Island of Dreams
It seems to me, that we are a nation of Island-dwellers in love with Islands, always curious to discover what it might be like to live apart – on an even smaller island – inhabiting a perfect miniature world.
As children we delight in books of Island adventure and exploration, from Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island to the Famous Five and The Land of Green Ginger – healthy adventure stories with exotic creatures and buried treasure added to create a heady mix.
Islands evoke a more spiritual quality too. In recent centuries they have very often been regarded as holy places. This interpretation has to some extent been borrowed from an even earlier tradition, which viewed them as eerie, strange and magical places. Significantly to our earlier ancestors – they were a halfway house between land and sea and therefore could be seen as being somewhere between this world and the next.
Each island (even one set cheek by jowl with its neighbours) may be very different: zoologically, botanically, agriculturally and geologically – in just a short distance across the sea everything can change. Each has its own eco-system.
Despite the relative safety such places provide, the creatures that inhabit them need to be resilient and opportunistic – able to take flight or burrow deep.
In human terms, isolation could engender strange cultural practises, peculiar beliefs and odd ways of interpreting natural phenomena. Many island people – though surrounded by and dependant on the sea – were unable to swim – for fear of the creatures that lived beneath.
The exhibition focusses on the ecology of these places and the way in which plant and animal species and sub-species have developed independently in their remote niches.
Some of the ceramic pieces attempt to capture the essential nature of the topography – in simplified form. The works are enriched by references to the folklore surrounding each island, the meanings of their names, the nature of their surrounding waters and some by my personal memories of these wild and enigmatic places.
The Sea is all powerful.
Island existence often rests on a knife edge.