Art holding time, new companions on the journey

Art holds time like a vase  Oil pastel and calligraphy collage

Art holds time as a vase  holds water  (Ben Okri)   Oil pastel and calligraphy collage

As I’ve mentioned before, here and at my other blog, artcalling, I’ve recently stumbled by grace into a web of connections which makes sense to me and supports what l I believe in.

My journey away from the established art world started decades ago, but ‘where to now?’ was always the pressing question. Among colleagues who urged me to exhibit even though I no longer believed in the gallery system, friends who urged me to ‘make more of those and sell them’, and countless other coaches and mentors who all agreed that I could ‘succeed’ if I would only do more to promote myself; not one person truly understood that the ladder they were urging me to climb was up against the wrong wall.

And anyway, I wasn’t the least bit interested in climbing, I wanted to walk in the sunshine with friends of my heart, and do my soul’s work in community. Somehow that just didn’t fit the business plan, nor did it have a price tag.

All of us who have long sensed the old world collapsing, yet had no intimation of what the new might be, have at some point realised that we were alone. In the company of others still functioning in the operating paradigm, the isolation was complete, at least for me. It was not only physical, but spiritual and emotional and psychological. And the self doubt at finding oneself an outsider when one only wanted connection, was at times paralysing.

So, as Cat wrote in  her introduction to my guest post, when we begin to find each other –

Thrill and relief spill over at the renewed discovery of not being alone, of finding unexpected others who can listen deeply to us in the place between stories, because they are somewhere that is like that themselves.

One common thread in most of the new connections I’ve made over the last 3 months has been ‘Dark Mountain’. I want to write about it because I’ve spent a lot of time at various sites and am in conversation with several people involved with this…what can you call it, not a movement, not a form, but let’s say – a crucible for loosely holding a multitude of transitions and visions. A place where creators of all kinds can acknowledge the shifting grounds of their disciplines, themselves and the world, express it, and connect with others asking similar questions.

I’ve been profoundly nourished by what I’ve read. And rather than try to express it in my own words just now, I strongly recommend starting with Jeppe’s post about Dark Mountain’s Uncivilisation festivals, the last one of which was held in Wales in August. If you stay with what he has expressed so eloquently (it is a long post, but rich in content and meaning), and go back and follow some of the links, a new story will emerge, and you will be able to understand what so many worldwide are starting to get a glimpse of; and by writing, making, centring, transitioning, gardening, tending, gathering, nurturing, building, conversing-  together are birthing.

Here is a teaser from Jeppe’s site:

During the last two years I have been exploring Dark Mountain partly in the capacity of being a researcher. The conversations and mutual reflections I have found myself involved in have taken me far and wide in search of some way of answering a question: “how do sustainability narratives shape lifeworlds within grassroots innovations?” I see now an almost beautiful naïvety about my question – in the implicit assumption of change-the-narrative-change-experience – but through the contours of the conversations I have had I also see the beginnings of an answer. (And I see a deeper value in the naïvety because it was not just an unquestioning naïvety but a sincere and foolish naïvety.) The trouble with the answer is that it involves leaving behind the frames of reference in which the question was formulated (for a while I thought that was a problem but it really is just the way that paradox holds the key to a transformation in viewpoint). Rather than ‘changing worldview’ by applying a new story with a different set of assumptions to the world, we begin to relate differently to the world by deepening and establishing new relationships with its multitude of inhabitants. Then we can begin to hear what stories they have to tell and practice giving voice to a different kind of story altogether.