Friday, 26 August 2011

An obsession with birds...Kate MacDowell

I don't know what it is; the wings, I  guess? But that would be obvious. And the freedom attached to all things avian. The magic of flight, the frailty of the small bird and the power of the birds of prey. Hans Christian Andersen, it is said, related to the sparrow in his story 'Thumbelina' because flight is a metaphor for escaping  social constraint, as well as the physical freedom experienced with flight and travel. More than anything, it is something that we cannot experience, so we dream about it all the more.
     For a while I wrote about nothing but birds - they dominated what poems or rhymes I wrote, and I even thought of an idea for my second novel, which will be called, suitably, The Aviary, about a girl who loses her twin sister, only to believe her twin was turned into a bird to save herself from plunging from a cliff-top. And whenever I find work by artists that are also preoccupied with birds, I remember them and go back to their images again and again. One such artist is Kate MacDowell, who sculpts with porcelain. She creates many pieces that I love, not just birds, but all focus on nature and the impact of the environment on smaller animals. They also relate the fragility of human being's relationship with these creatures, which I find incredibly moving. Her ideas are so dark and sinister, though truthful, yet her pieces are made with fine porcelain of a bright white that lets in such light that appears ghostly and phosphorescent.

The Blackbird (written last summer)

The people won't talk to a bird,
they think it has not any word
so what's the point in being heard?

I couldn't help but clip its wings,
the blackbird, for the song it sings.
It brings to mind unnatural things.

I took the breath of this bird in
and put the body in the bin.
To me, it does not feel a sin.

But what's the point in spoken word
when all I say is just misheard?
I'd rather turn into a bird

and fly forever on the wing,
and to do fuck-all else but sing.
And conjure some unnatural thing.

find out more about Kate MacDowell here:

- N x x x

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