This summer has been too long, too hot,too humid and too draining. In Australia the current season has been very fierce with weeks of hot and humid days as well as many fierce fires and storms.No doubt many others, like me, are wishing for an Autumn that might bring cooler days and gentle,refreshing rain and fear that climate change has greatly impacted Natures ability to heal and recover.
Pondering about this much desired change of season, reminded me of these little sprites that were made last year ; tiny beings who indicate that each season has its specific character and tasks necessary for nature to create and replenish.
Autumn seemed to have forgotten to visit this year. It has been unsettling. The ongoing heatwave has made it harder to work. Heart and mind have yearned for cooler mornings,mists and coloured leaves.
However, in the past few days, rain has come and as if by magic the expanse of barren dust surrounding us has been transformed into a lush, green carpet. Fungi is making an appearance as well revealing that life is returning to the parched soil.
This morning Mother Nature announced that Autumn is on the way. An early walk in the garden led to this discovery, a perfectly beautiful crocus whose appearance heralds that change of season is on the way.
This tiny crocus is brave and resilient; it has surfaced in spite of a severe summer serving as a reminder of what should be and what can be lost forever if we do not connect and care better for our planet.
Always amazed, thankful and delighted to have wildlife visit. It is such a privilege that they feel safe and relaxed in our garden.
Sadly the numbers of wallabies who come now are much depleted as, over the years, many have become statistics of road kill.
Currently we have only one regular, a young female and her first joey. Her joey is still tiny but so curious and itching to leave the pouch and explore the world. When the joey first leaves the pouch, after inital hesitation and staying very close to mum, they try their legs almost becoming airborn as they tear around the lawn in ever widening circles so full of joy in discovering their newfound freedom. To us a poignant reminder of how precious and wonderful life is.
Some time ago, when new to felting, this tiny needle felted Amanita child emerged. Lately this larger figure was created and had me pondering again about the fly agaric, toadstool houses and tales of yore.
It is now that time of year when these red and white fungi appear on the forest floor, in the main where pines grow. They have started to become a feature in our landscape, especially down south and are making their way up along the coast, acclimatising and now beginning to appear in native forest.
It seems that globalisation has not only overtaken culture and finance but also ecology. As Amantia spreads they could pose a threat to native species. The pine forests that host them, are an introduced species, so there seems to be a situation that we all to often disregard till it is too late. The long term consequences are yet to be fully understood but if our history with cane toads, carp and lantana is considered then perhaps some alarm bells might start to ring.
As an artist the crisp red and white colouring and the long association with myth and fantasy, as well as the ancestral belief that they are a good luck charm, has made it an interesting and often inspiring subject. However this mushroom, or toadstool, is poisonous and has been used as a trance inducing drug over many centuriesas well as having many layers of complex symbolism connecting it to virtually every religion and culture.
For me it has served primarily as a pretty symbol of the forest, that calls attention to the cycle of decomposition, transformation and regeneration, which is what fungi have been created to do when mankind does not interfere.
As an icon that I use frequently its colours speak to me of creativity and life, as well it serves as a wish for luck and happiness.
Nature can be cruel and harsh as well as a constant source of wonder.
Recently we discovered a Tawny Frogmouth nest in a large tree close to the house. A day later so did a goanna.
In spite of the bush turkey, who kicked up dust and sticks and butcher birds who swooped and pecked, as well as the owl parents and myself flapping and yelling in an attempt to distract and deter him, the goanna managed to climb the tree and reach the nest.
Fortunately the chick realising the danger heeded its mothers frantic calls and somehow made its way onto our roof, gliding more than flying, then taking up the characteristic “I am a tree branch” pose.
Later the chick managed to make its way to a beam of the front verandah. The mother came up to me clicking and trusting for she then left the chick there and headed off to find a safe haven for her family. The male acted as decoy.
Next day the pair were perched in the ponciana tree at the front of the house. the mother left again for a time, no doubt seeking a way to get the baby to a safer place. She needed to as the butcher birds became aggressive and began to attack going for the chick’s head and eyes.
It seemed as if in a whisp of smoke the birds had disappeared. We hunted in the bush hoping to find that they were safe but not a sight or sound.The incident made us so aware of the struggle that goes on to raise young and the miracle of those who survive.
Two nights ago there seemed to be a distant, low om- om sound; the sound of a Tawny reassuring her young. It seemed not possible, and was discounted as wishful imagination.
This morning, as dawn broke into a soft pink fluffy sky, there it was ,that distinct om-om down further in the bush, gentle, reassuring and full of hope. The New Year has taken on a renewed glow of wonder.
The urge to experiment in a different mode was strong and the need to create insatiable. This is the result, a perchance encounter on a blog post, (How About Orange), that drew attention to this very fun programme called Scribbler Too: Mario Klingermann update.
It seems to tie in the year, this deeply contemplative owl, drawing on all around and within to assess and to direct thought and action. Black and white, sunshine and shadow, light and dark, yin and yang, a balance of all that is and all that will be.
At this time we celebrate the light and renewal, the hope that the season promises, and the joy and love it offers. It is said to be a time when the veils are thin between the worlds and when imagination and creativity are empowered; a time of magic and an opportunity for deep insights.
However, the solstice also also leads us to prepare to withdraw, to set goals for the year to come that are the fruits of the heart providing the harvest and the seed for our future actions.
The Solstice reminds us that the frenzy and heat of summer are at a peak and now will start to wind down slowly. Change is all around and it is up to us to implement action for the better and for renewal.
Owl, as Guardian and Wisdom Keeper, is reminding us that we are only guardians of the planet for a very short time and it is up to us to leave it a better place, to care and to protect, to cherish and to heal and to remember that all things are connected.
This very mindful owl, as does every spider web I encounter, brings to mind a message of ancient wisdom, that of Indra’s Net, found in the Veda’s. I have no exact source reference as it is something found many years ago when I was a student at art school, and that period in my life, by now, is also ancient history.
The passage that I refer to often I leave with you as a gift, an inspiration and a powerful reminder.
There is an endless net of threads throughout the Universe.
The horizontal threads are in space : the vertical threads are in time.
At every crossing of the threads there is an individual,
and every individual is a crystal bead.
The Great Light of Absolute Being illuminates and penetrates every crystal bead.
And also every crystal bead reflects not only the light
from every other crystal in the net,
But also every reflection of every reflection throughout the Universe.
(from the Vedas written about 7,000 years ago)
For in reality we are all one and in one another.
May your season be bright and loving and the New Year one of deep peace.
Pictures alone present story making opportunities to stimulate the imagination and curiosity, to trigger awareness and to inspire.
“A picture says a thousand words”, or so old saying indicates. With this quote in mind, on offer are some images of recent work that reflects upon the ecological importance of hollow logs as habitat as well as an indicator of sustaining and creating new life .
What story do these pictures tell you? Who else might live here? Where is it? Why is it? How many things can you find? What are they? How many colours?
These are toys made from wool felt and designed for play while at the same time acting to stimulate imagination and curiosity, as well as conservation awareness.
Here is another piece that looks at fungi . It also focuses on the lesson of biodiversity and importance of logs to breakdown and act as a food source, as well as provide shelter to many tiny organisms as well as larger species. This stump is intended to encourage discussion about decomposition forests and composting. It speaks of sustainability and protecting our wildlife.
What other tales and teaching could these examples inspire? Perhaps poems? or songs ? or art? Would they motivate your family to go on a bush walk , or to take some nature photographs, or visit a museum to discover more?
Hope so and would love it if you were to share the results.
This is a piece that was recently contributed to MamaMoontime”s Blog. I am sharing these thoughts again but with some extra pictures as these were not available at that time.
Why do this? is a question that has been often posed to me.
“This” being days spent creating small nature scenes from tiny bits of fleece, felt and yarn. It can be painful at times, too, stabbed by the barbed needles and all too often requires resisting fatigue to work through the night. Why indeed become so immersed, enmeshed, inspired, overwhelmed and at the end even inconsolable. Why indeed?
At first it was driven by wonderment and experimentation – a desire to communicate, create and to share the beauty and inspiration given by Nature. The workmanship is exacting and detailed. Creating these pieces takes time and intense focus. It requires not only concentration, and observation but also periods of being a hermit, so that I have dubbed my work room “the cave”.
Before commencing a project I spend some time researching, photographing, sketching, watching, musing, refining and even more time seeking the right materials. Not only is this process a labour of love but it has become a mission not to replicate but rather to inspire creativity as well as to encourage others to explore, investigate and learn. The intention is that these small scenes help to create awareness that we are not owners but custodians of this planet with a duty to leave for our children and grandchildren a planet that has not been despoiled but nurtured, respected and protected.
The first naturescapes resulted from a request to create seasonal table centrepieces. Since, my versions have evolved and no longer the quintessential Steiner style playmat .
Steiner play mats, constructed from natural fibres with very simple detail, are marvelous tools for encouraging creative play and stimulating a child’s imagination. The ones that I make, although honouring the intention for creativity and imagination, primarily seek to educate. They are not only a visual experience but also as a tactile one. These small scenes are designed to reveal aspects that lead to curiosity, questions, learning and understanding as well as leading to a greater awareness of our personal responsibility for environmental care and protection.
I try to depict, in a simplified microcosm, a more complex macrocosm whose many layers and connections sustain the relationships that need to coexist to enable the web of life to function effectively. Only hints are given, such as in this latest commission for an Australian Bush scene. Here, as in every piece, there is water. In this instance there is a billabong and a stream. Water is the vital element needed for life, what happens if we pollute it? There is also a hollow log- why? Who lives here? A story begins to unfold, layer by layer enabling understanding and awareness to grow.
Suzanne Down encapsulates so beautifully reason so many of us craft. Her explanation is that “When we show our children something special that is warmed by our imagination and love they will see it with wonder and love for the rest of their lives”. This is why I create, each piece is born from wonder and love in the hope that it will generate these feelings in others.