Sunday, November 20, 2016

1480 and 1984

Saw the Bruges triptich of 'The Last Judgement' today, one of two versions attributed to Hieronymous Bosch (the other is in Vienna). The newly restored painting in oil on oak panels is currently on display at Arentshuis Museum. The transition from heaven to hell via the middle panel over which Christ sits in judgement flanked by trumpeting angels seems to be as much about a change in weather and atmosphere as a judgment between good and evil.  From left to right there is a transition from pale blue sky through grey clouds to a darker and more noxious red and black smoke filled hell of cities burning on the horizon. In the middle and foreground is a watery grey and brown terrain in which half human/half animal creatures cavort and play or submit to extraordinarily ingenious tortures. Both the anonymous naked and the more identifiable clothed people, including bishops, friars and nuns, inhabit a sinful world in which the ordinary paraphernalia of everyday life like a knife, a funnel, a slipper, etc., are transformed into a rooftop, a sailing ship and other whimsical contraptions. 

Hieronymous Bosch, Last Judgement, 1480 or later, oil on panel, Groeninge Museum, Bruges. 

If Bosch's atmospheric sky is an expression of the opposition between good and evil and heaven and hell then it might fit the thesis of Alexandra Harris' book 'Weatherland' which charts our inner and outer physical and emotional weather through art and literature under 'English' skies. Reading it I couldn't help thinking that the weather, rather like the art and literature, has a tendency to cross national borders, a fact born out by the influence of Claude on Turner or Dutch landscape artists like Van Ruisdael on Constable.  Perhaps English skies are in fact more European than some would care to admit and the weather a more connected global phenomenon that we sometimes make it in our local and perhaps parochial way. 

The politics of the 15th and 16th century Netherlands were certainly as confusing and conflicted as our present day media driven 'post truth' politics and the world as uncertain, unstable, disillusioning and apocalyptic as Bosch's ordered vision of disorder suggests. Its hard not to be cynical about the motives behind the lust for power, material gain and pleasure when they are pursued by pious hypocrites but then who is not deluded by the same kind of folly in one form or another?  In 'Figures of Speech. Picturing Proverbs in Renaissance Netherlands' Walter S Gibson analyses the meaning of another painting by Bosch, his 'Haywain'. 

'Bosch thus employed hay as the most fitting symbol of the intrinsic worthlessness of all temporal possessions, honors, and pleasures, especially when measured against the spiritual "goods" that the blessed souls will enjoy after death.'

Hieronymous Bosch, Haywain, oil on panel, Madrid, Museo del Prado.
 '... The haywain shows how the transitory goods and honors of this world are greedily sought after by rich and poor alike, and not only laypeople but those in religious orders as well...... In the immediate foreground of the haywain Bosch.. shows us  various species of avarice. This the man wearing a tall hat and accompanied by a child at the lower left may well be a false beggar, one who does not need to beg. Nearby another man has set up a table with jars, charts,and other paraphernalia of the itinerant quack, his hay stuffed purse testifying all too clearly his success with the gullible.'

 George Orwell's book '1984' and the current adaptation for the stage which we saw at the London Playhouse Theatre last month presents a vision of a particularly modern kind of totalitarian hell, one in which Newspeak has corrupted and devalued language, 'Big Brother' is always watching you and 'thought police' are everywhere, especially through the 'telescreen' and anyone guilty of thought crime ends up being tortured in room 101 and all trace of them eliminated by The Ministry of 'Truth'

Coming out of the Playhouse Theatre with the art trip students a few weeks ago the play seemed as relevant to the present times as the book was when it was when it was first published in 1949.  We might say the same about Bosch.

Monday, November 14, 2016


Laying a floor is a bit like making a Victoria sponge - you need to mix a lot of ingredients first, place them them down in layers and wait for them to set before you can put the icing on top. Finally last weekend the blue stone tiles were laid into place and all I need to do now is fix the stone skirting tiles and do a beeswax polish to bring out the colour -but that can wait for the moment when all the windows are sanded and painted. The pictures below show both before and after with summer excavations and the autumn capping of the finished work.

The cold November nights are dark early and at the weekend with a fire in the wood stove and candles lit inside and out the gathering darkness and enfolding silence is an almost dramatic event. 

This sense of interiority that comes from being present inside a small room illuminated by natural light and in this case inner visionary light is certainly implicit in Robert Campin's small painting of the Annunciation.  Everything in the room is ordinary, quotidian, the tiled floor, the door to another room or hallway, the wooden beamed ceiling, the stone fireplace, the plain lime plastered walls, and the shuttered windows. There is calm, seclusion and receptivity in the relaxed and reading Virgin whose hand gestures inward to her heart and who modestly looks down as the angel, the only obviously supernatural presence, greets her. Here all the simple objects that furnish a room are loaded with significance if we know how to read them and like clues in a mystery point to a birth and a death in the past, present and future, both inside and outside of time. 

'To see the world in a grain of sand 
And heaven in a wild flower 
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand 
And eternity in an hour..'

'Auguries of Innocence' by William Blake

The Annunciation (Brussel version), by Robert Campin 1420–1440. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
At Tate Modern Bhurpen Khakar's 'Yayati' offers another (deliberately and confusingly erotically ambiguous?) angelic visitation - this time one in which Puri, one of Yayati's sons, offers his youth in exchange for his father's old age. A sacred and profane image from the Mahabharata as lurid as the drunkeness of Noah in the Old Testament.

At times the paintings in the exhibition 'You Can't Please All'  remind one of David Hockney's early faux naif pop art paintings, R. B Kitaj's collage like paintings of literary and historical figures grafted on to distorted landscapes or the poems of C. P. Cavafy with their evocation of desire and memory and almost painful honesty about human encounters. These hybrid paintings fuse India in their colour and evocation of traditional and popular paintings and European religious art of early Italian Renaissance. 

Yayati returns the youth he has taken from his son Puri and returns to old age having come to a realization after years of indulgence in sense pleasures that....

....not all the food, wealth and women of the world can appease the lust of a single man of uncontrolled senses. Craving for sense-pleasures is not removed but aggravated by indulgence even as ghee poured into fire increases it....One who aspires to peace and happiness should instantly renounce craving and seek instead that which neither grows old, nor ceases - no matter how old the body may become." 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Three Poems by Shih-Shu

Study the way and never grow old
Distrust emotions; truth will emerge
Sweep away your worries
Set even your body aside 

Autumn drives off the yellow leaves
Yet spring renews every green bud
Quietly contemplate the pattern of things
Nothing here to make us sad

emptiness is a long story
that swallows up heaven and earth
a splash of ink turns into two dragons
stray clouds become an azure dog

lurking in my bowl: mountains,
wheeling through my breast: a sun, a moon
a fierce wind shreds the ancient mists
grasses and trees bow before its snap and snarl

The human body is a little universe
Its chill tears, so much wind-blown sleet
Beneath our skins, mountains bulge, brooks flow
Within our chests lurk lost cities, hidden tribes

wisdom quarters itself in our tiny hearts
Liver and gall peer out, scrutinize a thousand miles
Follow the path back to its source, else be
A house vacant save for swallows in the eaves

Shih-Shu – late 17th- early 18th cen.
Translated  by James H. Sandford

Taken from 'The Clouds Should Know me By Now, Buddhist Poet Monks of China.
 Edited by Red Pine and Mike O' Connor  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Floors, photos, realism and Fred Bell.

These last few weeks have seen the large doors placed and the clay balls, breathable membrane and lime-slab laid in the living room ready to set the blue stone tiles into sand and lime. Slowly surfaces that were stripped, cleaned and patched and consolidated are getting their final layer of plaster or tiles before being painted or polished. Speed is not the thing here but falling in with the optimal natural pace and condition for each job and responding to the opportunities that arise at each moment in the course of planning the evolution of the phases of completion - the journey is after all the destination in this renovation.

Learning Dutch is the same. Six hours a week of formal evening classes and lots of informal practice and  'de woorden beginnen samen te hangen als losse kralen aan een draad'  This website below 'Dutch word of the day' gives some context behind words.

The sound of horse chestnuts hitting the kitchen roof and bouncing into the courtyard startles me into awareness of the present moment with regularity. One imagines the tree has a sense of humour and is both intelligent and watchful. The house and its contents are animate in every sense and one becomes alert to various states of mind, visual and material qualities of things in moments of solitude with a kind of heightened alertness.

The visit to  Musee d’ Ixelles for PHOTO-REALISM. 50 Years of Hyper-realistic Painting with students started me thinking just what the differences are between past and present exerience and understanding of this term.  The students spent the morning looking at the mostly American oil paintings in relation to 6 examples they were given of ‘realist’ oil painting from the last 600 years from Jan van Eyck to Michael Borremans with the aim of exploring to what extent the term ‘realist’ could be applied to the works in the exhibition compared to these other works from different social, historical and cultural contexts.

      The 60s 70s, when the earliest photo-realist painting were made, is the period of post-war popular consumer-culture and the counter cultural movements that questioned the ‘American Dream’. Were these paintings celebrations of iconic Americana like the diner, art deco architecture, classic bikes and cars with their fetishistic shiny reflective surfaces or was there a deeper and more ironic social critique at work in the obsessive and meticulous attention to detail in the bland and the banal surface reality of everyday life in a materialist world, without any spiritual dimension?  Were these painting in essence full with a kind of emptiness ?

The oil painting technique might be the same in Giovanni Battista Moroni's 'Portrait of a twenty nine year old man' from 1567 and Micheal Borromans 'Lakei' from 2010 but the sensibility of the painter towards the subject, the sharp psychological insight and the almost seductive confrontation of eye contact between the viewer and the viewed, the ability coordinate hand and eye to draw and paint in natural light from direct observation and the sharp quality of line are quite different in the Moroni to the fluid photographic surface and surreal subversion of the subject's averted gaze in the Borromans.

The photography of Horst Einfinger in the exhibition ' A Matter or Light' at the Galerie Pinsart in the  Genthof which I saw on autolose Zondag a few weeks ago revealed that the dialogue between photography and painting flows both ways. Horst's minimalist abstractions of architectural space create a kind of poetry of light and shadows that was also a homage to painters like Rothko. 

Illumination.  Horst Einfinger (Exit Magazine) 

'Things my mum and Morandi left behind'  Frederick Bell, 'Recollection' 2014 Ruimte Morguen, Antwerp
Frederick Bell

Looking at Looking

(An exhibition sequel to, ‘Some Corner of a Foreign Field….’ ) 

The Greene Gallery, St John’s International School, Waterloo.
Opening/Vernissage 18hr-20hr October 7th 2016
Exhibition closes 26th October
        This exhibition revisits an earlier one that Frederick Bell made specifically for the gallery at St. John's in 1995 entitled  'Some Corner of Foreign Field', a fragment quoted from Rupert Brooke's famous poem, 'The Soldier' which in 1914, during the First World War, evoked a patriotic sense of English identity.

St. John's and its gallery with it proximity to the earlier Battle of Waterloo fought in 1815 formed a significant site-specific context for Fred's exhibition which explored the way tourists to what is otherwise an unremarkable field in Belgium today were (as they indeed still are) conditioned by, carried with them and projected onto this place, consciously or unconsciously, significant images of the conflict and icons of national identity, culled from romantic or heroic paintings of the Battle featuring Napoleon and Wellington seen in historical collections like The Louvre.

The central concern of Fred's work, then and now, has been, as the title of this current exhibition suggests, to explore the nature of looking itself and to understand how personal, social, historical and cultural contexts both condition and 'frame' the way we choose, consciously or otherwise, to see the world and construct meanings around it and to examine and question these conventional and conditional realities by engaging the viewer in a visual dialogue with the work, its creative processes and the nature of perception itself.

Steve Scott, a PHD student at the Royal College of Art once asked Fred, "would you consider that any of the pieces of work you have done are ever finished" In discussions with Fred about his art it is clear that he sees his work as engaging both himself as the artist and the viewer in an ongoing process of making and remaking and of looking and introspection in which the individual pieces of work and the whole exhibition and its context are balanced and share equal value and importance for finding and connecting meanings.  Fred has said, " everything I do includes the history of itself and myself". This remake or sequel to the first exhibition can be better understood by considering that in the intervening years Fred's work has, in his own words, 'changed, becoming more open and flexible'.

Oscar Wilde once famously said in the context of his book ' A Picture of Dorian Grey,

'It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors"

It is a great pleasure and privilege to be able to invite Fred, who as been a personal friend for as many years, to make this exhibition and to collaborate with him and our current students once again in the context of the school, this gallery and our visiting artists programme and to invite our International, Belgian and local community to engage with us in exploring the nature of looking itself through the unique and special opportunity this exhibition offers us like a mirror in which to explore our own reflected minds in the inner and outer contexts that condition the perceptual realities we construct.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The shell of life.

" Memory is such a complex matter. Its not just mental, but physical. Its embedded in the landscape itself. Buildings are deeply interwoven with people's experiences - with their sense of identity, if you like."

 Otto Laird,  page 248 of Nigel Packer's, 'The Restoration of Otto Laird.' 

Otto, the fictional central character in this short book, was a Jewish refugee who fled the holocaust in Europe to find both an education and brilliant career in post war Britain and is now a distinguished aging architect living in semi-retirement with his second wife Anika in Switzerland. He returns to London to help the campaign to save the decaying Marlow House, the concrete modernist masterpiece of his early career and an embodiment of his youthful utopian vision, but which is now scheduled for demolition unless a case can be made for its social and cultural worth. Whilst he is there he revisits the places and memories associated with his first wife Cynthia and his own dystopian emotional life and manages, both by accident and design, to rebuild and restore relationships with significant others, especially his estranged son Daniel, and ultimately to be reconciled with his own inner self.

The books gentle urgency comes from the synchronicity in the aging process between a specific human body and life and a specific building and environment and it explores processes of both personal and collective memory as a potential agents in restoring, reconciling and aligning both inner emotional and psychological well being with the outer forms of architecture and space that form the theater for relationships of fulfillment, self knowledge and letting go.

Buildings and places, however large or small, are hinges on which we hang so much of our transient emotional life and although they sometimes survive us, like the hard outer shells of soft inner shellfish or crustacea, they too have no ultimate permanence, despite appearances to the contrary.  

The new rainwater collection tank (above) has arrived and looks very large, very green and very plastic. When it is finally installed it will need to be associated with some kind of creeping, hanging plant to soften its presence.  'P' has cut and fitted the reclaimed Travertine marble window sills in the living room and securely fitted the plates of cement board over the windows to create a better profile and surface for lime plaster. I packed the space behind with hemp insulation. (below)

 By making the small courtyard floor out of half brick 'cobbles' set into sand and lime in a grid pattern instead of the herringbone pattern I used in the hall, I can use as many of the reclaimed old bricks as possible and fit all those that come out of the house back into the fabric of the building when we shortly break the wall out to fix the new French windows into the living room. This traditional solution should create a very pleasant pattern, with tension between both regular and irregular shapes and colours and minimize both cost and waste without compromising either aesthetic quality or practicality. With gravel it would be difficult to brush the leaves up from the beach and chestnut tree or maintain in a weed free state.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Deconstructing 'self ' - Sophie Calle and the art of celebrating birthdays

Sophie Calle, The Birthday Ceremony, 1986, showcase containing various personal objects, 
Following a workshop exercise last week in school in which we were required to place a miscellany of four small things in an anonymous brown paper bag to represent our 'selves' to the others in the group who had to guess to whom they belonged, it struck me just how contingent on changing situations and contexts our perceived identity is in any given time and place, not a fixed or permanent essence that can be easily pinned down or reduced to one or another thing.  

How much it is individually and socially negotiated; constructed out of expectations projected by others onto the roles we are given to play as much as our own preconceptions and the qualities we bring to bear at the significant moments we are called on or feel the need to define 'ourselves'.    

Clearly we experience physical, emotional and mental changes internally and externally in the life cycle of our own bodies and the environment as they grow and age - nothing stays the same for long. We inherit so much from the actions and intentions of others before we were born and nature and nurture shape us long before we take ownership consciously of our own conditioning actions. 

All of this reminded me of Sophie Calle's 'The Birthday Ceremony' collections of gifted objects showcased in glass cabinets or her 'L'Hotel' series in which she assumes the role of a voyeuristic hotel maid who constructs the identities of the temporary occupants of the rooms she is cleaning, like a detective, from the physical evidence they leave behind. Concept, performance, installation, photography and text all play significant roles in the way she curates and presents the relationships between the public and private domains of the viewer and the viewed, framing the way we see and perceive the artificial 'realities' she constructs.  

Hotel room 47, 1981, Sophie Calle

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Italy, Flanders and the poetry of decay

Studio Bibliografico Benacense, Riva del Garda

Back from Italy after a short holiday with 'A' and already preparing for another hopefully creatively fulfilling academic year in Waterloo, Brussels and Bruges. When Pieter Bruegel the Elder traveled to Italy for the first time in 1552 crossing the French Alps on his outward journey and returning via the Tyrol and Switzerland in 1553 he made drawings of a landscape that was the diametrically the opposite to the Low Countries from which he had come. One can imagine how much more profound this experience would have been when the journey must have taken many months on horseback rather than just a day in the car. Time and space are relative and conditional experiential realities. Breathing and walking in the mountains, with their massive seemingly architectonic rock faces, challenges body and mind to find an equilibrium relative to what is large and open rather than small and enclosed in scale and proportion.  
Pieter Bruegel. Alpine Landscape

Dolomiti di Brenta above Molveno, August 2016
Apart from the pleasures of swimming, eating, walking and browsing old books (I managed to see and handle a lovely early printed edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses from 1551 at Studio Bibliografico Benacense, illustrated with small woodcuts like the one below) -
- Italy seemed to me to generate a veritable industry out of the 'poetry of decay. Antique broken statues and 21st century torn and patched jeans have all the impractical fashionable desirability of the romantic ruins that fascinated 18th century grand-'er' tourists than us, the mass consumers of a pre-packaged globalized travel industry. Surely this inversion of value adds a layer of irony to the seemingly irrational logic of markets that seek to exploit the luxury of designer poverty. Such ironies are not perhaps new.  The elevation of the impoverished and decayed to high status and value has had many patrons in Italian history not least amongst them St. Francis of Assisi who certainly created a poetry, both religious and aesthetic, from renunciation.

One's man's rubbish is another mans treasure.  

My own effort at attempting to create a visual poetry of decay, with trompe l' oeils oil paintings of torn paper and broken and damaged photographs, confirms that inner and outer worlds of experience are somehow aligned. 

Fugitive 4, oil on wood, 40x30cm
Italy also provided me with endless examples of the practical and visual qualities of lime mortar. The Roman Villa and Museum at Desenzano had both well preserved floor mosaics and a nice explanation of the various layers of lime mortar used to plaster its excavated walls

My own efforts with lime both inside and outside this summer have progressed to the point where most of the walls have been dubbed out and leveled with a first and second coat using the rough sand and lime mix and many have also had their final smooth layer with fine sand and lime mix floated up to a surface ready for a lime paint

I spent a week of physically backbreaking work digging out the living room floor down 30 cm ready for the breathable membrane, expanded clay balls and lime-slab which P and I plan to put in place ready for me to lay the natural blue stone tiles which are currently stacked under the stairs. I made a nice polish with pure beeswax mixed with turpentine from candles that came from a monastery we visited in the Meteora in Greece a few years ago and tested it on the surface with pleasing results. I will use this traditional mixture on the natural stone floor in the living room and the brick floor in the hall when it finally gets cleaned and polished. I found a quantity of larger 'moefen' and other broken bricks which are from the middle ages and later at the level of the foundations all of which have been saved to use in the open inner court space when I make another external brick pavement similar to the one in the hall laid in sand with a little lime mortar, but first we need to fix the French drain, rainwater collection tank and create a removable leveling cover for the septic tank. 

"Zoels in Ter Doest was zij opgetrokken in een groot formaat baksteen, 'moefen' genaamd. De kustreek bezit geen naturrsteen en blijkbaar hebben de cistercienzers aan het einde van de 12e eeuw in dit gebied de oude Romeinse techniek van het bakken van stenen opnieuw  in zwang gebracht," 

 Gids voor de kunst in Belgie.  J Kuypers, Prisma  1964 

Stone tiles stacked in hall

Beeswax polish on blue-stone tile under the red teapot

Outside I finished rendering the new kitchen and bathroom wall with a plinth to protect and visually unify the base and finished pointing and where necessary rendering the old wall opposite the kitchen window with a rough coat lime. Finally I was able to find exactly the right type of stone niche from a shop in Brussels on the rue Haute to provide a point of focus for this wall, connecting inside and out and aligning vertically and horizontally to the space. The stone niche originated as a small window in Rajasthan - the metal loops for a wooden shutter are still fixed in place. I find it brings a certain exotic theatricality, not out of place in gothic Bruges,  to the patterns and rhythms of the softened brickwork and animates the space with the flickering light of a candle, like an small external fireplace, contrasting and accentuating the natural colours of the sky and wall in the fading daylight.

Reading again the Dutch cultural critic Johan Huizinga's 'The Waining of the Middle Ages' in a battered old paperback edition I appreciated his ability to invoke and empathize with the experience of the pre-Modern mind. Certain insights resonate when they appear to be almost tangible realities.

 "But one sound always rose above the clamor of busy life and, no matter how much of a tintinnabulation, was never confused and, for a moment lifted everything into an ordered sphere: that of the bells."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Material Agency.

16th century brick poised for action in spotlight of sunshine
Have spent the first part of my holiday rebuilding the terrace wall with largely reclaimed 16th century bricks. These warm red-ochre hand-molded terracotta forms, with the look and feel of loaves of bread, seem to find their place in the gaping 'wound' of the damaged wall through their own material agency, nudging into each other and bedding down with lime mortar to heal the damage caused through the removal of the outside toilet and store-rooms. The skin of the wall has a surface of patterns and rhythms as structurally logical and aesthetically balanced as the internal dynamism of a musical score or literary composition. It bears all the scars of fire, water, violence, damage, time and decay with almost the same vulnerability and sensitivity as human flesh as well perhaps as the marks or repair and regeneration.  

When the whole wall is re-pointed and given a traditional lime painted finish it will form a large and visible presence, in the only 'outside' room inside the house. Viewed from the kitchen or living room windows it defines the unlimited space of sky in its finite frame through the changing play of light, form, texture, pattern, and colour across its surface where one can read human and material agency across time and space. Perhaps it will also form the wall for a climbing rose in a small enclosed kitchen herb garden or 'hortus conclusus'.

'The current engagement with matter in art and cultural history is however more far reaching and fundamental...... It has come about in part through a dissatisfaction with the oddly disembodied sign or image of recent art history, but it is also linked to a much larger cultural interest in things, which may in turn be spurred partly by the increasingly disembodied nature of information and images in the digital age. Against globalized networks of data, a focus on the importance of the handmade and specific object can be seen like an act of resistance, even a form of grace'  

This above quote comes from the introduction to 'The Matter of Art. Materials, practices, cultural logics c 1250-1750,' edited by Christy Anderson, Anne Dunlop and Pamela H. Smith and published by Manchester University Press. Reading the essays inside by various contributors reinforces the conviction that experiential knowledge and understanding can transcend abstract thought and language, something artists know intuitively by making things out of material processes and academics learn through theory rather than practice. Meaning emerges though the creative interaction and relationships between many agents, 'animate' and 'inanimate' including the materials, the process and the context as much if not more than any prior concept or idea 'imposed' on them by an individual. For some kind of enriched creativity to happen the right conditions, internally and externally, need to be present, recognized and actively cultivated. Cause and effect are not linear here but complex and perhaps ultimately mysterious, beyond the grasp of logical reasoning alone. 

Meaning in the context of the wall of a house as an active agent is inseparable from the sense of 'dwelling' in a mind/body in time and space.  

 In their essay 'Non-Human Agencies: Trees in Place and Time' by Owain Jones and Paul Cloke the writers quote Ingold's discussion of Breugel's painting 'The Harvesters' (below) to illustrate their assertions about the nature of non-human agents in creating a sense of place or 'dwelling'. 

1565 The Harvesters, Pieter Breughel the Elder. oil on panel.

.......In other words, dwelling is a complex performative achievement of heterogeneous actors in relational spatial/temporal settings.  Ingold (1993) illustrates these ideas in a discussion of Bruegel’s painting, 'The  Harvesters'.  In this picture, an old pear tree takes centre stage as farm labourer rest and eat in its shade in between harvesting a field of grain; behind these is a view of a valley and a distant village and landscape. Ingold says of the tree by its presence it constitutes a particular place. The place was not there before the tree, but came into being with it. [N]o other tree has quite the same configuration of branches, diverging, bending and twisting in exactly the same way. In its present form, the tree embodies the entire history of its development from the moment it first took root. And the history consists in the unfolding relations with manifold components of its environment, including the people who have nurtured it, tilled the soil around it, pruned its branches, picked its fruit, and – as at present – use it as something to lean against. The people, in other words, are as much bound up in the life of the tree, as is the tree in the life of the people (pp. 167–8).

Carl Knappett l Lambros Malafouris Editors Material Agency Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Approach. 2008 PDF file