There are many of the land’s own stories that I will never know, but what I do know is that it holds my dreams and keeps me close. At the age of seven there was a moment when I fully understood my place in the world; that I had the globe beneath my feet, and the dome of the sky above. Lying amongst the blades of grass as I looked up, I knew I had an emotional and physical belonging to the soil and to the earth.
Dream: Zoom in to a wooden ear, framed in glass at the foot of a bed. The rest of the room is out of focus, but a figure seems to be asleep under the covers. In the course of the night, the outermost part of the ear grows 3 millimetres. Cut and pan to a field where women are harvesting crops in black long skirts, there are bagpipes playing in the background.
The land holds my dreams, and though these narratives may be disjointed and fantastical, the earth of our farm holds dreams of my father. As a child I realised that was an invisible, unspoken connection between people and I sought to prove that it existed between my father and myself. However hard I tried sending telepathic messages and trying to guess at playing cards, these attempts remained unfruitful. Last July, my father passed away. A few days after his passing, I dreamt of him at the farm and there was some comfort in that. However for me, my Dream of Dreams was the one about the wooden ear. A university student at the time, I recounted it to my father on the phone. For a moment he was quiet and then replied that a few days ago a bee had stung him on the ear and he had been laid up in bed. He added that he had been standing by some women in the fields at the time.
The land holds my dreams, it also holds my grief. My visual art practice has always been a place of honest expression for me. When my father started dialysis a few years ago, I started my ‘Antidote’ series. I felt my emotions as if I was the earth bursting open and the sky torn apart. Working through the layers helped me come to some kind of acceptance.
I recently read a comment by Rebecca Solnit, “We live inside ideas. Some are shelters, some are observatories, some are windowless prisons” - Whose Story Is This?, (2019.) I found this sentence very powerful. Not just for its precision and how it effortlessly touches on human experience, culture, history, knowledge and power, but for how it flips our usual perspective - that ideas live inside of us. What happens then, if we flip the question ‘What stories does the land hold?’ and think about ‘What stories does the land hide?’
Published on 10 November 2021