2020 has been one of the strangest years of our lifetime.
The one thing we have all needed to do more, is to breathe.
To calm ourselves.
To take a moment and try to focus on the good things.
To try and find positives in all the negatives.
Lockdown life has been bizarre and challenging for most.
It did give some of us time to focus on learning to slow down and practice mindfulness.
I know I am so used to being a busy bee, that being forced to be a slower snail caused me anxiety and then release as I settled in to a slower pace of life and learnt to let go of all the things a life based around work, stress and money caused.
I genuinely hope that we can retain some of these new behaviours we have learnt in 2020.
My snails had some little babies and we have 12 successful hatch-lings. They are now big enough to begin creating art and have further enhanced the work, with their tiny, delicate, lace-like lines.
For this painting gentle shades of peach, blue and grey create the perfect reminder to take a moment to pause, breathe and relax.
We realised this would be a perfect piece to create wearable art from.
A limited amount of pendants and earrings that are made from actual pieces of this painting (each one is completely unique) can be purchased here: SHOP
There is a brilliance to these paintings.
A brilliance in the final outcome; the vibrancy of the organic pigments and the intrigue of the lines made.
But also, there is a brilliance in the process.
The synergy and harmony that not only exists between these tiny snail artists but also between them and me is a form of brilliance.
A form of aureation.
I am an artist, a painter a maker of marks.
And alone, I can create work and be relatively happy with it.
But never surprised.
By collaborating with my snail artists, I have heightened my practice and transformed it from my own language in to that of ‘our’ language.
By combining my ideas and methods with the absolute freedom and fluidity of the snail trails, my work has aureated to a new place.
A place of calm, mindfulness, meditative creativity and a way of working that genuinely surprises me.
Something I have needed in my life for far too long.
Sometimes the snails stop working to enjoy a little kiss.
Remember, snails are hermaphrodites and therefore they don’t have a particular assigned gender. They are both capable of fertilising and carrying eggs.
They don’t see gender.
They don’t judge.
If they like each other…. they kiss.
Love is love.
One of my favourite teachers in infant school used to say “A little bit of love makes the world go round”.
Other times they hitch a ride; usually the smaller snails will hop on the back of the larger snails.
These different interactions (stopping for kisses, climbing on to another’s shell, rolling about for a while) all produce a different outcome, reflected in the marks made.
Each decision they make, change of direction and interaction creates a different shape, texture and opacity to the organic pigments.
So while I may choose the colours and the starting points, these tiny shelled artists do all the work from there on.
A fellow artist pointed out today that it’s almost like I’m using one of those UV lamps or heat signature technology to show you what you wouldn’t usually see. I like this analogy.
Snails create these trails all day long and yet they go unnoticed. By adding my organic pigments, I’m revealing the art that’s being naturally created, but highlighting it in vibrant colours; expressing the snails creativity.
Is it there if it can’t be seen?
Did it happen if no one saw it?
Dusting footprints, exposing trails, bringing attention to what was always there, but no one noticed.
Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil.
These two pieces will be on display at Brunswick Street Gallery in Australia for their ‘Grayscale’ Exhibition in 2021 (postponed due to the pandemic).
This all began as a way to collaborate during lockdown.
I’m studying my MA in Fine Art and one of the things they look for is collaborative work.
But in lockdown we were suddenly limited as to how and who we could access.
I’ve always had an affinity to snails and as the rain brought them out in my garden, I pondered the concept of collaborating with them.
And here we are now.
3 months on and 9 snails take it in turns to work with me; creating trails and marks using the pigments I create organically at home so that no harm comes to them at all.
But it’s also so relevant now.
We are in a unique position because of the Covid-19 global crisis.
This is our chance to start again, to rebuild society in a way that puts human life first. A community that values each other and looks after each other.
This is our chance to strip away all the issues of sexism, racism, capitalism, consumerism that have existed so toxically within our society until now.
The lines are free and uninhibited and some areas are darker where the pigment pools and the paper warps.
There is a shimmer to this piece due to the remnants of the snail trail being caught in the pigments as they dry.
It’s nothing like my previous work; the work of a control freak perfectionist who can’t cope if it doesn’t look a certain way.
This entire process is freeing me up as a person as well as my art.
My art journey has become a well-being one and these tiny Zen Masters are my guides.