From Cloud to Clod

The title of this post comes from an original idea Janet came to some years back. Living in rural Lincolnshire, we are surrounded by sky and land, clouds and clods, particularly evident in the ploughing seasons. She mused on clouds as a metaphor for ideas in constant formation, fostered by her readings of Wordsworth. She looked up the etymology of the two words. Their connection resides in their similarity in form. This is a poetic relationship, made more interesting by the opposition of substance: one heavy and dense, the other vapour at the whim of winds and temperature.

Much of our work draws from our surroundings. We are very different in our approaches. Janet sees an ascension of the clod to the cloud, of material transformed into ideas. I envision clouds coming down to earth, making ideas tangible material. That is why I have reversed Janet’s phrase when writing the title for this post. The descent from the sky to earth is a motif in my most recent poetry, Clouds Descend (on a Walk Down Fen Lane) and Bird. I am enthralled when I see dark clouds close to the ground, sweeping across the horizon. I make a reference to this in The Divine Birth of Ash. The exchange of views and ideas centred around commonly held values in our daily lives has always been a source of inspiration and interest.

A few days ago, I finished a series of small graphite drawings of porcelain shapes I made about three years ago. The models originated in a present I made for Einar for his first birthday, intended as sensory toys to encourage handling skills and feel for form. Variously arranged in simple compositions, I was not attempting to render them academically. The impetus for drawing them was to chase their mass as an emanation of energy from within, each according to their nature.

If only I could see the shape of your scent scattered into memory and desire, I would draw it forever.

For some time, I have thought of making similar pieces on a large scale using lime mortar with an armature. When cured, the mortar is like limestone. I have researched materials, but that is as far as I have got. I am constantly distracted. A few days ago, I tried to make such shapes with stoneware clay but ended up with two open models and one tall vase-like object. These, in themselves, suggest other things and have created another thread of enquiry. It is a question of going with the flow while maintaining focus.

This flow has moved in the direction of a curve from past to present, joining work from different periods in my work to almost forming a circle, but not quite. There is room for spiralling experimentation and expansion, perhaps more so than ever. The coming together of seemingly disparate parts of my practice is giving insights into my core interests – surprise is always welcome.

I am currently moving from one project to another. This allows me space to stand back and reflect on mistakes and possibilities. It stops me from overthinking during making and avoids my tendency to try and make something into what it is not.

Writing is where I can apply critical thinking when not engaged in making. This should be reserved for more intuitive action. I am mindful of the point at which intuition and freshness are lost.