Landscape with Barcode – Jan Woolf, 2022.
We scape and we scope it. Both as a way into ourselves, and a way out of ourselves. Constable said that landscape was ‘another word for feeling.’ Mother Earth. Congealed energy. I got drawn into painting again last summer. Depressed after the long haul of lockdown (another form of congealed energy) I took a walk in the South Downs and ‘All at once I saw a host of golden – CORN. Ha – I thought, landscapes are corny, no? NO. If you paint what you feel internally as well as externally – you plant a part of the world inside you forever. This is the dialectical opposite of Rupert Brook’s rather Imperialist ‘If I should die think only this of me, that there is a corner of the world that is forever England.’ Since I seem to be peppering my piece with the work of others – here is Susan Sontag.
‘Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others.’
That’s what happened, attention as vitality. Painting Wheatscape on a breadboard (below) re- stored the vitality that lockdown had drained me of. I’ve been doing them for a year now – just the land, no one in them except invisible me. Wheatscape now has other owners, sold to people who ‘got it’. So they got it and made me happy with my first sale of this series. We drag our past with us into new work – and so we should. My art student/teacher past gave me skills, but the pith of my past has been writing and activism. This most recent one – (see thumbnail) is painted into the lid of a Macbook Air box – Landscape with Barcode. There it is, just inside the lid. A nice bit of art bollocks might say ‘referencing the neo-liberal pre-occupations of the local demographic’ – or some such. There’s the image of writing there too, like a mineral seam in a mine. I use photographs taken at the scene and print them on the reverse sides of pages of writing. I’ve got a recipe – for now. Clock the place. Take the photos. Print the photos, wet them, lay them on the board, box, wood – whatever. Peel them away and watch the water-soluble printing ink bleed into the surface. Season maybe with some crayon or oil-pastel. Draw into it if you like. And I like – always. Rip up the photos, tear into ribbons, collage them down, see what you get. Bake lightly in your brain for a few minutes – not too long mind, as the brain can spoil anything. So can the mind, but not consciousness. (Ooh, hark at her) Walk away from it. Go back. Squint – look at it sideways – intuit what else it needs from you. IF ANYTHING. My teachers Desmond Healy and Gianinna Delpino are supporting this process. Facilitating it. Rip – smudge – scribble – disrupt – turn it upside down. Thanks.
Wheatscape – Jan Woolf, 2022.