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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007
    Creating energy flows
    About ten years ago my life was blessed by being in the company of students and our Sunday lunchtimes were spent happily eating together at one or other undergraduate pad. One Sunday afternoon, prompted by me seeing a series of pictures like this, in one of his books, we went out to Sefton Park to do an Andy Goldsworthy.

    It was great fun, collecting twigs of related shapes and sizes, gathering together in a circle in a clearing in the trees, and composing ourselves in anticipation of the next move, which was to throw the wood up in the air, simultaneously and with force, whilst one of us (was it me? I can't find any evidence) took a photo of the moment. The patterns which formed against the sky, captured on camera and held in our minds' eyes, were one outcome of this event. And a beautiful, thrilling, joyous outcome those patterns were.

    I've just spent the evening of my birthday watching a beautiful gift to me, the gorgeous film about Goldsworthy's work, Rivers and Tides. In the film's closing sequence Goldsworthy gathers snow and tosses it high, and we watch with him the powder breaking up in the air and creating complex and beautiful patterns as it drifts across a line of trees. Having seen that it strikes me that another outcome of what we did in Sefton Park, and what Goldsworthy does in all his art, was to create energy flows.

    Goldsworthy talks a lot about the flow of energy through the world, making natural connections between the obvious (currents in a river) and the less obvious (zinc which makes a river's rocks red also being responsible for the colour of human blood). There's a physicality to his work which is apparent to anyone who looks behind a photo like this one here - the collection of wood, the motion of throwing, the movement of wood through air, and the subsequent scattering of the crowd to escape from potentially dangerous falling wood. And in that physicality, energy.

    Ten years older and at 45 no longer blessed by the company of students I'm inclined to assume that my failing body is losing energy all the time; Goldsworthy's work, however, helpfully alerts me to deeper energy sources which if tapped into might just keep me going, even further into my dotage.