“To Taoism that which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao. In reality there is nothing in the universe which is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.” Alan Watts
This collection of images attempts to relate to the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi.
One of many dictionary definitions defines it as "a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”
This doesn't even begin to unravel its complexities; indeed, so intangible are its philosophies that many Japanese scholars will only attempt to illuminate its mysteries through the medium of poetry.
And so I acknowledge this collection can only have a tenuous link with such a complex and abstruse philosophy. My focus, therefore is on the bittersweet beauty of the transience of nature, its imperfections and the impermanence of all things.
The images were mostly made in my garden, a five acre patch in a quiet corner of East Sussex with a complex and interesting history. Originally home to a tannery, the structure of much of the garden was laid out by Italian prisoners of war in the 1940's. The area has been slowly and painstakingly reclaimed from the more aggressive ravages of Mother Nature but remains very much an untidy and informal garden. The original tanning beds were uncovered when an area that was constantly subject to flooding was dredged and made into a small lake where wild carp, ducks, moorhens and all manner of wildlife now happily co-exist.
For some time my creative interests have been focussed on asymmetry, imperfection and frailty and in this collection of images I have tried to articulate some of these elements.
The title is taken from the Song Dynasty; an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and continued until 1279. The art of the Southern Song period (1127 - 1279) tended to focus on small, intimate scenes with painters frequently exploring the connections between poetry and painting.