Tag Archives: poetry

Gaia

13 Jun

Neried

photo credit: Alan Howden

Gaia was the name the ancient Greeks gave to the elemental Goddess of the Earth. She was the mother of Kronos – the God of Time. In 1979 the name was appropriated by the polymath James Lovelock to describe his novel idea that Earth herself behaved like a ‘living’ organism – capable of regulating her own climate through gross perturbation: Gaia, a new look at life on Earth.

In 1979 I was a final year student of Zoology – I thought James Lovelock’s book was sensational. The idea that the Earth’s biota (all living organisms on the planet), the chemistry of inorganic cycles and the physics of the atmosphere all powered by the sun, could form part of a gigantic coherent negative feedback system simply blew my mind.

Negative feedback, the basis of biology and life-chemistry expanded to encompass Earth.

We humans live within a constantly changing environment. Night and day,  cold and heat, moisture and dryness, from pole to pole through temperate climes to the tropics all these geographical locations exert significant physical changes on the organisms that live there. Vertebrate animals – particularly mammals, have developed efficient ways of regulating their internal environment to maintain the best working conditions for the proteins within their cells. Proteins – enzymes and structural molecules – require very narrow parameters of temperature, salt concentration, pH and so on to work at all, otherwise they become ‘denatured‘ (permanently damaged).

We call this cellular ‘fighting back against change’ Homeostasis:

“the maintenance of metabolic equilibrium within an animal by tendency to compensate for disrupting changes”

In March this year, with the help of Yorkshire Artspace I was given permission to set up my oak Ruskin Sculpture on the roof of Persistence Works in Sheffield and organise an artistic event with contemporary dancer, Simone Thompson and visual artist Robert Twigg (assisted by Will Armson). There was no script and no direction, just a bunch of creative humans having an open dialogue around a strange structure on a roof top.

I’d seen Simone perform at a street fayre in Sheffield in 2015 with her students and was struck by the energy and vitality she drew from her young students and her own wild, eclectic performance when she treated us too her own extemporised dance.

I guess I wanted to create a living substrate – in equilibrium – that would allow my talented friends to create something that was dynamic, rooted in the environment and celebrating life.

In searching for a title for the work I was reminded of the power of the Earth Goddess, and here she is:

To live in harmony with the Earth and with each other is the single greatest challenge of our age. If we don’t we will perish.

“Nature favours those organisms which leave the environment in better shape for their progeny to survive. James Lovelock”

 

Image

Bed

17 Sep

Tradition

The ancient Egyptians discovered the benefits of sleeping on a raised pallet of earth to get a good night’s sleep away from the cockroaches, scorpions, ants and other nasty creepy crawlies which frequented their dwellings. Tutankahmun had a bed made of ebony and gold. Poor Egyptians had to make do with a pile of palm leaves shoved into the corner of a mud-brick hovel.

Wealthy Romans liked to entertain from their beds, eating, drinking, making conversation, running their households etc.. Beds have been around since Neolithic times and nowadays it is the place we go to rest, regenerate and sleep.

I have just finished building the head and footboards for a king sized double bed. I built the base of the bed from oak and sweet chestnut taken from managed woodlands in Sheffield (the base is not shown). The carved sides are made from local ash (a dragon on the right and a swan on the left) and the head boards from Hyedua – a African hard wood resembling rose wood. The sides of the head board incorporate a poem by Andrew Amaning – written to celebrate the marriage of the couple to whom the bed belongs.

Andrew’s poem is called:  I’m Coming Home

I’m coming home…To your arms that hold me up when I’m weak.

To the heart that I love with every beat.

I’m coming home.

I’m coming home…To the love we make just holding hands

To sleeping on your chest when I’m a vulnerable man.

I’m coming home.

I’m coming home…To fun ‘n’ games and sickly sweet embarrassing nick names

To the one who likes me both cultured and untamed

I’m coming home.

I’m coming home…To my love, my happiness, my peace, my piece of me, my husband, my wife, my life.

I’m home, I’m home.

Bed is home. Home should be sweet. Which is why I have knocked this little fellow up for the European Woodworking Show this weekend, in case there are any new born babies in need of a safe, gently rocking, haven.

cot2 figured ash with larch base

I love making cradles, and I love what kids and parents turn them into as they grow out of them. Planters, toy boxes, magic carpets, or just move them on to the next new sprog.

This one is in San Francisco:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA cherry with coloured carving

This one went to Barnsley…

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200 blue mahoe

This one many years ago for a very posh baby…

Ash Cot ash with drop down sides and turned rosewood fittings

This one for a niece

Cot elm and maple elm and sycamore

And this one a bit of fun for a friend

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA figured apple wood

‘Comme on faict son lict, on le treuve’ (As one makes one’s bed, so one finds it)….. the French 1590 origin of the phrase “Make your own bed and lie in it”