Illustrated poetry book. Featuring some selected images.
The animal refugee, the body of the animal, on the edge, perhaps adrift, an island, slipping under, away from our sights and existing in oceanic consciousness, imagination.
In my book Animal Islands, my aim was to depict a story about emerging, imagined and perhaps, even science fiction ecologies, as well as scientific facts I discovered from my research and a bringing in a being from classical and folkloric literature with accompanying poems to inform the viewer about existing ecological connections as well as displaying imaginary dystopian ones inspired by my research, therefore, producing a book that aimed to display a visual as well as a written poetical narrative tangled with science, poetry, folklore and imagination.
Water, once like many animal species, was worshipped and placed in high regard.
Water was and still is in some cultures believed to house many secrets such as otherworldly beings.
In ancient Rome, water was believed to be a doorway into another world, and some animals, such as birds amongst other living beings as well as some formations were to have believed to be augurs, messengers of spirits, gods or something of non-human nature.
I have discovered that water was and in some cases still is in some cultures, believed to have housed water elementals, spirits sometimes known as Undines, these were to have believed to have of existed and/ or dwelled in or around water bodies - and in many cultures water is still regarded as mystical and an important resource, one of which many cultures and species have evolved alongside with, and their stories too.
We ourselves are housing water, our bodies are temporary, but water is always at a constant. Although water can be displaced or change states, the more superstructures that enter the oceans and waterways displaces water, ending up somewhere else, I find it fascinating how old earths water is.
Boria Sax writes in his book Imaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human “in creation myths from Egypt, Mesopotamia Greece and Northwest Africa, water is the original element of which the world emerges.”
Along with, “more recently, the seas and oceans may be said to be the major metaphor in psychoanalytical theories for the unconscious mind, with its apparently placid surface that hides abundant activity.”
And this connects me to thinking about Patrick Harpur’s ‘Daimonic Reality’ where Harpur writes about the collective unconscious as being oceanic – and as consciousness as being small island rising out of a vast oceanic fluidity.
During this project, I was thinking about animals, animals that have fallen or risen, animals who have made the world what it is, animals who have changed the course of rivers, keystone species, animals on which the backs of civilizations grew or that were considered godlike.
Animals that enter the unconscious a lot – and animals that exist in human lives on different levels of consciousness.
Animals are like islands that fall in out of dreams and consciousness. Animals perhaps will always be in the human mind, even if they are not here anymore.
The scientific philosopher Vinciane Despret says that 'animals are good to think with' and that 'I knit stories in the hope of making us more sensitive, more creative, more porous....'
Despret explains that she tries to understand the point of view of the animal.
I tended to research into animals that were animals that seemed to be like story vessels, animals that are interwoven into the human histories stories being that some of those same animals that have fallen from that stature and their bodies turned into creatures of commodity or have been or are weaponised for human warfare. The shift in our attitudes towards wildlife or animal familiars. Who we take with us into the future and who we leave behind.
I researched back into early civilizations in order to see what human stories had been placed on certain animals. I began to look into augurs and augury.
A type of practice where the animal's behaviour or entrails are examined by an augur to predict certain events in nature such as weather phenomena, that civilizations successes or downfalls or the plans of certain individuals. The humans who then make decisions for that particular civilization based on the findings from that animal.
Thinking about augury and the type of augury we see today - where we see that animals are telling us about our environmental situation. The things they tell us about our planetary health. Augury still exists.
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