Friday, January 11, 2013

Eight years and renewed commitment

New growth
Most years around the anniversary of my very first blog post here on 12 January 2005, I write a sort of meta-post, where I contemplate 'the why of the blog'. This time last year I predicted a steady course of more-of-the-same: making and exhibiting beautiful art in response to ugly environmental issues. The first half of the year was indeed a great surge forward along that chosen path, with successful exhibitions and two awards.  But my life, my art practice and consequently my blogging were all turned upside down in the middle of 2012 by a wonderful opportunity to move to a new home.

 Pulling up roots
When my Hong Kong-based friends offered me affordable rent on their Hamilton house I was still squished into a nearby tiny studio flat. My possessions spilled over into a storage unit, my urge to grow green things was confined to jars of sprouts, and the Big Art I was making was way over-sized for the space, so my practice was awkward at best.  I accepted their offer and at the start of spring graduated to a whole house with a large studio, a proper kitchen and an even larger garden.

One corner of my spacious studio (the white wrapped roll in background is Just a Little Spill, soon to be unfurled for exhibition at The Framing Workshop
I had no idea, before I moved, that my nascent desire to grow a few vegetables would become such a great passion once I got my hands into the soil. After a few art-world disappointments (and the emotional drain of making tragic mines and oil spills) coincided with moving, I gave myself a six months break from major art projects in order to establish the new garden.

For the past five months I've devoted almost all the time, creativity, research and steady slog to gardening that I would usually have put into making art. During this period, gardening was completely and utterly sufficient for my soul. When people asked 'what do you do', I didn't want to talk about my art, I wanted to talk about my garden. The blog was neglected: I was usually outside with dirty hands, and when I was near my computer all I wanted to do was share the wonder of growing plants, yet didn't feel ready to explain the new direction of my passion.

As is my wont with any new interest, I read and learn as much as I can at the same time as diving right into the doing.  I've been soaking up gardening magazines and gardening blogs of all types, but nothing makes more sense to me than permaculture.  It aligns with my environmental and political concerns, while directing my (possibly unhealthy) obsession with climate change/pollution/extinction  into pragmatic, joyful solutions. Solutions that are not just for designing landscapes and growing food, but for all aspects of society.

Home grown food
Learning more about permaculture and beginning to integrate its principles into my life is simultaneously intellectually stimulating, aesthetically pleasing and sensually satisfying. I find myself wanting to apply permaculture ideas to my art practice and express its life-enhancing, hopeful positivity through my art work.  I am not sure yet how that will  happen or what the results will look like.  I expect this blog will be one of the places I figure that out.

Over my eight years of blogging, the content and tone of Bibliophilia have shifted along with my priorities and preoccupations.  I've often felt disinclined to share much about what is on my mind for fear of appearing inconsistent or exposing myself to criticism.  If you look at the archive list in the right hand column  you will see the frequency of my posts has declined markedly over the eight years: a bit like the statistics for Arctic summer sea ice. Just like the Arctic, 2012 marked a record low for my posting frequency.

I hope that both my blogging and the Arctic summer sea ice will increase in 2013. I have the ability to ensure one of those hopes is fulfilled. In doing so I intend to document my part in the world-wide, grass-roots social and economic transformation project which is required to slow global warming enough for, not only polar bears to survive, but also all life as we know it.

I fear, however, that the recent nadir of sea ice is a signal that a tipping point has passed and that accelerated climate change is ramping up and out beyond its initial anthropogenic impetous, let alone the least conservative scientific predictions of a few years ago.  It may be that even if governments and big business were to suddenly change their venal ways and start doing what was required five, ten, thirty years ago to slow down this train, even then the train wouldn't slow down in my lifetime.

Another delicious home grown meal cooked on the rocket stove-  zero food miles and renewable energy
Yet, if my particular perspective on global issues and local solutions can contribute any tiny bit to slowing down humanity's headlong dive into disaster, then I feel I must not indulge in feeling shy about my risk-taking mistakes, my unconventional choices, my wildest dreams or my imperfections. In this week when the Australian meteorological service had to extend their temperature scale to describe the dome of heat burning up that beautiful country, I begin my ninth year of blogging with renewed commitment.


Carol said...

Meliors, how wonderful to see this great post. I've always enjoyed your blog and I'm delighted to know you are now gardening, a passion we share, among many others. I look forward to your further adventures in gardening and art.

ronnie said...

oh I hear you loud and clear! permaculture and the garden can offer so much for the soul - permaculture is a positive move forward in the face of massive, depressing environmental degradation.

indeedy I'm so enamored with permaculture and growing food that I've been including references to permaculture in my vis arts higher degree (my poor supervisor - who is not a gardener - is struggling with my choices and enthusiastic writing about permaculture as a basis for art making... and permaculture AS art)

good luck in your gardening/permy journey.... if you haven't already had the opportunity to undertake a PDC (permaculture design certificate) I thoroughly recommend it - its a life changer...