I made 7 pots for the NEST group exhibition at the Henry George Gallery. My pots explored the world as our global nest by suspending moments in time on their circular surfaces, in drawings. Here, I want to swim upstream like a red salmon, look again and see what is really going on.
The shape of choice
A sleepy creature wakes up inside an agapanthus, while a sugar bird faces the world upside down, suspended midair in a triangle, with one foot on a kappertjie, the other on a agt-dae-genees and a red trumpet waiting underneath.
The Love Letter
This pot is made after Johannes Vermeer’s painting by the same name. Here a woman receives a proposal on Whats App from her lover, not written in words but as a single symbol – an apple. She understands its content in its context while she considers his offer of one more apple.
The unsolvable equation
Here a conversation breaks loose between an iteration of birds where there is no answer to be found. In the space between the shoebill and the bittern – the sea gull, egret and the little tit are trying to figure – who started it?
This pot of 2 unlikely clays joined together – is about a memory shared with my family, during a walk on the beach. In the distance we saw a tumble of black and blue, but as we approached we saw that it was a black oystercatcher caught in a nest of fishing line. My daughter gently held the spiky bird, while my husband and I cut it free, an arduous task which took a very long time. Long enough for us to feel the bird’s panic and pain. Then with mixed feelings, we watched our familiar stranger limp back into the shallow waves, still searching for his oyster and pearl.
The Shape of the Nest
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about a nest – is a weaver’s nest because there are so many in my garden. Shaped like a woven oblong ball of grass around a little room where chicklings live on a soft duvet of feathers and leaves. I thought – if it was possible to give the world a geometrical shape, it would be a circle around a center, suspended in a garden all around.
I then made a circular cylinder and sketched at its center the Middle East which looked like a diameter of a circle, holding its circumference together.
I’m surprised by what I see now – It is theta – the mathematical symbol for angular momentum that drives a spinning circle, while not a wing is lifted or a peep is made.
The Pelican and the Bittern,
After exploring the world in – The Shape of the Nest – I became curious about the birds living there. Isaiah’s vision sketches a vivid word-picture, given to him by the Lord – The land shall not be quenched, from one generation to the next, it shall lie waste and non shall pass through it forever and ever. But the pelican and the bittern shall possess it and the owl and the raven shall live in it. 1] It was a picture of an outward manifestation of an inner reality in the dry lands of our souls.
In search of the pelican and bittern, I made a square cylinder and sketched a pelican in its habit of regurgitating fish on dry land, where other creatures often snatch it away. I thought it was a literal expression of the words of God, the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation – ‘because your works are lukewarm and neither cold or hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth, because you say you are rich and in need of nothing, but you do not know that you are miserable, poor, blind and naked.’ 2]
I then sketched the in-need-of-nothing fish in the dry lands and saw why it had turned so desperately blue.
I then looked for the bittern and found its fish-like form in riverbeds, where its stripes made it blend in between the reeds, next to grassland rivers and streams. Whenever under threat, from other creatures, it adopts a camouflage posture by pointing its spearlike bill straight up towards heaven and standing firm.
I now understand why the nest is possessed by these birds. The pelican portrays how those enslaved to the way of the world are separated from those who know that they had been freed from the snare of the world, because they were purchased by God our Redeemer at a price. In the Kingdom of God we then stand as the bittern on earth beside living waters, still and at peace.
- Isaiah 34 (KJV)
- Rev 3:16 (KJV)
The Mourning Owl and the Weeping Dragon,
I kept thinking about the owl and the raven – the inhabitants of the dry lands explored on the Bittern and Pelican cylinder. A sketch made me see the owl as a little girl. I thought she could even be someone’s young daughter in plaits.
I found her again in Micah’s vision – she was mourning in the company of a weeping dragon. Their hearts were broken and God was crying with them. 1]
As an eagle stirs up her nest and flutters over her young, so the years 735 BC to 700 BC were stirred up because of sin, Assyria had conquered Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, took the 10 northern tribes into captivity, from where they dispersed into the Nations. Judah was also occupied and the holy city, Jerusalem was besieged. It felt like I was looking straight into the eyes of that incurable wound between Jerusalem and Samaria, which has since infected the rest of the circle, still festering in forwards and backwards retaliations between Nations and Strangers, until this very day.
I will do a new thing, I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The animal of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, drink to my people, my chosen. This people I have formed for myself, and they shall show forth my praise. 2]
I then made a tall cylinder and placed Red – my metaphor for man whose blood boils red with red iron oxide – deep inside the wells of this amazing grace. As an eagle spreads her wings, takes her young and carries them on her wings, so the Lord leads us there and we begin to believe like children again.
From these deep wells the red horse is sent to lift up the Lord’s favor on his children and give them peace. 3]
I then wrapped the dry lands around these deep wells, hoping that the weeping dragons would leave their palaces and the mourning owls their bitter springs and be God’s fair children, again.
1. Micah 1 (KJV)
2. Isaiah 43:19-21 (KJV)
3. Zechariah 1 (KJV)