Learning to walk on all fours again
"What has fallen will be righted"
Laura Donkers 2013
lichen ink, pastel, graphite, Arches water colour paper
1000cm x 150cm
photo Hélène Baril
I’ve been learning to walk on all fours again. My movements slowly becoming more streamlined, elegant even. My shoulders and back feel different. Their stiffness in the mornings bears testimony to the unusual weight bearing on the body. As it moves upwards loose stones, changes in camber and the sudden steepness of the Peat Track do not hinder progress. Four limbed movement allows a calmness of rhythm. Up, up, up the relentless climb. Then the blissful sight of the wooden pavement - no need now for four legs.The pavement is beautiful, delineating a way through the trees, defining the topography: steps up, steps down, level, level, up again, down, dirt steps, dirt pavement, down, wooden steps again, a glimpse of Outlandia with something shining on the roof. More steps down and then a bridge across to the building. At last a key to get in.
The painted library. 'Intelligent' graffiti ... an invitation to name a book. The view across to the mountains. A need to open the window. Lean out. That cold fresh air... I’m here to make work. I close the window. It feels noisy in here and challenging. Not the calm I expected. I'll go away and come back again later bringing the rest of my materials, see how I feel then.
The noise is still here, but I ignore it and start to unroll the paper. Cover the window. Make the first marks, more follow. Unroll more paper. Slowly I become aware that the noise has gone. Just in my head. Doubts. Not from the walls, or the view or clear roof, with the glimpse of sunlight and birds, or that crack. Or the frequent visitors who’ve followed the wooden path, shaking the building as they venture onto the bridge. I feel like an animal in my lair. Observed and disturbed. I lock the door. Lock myself in. They still come, knocking, and speculating and chattering. I could make a noise to frighten them, but that would only make things worse, so I stay quiet and still till they are gone.
The work flows, for days, the subtle effects of moving and thinking and drawing the space. It is suddenly complete. Time to explore now, and rest. Time to pack up. Retreat. Lock the door. Go down.
A place to work, a place to think, a place to go to. The repeated journey has taught me something. The difference between the wild and the tamed. The Peat Track isn’t really that wild, but it is challenging every time, requiring fitness and observation, intention and consciousness; the wooden pavement that leads you to Outlandia tames the wild, regulating the natural terrain to allow you to walk upright. The journey through the wilderness to arrive at the start of the board walk, that floats there, like an idea of society.
"What has fallen will be righted" (detail)
Laura Donkers 2013