
Lichen Dragons Song.
Today I surrender to the mist.
I busy my hands with the weaving of willow, ash whips and crimson dogwood,
Rusted bracken and fallen lichens, dead seed heads and discarded shells.
Weaving myself into this disguise
Embodying the becoming of this creature that just is.
This creature of future nights, unknown.
That knows no bounds, bar the elements.
Wild. Uncontrolled. Mysterious and unexpressed, unseen, until this sacred night.
Birthed through the unconscious motion of my fingers…guided only by mystery.
Carving a lantern and praying for only for light in this darkness that’s coming.
This swishen time, this between and all around the invisible, time.
This time of ancestors and the unborn.
All those lost are rising in memory
And all those unmet , beckon.
My soul reeks of melancholy and decomposition.
My heart and lungs breathing life into mumbled, repeating prayers,
In conference with beetles and worms and the tree roots,
The bones and the dark, damp soil,
While moth-like constantly drawn back toward the flame.
In the autumn air gathering myself and others for the coming tides.
Keening out my discontent and tempering that with a vast uncompromising love.
The kind of love that brings salty, oceanic, rising tears,
Solemnly returning them to our dear earth and asking only for forgiveness.
Sitting with all the birthing and the dying.
All the creating and destroying.
All eons, past and future,
All sunrises ,sunsets ,summers and winters,
And all these sacred in between times.
Letting myself drop everything inconsequential
Swimming only in the endless, eternal, turning.
Dancing in the Dark and shining my tiny light.
Kat Robertson Samhain 2018
The words that came through as I picked up willow, ash and dogwood whips and prunings and began to weave. Such a pleasurable process. Important to use no glue or ties, just working with the materials.
Some of our local woodland has been quite brutally slashed back, to allow the forestry lorries through to bring the wood out. One of my favourite ‘lichen’ tree, mature birches was all sawn up and lying all over the ground. I felt strong sadness not at the doing of it particularly, but at the careless way that it was done.
This was the moment that I knew I would use this laying lichen. As some sort of tribute to the tree. The dead seed heads are everywhere at this time of year and I thought, with all this silver, grey ‘fur’, I was aiming for a wolf….it turned into a deer….became a calf….and only after Samhain itself , when it presented as a nature spirit, did a sister point out that it was very much a dragon!! Yes!!
A Lichen Dragon.
It was always going to be my Samhain get up…so had to figure out how to wear it! It was really effective used as a hand held puppet. Might try and get a short video of it in action…but I knew I’d be carrying my tumshie ‘swede’ lantern, so needed my hands free. So I sewed it onto an old hat!
It was a wild old night….blacked out my face and worked it! Grateful for the full length black leather coat I also wore and the village shop for the mulled wine.
Wish I’d also built wings and a tail now too! Still it remains as a potential prop for other, future, curious actions!
I felt much lighter when I took it off after a few hours.
Couldn’t find a place in the house to hang it safe, then suddenly I realised it would make the perfect, winter, door wreath. Talk about protection!
We’ve got a dragon on our door!
Had me pondering the idea of offering of making wild beast masks workshops with big and little kids.
Now that would be fun!
A younger, more energetic, less ‘responsible-for-others’ me is jumping in my taxi, painting banners, writing songs, sewing up crazy costumes, meeting around fires, dancing, playing music and gathering, gathering….preparing to ACT….
Now I find myself writing alone as November’s winds howl around our hill top home…..in support of POSITIVE ACTION, REBELLION and CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE….
Something, not nothing….. 🙂 Buzzing with HOPE again.
There is real power in numbers.
Yet they all just turn away.
Those in power are not listening
To a single word we say.
I think they were born not listening.
They’ve grown deaf and blind and numb, numb…..numb.
They smirk and say “Well what have YOU done?”
Turning my own painful impotence,
in the face of their massive ignorance,
Instead of simply saying
So much wasted energy in power that stands still.
Not FOR LIFE.
They do not listen.
Robotic insistence on their own incestuous wisdom.
Artificially attempting to stall Time itself for their selfish advantage.
Fracturing momentarily, in the rippling waves of light, we get glimpses of
Their true, mechanical, workings.
Puppets to their antiquated systems.
Oiled by crude extraction and war, they walk, blindfold,
Around the elephants, clearly, crowding their halls,
Naked for children to gaze upon.
Totallydistracted by their own reality
We sit and watch them, watching themselves.
I also know what it is like to be numb.
Just another performing statistic.
I also stopped listening.
Exhausted from being unheard.
No more of this insanity.
There is real strength in numbers.
And still they turn away
The only numbers left that matter
Are the ones that kneel and pray.
The ones that call for system change,
That make a difference everyday.
That turn out,
speak out loud
Together stronger as a crowd.
The ones that give the Earth a voice…
It’s all become
Kat Robertson November 2018
Playing around with Audacity app again. Inspired by all the rising action on behalf of our planet in the form of the Exinction Rebellion. And some once learned protest songs rising also in my mind.
Original song written by Theo Simmons of ‘Seize The Day.’
I have walked on these hillsides since I first was my mother’s daughter,
And you just can’t take these hills away without me fighting.
This old land’s been walked by many people,
Some still young and some not living,
But if you’ve come to take these lands,
Well I’m not here to give ’em’
This old protest song from my past has been haunting me recently. Thought I’d have a go at producing it using Audacity program. Still not very good at this, but I do kind of like the raw sound as I ‘play with myself’! Think I need a proper drum too…the old djembe drum I mistakenly agreed to accept as a trade for a painting has a hole in its skin. I had meant to re-string it…but I wonder when I will ever get round to it! I gave the song a wee twist at the end….hope all enjoy.
Perhaps, after all, the most obvious connection between the used old engine oil and its origins in trees is in the tree ring effect that suminagashi is so famous for.
This print was created using the technique, but with old engine oil, instead of ink, and soap.
More experiments would be necessary to heighten the depth of colour.
The simplicity of this pleases me.