The heroes of my childhood were naturalist explorers. The books relating the expeditions of Gerald Durrell to capture various obscure creatures for zoos were like candy to me. But best of all, and most important of all, for the seven year old me, was anything to do with Charles Darwin's voyage of the Beagle, and what he discovered. The descriptions of the how and why of the adaptations of finch beaks on the Galapagos islands were my Rosetta stone. There is a reason that things look the way they do - the reason is that they become the way they are in response to the challenges of environment, governed by paces, possibilities, and limitations inherent in their intrinsic nature.
Structure that can be mapped, with the possibility of freedom to adapt to it, even thrive in it - that was a deal I was willing to consider. I think of my art as a commitment to taxonomy. I do not, however, trust anyone else to discern what needs mapping - who knows what part of the unknown is mine to explore. So I make my own maps.
Gradually the mapping revealed certain constants. Most of them are indeed environmental, and at the same time, very personal. Example: I live in a world of flowers. I recognize that my life, and the lives of most living things, depend on the existence of flowers. I happen to adore them, so I draw them, paint them, plant them, study them, and position them as motifs in the maps of my soul. And I recognize them as reoccurring subjects in my art.
There is, for instance, The Rose. In my garden, it's an old rose - related to those exchanged by the lovers, poets and painters of long ago, those exchanges flashing like stars in a slow-growing constellation linking the present with the past. Who could see a rose, having read Blake, without remembering "the invisible worm that flies in the night"? Every time I paint a rose, whether because it appeared in a moment of beauty for no reason at all, or was handed to me by a lover, a new star is noted on the Omnichronic map. You can find it by following the line called "roses" or by following the line called "spiral formations" - or even something like "things that blood splotches on a shirt can be mistaken for", or, of course, "stereotypical love gifts". I like to move from image to image on threads of meaningfulness ~ I know I AM related to spiders, because I recognize the usefulness of webwork. (See, or rather, hear, "Hanging by a Thread" in The Road.) Perhaps all this is interesting only to me.
But before we move away, in this little drawing exhibition, from the seen to the unseen, here are some of the maps I've drawn to help me find my way through the universe - or is it a multi-verse? - of my Omnichronic. Every time I make a new piece of art, or contemplate something that might be the subject of a new piece, I ask myself - where does this fit in the pre-existing scheme of things, and in what ways does it open a new pathway?
A diagram of power configurations on the stage for The Road.
Diagram of fire motif relations in The Secret Commwealth, branching outward from a song.
Diagram of the Fire quarter of The Approach of the Mystery.
Wheel of the seasonal and poetic motif relations in The Secret Commonwealth.
Map of motif relations in the 36 Ballads of the Barefoot Mind.
Diagram of the elemental motifs in The Approach of the Mystery.
Card labyrinth used by dancers in The Approach of the Mystery.
Diagram of cross referenced entrances and exits in The Secret Commonwealth.
Map and score for "Copper House" ~ made for Jody to use while working on the recording of "Torch". (The red verticals are the sounds of a foghorn that pace the music.)
The master map of The Omnichronic does exist, showing an axis moving up from the abyss of sleep into consciously created structures - but it's on a big piece of cloth, too large and pale to see much of in a photograph.