Reflection 4

Every generation of mankind inherits the fulness of the earth: the glorious diversity of the creation which is today called ‘the environment’.

It is well that I should speak of ‘the fulness’ and ‘the environment’ – not ‘our fulness’ or ‘our environment’ – because what  the  great preponderance of nations do not (or will not) recognize is that although we belong to the earth, and are part of all things that are in, on or over it – it does not, and they do not belong to us.

Although we have been at liberty to enjoy what we are part of, we must not do so as tyrants or marauders, but as both grateful beneficiaries and trustees. We must discharge our responsibility to future generations by safe-guarding the land, the sea and the air, and all creatures who abide in each.

We may explore, but not devastate; discard, but neither poison nor waste; dig or mine, but neither destroy nor throw into ruin; farm or hunt, but not with mindless greed or so as to endanger what remains; manufacture, but not contaminate or fail to renew resources; build, but neither overwhelm nor distort. We must use reverently, and not squander, infect, or annihilate.

Amidst peoples’ and nations’ scramble for power, for riches, or for futile diversions and entertainment, more than a word or two of exhortation is needed to induce us to turn our gaze, our thought, and our exertions to the glories of creation which – so long as they are conserved – yield joy, rest and inspiration.

But it is not the mouthings of officialdom, the stridencies of orators, or the  sterile repetition of television appeals that will persuade us to leave our daily and arid round of duties and concerns.

It is the poets, the artists, the composers and the craftsmen who, by striving for beauty and to share their glimpse of eternal verities, may entice us to pause – be it only for a few heartbeats of time – to perceive anew, and to wonder at, what the part  of the world in which we live is offering us.

Andrew Wells
Opening address: Spirit of Place
Yankalilla 1993

Soundboard 6

I have finally glued the two halves of the soundboard edgewise, meanwhile offering up – as Dad used to say – a wee little bitty prayer. The aim is to create a seamless seam, which is impossible: the seamless seam in the photos is the best I can do, for now, and in certain lights looks to be entirely acceptable.

Other lights, of course,  paint a different picture – but I can always invoke my default philosophy: celebrate the imperfections, as inspired by traditional Wabi Sabi.

My next task is to shape the soundboard, and thereafter plane/scrape the thicknesses down to those measurements indicated on the perspex template. It’s going to  be an interesting exercise; I have an idea I am headed for yet another ‘learning curve’….

Reflection 3

Apocropha: Ecclesiasticus 38

The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise. How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plow, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? He giveth his mind to make furrows; and is diligent to give the kine fodder. So every carpenter and workmaster, that laboureth night and day; and they that cut and grave seals, and are diligent to make great variety, and give themselves to counterfeit imagery, and watch to finish a work: the smith also sitting by the anvil, and considering the iron work, the vapour of the fire wasteth his flesh, and he fighteth with the heat of the furnace: the noise of the hammer and the anvil is ever in his ears, and his eyes look still upon the pattern of the thing that he maketh; he setteth his mind to finish his work, and watcheth to polish it perfectly: so doth the potter sitting at his work, and turning the wheel about with his feet, who is always carefully set at his work, and maketh all his work by number; he fashioneth the clay with his arm, and boweth down his strength before his feet; he applieth himself to lead it over; and he is diligent to make clean the furnace: all these trust to their hands: and every one is wise in his work. Without these cannot a city be inhabited: and they shall not dwell where they will, nor go up and down; they shall not be sought for in public counsel, nor sit high in the congregation: they shall not sit on the judge’s seat, nor understand the sentence of judgement: they cannot declare justice and judgement; and they shall not be found where parables are spoken. But they shall strengthen the state of the world, and their prayer shall be in the work of their craft.

Utagawa Hiroshige 2

Mitsuke – View of Tenryu River: designed by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 – 1858)

This is number thirty seven of Hiroshige’s 53 Stations of the Tokaido, originally published by Hoeido in 1833 -34.

During the 1950’s, a famous publisher, Takawizama, issued a recut series – and my print belongs to that edition. New wood blocks (based on the original design) were cut by the master carvers, and printed with traditional colours on fine hand-made paper.

I think Mitsuke is one of Hiroshige’s most evocative and successful prints. Of course, he had to make a living, and was obliged to churn out hundreds of designs – many of which were good enough for the purpose, but not of the highest standard.

Maybe fifty or so prints are works of genius. Unlike Hokusai, Hiroshige understood both the strengths and limitations of the medium – and his personality (understated, and perhaps a little melancholic) is beautifully expressed in Mitsuke. It is the creation of a poet; an impulse of the heart – which at the same time goes to the heart of the landscape.

Hokusai, I should add,  was undoubtedly a painter of genius, and a brilliant draftsman….but his woodblock designs seem to be more concerned with intellect than subject matter (or material): they are imposed on the woodblock without compromise.

That is just my view I suspect most art critics would  disagree….

Reflection 1

The disciple Kung-too said: All are equally men, but some are great men, and some are little men; how is this?

Mencius replied: Those who follow that part of themselves which is great are great men; those who follow that part which is little are little men….

Soundboard 3

I’m getting there. This is a practice run on a scrap of Huon Pine.

Once the pattern is cut, I will try my hand  at  relief carving. The lines must be carved  under and over as in a woven fabric.

It is a tricky business. My confidence levels have gone up a little, which is something: a  few months back the whole thing seemed impossible….