“Maija, you are the day, and I am the night!”(Kimvi commenting on our work routines)
Following my last post about Day 1 in the Rotunda, I received some WhatsApp messages from my fellow collaborator Kimvi Nguyen. I am unlikely to see much of her in person during the project, as ‘life’ dictates a kind of tag team routine while I go in the morning and she after work, after dark. Her messages showed she had arrived, and after some difficulty accessing the building left me a surprise for me to find the next morning.
My second day on ‘lily-pad island’ was spent preparing my thoughts. I wrote a stream of consciousness on paper, in which I asked myself…
“Where am I in all of this?”
I began giving voice to the water all around me, “I am not the sky or the trees you see reflected here…” that sort of thing. And I remembered the membrane or ‘skin’ of the water. I noted it was the border between “above and below”.
Frankly, day 2 was miserable.
I thought I would enjoy having the space to myself but there was a lot of “what’s the point?” thoughts. I want to do something meaningful, and here was my mind going blah blah blah. It would be all to easy to do what comes naturally which is to bounce off other people, energise their work with sparks of inspiration and get lost in an entanglement of material dialogue. I love it, but I don’t need the Laboratory of Dissent to be able to do that.
In this space, I don’t want to disperse my energy through the invisible ocean like salt.
WHAT DO I WANT TO SAY?
I am not going to exhibit ‘salt in water’; not literally, not metaphorically.
The 3 Whispers — that’s me, Julia and Kimvi — we three are using our first two weeks as research and development time. So I will come back to this question ‘what do I want to say?’ and ‘what is my dissent?’ when I have alchemised the elements I have chosen.
I don’t need the night to access the dark.
The outdoors is my darkroom I realised earlier this year, commenting on the feeling of surprise I get when I process digital film in this new way that contains the same excitement of my analogue days. By blending two layers together, I am collaborating with the software, and the elements gathered by the camera.
The pen drawing ‘lilypad’ is a depiction of a dream I had in which I was in a substance of darkness and rising up, up, up.
I realised I was being lifted up by a large lilypad upon which I stood.
It lifted me to the surface of the ocean of darkness and it was a bit of a shock – so empty and airy up there. (I didn’t stay long!)
So imagine my delight at finding lily pads here.
My third day was positively aquatic. Arriving early, I did some research to find out what I could about water lily’s. I took photos of Laurence Rushby experimenting with cyanotype paper, and welcomed David Dixon, Sharon Harvey and Susan Merrick onto the island in the water. Sharon Harvey watched me finish making my paper wig of ‘thought strands’ and she made drawings of multiple happenings.
Day 3 research; my notes on water lily’s
Water lily’s grow in water 5 meters deep or less. They grow with their roots in the mud at the bottom of a body of still or slow moving water.
They focus their energy on maintaining strong leaves which grow on the surface of the water.
“Their leaves and stems contain wide air spaces that run all the way down to the roots which provide bouyancy via a reservoir of carbon dioxide and oxygen.”www.sciencing.com/water-lily-adaptions
Lilypads are home to beetles, mining midges, moths, and caterpillers that live for six days and can even swim! (They swim to land to build silk lined cocoons).
Stomata on the top of the leaves take in co2 and expel oxygen (photosyn-thesis). The largest known flower was a water lily measuring 20cm.www.devonwildlifetrust.org/wildlifeexplorer/wildflowers/white-water-lily
There are approximately 70 species of water lily which includes 5 species of lotus.
The giant water lily, native to Brazil and the Amazon River Basin only blooms at night and the flower lives for 3 days. They change colour when pollinated by beetles, becoming a pinky purple colour, and they attract beetles by giving off a “butterscotch and pineapple” scent! It dominates the watery environment and other plants like algae can’t live under the giant leaves, but they support other lifeforms instead. (Lily-trotters!?)ww.tolweb.org/treehouses
Water Lily symbolism can be found in ancient Egypt and Greece as well as throughout Europe.
The plant is associated with:
- Nymphs hence the name ‘Nymphaeaceae’
- The sun god Ra (who emerged from a primordial water lily)
- The astro-sign of Cancer
- Spiritual Enlightenment
- The crown chakra.
(source: academic.oup.com/jxb/article/60/9/2461/514910 and universeofsymbolism.com)