Light Rafts for Flagging Spirits | Vol 6
Sculpting the planet, music for anxious times, the secret life of houseplants, your new favorite Icelandic band, Patti Smith's Black Friday, Cathleen's (other) Creations this week, and more.
1. Jon Foreman Sculpts the World | Pembrokeshire, Wales
Earlier this week, I stumbled across the work of Welsh “land artist” Jon Foreman. It began with a photograph of one of his creations: a large, intricate spiral inside a circle constructed on slate-gray sand with dark and light stones.
A little Google Image searching showed that it is a piece titled Confluere, created by Foreman and his partner, Briony McLean, that was part of the 2018 Art of Balance Exhibition, at Summerhall, Edinburgh. A little more digging turned up Foreman’s website Sculpt the World, with even more of his glorious work: Derelict—a series of spirals, circles, and whorls constructed of piles of leaves and soot inside a run-down industrial space; Inland—delicate spirals, mandalas, and other patterns fashioned from brightly colored fallen leaves on damp earth; Shells—a series of large spirals and other patterns constructed on the beach of the shells I might have called “lady fingernails” growing up beachcombing in New England, but surely have a different name in Wales; and Sand—at once massive and intricate, these are geometric drawings of spirals, mandalas, labyrinthine patterns, and cosmic suns that Foreman (sometimes collaborating with McLean) creates on the beach with only three implements: a stick, string, and a rake. They are astonishingly beautiful.
Describing them obviously doesn’t do them justice, so have a look for yourself via Sculpt the World. I’ve also included two lovely, short films about Foreman’s art here below—the first filmed this year during lockdown with Foreman, his son Alijah, and McLean. The filmmaker, Jamie Hancock, describes the film this way: “A film about creativity, mental health and how getting out into nature really feeds the soul.”
“Basically, I try to use this creative process in nature to help escape the messiness of everyday life, to just get that time out is something everybody needs,” Foreman says in the short film, The Land Artist, released earlier this year by filmmaker Jamie Hancock.
“Although these creations don’t last, it doesn’t bother me,” Foreman says in the 2017 documentary short by filmmaker Jody Cusack, also titled The Land Artist. “It’s a kind of therapy, in a way. I make something and then it’s washed away. And I can make a new one tomorrow. “
Photographic prints of some of Foreman’s work is available for sale on his website. I know what just went on my Christmas list.
Now, time for a walk on the beach….
2. Brian Eno’s Music for Anxious Times
Fascinating interview with the mad scientist of rock ‘n’ roll and king of the ambience Brian Eno in the New York Times this week in advance of the release of his long-anticipated album, Brian Eno (Film Music, 1976–2020), a collection of his music that has appeared in films that dropped on Nov. 13.
In the interview with the NYT, Lindsay Zoladz asks Eno what he thinks the role of the artist is in times such as these. Love his answer, which is quintessential Eno:
That is a continual question in my mind. But my response to that is to say that it’s not only the immediate future we have to think about, but also the long-term future and what we want that to be like. So I think what artists do is generally a contribution in the long-term rather than the short-term. There are short-term contributors as well, I’m not sure that I’m one of them.
3. The Secret Life of Houseplants
Click though to watch this mesmerizing time-lapse video of houseplants moving with the sun. Sped up, they appear to be dancing.
4. 800-year-old Icelandic Hymn Sung in a Train Station | Germany
Performed by the Icelandic indie band Árstíðir, “Heyr himna smiður,” (“Hear, smith of heavans”) is a 13th-century Icelandic hymn composed by the Icelandic chieftain Kolbeinn Tumason supposedly on his deathbed in 1208 and adapted by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson, one of Iceland's most important 20th-century composers.
Members of Árstíðir (who are, in fact, not an acapella group) gave the impromptu performance of the ancient hymn in a Wuppertal, Germany train station on September 15, 2013.
One Soundcloud deep dive later, I am Árstíðir’s newest, most enthusiastic fan. Their genre-bending sound is hard to describe, and I find it deeply compelling.
Give it a go:
Here’s another taste in the video for their English-language song, “Entangled”
5. Patti Smith’s Black Friday | Global
Mark your calendars and get your tickets now for a rare (in the age of COVID) Patti Smith livestream musical performance beginning at 3 PM EST (2 CST, Noon PST) Friday, Nov. 27.
Tickets are just $10 and the performance is available worldwide (not only in the States). You can get your ticket HERE.
And while you’re at it, if you don’t already follow Ms. Smith on Instagram, might I gently urge you to do so. Her posts are always interesting, often heartfelt, and usually help my blood pressure drop just in the few seconds it takes to read her words and contemplate the image(s). It’s a sure-fire feel-good daily stop for me. And when she’s reading something she loves, she shares it. I’ve lost count of the number of books and volumes of poetry I’ve purchase after reading one of her posts. Patti, oracle that she is, is curating the world for us, mining it for spiritual jewels and tiny hunks of inspiration. Patti’s Insta: @ThisIsPattiSmith
Patti’s daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, is an activist, writer, musician, and artist whose Insta feed is also one of my daily stops. You might want to check her feed out, too: @MichiganManhattan
6. In Case You Missed It | Cathleen’s Creations This Week
I published a new essay—a reflection on storms, lighthouses, and hope—earlier this week. You can read “Pharos: Tunnel Gauntlet & Horizon Keep” by clicking HERE.
FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE…
From The Artist Care & Feeding Podcast this week, featuring Broadway wardrobe designer Sam Sleming and “experience designer” Julian Jackson.
We welcomed two especially interesting guests this week on The Artist Care & Feeding Podcast: longtime wardrobe designer Sam Fleming (Phantom of the Opera, etc.) who shares some hilarious and fascinating stories from a life in the theater; and the “experience designer” (and a dear friend since college) Julian Jackson an Experience Designer who believes that art becomes richer and deeper if you can interact with it in some way. Julian talked to Kaitlyn and me about designing museum exhibits, adventure birthday parties, virtual experiences, and the “soul artichoke” that started it all. Stick around ‘til the end when Julian tells a story about the circus that’s really about trusting our kids and letting them go into whatever the universe has in store for them next. It’s a humdinger.
Sam’s Episode is HERE. Julian’s Episode is HERE.
AND IF YOU’RE READING THIS BEFORE 4 PM PST FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11…
Listen LIVE to Cathleen’s takeover of KXFM Radio this afternoon for an hour of specially-curated U2 just for you (and such a time as this.)
I'm guest-DJ’ing this afternoon (Friday, Nov. 20) from 3 to 4 PM (PST) on KXFM, our local, independent public radio station here in Laguna Beach as part of the station’s annual “takeover” fundraiser. I’ll be spinning tracks and telling a few stories from the Lux In Tenebris Lucet Playlist I created for U2.com earlier this fall.
UPDATE: If you missed it live, you can listen to the whole thing HERE and KXFM is still accepting donations to help our special little indie radio station keep the lights on:
You can make a pledge by mentioning my name HERE or by phoning the studio:
(949) 715-KXFM (5936)