Image above: Andy Goldsworthy, Sycamore leaves edging the roots of a sycamore tree, Hampshire, 1 November 2013.
January 31st saw the first Mixing Bowl of 2017 and the first with our decided format of gathering to eat together, experience and discuss a work of art, and pray together. Andii Bowsher showed us the work of Andy Goldsworthy and we discussed the creation poetry found in the book of Genesis.
Goldsworthy appears to have invested time in noticing, his work shows an acute awareness and utilisation of colour changes in leaves and other natural/created forms; through arranging these items into gradients Goldsworthy draws viewers of his works into observing the gamut of colour and form present in the natural world, or ‘creation’ as some may prefer to call it – calling us back to the idea of a Creator, and the corresponding question of why all this colour and form exists.
We discussed what it might mean to be mindful of the world in the ways suggested by Goldsworthy’s practice, and how this may affect our response and relationship to it. For me, the question of why God made such an incredible created order is linked to my response to these forms. They act as a balm to my soul, in times of lament when I can’t understand suffering and disorder, the beauty I see outside refuses to lose faith and go away; I am reminded of the last verse of W. H. Auden’s ‘Stop all the clocks’:
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
I can empathise with Auden’s suggestion that these elements continuing after experiencing loss seems inappropriate. That all of creation keeps on asserting its holy goodness amidst suffering and apparent chaos sometimes seems absurd or contradictory. However I can also understand it as a sign of hope that goodness remains. Goldsworthy’s act of rearranging – his noticing, and then showing – reveals order amongst the disorder, and reminds me that all is not lost.
N.B. I really recommend a slow reading of Philip Larkin’s poem, ‘Coming’ – a beautiful (and joyful!) engagement with nature that HB’s Business Manager Louise recently brought to our attention.
Mixing Bowl meets twice monthly at Holy Biscuit to discuss art and examine its connections with the Christian faith, see here for more info