Saturday, August 25, 2012



On The Edge Of The Clearing Weather | Claire Beynon | Oil on Paper 2010

‘It is all one water – a finger in a tide pool brings us all together’ 
Marylinn Kelly

Water, in its many forms and expressions, has been an integral feature of my work for the past three decades - as raindrop and storm, puddle, waterfall, river, ocean, sea ice and glacier. Aside from painting and drawing and creating short narrative films, I fold paper boats - at last count my flotilla numbered around 1600. Since I first began making them in 2007, these boats have taken on a life and presence all their own. You can read their story HERE

Concern about the declining health of our world's waterways prompted me to invite members of the blogging community to participate in a project titled Waters I Have Known.  ( My wish was to create an open, online studio, a space where I could post images of work-in-process, share web links, invite questions, ideas and discussion. This site is the result.  

Waters I Have Known documents recent water-related projects. Some have been solo endeavors - the majority have had a collaborative element to them. 

Early paintings in the Waters I Have Known series were a response to the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. A stream of lively debate around the power, wonder and fragility of our world’s oceans was already under way when I suggested to readers we take our discussion further and contemplate the internet as an ocean of a different kind. Moved by the range and richness of texts gifted in response, I incorporated their words in several G ULF paintings, including an 'ocean of words’ titled Standing In The Heart. These texts were also worked into a collaborative poem* that became the narration for a 2011 climate change film Love The Waters. 

                                                 In the wide sound of the sea
                                                 the song of a vast adventure
                                                 a music that follows flight
                                                 paths of blood rushing 
                                                 through veins. And the roar 
                                                 of the sea is the roar of our planet. 
                                                 Salt. Spray. Ice. Sand.
                                                 Each wave a limb of the earth.

                                                 The oceans are hoarders 
                                                 of holy mysteries, generous 
                                                 to a fault - all heaving movement,
                                                 energy and gorgeousness; life
                                                 packed into every inch and drop
                                                 of it; ah, its drama! Its secrecy.
                                                 The way it carries the past, future
                                                 and present in it.

                                                 Dream of the sea and from its edge
                                                 gaze out to the pencil-thin line
                                                 of the horizon where sky and water
                                                 are one. And the sea? 
                                                 How it murmurs. 
                                                 How it murmurs.  

                                                 It is all one water.
                                                 A finger in a tide pool 
                                                 brings our shores together

One of the things that struck me during this web-based process was the generosity with which these men and women – most of whom have never met – responded to my call. A community comprising writers, artists, scientists, musicians, a police detective and a nun, they hail from places as far-flung as Ireland, Australia, USA, Germany, the UK, South Africa, Italy and Tasmania. Without exception, they offered up their prose and poems as gifts – no strings attached. 

There is a potency and intimacy peculiar to web-based communities that overwrites conventionally-perceived limitations such as age, political bias, ethnicity, kronos time and measurable space. The web is a mighty equalizer – like the ocean, it wraps us around, drawing our continents together. We take our place around the virtual table and at the press of a key, enter worlds we might ordinarily not have access to, with people we might ordinarily never meet. Before we know it we’re engaging in a depth of communication that has all the elements of privileged encounter and sacred space. If water is the medium of the unconscious, might we consider the web its metaphorical equivalent?

During these times of crisis and accelerated change, I am drawn ever more to poetry, music and the moving image as powerful communication tools within our global arena. It seems to me that as our world’s clamor and confusion increases, so listening and stillness are being recognized as vital agents for peace, advocacy and transformation. We are being invited to find new ways of communicating that transcend the all-too-familiar notes of violence, fear and separatism and express instead as a 'protest of poetry and pause.’

This is a second iteration of the film using the same text but different film footage and soundtrack. 

* Collaborative poem by Claire Beynon (NZ),  Marylinn Kelly (USA), Therese Clear (USA), Pamela Morrison (NZ), Elisabeth Hanscombe (AUS), Kay McKenzie-Cooke (NZ) & Scott Odom (USA).

Porcelain sculpture by Christina Bryer (SA). 
Music by Chris Tokalon (SA). 
Hand dancing by Kate Alterio (NZ). 
Underwater photography by Shawn Harper (USA). 
Ice divers - Sam Bowser (USA) & Shawn Harper (USA).
Filmed & produced in Explorers Cove, ANTARCTICA & Dunedin, NZ 2008 - 2011.

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