It’s Autumn here.
One of a few Rose Chafers we saw patrolling the brambles, beautiful jewel-like scarabs (their vivid green produced structurally by left-circularly-polarised light rather than pigment, he said), Cetonia aurata, on the cliffs between Cape Cornwall and Sennen Cove.
There were clouds of butterflies in the fields behind the cliffs but the only one who was vain enough to pose for long was a male Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus.
And a herd of magnificent time-slipped English Longhorns.
The work I’m doing at the moment starts with a grid … well, no: it starts with an image which is then translated into a grid … well, no: several independent grids … aye aye aye, whatever — I need my grid. It’s where I start.
And it’s not just a pretext — the grid has to work on its own, to dance and to tell tales, even if I’m the only one to hear them.
But this one tickled me more than most — getting better at this. Two days ago I was convinced I’d bitten off more than I could chew … and then …
I’m sure I’m a bit weird but I find this strangely rewarding and the making of it as much like a dance as I am comfortable with — so here’s my Cornwall Boogie Woogie, Piet.
Filling the sky in the south and east … can feel it coming — a heavy blast of hot humid air blowing before it. Apparently it’s not going to be too bad, just very wet but we’re a little exposed up here and they always makes us anxious. I suppose we could all do with the water but … and but — dribs and drabs would be so dull, damp and English
Leccy off in the studio this evening I think.
Beauty and the Beast.
The dipsacus all over the farm are all doing their beautifully raggedy rising tide flowering at the moment.
But beware those thorns — they’re lethal.
This year will definitely go down as … winter, spring and summer — feels like half the year has been shrouded, occulted, drained and drowned in fog.
Here condensing in jewels, as is its wont, on an alchemilla mollis in the yard.
Is that a colour combo to die for or what? Furtive little nasturtium weaving its way through the herbs.
As in everything being greater than the sum of its parts and inseparably a part of everything else and in me coming to see what I am doing by doing it and only then … seeing.
OMG, that was a long hard slog: grand vistas glimpsed through skeins of fog, tortuous and terrifying climbs and joyous striding across springy turf, laborious wading through sucking bogs, dazzled by glittering sunlight on ripples in the stream, fear of getting lost roaring like a storm and gentle relief at the sight of (ever) distant landmarks, and round and round and eventually …
A feeling of satisfied achievement rather than simple pleasure — made it … it’s done. And I’m back … on track.
The graft of rigorously interrogating what you see is compounded in a self portrait, you need a sort of enhanced interrogation of what you know too … and as always demanding — objectively, emotionally and morally.
And you end up with just a shred of stuff, woven from the warp and weft of Indra’s Net; an emergent, contingent, ephemeral glimpse of one tiny fragment of the universe, now, from here inside.
It took three weeks just to gather the data I was then going to use as paint. Mind numbing: grinding, dissolution, sublimation, a little putrefaction, some projection and more grinding, analogous to the alchemy of preparing pigments from bugs and dirt and piss.
Prepare and practice, look and learn, explore and experience, integrate and internalise and then just … go.
The euphoric, anxious, dancing, crawling, flying, falling, layering, erasing, remix jazz of painting. Making it up as you go along.
On a high wire, across the abyss, alone in the dark in the spotlight of a cruel, crushing thunder hyper-critical superego pointing out every stumble, wrong-turn and cul-de-sac, moment of bad-faith, glib facility, pomposity and silliness.
You gotta see the glamour in what you do.
But I beat the bastard … again.
It is done. It is good. It works.
I imagine a machine imagining, dreaming of being, playing at being human.
As usual — equally drained and inspired.
So much to do. So little time.
Humans are uniquely crap — unique in the natural world — we alone deplete our habitats to the point of our own destruction … errr … or not.
This week’s high point was Penhale Point looking at the uniquely-named Gull Rocks … errr … or not. I have noticed a certain lack of imagination or perhaps just a plain literalness in Cornish nomenclature.
One of the many beautiful engineering installations in and around the army camp.
Purposeful, beautiful and Brutalist. Bond villain lair cum power station. I could live there.
Looking back, North East, to Trevose Head.
The wild thyme was covered in hundreds of gorgeous cinnabar moths … which are not as easy to catch on camera as you might think.
Their stunning yellow and black hooped caterpillars infest ragwort — I remember them from childhood summers in Wales — and infest is the word — to such an extent that few survive to adulthood as they rapidly exhaust their food supply and resort to cannibalism. Charming.
How quaintly human of them.
So we’re not unique after all? I’m shocked. We’re as natural as cancer.
A beautiful summer evening perambulation with a glass in hand … and what do we stumble over? A solitary orchid in the green in front of the house.
So I tried and I tried … online, downloading pdf’s … to identify it. I THINK it’s a common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). My best guess.
Well of course it’s going to be common … but it is not common in Cornwall and it is beautiful, unexpected, new, and a sweet delight.