When Emily was awarded the Fulbright to study in New Zealand and I was planning to join her for some of the time, I went into Career-Artist and Administrator mode. “Oh, I should do presentations, talks, and locate residencies. I should write grants to create works, secure travel funds, and arrange exhibitions or screenings. I should build coalitions, get buy-in, determine milestones, write prospectuses and reports, build relationships and find collaborators. Then, when completed, I can…” Nope.
There is this breathless trend that at times over-cultivates careers and art making. It’s incredibly tough being successful, but continuing to plant the same crops on the same soil leads to ruin. Strategic planning can close possiblities. This trip and time is to lie fallow, to grow some weeds, to see what is still native on the land. What new things will grow? What will scamper in to check out the new field? Let the land rest. Sabbath is to be at rest every 7th day. Traditional academic sabbaticals are every 7 years. Leviticus states that farmers should let their fields lie fallow every 7 years. I have resolutely veered away from any obligation and plan for this trip. I am burning up my vacation days and spending my own money. It’s wonderful – this freedom.
I want to see what happens on the edge between cultivation and the wilds. It’s the edge effect between ecosystems where the interesting action happens. Same holds true for disciplines of science and art. New things form at the edges and overlaps. The tagline for Peter’s Windgrove is “Life on the Edge”. His remote place here in the bush is the perfect place for me to start this time. For over 25 years he has been working to return Aboriginal land back to its original state after a century of it being over-cultivated and laid to waste. I sleep deep at night here.