Monday, April 23, 2012

Landscape

The pursuit of nature is an almost certain road to happiness...there has never been an age, however rude and cultivated, in which the love of landscape has not been in some way manifested.  John Constable

Landscape is such a difficult thing to describe, it is a journey through time, evocative memories pulled from the subconscious laid bare and the emotional content plays like a harp on the soul.  There is in me a practical nature, that says the spiritual does not really exist, it is just our own egos playing a game of chance, the images that fill our minds is dictated by nature itself that we may learn to love the living world so that we may nurture it - a self sustaining Gaia, is perhaps the nearest I can get to spirituality.
So I questioned it's relevance, how does each thing marry up in the ologies of our writings.  Where does geology, art, prose, poems, archaeology all the many disciplines that we use to transcribe the world, fit in.  
For me sometimes it is the wild flowers as they come into being, the first thrust of the leaves through the soil, the unfolding of petals, the insects dancing attendance on the rituals of pollination and then the end game - formation of seeds to start the whole process once more, the never ending cycle of life caught in the ceaseless movement of sun and moon.
We can stare dreamily at the sea noticing the vast size and movement of this other half of Earth, some say we should  call this great ball of molten Earth that we live on after the sea or even Airth, because air takes up as great a volume as land itself.
Two images taken from the internet Paul Nash's 'Trees on the Down', capturing the unique 'bareness' of the downs with the white chalk paths, the road that goes on forever.  And a painting by Cara Enteles, a New York artist who has the most lovely way of depicting flowers and bees, see here.


Landscape is the sweep of a mountain range complimented by the dip of valleys.  The sweet sound of running water as the rivers flow unceasingly to the sea. And for me the many varied rocks as they break through the thin crust of earth and remind us that we scratch a living on this planet through a tenuous strata of soils, that can easily be blown away by fierce winds; remember the red Saharan dust that has on occasions coloured our northern skies dusting  our cars in the past....
Humans are always trying to tame and cultivate the land, we need to sustain our ever growing populations but also we scar the land with our greed for minerals, subjecting the poor to slavery whilst the rich scavenge in our Western world. 
To go from our rampant consumerist age to the soft world of a Cara Entele's painting, seems impossible, to create it, a fantasy, a bit like the painting itself.  But it is the first step we all make, the inner acknowledgement of beauty in the world around us, it stays the hand, makes us question our actions.



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