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Rosalind is an artist and academic based in North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Thorough her work she addresses entanglements with nature, and aims to dismantle ideas of boundedness and control. She likes Tidalectics, collaboration, and rock pools. Her teaching practice centres around radical and feminist pedagogies, with an emphasis on inclusivity and empowering the learner. Rosalind works in printmaking, photography, and text

www.rosalindblake.com

Soul and Cell

a text by Rosalind Blake

 

When I spoke with Sue, in a tall room with a glass roof and rainwater dribbling down the wall onto a wedding party, she talked to me about her circles. We played with words to name them: soul and cell, seed and self. One world, togetherness, a bacterium, an iris, an aperture. What she and I circled together was encased in something craggy, but we chipped at it. Tapped away the crust until it cracked. Then levered it away in chunks until we had her collaborative idea, our mutual orb, out in the open. In the act of dialogue, we become lapidaries.

 

This orb of glowing colour changes from yellow to orange to red. Alizarin crimson, indigo, dark green. Into darkness, which is grief, sweet dark, bitter dark, Payne’s grey, BLACK. But darkness is a place of knowing, and if we tried to hide in the yellows and pinks, we’d be missing a vital part of the story. All that dark, rich undertow beneath our feet. Leaf mulch, burnt sienna, sub-terrain, undergrowth, where the real regeneration happens. Mycorrhizal rings connecting life forms and communing in secret mellifluous tones.

 

About the process, Sue said ‘Play until it resonates, makes a vibration. Let yourself be guided by it, knowledge beyond words.’ This strong thread exists between art-play and emotional exploration, and the lens of colour acts as a conduit. As Maggie Nelson puts it “Life is a train of moods like a string of beads and as we pass through them they prove to be many-coloured lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.” Nelson warns not to let yourself stay too long in any one colour cast. She says it could be ‘Deadly’! So the flux and fluidity is vital for life, perpetual movement, circling outwards. 

 

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.

(Rilke)

 

Rilke held the metaphor of a tree, year on year encircling itself, and I imagine moving in concentric circles, each one wider and stranger than the last. I think of a moon, “cold and still” (Spence). What does the circle mean to you? Does it hold you? Does it contain you, keep you out, keep you in? 

 

A while ago I wrote that emotion can be a power source. I think about it like a battery, or not-yet-invented charged ball of purple light. Something that might power a spaceship in a Sci-fi film. A firm liquid/solid, with an energy all its own. Emotional boundaries can hold us, like a tubigrip for the self. But boundlessness reminds us we are in a porous dance with every other living thing, every other cell that “rubs up against and inside of us” (Tamas), and this in turn brings us into conscious connection with our ‘One World’.