This is by way of a (temporary) farewell post, as I am shortly off to rural Korea on an artist residency with YATOO Korean Nature Art Association. It is a highly-regarded organization internationally – established 28 years ago, and still run by the original artists. Their approach is to work in harmony with nature, trying to find a balance rather than impose particular ideas or concepts. It can take the form of spontaneous performances, short-lived installations or simple drawings, using found materials. Often the work is only ever seen in photographs. But the photographs are potent, because they reflect a moment in nature that is deeply familiar to us all.
© Ko, Seung-Hyun: DOOR WAY 1985
A couple of days after I get back, I shall be making an installation for Organic Arts at West Town Farm, Devon – then soon after that, I am planning to begin an MA course in the relatively new field of Arts & Ecology.
Why am doing this – at an age when most people are thinking of retirement? Because I have to. Because I feel that working collaboratively and bringing together the best of creative and scientific ways of thinking is our only way forward in resolving our extremely serious environmental challenges. A sort of fusion of left and right-brain activity, perhaps. I think humanity as a whole must take a huge evolutionary leap forward as a matter of urgency, and this is my personal leap.
Which brings me to the subject of: ‘So what am I doing flying halfway round the world, pumping out carbon emissions for the sake of an artist residency?
There is, in fact, quite a debate amongst artists at the moment on this very topic. Of course I can give you many good reasons for my choice, just as I can find many reasons against it – and of COURSE I did some long and hard soul-searching, and talked to colleagues before deciding to go ahead. I think, in these matters, it has to be up to individual conscience. After all, which of us can ever know all the factors that are at play in any person’s choices?
For me, this is not just any old residency – otherwise I would not go to so much trouble. I have long admired the ethos of Yatoo, and their approach to nature. I have a lot to learn there, and a lot to give.
© Hae-Sim Kim: GLABELLA 2008
So here, especially for William Shaw, editor of ‘RSA Arts & Ecology’ is a ‘quote’ from Ko, Seung-Hyun, president of ‘YATOO’:
“I want to be a part of the nature and do my best to do so.
I feel the nature in itself is in a perfect state without any addition and without subtraction.
As an old poet did, I think about what I will do for the Nature.
Breathing in the nature is my pray and staying there is my faith. I want to follow the nature’s providence and reasonableness rather than apply my ideas to the nature.”
I kneel at my open bedroom window, gazing out across the estuary , absorbing the sounds of small birds and occasional quiet voices. Down below a postman crosses between the houses and a dog barks in recognition.
I look down at the gardens all around, bursting with life and fertility: one neighbour’s sweet peas, another’s runner beans, and our own overgrown bushes and rambling roses. I am not much of a gardener, though I mean well. I don’t like to tidy up nature too much. Maybe that’s why we have so many slugs and snails. White gulls are drifting in front of my eyes. In the distance I can see slow white waves moving across the water, and low-lying hills beyond that.
In front of me, little birds have congregated singig on the telephone wires, and our lavishly green bushes are waving in the breeze. I remember the gull chick, a couple of years ago, who fell on to the kitchen roof just below me here – and how I watched closely throughout the summer, building up a respectful relationship with him until he eventually managed to fly away. And I think of Fudgie , a more recent and less fortunate casualty, (the chick with the bad dress sense) who fell out of his egg on our high chimney, and landed under the car. (L blows nose).
Blimey, Linda, you are only going away for a month or so. Time to go.
I will try to send through the occasional snapshot or bit of news, and will try to keep up with yours – though I am not sure how much time or internet access I will have. Meanwhile, have a good summer and thank you everyone for all the warmth, love and laughter you have given me.