Dear Words,

28 01 2019

I miss you and want you to come back to me. I need you, emboldened black against white. It is wild how much I worship you. But wilder still, how afraid of you I’ve become. For too long I’ve been stuck in my head; swishing and swirling in a mess of cloudy pontification. I do at times feel you close and sense your desire to spell out all my madness so I can own it. But the closer you get to becoming, the more I push you away. I can tell when you’re perched patiently at the tip of my tongue or tickling the tips of my fingers and then I ache for the courage to channel you onto paper, to make you come to life. To make you real, permanent.

Once upon a time, we were a team. You, constantly pushing me with all your clarity, and boldness and honesty. You did cause me pain, a lot and often. But you made me grin mischievously, when I re-read you – even laugh out loud at times. Oh, beloved words, the profundity of what we shared together, in any format, in any font.

I suppose I lost my confidence the moment I lost my authenticity. It was all downhill from there and now I am shy around you. I feel I’ve let you down.

Perhaps you are also afraid of me. Afraid of what might emerge from the page. I know you want to maintain your integrity and I want this for you too. I want to be us again, to rebuild trust between us.

How I long for you to wake me in the middle of the night the way you used to. How easy it was then, when you ravaged me out of my slumber in the middle of the night. The love we would make, drenched in ink, paper spread like a warm quilt all over my desk.  My desk. Our sacred space; how we found ourselves locked in a gaze of pure love, no matter how brief our encounter.

But that was then. Please, I need to see you again. I need to read you over and over. I need to quench my thirst with metaphor. For us to tease each other in rhyme. I feel ravenous. Come back to me.  Articulate me. Let’s start again.

Love, Niki

thoughts vs words





a wild dance among the oak

9 07 2018

i have not yet left the forest

nor the woodland nor the trust

the wild dance among the oak

a force of light with sweet kinfolk

oh how we spun

dizzy in the sun

forward and back

bodies slightly out of whack

pleading with the bramble

in new acquaintance and great counsel

i surrendered upon a bed of ferns

and now my heart forever yearns

to weave inside a dragons nest

and honour heavens in my quest

with knobbly knees and twisted limbs

embedded in some ancient hymns

i am the wood, i am the oak

i am at one with new kinfolk





How to move from fear to creativity

2 07 2018

If you think about it, what is the one profession that wakes up every day trying to move us from fear to creativity – there’s only one – and that’s artists. That is what artists do. There is not a single other profession that wakes up every day with this mandate, with this obligation. –  Steven Tepper, Dean Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts





On the possibilities of INFINITE love

19 04 2017

“I have been expressing an infinite devotion to peace loving and the refusal of war and terrorism by infinite human love” – Yayoi Kusama






an artist’s duty

21 11 2016




HOME

29 06 2016

I just returned home.

Flew into London on a Bolivian tailwind in time to witness the extraordinary turn of events that have forever changed the course of history.

For the past year, I have become increasingly preoccupied with the concept of HOME; the way in which we define our borders: our continents, our countries, our communities, our families. It’s hard not to be, given the fact that there are more displaced people living in the world today than ever before in recorded history. The most recent stats coming out of the UN suggest that the number of people forcibly displaced due to war or persecution exceeds 65 million (more that the entire population of Great Britain).

These facts behind the figures simply overwhelm and it can make it difficult to think creatively about how to truly instigate change.

To find an outlet, I do what I always do: I talk to children. For years I’ve been turning to children to help shed light on age-old philosophical questions because they seem to ask the questions we grown-ups have stopped asking ourselves. I believe children return us to Plato. The conversations took place with small groups, all under the age of ten. I gave each child pen and paper and asked them to write down the first word that came to mind after I said, “HOME”.

By and large, most wrote down the words: “family”, “mummy”, “daddy”, or “house”. But when I asked the children to continue writing anything else that came to mind, there were some wonderful surprises: “ice-cream”, “bed-time”, “breakfast”, “carrots”, “football”– lots of pets’ names were listed too.

These wise young people helped me to question what really goes into the creation of a home, particularly the non-physical components. What are the smells, tastes and sounds that provide us with a sense of home? Which memories of HOME do we treasure most, and why do they hold us so tightly? What does it mean to “feel” at home (or not feel at home), irrespective of geography? Is community participation a prerequisite for claiming a sense of home? Is it possible to find a way to truly be at home with oneself? We lose loved ones, we lose our shelter from the storm, and yet we often survive this pain by tapping into a sense of home lodged deep within our ancestral past, or to the earth or to God.

Human life itself is wholly involved in the issue of finding a home, not necessarily a structure made of sturdy permanence, a bed and a roof (as Maslow may have us believe) – but rather a constant search of an essence of home. If it is an essence we pursue, rather than a structure, maybe there is hope beyond the limits of infrastructure, ways in which we can feel at home, despite the distance from our place of origin.

In light of the recent referendum we have decided to embark on a collective journey, one that seeks to understand every facet of HOME. This project will be a series of essays launched with The Pigeonhole, a global book club that will bring together readers, writers and artists who want a shared experience around the following themes:

   (1) Roots, Ancestry & Tradition
One of the fastest growing hobbies in America today is the study of family ancestry. With the availability of DNA testing kits, and an ever-expanding number of genealogy websites, the average person can now trace family lines back hundreds of years. Why does the desire to know our ancestry exert such a strong hold on us? Perhaps it is a deep-seated need for differentiation or a desperate craving for a sense of belonging and wholeness? What can we learn from our ancestors, our roots and traditions?

   (2) Senses, Space & Orientation
It is said that one of the worst things that can happen to you is to lose your sense of smell. Why? Because among all our senses, one’s sense of smell provides our strongest orientation within the world we inhabit. As such we want to explore the power of our senses in providing us with a feeling of HOME.

   (3) Family as Home
Here we are looking to explore the complexities of HOME from the context of family life. What happens to our sense of home as a family expands, as we add members or when members leave? Family life involves an enormity of love, but also pride and judgement that can lend itself to feelings of confinement within the home. What makes us want to leave our families in our journey to find/create homes of our own? What is it about the journey away from home that sometimes leaves us homesick?

   (4) Migration
We are all migrants at some level. In this section we will challenge the concepts around identity, assimilation, citizenry, social inclusion/ exclusion. Migration isn’t just about geography; we all have friends who’ve migrated from one religion to another or have an auntie who married into another ethnic group. Each is a migration. What do these experiences help us to learn about ourselves?

   (5) Absence of Home
Shelter is one of our basic needs: it is a place that can protect us from the elements, keep us safe. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, shelter is one of the requirements for addressing our physiological needs, along with the need for food, water air, sleep, sex. It would be interesting to investigate the human drive to create a semblance of home even under the most challenging circumstances. What makes us want to share our home, leave our home and/or escape into someone else’s? This is not only the era of refugee camps; it is also the era of coach surfing and the sharing economy.

   (6) Community & Hospitality
What does it mean to be a part of a community? What responsibility does it imply? How do we contribute to the sense of belonging to new arrivals?  Why is hospitality such a core tenet of major religions?

   (7) Borders within the Mind, Body & Spirit
There are those who claim there is a disconnect between body and mind, that the spirit is something altogether celestial. But in this age of avatars and the heightened state of self, what does it take to feel at home with oneself? How do the societal rigours affect our every day lives? What role do patriarchy and politics play in the creation of ego?

   (8) Earth as Home
There is one undeniable fact of life, and that is despite your creed, colour, gender or age, your home is on this earth. How does one become a steward of this earth? How do we scale the sensation of home to encompass the whole of the earth and its precious natural resources?

There is a large community of people out there who are as equally passionate about the issue of HOME as we are and we’d like to invite them – invite you – to be a part of our project. We are a society that lives its life through online validation. But we believe that words can change the world. Together we will bring this discussion to the fore, through serious discourse, through laughter and tears. A journey home is ultimately a journey into our humanness. And we are very thoughtful, weird and funny creatures.

For more information just take a look at the Home page. Or if you are interested in getting involved in any way then please send an email to:  anna@thepigeonhole.com





Paris Report: Resilient City of Light

7 12 2015

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. – Plato

“Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities and systems to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of stress and shocks, and even transform when conditions require it.” – Fred Boltz (Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation)

Beyond clicking the “like” button on articles I’ve come across on Facebook, I’ve tried to steer away from posting anything related to the current political stalemate over terrorism. This is primarily because I’ve refused to waste any positive energy on a tiny subset of humanity who, in my view, are taking up far too much air time. I refuse to let them encroach upon my territory — our territory — the territory of the good and the kind. I refuse to let them invade my mind; they will not cast a shadow of fear within the light I carry inside me or my children.

A couple of weeks ago after my daughter Philomena heard about the incident in Paris, she suggested that World War III was upon us. The Pope did too that day. Although my chest tightened at the thought that my daughter was right, I could tell in her eyes that she was not at all afraid of that notion. Given her timely history lesson at school, she seemed to have a grounded understanding that despite the loss of life, GOOD eventually triumphed over EVIL. And should it come to pass again, good will triumph over evil once more. And I am confident that it will so long as we cast aside our fear. So long as we stop building up armies of terror by bringing them into our daily conversation and so long as we stop branding every lunatic who shoots a gun or waves a knife in the name of God as a terrorist. So long as we stop creating fantasy “States” where there were none before–there is no such thing as an Islamic State, the notion must simply be removed from our vocabulary. If corporate media channels are unable to refrain from sensationalising terror, it is up to those of us active in the world of social media to act as leaders and reclaim the conversation. We must reclaim our Territory of Light over Darkness. 

This past Saturday I returned from a trip to Paris. It was as beautiful as ever for I was in the City of Light with a huge Army of Light. Thousands of environmental soldiers were present: activists, scientists, economists and artists all taking part in the 21st yearly session of the Conference of Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The conference’s overall objective is to achieve some sort of binding universal agreement on climate (from all the nations of the world), but not all of us were there to negotiate the legalities of the agreement. While politicians were busy working on their part of the equation, the Army of Light was continuing on our collective path of innovation in reverence of the Pachamama

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Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2015

Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2015

Aerocene manifests as a series of air-fuelled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world.  Aerocene holds a message of simplicity, creativity and cooperation for a world of tumultuous geopolitical relations,reminding us of our symbiotic relationship with the Earth and all its species.

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Shepard FaireyPhoto: Aline Deschamps

 

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