I got back to some painting with the photographs I took of the bog in mind (see Shifting Seasons ). I have been thinking about this notion of the cut bog as a wound. It brought to mind a passage in ‘Tinkers‘ ( a book I have already mentioned a few times! )
In this excerpt, Howard is reflecting on a woman he sees in his mind’s eye, planting flowers. He is thinking about the effect that man has on the landscape. He imagines how a consciousness of this demands some small gesture as a ‘token of redress‘
..the flowers were an act of resistance against the raw earth like an act of sheer, inevitable, necessary madness because human beings have to live somewhere and in something and here is just as outrageous as there because in either place ( in any place ) it seems like an interruption, an intrusion on something that, no matter how many times she read in her Bible, Let them have dominion, seemed marred, dispelled, vanquished once people arrived with their catastrophic voices and saws and plows and began to sing and hammer and carve and erect.
taken from Tinkers by Paul Harding, Chapter 1, page 61
I love the hyperbole in this piece and the fundamental truth of it. It made me think of the cut bog as an interruption in something that is much older than ourselves or our forefathers or anything we can possibly imagine. I don’t intend to make any kind of judgement about the use of the bog, it is just one way of seeing it, as an ancient observer might, like a star gazing down on all of time. I think perhaps it is this interruption or contrast that draws me to the bog lands. The swaying grasses and heathers are like hairs and goose bumps on skin, a living breathing thing which when damaged, reveals a beautiful shock of glistening tissue and muscle underneath.
This is how my painting of the bog began (below).
Next, I added some broad strokes of orange so that this colour will come through anything I put on top and hopefully make the surface glow.
I subsequently added more paint and ink ( using different types of brushes ) to describe the heathers and grasses – greens, reds, pinks and gold. Then I used a dark brown ink to suggest the disturbed surface where the bog has been cut and driven through (below).
It’s not finished yet but I decided to stop here before the colours became muddy. I will go back to it once this layer of paint has dried completely.
Have you read anything recently that has influenced the way that you see things?