Waiting for the King Tide, 2021
Waiting for the King Tide, like Below the Radar, is an ‘on-the-point-of collapse’ event which relies on the interconnectedness of its elements (and viewers’ amended behaviour) to exist and function. Viewers’ behaviour quickly changes to take account of the work's fragility and precarity: they visibly slow down and become more spatially and socially aware of their surroundings, themselves, and others.
Merleau-Ponty describes this as a reciprocal exchange of question and answer in which sensing takes place as the ‘co-existence’ or ‘communion’ of the body with the world. This work is a reminder of being connected to the wider world - my body is not simply IN space but lives and inhabits it in relation to the world.
The single willow rods in this work, gathered from the Lincolnshire coast, are bound together with ‘life-boat-orange’ builders’ line. They are tightly anchored to the metal rod (or rather held in place by forces of compression and tension) to achieve a temporary balance. I want to communicate something of the understanding that all matter, human and non-human, needs to be resolutely tethered to survive the constant friction and drag of the ebb and flow of the twice-daily tides of the sea.
The top-heavy form of this work is extremely unstable. It is supported precariously by the thin and delicate lower parts of the single willow rods. I particularly enjoy the tension of opposite forces working together to create a temporary state of equilibrium. This, as well as a ‘palpable precarity’ contributes to the work’s sense of movement and change. In their singular form the willow rods are flexible and easily breakable but together, united, they become tougher, resilient – impossible to bend or snap.
The accidental drawings created by the liveliness of the willow successfully carry the eye above and beyond human scale to trigger new connections between the work, the building, and the viewer. Their lightness and triviality and even their delicacy are the very things that give them worth. In their compelling vibrant spread, I discover a renewed awareness that gravity’s irresistible pull on all things effects and connects human and non-human without prejudice.
The fragility, precarity and vulnerability of Waiting for the King Tide and Below the Radar present themselves boldly, even shamelessly in the monumental space of the deconsecrated St John the Divine church. Heightened by the building’s vast stillness and silence, the more-than-human remains engaging, timeless, and as uncanny as ever.
In this unique setting, I am reminded of an inspirational quote from The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish, An Enquiry Concerning Nonhuman Understanding - The Understory of the Understory, by Simone Kotva,
‘What the spiritual life makes possible is not the surrender of the body to spirit but rather the surrender of the spiritual senses to the material - this is theological recognition’.