Monday, February 03, 2014

Watching The Universe Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm [unframed]

The farmer...was pointing out that the rain had the cotton crop’s attention – pointing out a change in demeanor of the crop that only a farmer could notice.

My brother, photographer Wilfred Brimblecombe, wrote this in a recent post on his BLOG Wilfred Brimblecombe: Photography, Stories, Ephemera future and past

It made me think about sixth sense...that feeling you get when you know something might happen, an intuition, a knowing, a connection.

Wilfred was writing about a photograph he had taken, a marvellous image of rain falling... but evaporating before hitting the ground. The photograph was taken on a farm not far from the grain farm where we both grew up. The owner of the property, where Wilfred took the photograph, is a childhood friend. He has been on the farm all his life, over half a century. You can see Wilfred's photograph by clicking HERE

In the foreground of the photograph is a cotton crop. The heavy clouds release rain, like a lace curtain against a far off sunset. Yet, the rain does not hit the ground. The flat horizon provides a clear and dramatic backdrop for the suspended rain...a suspended promise.

The farmer's sense of knowing...his sentient connection to his if he feels the crops relief that rain is on its way. Now that's interesting!
Elemental Oil on linen 50 x 94 cm 2009

I'll tell you about some more instances of sixth sense. And, these involve me and snakes.

As regular readers know, I grew up on a grain farm and then spent nearly two decades further west, in Goondiwindi, Queensland, Australia. We had many experiences with snakes on my parent's farm, especially during Spring and Summer. My brothers and I very quickly developed a sixth sense about where and when snakes might appear. I realise now that this was just part and parcel of being connected to the land...a knowing.

So to three snake stories...and there were many more than that...but three will do.

In Goondiwindi I lived on acreage outside town. I developed a large and beautiful garden. I mowed with a ride-on took me hours! Parts of the garden were more wild than others and if it had rained the long grass was rampant. I remember mowing grass that was about 60cm high. It was thick and lush and I had to force the mower through its density. I came to the outer garden fence, where there was a large gate, which I normally opened to mow both sides so the gate could open and shut easily. But, something held me back...a sense of dread...a sense of someone else being there. So instead of leaping off the mower, trudging through the grass to open the gate, I gingerly stood up, my feet straddling the mower. I could see a large, long, fat and luscious king brown snake entwined around the gate. Boy, did I sit down quickly, foot on the accelerator, going backwards.

On another occasion my brother Wilfred had come to visit us in Goondiwindi. We went for a walk in the garden and then took off over the paddock of long grass and assorted prickly plants. Suddenly I said to Wilfred, 'Stop!'. There was nothing under foot and no unusual sounds, but I had a sense of another presence. Sure enough, a huge king brown snake rustled through the grass heading towards the creek. Wilfred, almost sadly, lamented that after years of city dwelling he had lost the sixth sense of snake detection! Big sister still had it though!

But, my detection skills were not so good once I moved to the city too. Although one does not expect to see snakes in suburbia! Not long after I moved to the city I was walking along my street, just off the footpath, with some friends. It was dusk and we were going to a local restaurant for dinner. Suddenly I felt a strange tug at my skirt, at thigh height. I looked down at the same time as taking a powerful swipe with my hand. I saw the fangs of a snake gripping my skirt, lifting it out with the impact of my thwack! The snake released its grip landing a few meters away from us. We ran! I could not get over it...being struck by a snake in inner city suburbia, after years of frequent encounters with them out west. If I'd had a short skirt or pants on, the snake would probably have bitten gads!
Cosmic Dust Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2010

So, sixth sense? I suggest we develop it by close and recurrent interaction with our environment. We become almost one with the world, nature, patterns of life, systems. Farmers develop very acute sixth senses, like my brother's friend mentioned above. I am sure we all have various powers of sixth sense and intuition, but how are these affected as we become more separated from the natural world? We may develop other kinds of sixth sense that connect us to technology, but nature does seem to have a way of reminding us of its glorious power and strength in the face of the manmade! In fact, is it demanding us to take more notice of our separation from it?

And, what does modern cosmological research expose to us? The outer reaches of our 'environment' must include the Universe, from the quantum to the cosmic. New close and far perspectives demand our attention...look up and out from your iPhone and computer screen! The star dust within us is calling, agitating for our attention. It feels the possibility of a connection beyond our Earthly if it wants us to re-ignite its/our sixth sense in cosmic terms. Dormancy is not an option... is it?
Remembering The Reason Why Oil on linen 100 x 60 cm

And, one last question for this post...And, if our sixth sense, in relation to land and nature is diminished, how does this parlay into concepts of landscape?

Infinity Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm 2011

Here are two other recent posts which also discuss possible outcomes of a separation from the natural world. Both are about cars and driving. on the links.




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