Wednesday, May 21, 2008


A Middle aged man sometimes unexpectedly finds himself with a chunk of spare time amongst the activities of his day. A rare occurrence, he makes certain when this happens that he uses this time in the best way he knows how – by doing precisely nothing. We find him sitting on the kerb idly tossing pebbles amongst autumn leaves at the back of an inner city hotel. His thoughts run.

There is a tree roughly opposite his seating place, nearly empty of leaves but laden with a city of birds. The man has never seen so many birds condensed into a single location. Each branch droops under the weight of its occupants. The man thinks that the tree is like a kaleidoscope of chittering shapes and colours. He spots fantails and sparrows and finches and blackbirds and native pigeons and waxeyes and thrushes, loosely assembled into specie-based factions. He feels for the braches that support a large group of heavy looking birds, blackly silhouetted against the sky.

A woman stands underneath the tree by the road dressed in a vivid Cobalt blue coat, black leggings, black boots. She has a felt beret pushed rakishly over the side of her shock of auburn hair. Her eyes are furtive. The man notices the sky behind her melting slowly from azure to light pink to something more like her coat.

Overhead the birds continue their recreational politics, preening, or jumping from branch to branch. The man wonders if he is foolish to consider that two birds sitting snugly against one another may be in love. Love in high branches, a concentric safety, where two hearts orbit each other.

Just then an old car pulls up and the woman gets in without a word. As she does she casts her gaze across the scene, something between a survey and a goodbye. Her eyes pass over the spot where the man sits but they don’t linger. As the car starts up and crawls forward there is a sharp retort from the exhaust, a gunshot-like backfire. The tree explodes in a squall of tawny arrows as birds flee the sound in every direction. For a moment the air is filled with a haphazard firework as the fleeing birds exodus radiates them outwards. The flight of individual birds appear random but the combined shape of their flight makes the sky look like a black firecracker has exploded – silhouettes against a steadily more blue sky. Crazy cinders drop and swerve as like finds like. Out of the initial chaos small bands become groups become packs. Only a few seconds have passed and a small haze of blue smoke hangs lazily over the road.

The tree is shivering its relief, every bough lightened, like a spring released. As it quivers an organic dancing the man thinks that it must momentarily feel like a sapling again, light and joyous. He is reminded of the way he felt when he heard his partner had become pregnant – two years ago.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I guess that humans are just pretty complex things. Either screaming bloody everything’s into nothing, or whispering hollow nothings into everything. Perhaps we can think for a moment of humans as celestial bodies – stars, planets, asteroids, dust. “dust as dust as dust” as Sylvia Plath so eloquently and frankly writes. Perhaps our own situation in the cosmos is actually pretty rare… a number of spinning globs of matter in near perfect arrangement around our star, concentric circles, galactic ripples. Maybe this is like our version of the nuclear family, the way things settle into place and start to produce that happy illusion of inevitability, when really, we are much more akin to those chance beings – bodies in elliptical orbits – like Hailey’s comet. We perhaps only skim in and out of these temporary pools of gravity, changing and being changed by them.

I think perhaps we find ourselves surprised when entering into relationships we expect to be concentric – nuclear – to find out that actually this gravity is only a temporary affair. What felt irresistible is a force that will propel you just as far away as you were before. The same force that attracts will also eventually sling you away, so gracefully and carelessly as to feel unfathomably cruel – such simple beauty – inflicted.

What appeared to be a singular attraction is shown to be a mere miracle of gravity – the thing that so comforts, so anchors us – that calls us towards home, cosy terra-firma is actually equally a force of repulsion. The thing that draws you inwards, that we perceive to be a singular calling, is actively pushing you outwards, into the cold of the world. Excruciating beauty. A glimpse of the ocean through the trees. A siren forever wailing… Dust as dust as dust.

It is a curse that in sadness there is great joy, that in joy there is profound sadness, that in relationships you are alone, and alone are companioned with humanity. It is a curse that we have the ability and freedom to think abstract thoughts, to link things alien to one another, with nothing more than words – inadequate ciphers! It is a curse that we cannot possibly condemn this to evil, because it is this curse in which we show our greatest possibility, our greatest wealth, our proverbial philosophers stone, creation.

No divine thing, creation, entirely human. Creation from silver tongues, from honeyed lips, from lithe fingers and livid flesh, from the darkest demon filled recesses and the most fragile sun bleached realisations. Forever Sisyphus, forever happy, forever sad, lonely elliptical asteroids.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

many one thing

Sand, Pillow. 2008

The last show at Happy. Images of this work of mine, and of the rest of the show can be found at:

John Ward Knox. Curriculum Vitae