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By Jenny Arran, Nov 30 2017 11:02PM

I had to explain to a friend recently about how I started using an axe in my work.


I was making sculptural paintings in the summer of last year, on blocks of rough Oak - responding to the marks in the wood - listenign to the wood itself.

I wanted to find a way to work on more than the surface - to go deeper and make my own marks, to 'draw' on and in the wood.

When you trace things back it's easier to see the links, several things happened;

A friend sent a rousing message to her female friends, in the light of the then political situation talking about 'a call to arms' and a sense of urgency and energy.

My own life was on the edge of a transition. I went to Scotland and found myself wandering in that pleasing, aimless, lost and found way

in an unknown city, without a phone, happily unmoored.

In the museum I found a whale bone, huge, beautiful, silent, from the Banda Sea.

On a small part of it were some marks, small, but compelling and beautiful. Cut marks, seemingly random but they told a story - an immense old story within just a few marks encompassing seas and time and the great gentleness of Whales and the great violence of humanity. I was transported in that moment in front of that Whale bone. The contrast of the knowledge of the violence inherent in their being there, set against the beauty of how they were, if seen as a drawing, black on white, answered my question about how to mark the wood and somethign of the story I might tell.

A call to arms and a question of balance - holding a paradox - the tension of opposites.

Beauty and violence, black on white, strength and vulnerabilty, masculine and feminine.

I'm a sculptor by training, a lover of trees and wood and fires - I'm familiar with using an axe - so it felt good to bring it into my art practice.



By Jenny Arran, Nov 14 2017 12:48AM

I've been thinking about the spaces between drum beats - the silence as much as the sound.

How to make work about or in that space.


My early work was all trees - light and dark - the spaces between things and

those spaces as meaning.


I've been thinking about language and the gap between what is said and what is meant -

reading between the lines. Silence being relational.


John Cage’s ideas about art as a form of constructive anarchy,

and silence as a counterpoint to mutual reactivity —

something that helps us enlarge rather than contract each other’s goodness...

— the application of silence as a creative force

and how powerful that is.


Silence creates space.


I went to see Rebecca Solnit - talking about breaking silence

and have been thinking about the balance between the two.

of male and female respect, of holding boundaries,

speaking our truth. Not hiding, trusting the other. Hope in the Dark.






By Jenny Arran, Nov 13 2017 11:32PM

I have a favourite tree I walk to sometimes and climb.

It's about an hour's walk and it's high and teh view is wide. There is never anyone near and the arms of its branches are perfect for sitting and thinking. There is a particular reciprocal quality to the thinking - we are in silent dialogue and in walking a regular path over the course of the last two years the trees on this path have answered my difficult heart felt questions. The Hawthorn first and then Ash. They teach different things, respond differently...


Today sitting there I was thinking about patience and holding a paradox. Thinking about millenia of people holding loss and longing. Not everything can be or needs to be resolved.


Rilke said; 'Be patient with what is unresolved.'

T.S Eliot said; 'wait without hope, for hope would be hope of the wrong thing

wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing;

there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting...'


Yesterday I read Hermann Hesse’s Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte [Trees: Reflections and Poems] and was pleased he felt similar:


"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen

to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred

by particulars, the ancient law of life."







By Jenny Arran, Oct 28 2017 11:23PM

I had to write somethign about my work for an exhibition, my 'statement' gets updated everytime I think about it. It is always changing and always the same. It is always landcape that I come back to, inner/outer, a sensory, emotional topography, landscape as language, one that happens almost unconsciously, so deeply embedded does that territory feel.


"And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them...'



By Jenny Arran, Oct 4 2017 11:09AM

Picture: Victor Pasmore, Point of Contact - Towner Collection


For most of this year I have been working at the Towner Gallery, delivering workshops in relation to their exhibitions - it's a priviledge to be the one to 'translate' an exhibition and create a series of workshops in response to that. Working with groups is such an exciting process. As Artist in Residence part of the project has also been to look at how it might be possible to emotionally 'map' an art collection. To consider how to facilitate a more emotional response to art and how to select works from a collection that might best fulfill that role.


Duchamp said; "All in all the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in to contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act...."

...In that sense the viewer can be encouraged to be a more active participant, to be more playful, adventurous and daring with their interactions. Not to see the work as finished and them as passive and possibly inadequate viewer but to explore their own part and responses in relation to this sense of being a partner in ‘meaning making’ and to value their role more highly.


It offers a visual and experiential way to see ourselves and our view of the world, a guide and a mirror to our emotions and feelings, a dialogue of one emotional state to another. And it is this sense of connection, this being an equal partner in the meaning making, that is so engaging. A shift in the role of artist as active and viewer as passive. A call to the creativity and daring of the viewer. A challenge to be more and/or differently engaged and to demand more of the relationship.





By Jenny Arran, Aug 14 2017 09:23PM

Internet meandering through the wonders of The Dark Mountain Project, Martin Shaw's writing, and re-thumbing Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women who Run with Wolves', thinking about fairytales and myth the darkness and warnings in the tales. Power and awakening. Psyche, stories, language, landscape. Rich, interesting territory.


Had the priviledge of staying in the house of Clive Hicks-Jenkins and have been really inspired by his interweaving of landscape, object, figure throughout his work.


Found myself inspired and reminded of 'The Owl Service' by Alan Garner which I read and loved as an 10 year old, just moved to Wales, an adaption of the Welsh Myth Blodeuwedd. The Owl pattern on the plates comes to life and I can remember my sense of fascination and fear at the story and the oddness of it all, the pul of something unknown and deeply familiar.


I loved the connection with Wales too, going back there is always such a strong sense of feeling 'home' and always so hard to leave.



Image - Clive Hicks-Jenkins 'Journey's End'


By Jenny Arran, May 28 2017 10:32PM

Someone asked me today about my work, my poem.

I explained about always having written - it was always words that I found and went to first, was transported by, loved, loved, loved. The sound of them in your head, the feel of them in your mouth. The pleasure of a book in your hands, the smell of the pages. The intimacy of scale, the intensity of the relationship. The look of black letters on a white page. The possibility.


But I didn't take up my place to study Literature. I did Sculpture instead. I wanted the physicality, the sensory experience, the cutting, shaping, fitting, deciding, balancing. I didn't know then that I chose Sculpture for all the reasons I loved poetry. I loved pitching myself against material. I loved the physical intensity of it. I found Bachelard in the second year of my degree and lost myself in 'The Poetics of Space'. I read and wrote more than I made sculpture. I turned inwards, remembered smallness, work became lighter. Drawings and installations were black and white like words, I projected videos travelling, super close up across scrunched up pages of my text, like travelling across mountain ranges. Mountains, landscape, words, a sensory, physcial experience of them. Trying to join them. Trying to use words without revealing what it was I was trying to say. My words were too secret, it never quite worked.

It is a work in progress but works better for me when I can treat words like rocks, wood and clay.

There are times, when language can still feel like a limitation - naming fixes things. Sometimes I don't know how to understand it or say it, I don't want to unpick it in a rational way. I don't want to think in that way. I love painting then, for the absence of language and the direct expression of something unnameable.

My drawing bridges this gap fo rme between words and painting - black and white marks on paper, they are language - but a different one.

By Jenny Arran, May 28 2017 10:12PM


I'm really proud to be part of this anthology -

Watermarks. New Writing by Lido Lovers and Wild Swimmers.



The Mountain’s Voice


Slate smooth.

Amber through darkness.

Tannins of peat and sheep

cropped turf.

Water of rock

rain

rushed

to stillness.


In this dark pool

under the sky

rock body

holds time

in liquid form.

The mountains’ voice.

Its quiet insistence

ripples my listening thoughts


Wrapping its cold question

So neatly around my offering

of warmth

I would dissolve

For its answer.


I swim.

In a dim liminal memory

of time kept silence.

And the quiet grass

and the shining sky.








By Jenny Arran, Jan 30 2017 11:21PM

Reading Jay Griffith's passionate, poetic book, 'Kith the riddle of the Childscape'. Thinking about early childhood influences on my creativity and talking with my children about learning poetry off by heart... Understanding the power of words - that physical sense of them, their weight, their potency as energy, matter. Creative currency, muttered under your breath, your own magic spell. Chanted to keep out the dark and the fear. As a child it was Ted hughes, Blake, Kipling, but first and foremost Edward Lear and 'The Jumblies' setting off in a sieve to exotic lands and coming back changed after 20 years of impossible travels to the 'torrible zone' and 'the hills of the Chankly Bore'...

Now aged 40 and coming back with a sense of urgency to my creative work, I feel some pleasing resonance with them and their 20 year long trip and their homecoming...

 

'The Mountain's Voice' is published in 'Watermarks - New Writing by Lido Lovers and Wild Swimmers' .  New poems and images out now in Unpsychology magazine #4

and out soon in Dark Mountain issue #13 spring 2018.

 

More poems here.

 

 

#1 Mind’s eye

and the sky

a white tent

curving the heat

the beat

of your Hawk wing

smile. Rock through

time and the white

feather in the fire

ash. Black wood

On the grey rock.

The wind’s breath

and the grass

in the hand,

and the

bright call of

time.

 

 

 

#2 Mountain-wild

and bright defiant

split and slashed with light

all words unsaid

still, water turned to sky

and sunlight there

all cloud blown

and treasure

grounded in the earth.

 

 

 

 

#3 Dip quietly into

silence,

while word hoard  

sings colour and

wildness whips its

feathered lens

in the glimmer of

salt coated

glass and heart-roars

its raging heat and

smashes the wind whipped grey

and reels and curls in flecks

of white and slices

its yellow hold

and burns in an umber

pocket of sand

and rock darkness.

 

 

 

 

#4  Bed gudgeon and hole

sleep in aft timbers

scourge lips of lands.

Prime of beauty

Rebel keel,

stem post in iron.

With closed eyes

feel the sway motion

the light barred swiftly

on gathering form.

Sun blaze at dewfall

and the cloak sinks softly

into the damp air.

Clouds and birds swirl

in a days end dance

as the warmth ebbs from the stones

and silence

swells back

with the parting.

 

 

 

 

#5 Hey, Darkness.

Warm blooded friend of mud and

Time. Your hard worn gifts

are split and cracked

hefting the effort

of embodied matter.

Igneous love

liberated by time

hardened song

and a small wish

whispered quietly in

your basalt fold.

And rock become shadow

And time become

the drum.

Painting Feels / Feeling Painting

 

Poems

Meanderings

The sensory nature of painting and poetry often feels

very close to me. These are reflections in the process

of painting.