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.
Please drop me an email if you would like to purchase a copy of this book. email@example.com
Or alternatively, I may have a copy in my Etsy shop.
Where We Found Our Metaphors
Some images from a small book I made called ‘Where We Found Our Metaphors’ inspired by a conversation between Krista Tippett and Michael McCarthy.
Ms.Tippett: Ok, sorry, right, I - 500 generations of what we call civilisation and the 50,000 generations when we were part of nature, and your argument is that that is “where we evolved; where we became what we are, where we learned to feel and react, “ “where the human imagination formed, “where we found our metaphors and similes.” And that’s - it’s not an idea that I had ever heard expressed that way, but as you lay it out, it - in the way you’re talking about it, it makes sense in my body, what you’re describing. That that is still defining us.
Mr. McCarthy: The idea is not mine, and it’s not new. It’s about 40 years old. It’s a perception thy comes from evolutionary biology - that’s the neo-Darwinism of the late 20th century, and a particular branch of that, which is evolutionary psychology, which has been going, really, since about the 80’s. And the core perception of evolutionary psychology is that 50,000 generations that preceded us in the Pleistocene, which is the age of the Ice Ages, when we became what we are as part of the natural world - when we were wildlife, of you like; we don’t think of ourselves as wildlife anymore, but we were wildlife then - that those generations are more important for our psyches, even now, than the 500 generations of civilisation which have followed the invention of farming about 12,000 years ago. So that there is a legacy deep within us, a legacy of instinct, a legacy of inherited feelings, which may lie very deep in the tissues - it may lie underneath all the parts of civilisation which we are so familiar with on a daily basis, but it has not gone; that we might have left the natural world, most of us, but the natural world has not left us.
A European eel created as a submission towards the eelsuitcase project which is raising awareness about the plight of the European eel. Please head on over to the project's site to learn more about this fascinating creature and the type of work that is taking place.
My poem ‘The Eel’ published in Atlantic Press’s Mouth, an anthology of illustrated poetry.
Available at www.atlanticpressbooks.com
Work I created in response to poetry. I created a series of experimental images using small handmade sculpture, glass, water and watercolour.
I layered the mediums to create an atmosphere and depth to evoke sound, and the memory of light.
Recycled newspaper animal characters.
Home-made vegan glue & acrylic paint.
If you would like a custom sculpture please get in touch.
Illustrated Glassware Vessels
Hand engraved illustrated crystal glass.
More on this coming soon.
The baiji dolphin is an extinct dolphin that existed in the Yangtze River.
The baiji was nicknamed 'goddess of the Yangtze'
The dolphin was declared as officially extinct in 2006. It was a quiet extinction and conservation efforts were late, as the action plan was only approved in 2001. The extinction was declared as the first global megafaunal extinction in over fifty years.
Reasons for the animal's extinction vary - from pollution to overfishing and the nearby construction of the megastructure Three Gorges Dam.
There was once a time where the dolphin was regarded as a national treasure of China and illustrations of the dolphin were depicted on postage stamps and coins.
Local folklore tells of a human story on the dolphin in which that there was once there was a poor girl who lived with her stepfather on the banks of the Yangtze. He took her on a boat one day intending to sell her at a market. A storm arose and the boat sank drowning the girl. A god named Guanyin took pity and changed the human child into a white dolphin. The dolphin was a local emblem of peace and prosperity.
Three Gorges Dam is the largest dam worldwide. It took over 40,000 workers to construct and it produces 20.000 megawatts of power.
To begin with, the river which roughly spans two kilometres had to be diverted, over 1.3 million people had to leave an area about to be flooded. Protesters were met with police brutality, and many arrests were made.
The Three Gorges mega dam is the first of a whole series of mega dams that are under construction in China. 1,350 villages were submerged and 50,000 acres of land behind the dam have been flooded.
In eastern Asian folklore, the yak is regarded as the bringer of rivers and mountains. The hump of a yak resembles a mountain peak. Yak physiology shows that yak is well adapted to high altitudes and have physical difficulty at lower altitudes. A river flows down from the hump of the yak, the river basin represents the heart of the yak where all nutrients, sediments, fry fish, and pure mountain water flows out to sea. Below the mountain, in the valley, there are living populations of humans and non-humans survive by the river basin. The udders represent the area where the water is flushed out to sea - the mouth - The pattern covering the body of the yak represent life as fractal and things are not separate in this world but work fractally.
Found postage stamp depicting the extinct river dolphin
Digital sketchbook drawings.
My poem ‘The Eel’ was published in the Atlantic Press ‘Mouth’ book which features an anthology of illustrated poetry.