30/11/2021 To be able to listen, I need to slow down
I have been feeling into the slowness of crafting. I can just imagine the rhythm of it one thousand years ago - you couldn't easily go to a store and buy yarn that is already dyed like you can now. Back in the day, creating a piece of clothing would be an extremely slow process compared to the speed of it today. Most probably, either you or someone else in your community would have had a close relationship with the sheep and asked their permission for their wool. From the wool, you would spin yarn that would be dyed with plants. From that yarn, you would weave fabric on a loom so you could make warm clothes to keep your family alive in the cold winter nights. In this time, I have a very different relationship to this type of creating - it is not a form of survival, but a path of honoring, connecting, and remembering the wisdom and ways of my ancestors. I wish I knew and had a relationship with the sheep or flax plants who gave this beautiful wool and linen fibers, or the skilled people who made yarn and fabric out of them. I am grateful.
I am not saying we need to fully go back to the old ways and that is not even possible because the world we live in today looks very different. Rather, that there is something precious there that we can learn and bring it to the world today. A couple of years ago I was living on a small old farm in the middle of the woods with no central heating system or tap water. This experience taught me deep and important lessons in interconnectedness and creating relationships with the elemental and land spirits. I still carry these ways of relating with me where I go, connecting with the land to my best knowledge. Through this connection I am also connecting with my ancestors, who knew the importance of maintaining balanced relationships with the natural world – their survival and wellbeing were connected to the wellbeing of the land. And this is still true today; in many places we just can’t see it so directly anymore. It has been such a healing journey for me to learn about the ways that my ancestors connected with the land and continue carrying out those same traditions.
I have been tuning in to my natural rhythm of working here in the residency, really listening to my body and the land here. What are they saying to me today? Do I need to dive straight into weaving, or first take a walk outside and greet and make offerings for the land spirits? When I create today, do I need to dance and sing, or be still and silent? Some days I can just breathe in the passionate, creative energy and work from the moment I wake up almost until the moment I go to bed, having breaks in between of course. Some days when I wake up, I know I need to take it slow that day and maybe not work at all and do something completely different or just simply be still. I have found that this is very connected to the rhythms of my surroundings, and by honoring the rhythm of my body I am doing a service for the land as well. We are in the same rhythm and go through the same cycles of seasons, life, and death. I feel the seasonal changes deeply, and it is a beautiful time to be working in the residency now, when darkness is increasing, and we are shifting deeper into winter.
A couple of years ago when I was painting and regularly holding exhibitions, I was working with a disciplined rhythm and structure, having deadlines, and pushing myself to produce and accomplish certain things before those dates. Now as I'm working here, I am not sure if I will have anything finished when I leave this residency - and that's okay. This shift in perspective and approach feels like the most important thing right now. Slowing down, being still, taking time to listen, enjoying the process, not knowing what will come out of it and not focusing on the outcome, feel like a rebellious act in a culture focused on fast producing and accomplishments. I've needed to develop ways to work with mostly my left hand as my right wrist is in a state of healing from an injury, and this has slowed down my work especially this week. It feels good to listen to that and be gentle with myself. I feel privileged to be able to rest when I need to, and not think about survival. It is also interesting what kind of pathways open when you cannot do things in a familiar way anymore.
What I have noticed is that quite often things move forward and fall into place when I don't push myself to do more but let go, trust the mysterious ways of life, enjoy my receptive nature, and let things come to me. The right ones always do. I came here with the intention of remembering, learning, and connecting, and what will come out of my time here is yet unknown. I am sure whatever will come out of this period, will carry the energy of deep healing, connection, aliveness, commitment, and joy of remembering.
Artist in Residence 8.11.–19.12.2021