In the Japanese art of Kintsugi, a broken vase is not repaired in a way that would hide the cracks. No attempt is made to make it look as if it were perfect once more, and had never gone through the experience of breaking. The cracks are considered beautiful. They are marks of rites of passage and persistence through time. As the Sufi poet Rumi said, the cracks themselves are beautiful. They are where the light gets through.
We all begin our lives unscarred. A newborn has not yet taken her first steps into the world, and has not yet had the opportunity for events to occur that would change her. As we move through our lives no single one of us remains intact. We all have our particular cracks and signatory bruises, and even though our culture reveres unblemished images, it is that very striving for perfection that renders us devoid of character and alien to one another. In our strivings to hide what is human and real, we are cut off from ourselves and the earth that bore us. It is the cracks that unite us. They are what we all have in common. They mark us as beings who are part of, and subject to, the changes, trials and joys of this planet.
I began painting in 2019, when life events transpired to shatter how I had once gone through the world. It happens to so many of us at midlife. I began to pick up the pieces and sort through them – those I must keep, hard as that may be, and those I could now let go. In piecing what I am back together I found something emerging that was not foreign, but also not familiar. In my art I hope to reflect this idea; the idea of not hiding the parts of us we hope to expunge from ourselves instead of integrating. Those parts that have been broken, and those parts that are gems we never recognised. We are all forever rebuilding ourselves with what remains when the world turns.
The themes of my art are nature and the old gods – from which we were born and to whom we shall return. In all our attempts to dominate nature, and break it beyond its capacity to heal, she will persist. She will burst forth in new forms, or avenge herself when we treat her with contempt. Long after our species is gone, she will be there – in some form or other – to breathe life into what is left behind.
I grew up on New Zealand's West Coast, on a remote peninsula with the roar of the sea from three directions, and an address of “Rural Delivery 2”. The road on which we lived was unsealed, and had no name. I felt like the constant boom of surf was my own song, and that the cool, long sigh of ancient forests was my very breath. As an adult, travelling the cities of the world, I slowly lost something I could not name. It left a hole. An empty space that sang of something older, wilder, and far less ideal than what I believed was expected of me.
After my experience in 2019, I began to rummage through the old tales, memories, myths and legends. What I found was timeless, countless beings, people and species who had gone through shatterings far worse, and yet similar to my own. I found the common thread of nature to be a healing force. The trees and the beings that lived among them, the carriers of wisdom. Between the images of archetypal forces and universal experience, I found pieces particular to myself. I am in the process of putting them, us and I together. A union in which the cracks and wear of time will be honored. A union where nature takes her place as the mother and destroyer of us all, and where perfection is joyously and lavishly, abandoned.
There is a crack, a crack in everything. It’s where the light gets through - Leonard Cohen.
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