This August I spent a week in a tangled garden in a very quiet Norfolk village. The light was beautiful and the colours of the sprawling late Summer plants were magical. I worked outside with chalk pastels on a series of abstract drawings inspired by the colour palette of the garden. It was a grounding and healing experience to spend long days in such a nurturing space and it reminded me of this poem.
The Gardener by Mary Oliver
Have I lived enough? Have I loved enough? Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusion? Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude? Have I endured loneliness with grace?
I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it. Actually, I probably think too much.
Then I step out into the garden, where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man, is tending his children, the roses.
Festival Season 2023
This Summer I have had some involvement with a few festivals. For a number of years Lever Arts has contributed to Greenbelt Festival where artistry meets activism, the secular meets the spiritual and politics meets positivity. This year we offered textiles workshops at Greenbelt with ‘Sew Far Sew Good’ a family art collective. Greenbelt Festival is powered by a group of passionate and dedicated people who lovingly create a festival that strives to be an inter-generational celebration, inclusive and accepting of all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, background or belief and we love being part of it.
Alongside workshops at Greenbelt some of my cyanotype work appeared at Reading and Leeds Festival 2023 over the same August Bank Holiday weekend.
I am delighted that three recent oil paintings have been selected for ‘Moody and Muted’, an exhibition at ARTFIRST, London 3-25 August 2023.
ARTFIRST is celebrating its first year since opening the new gallery space in Lambeth with a contemplative Summer show.
The group exhibition includes fourteen artists: Joni Brenner, Teniqua Crawford, Marisol Jaquemot-Derode, Jake Harvey, Gillian Lever, Simon Lewty, Alex Lowery, Helen MacAlister, Will Maclean, Bridget Macdonald, Kate McCrickard, Simon Morley, Donald Teskey and Parou Zia.
There are paintings, drawings, assemblage work, sculpture, prints and ceramics, with prices ranging from £500 - £30,000
For further information about the artists and their work, please visit the gallery website www.artfirst.co.uk or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Gallery hours: Wed - Fri 11am - 6pm, or at any other time by appointment.
Image Journal - Soul on Deck
Image Journal is an international forum for the best writing and artwork informed by a grappling with religious faith, based in the USA. Dr Aaron Rosen, its Visual Arts Editor, invited me to reflect upon the last thirteen of my practice, exploring my ongoing engagement with the archetype of the boat.
In this visual essay published in the current issue, I trace the development of this body of work through a series of site-specific installations and participatory projects. The essay is prefaced by some inspirational words written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her ‘Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times’.
“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of the soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.”
Bardsey Island - the interconnection of all things
I recently spent a week on retreat, returning to the ancient pilgrimage island of Bardsey (Ynys Enli) off the rugged coast of Wales. Sometimes known as the island of twenty thousand saints, it was a major pilgrimage site in medieval times, and a place where many went to prepare for death. Bardsey is now home to a handful of people who live without electricity or wi-fi. It is what many would call a thin place, where the veil between this world and eternal reality appears imperceptible.
One of our group was a young scientist called Pete who led an inspirational conversation around the intersection of art, science and spirituality. He introduced us to the drawings of neural pathways created by the Nobel Prize winning scientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal. His beautiful drawings illustrating the “tree growth” of brain cells made in the early 1900s are still in use for educational purposes in the study of neuroscience. Everywhere on the island Cajal’s branching images of neural pathways were reflected in windswept trees, wild grasses and seaweed; the interconnectedness of all things was made vivid and compelling.