Still Life

17 years ago, while living in Vancouver, BC, I bought a small painting as a gift for my brother. It was a still life of a pear, and bursting with character. The artist (who’s name I no longer remember) spoke about still life painting as “taking a little bit of life and being still with it.” This had never occurred to me before; I had previously thought of still life painting as kinda boring. Her description of ‘being still with a small piece of life’ intrigued me, opened a rich doorway into a previously undiscovered landscape of curiosity, and has woven a rich thread of contemplation into my art making over the years.

One practice I work with currently which has been offering unending fascination is to gather stones, leaves, twigs, drift wood, feathers, shell fragments, etc, as I wander. I place these in my home, in compositions that shift with the tides of movement in the house: from children picking them up and playing with them, from me holding them and pondering them, offering them as curiosities to guests, and bringing them with me to become altars at dance classes, companions in therapy sessions, offerings left in surprising locations about town…

I love these little bits of life, reassuring talismans, reminders of the infinite in small places, beacons of presence, ambassadors of the wild: they call me alive, they slow me down to rest into the here and now.

I wonder what little bit of aliveness you are resting with.




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