Lockdown has been and (sort of) gone, and we are now living in a new kind of 'normal'. The pandemic has, of course, changed absolutely everything - including my relationship with myself. So it only stands to reason that it has begun to considerably shape my art practice.
This blog originally started out as a reflection on how nature can sustain and heal; never have I felt so held by the landscape around me as during these troubled times. I need to be in it like I need to drink water - the fear and uncertainty has driven me to bathe in nature's restful arms and connect with her ever changing light every day.
I feel much more thoughtful about everything I do; I'm slowed down and picking through the pathway of my life much more carefully and with greater attention to the subtle detail that lies everywhere along the road. I still see conflict everywhere. The internal battles we fight as we struggle to attain that elusive sense of inner peace. The wars that rage in the name of justice. Is this just an inevitable part of our human condition? More and more I see the nuances - we are neither simply good or bad, the oppressor or the oppressed. We are everything. It's just what we choose to reflect upon most that ultimately shapes who we become.
This summer we decided to abandon plans to jump on a flight to somewhere exotic and follow that subtle, dusty road north to the Scottish Highlands, reaching Loch Lomond, Ben Nevis and the Isle of Mull; a part of our island almost outrageous with moody beauty.
On our route back home I managed to pay a mini pilgrimage to Moffat; the town undoubtedly the seat of my Scottish ancestors. I am a result of the Scottish Plantation, Scots Irish, a combination that regularly made me wince in the past as people would proclaim we were 'not proper Irish', and inevitably connect us with Protestantism, Unionism and the role of oppressor in the Troubles.
For some time I considered that I had no right to sadness about the conflict that still rumbles in Ireland - surely I could lay no claim to sorrow about a situation that I must have benefited from? Now I know that no-one gains any advantage in war, killing, oppression and deep division. It may look like some have an upper hand from certain vantage points, but none of us know peace until we all know peace.
We all have the right to grieve the deaths of people killed in violent action, no matter whether we knew them or share the labels that others have placed upon us. A life is a life. We are all one people under one sky.
Gravestones bearing the name Moffat in the town's cemetery