Monday, 30 April 2012

Call Three: Sited/Off Sited


Being physical in the great outdoors has always been more than just a hobby to enjoy, for me it is a need. I have never been one to settle in one place for long, I get ‘itchy feet’. If I cannot move freely, make the change that is needed I become suffocated and feel constrained and restricted, mentally, emotionally and physically. Because of the way modern life is now, the way humans have adopted a way of living that encourages us to ‘settle down’, to find a permanent place to work and live we have neglected our nomadic instincts.

At one time humankind were in touch with the cycles of live on Earth and would move with the seasons to places where they knew there would be food and kinder climates, always aware of their connection with the Earth and the world around them, just as the other animals of the planet still are. By living this nomadic existence we would have had little need for material objects other than tools, clothing and shelter thus having a minimal effect on the Earth and its environment. We would have been conscious of our existence as part of the whole so would have been aware of the fact that by harming the Earth we would be harming ourselves. Claiming ownership of land would have been an alien concept. Now we are encouraged and conditioned by an industrial culture to own, use and consume with little concern of the consequences. We are very much aware of the destruction we are causing but the acknowledgement of the pain this causes is too much to face, so to make ourselves feel better we do what we are told will make us feel good again, consume. We are told what to buy, what to wear, what to eat, where to live, how to live, what is right, what is wrong, we are even told who we should and shouldn’t be. All this goes against our deepest, truth felt feelings of what and who we are.  

“ an almost total eclipse of the ‘life-world’ in a modern era is a nearly complete forgetting of this living dimension in which all our endeavours are rooted.” (Abram 1997 Spell Of The Sensuous p.41)

I have become fascinated by those that decide to go against what is considered normal, they have listened to their hearts and followed an instinct that drives them to want to go on a journey of self discovery to find a truth that feels real and right for them.

This search for something real and right is why I walk. My practice is about a search for something beyond the constraints of society and its expectations and a connection to that cosmic something that flows through everything. Often those that chose to ‘opt out’ get rid of all their possessions, other than the essentials and are drawn to the wilderness where they have space, solitude and freedom. They chose to live off the land and travel on foot, not having to rely on anything or anyone but themselves and their intuition. They try get away from the influence of a materialistic culture to reconnect with the flow of nature that we are all interconnected with in order to find an inner truth. However, these adventurers often come up against the harsh realities of living in the wilderness. They usually enter into such explorations knowing the consequences and challenges that this way of living entail and yet are willing to take the risk having said their goodbyes.           

As time goes on and my family grows up, I am becoming very much aware of my need, an inner pull and yearning that calls for me to rid myself of pointless possessions and make preparations for my ‘road trip’ of discovery. To do this I must prepare myself mentally and physically so that I can take on the challenge with confidence in my capabilities. 

“To the desert go prophets and hermits; through deserts go pilgrims and exiles. Here the leaders of the great religions have sought the therapeutic and spiritual values of retreat, not to escape but to find a reality.”
(Jon Krakauer 2008 Into The Wild p.25)  


With two colleagues form Studio 11 I plan to go wild camping on the Gower Peninsula in Wales 5-7th May. We will be taking all that we need for the trip in rucksacks so can only take what we can carry.  The experience will be documented through photography, sketches and a written journal. 

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