Clay, life

April 9, 2018

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Pink Floyd plays, a fire roars in the big old fashioned stove, a single light bulb shines in the center of the room. Deep breath. I am alone tonight. My hosts went out, I took a bath, washed my clothes, now there is the night quiet in Tymakov, the Czech village where I am living right now.

One of the reasons for deciding to go on this journey was that I could not afford to pay rent. I am at this very moment down to ground zero. Right now I am a seed.

Looking back,  I see that in 1989 I was also a seed arriving in Vancouver, a blooming plant grew from that seed and produced many fruits. I became Danielle the singer songwriter, recording artist, a translator-producer, an entrepreneur, I married, I worked hard and made good money. Good fruits they were.

But fruits fall to the ground and become food and shelter for the seeds, All that grows eventually yellows, grays and collapses to the ground. Of this glorious plant was, left as the cycle demands,  the seed. The dandelion seed pushed by the winds made a likely metaphor for my life.

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So in this little Czech village tonight I am having a moment to myself.  A few days ago Pavel showed me clay that he pulled out of a stack of big plastic bags. This “white” clay, as he called it, is a special vintage that was dug out of the Czech earth, where a sea existed many eons ago. I had this clay on my mind ever since he showed me. Saturday morning I asked about the plans for the day, he said: No plan, today off. I immediately decided to do something with this clay. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was too much in a hurry to put my hands in the stuff  and didn’t want to delay this moment in order to find material to build an armature, I just put my hands in the cool, damp stuff and started shaping it.

I sat outside on a blue stool, in front of a rough old table, the sun shining brilliantly on the land, the birds filling the air with their sounds and trills, there are so many song birds here, I love, love, love them… one pot with water a handful of wooden tools and this hunk of clay. It was the finest atelier one could ever dream of. What a freedom, what a quiet, profound joy. Around me, the many friends of my hosts are coming by, always bringing a small present of some homemade sort, a strudel, water from a mineral water well, or IT help. The men went to turn the earth in the back field, for a garden to come. Pavlina cooked lunch, Peter was fixing appliances, everyone contributing their skills at Living Whale.

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So destitute as I am on paper, I am living this life of plenitude.

I’ve been here 2 weeks now, I’ve come to know some of the friends, the place, the poetry of these people. So quickly, I inserted myself into this life, and so quickly I will disappear from it. Since I’ve been here I have been given so many gifts, my host is so perceptive, first it was a guitar that appeared, then I had the chance to try a pottery wheel, visit some sculptures on a couple of outdoor sites, then after wasting my ink supply, a bottle of blue ink from the communist era appeared, they tell me it dates back from the 80’s and had been waiting for me ever since. ( I am practicing the calligraphy I learned in Oleron with it) Then it was this clay, the space, and this immense kindness.

I could be tempted to worry about leaving this place, tempted to feel sorry about letting go of this little paradise, but this is that lesson again: impermanence. Life is vast, abundant, magical.

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I ended up making a horse, of course. The absence of armature meant that I had to devise something solid for the legs to support the form. I will make another one soon, this time I will experiment with sticks, Pavel who is a clay artist told me about this technique, using tiny sticks which will burn when put in the kiln. (yes after I leave and the pieces will have dried they will fire them)

I am here for now. Each day a new day. Each day like the last, each day like the first. Facing me, trying to love me, giving, helping as much as I can. I hope I can repay a bit what magnificent gifts they are bestowing upon me.

 

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6 Responses to “Clay, life”

  1. Francoise Says:

    Tu Es une artiste fantastique. A Bruxelles , j’ai travaille en tres grand l’argile. Je faisais des sculptures. Je les construisais en colombin. Donc, vide a l’interieur et les armatures etaient en terre. J’aimerais t’envoyer une photo. Bravo Danielle! Bisoussss

  2. DaC Says:

    Danielle, I love the legs. They’re through function, but they portray such fierce power. In human terms, the power of this animal would be expressed to the earth with these grand pier. Beautiful, strong. That’s an animal pulling the world.


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