Each month a member of the art.earth Board of Directors selects a member to feature, to become our Artist of the Month. What follows is a response from that artist to some questions and a discussion, together with some examples of their work.
This month (July 2021) our featured artist is Ann-Marie Fairbrother, selected by Lucy Kerr.
About my work
Main image (above) The Break In – spontaneous play. Scilly Isles 2021
Currently my practice is about entering the spontaneous moment, entering uncertainty with a quest for authenticity and presence, of being in Wu Wei, a place of effortless action.
There may be joy, frivolity, mischief and unexpected encounter, fear, doubt and other shadows to meet that guard the gateways.
I have again been looking for anchorage, a place to land and to these ends or beginnings I revisited Cornwall where my studio sits in a shipping container revaluating potential for setting down deeper roots again.
After a series of griefs, I had to leave my beautiful studio with the Borlase Trust and step back to London where I trained in Craniosacral therapy, Herbal Medicine and Kung Fu.
On this, my first post lockdown visit I picked up the thread of a piece I had left waiting there, the first question it gave me was where? There are specifics, fixed points of reference in the piece and more to know through the finding and doing.
I had a potential place in mind but looking for the right piece of rock was like looking for a needle in a haystack, so I decided to douse in a playful way over our well-used OS map of Penwith, bizzarely two places arose clearly, I was not expecting this. I chose to visit Tregeseal stone circle it being solstice eve and Carn Kenidjack nearby.
The visual of the plumb line floating over the earth links into my often felt sense of rootlessness and searching, the process is the work.
Art mirrors life here unexpectedly, revealing inner workings, reflecting me to myself.
I knew the artwork was about gifting back, but I am shown this questing for a place to land, or anchorage again.
I met a man on the way who told me he was planning to have his ashes scattered on Carn Kenidjack he loved that place, I welcome spontaneous meetings they become part of the work, if you want to see a moth leave a lamp out at night.
He makes me aware this is not a rock I really know and love, stunning as it is.
I set out to get to know the rock, with art eyes I search for the right crack, nook, undulation or crevasse that people could come across unexpectedly and where the piece might gleam its otherness out.
I was searching for a place to receive my gifting, where this artwork can then gift back but time was short.
On returning to London and a three-day CPD in craniosacral therapy I have new insights on reciprocity and gifting. Of the potency that happens when someone or something is truly met, when that which is gifted or offered is truly received, something proactive on both sides a true meeting, the real gifting sparks conception.
Is the seeker being sought and where can we meet?
I develop practices that deepen connectivity with the natural world, creating inroads and bridges, growing mycelium fingers outreachings.
Studies in Herbal medicine and Bodywork circle artworkings here deepening into plant knowledge, tapping old ways of knowing and making new ways.
As I gather I like to give back. I twist out materials from infused oils, vinegars, ferments, decoctions and other makings through muslin cloth with my hands that leave me these holdings, a snug fit, offerings.
What Happens Next ?
Works around trembling have started the trembling that may happen as we stand on the edge of a threshold.
Ongoing themes of inner worlds mapping into external world and processes continue, routes of transformation and growth. Exploring edges between art, medicine and nature, spontaneity and entering the space between the tick and tock of our racing world to expand into the now. Connecting out, being part of the creative community, small collaborations are arising and may join together leading to greater things. Following through on synchronicities ( when the water winks back ) , I am happy to see what arises and let the work lead.
What is the primary motivation for my work ?
Empowerment, continuously becoming more present, more humane, awake, alive, vital and compassionate.
To be an advocate for the Earth, for nature both ours and that of all the sentient beings with us that share this magnanimous and terrific life and home.
To be a treasure bearer as others have been for me letting insights shine through.
Art is a human essence, like a river it is flow, holds Shen or spirit and effervesces through everything, in its reflections we can catch glimpses of ourselves, and we may transform as here the Earth transforms herself through our seeing.
My work is not monumental although it could become so, I am an advocate of a different way, it would be described as a soft power in Kung Fu, just as potent and sometimes more so than that which we recognise as power.
Sometimes these subtle inner shifts of perception can move what have been unsurmountable obstacles to us. All reflects, microcosm, macrocosm, magnitudes within and without. It has never been more evident than now in this Anthropocene Epoch, or important for us to remember, how poignant and powerful shifts in human intention and perspective can be.
There is more of us than meets the eye.
We all have access to a piece of Earth that is truly ours, our body, and loci where we are, where we have landed, this power place where we engage consciously or unconsciously. Here lies opportunity at our fingertips to love, to remember how to listen deeply through all our senses, to hear the stories in our bones, to call in vitality biodiversity and enter conversation, here new solutions can arise where we truly meet ourselves.
Gem of a moment: Black cat caught sauntering along invisible river roadFootprints here lead to a high brick wall, not an obvious route, can it sense the river below?
Drawing The Hidden River surfaced last year pushed up by undercurrents in lockdown a piece that had been maturing for years popping up and reforming several times. Perhaps describing the creative process running through my work of bringing the invisible to light.
I have become grateful for the rich windings of my unconventional art path that snakes rivering through my life sometimes bubbling up and shedding skins.
My Irish heritage with its subtle different ways of thinking and the melting pot of peoples I grew up with here in the pulsing city that is and perhaps has always been London.
Being steered away from art to science and finding my way back to it. I became a bronze sculptor’s apprentice, ran a craft business, became part of a proactive punk ethos DIY recycling artists collective. Sometimes people shimmer like light dancing on water and I know I am where I are meant to be, we exhibited and invented creative workshops and projects with many people and different organisations, I worked concurrently on environmental projects.
A breakdown became a breakthrough leading to my MA Art some years ago now.
And as I spiral onwards deepening and twisting through life I become more aware of the spirals themselves.
Artists, off the top of my head include Louise Bourgeois, Nicola Hicks, Joseph Beuyes, Ana Mendieta and Janet Cardiff but there are many more.
Herbalist Nathanial Hughes, Richard Maybe, Christopher Hedley warm my heart.
Generous and inspiring people have been treasures along the way including my craniosacral supervisor Elissa Dell with a sense of perception that leaves me in awe, and Lucia Ring Watkins my Kung Fu Shifu being the first western woman to train in the Wudang mountains learning Chinese as she went.
Different strands of knowledge confluence through me reshaping.
Let me dip in the wild water and become snake with water winks of wonder leading the way and keeping me true to something untamed that I trust knows more than my mind’s eye.
Ann-Marie Fairbrother FairbrotherAM@Gmail.com