Kujak- Soul Armour

                                                                                 

In Tuva the word for a shamans coat (kujak) is also the word for armour.. I have created a coat- a blessing coat- of memory and remembrance.

It is a work of art concerning spatial and social connectedness, memory and the acts of blessing and of ritual. It is a memorial both to its own creation and to those who created it.

‘Incremental II: Pilgrim Tree’, was a piece created at Diskhudha, an art project centered around an ancient site. The audience were asked to collect a piece of cloth and travel with it along the art walk, finally tying it to a copse of trees at the site of Old Kea Chapel. The ‘cloots’, as these strips are known in Celtic traditions, became activated with meaning and intent by the person holding them: tying them to the branches was a symbolic act of release and remembrance. The site of the trees became a place to commemorate, to remember, to leave a trace, to give form to a longing for someone or something that is gone. To let go. To celebrate. To heal.

I then harvested all the blessings from the site and the following year created a coat akin to one found in the Shamanic traditions of Mongolia where I have spent time. The Shaman’s coat is one of several ‘tools’ used to summon souls, invoke protection and create energetic spaces favourable for healing and change.

The coat was added to by the audience the following year throughout the arts event ‘Diskudha in the City’. It became more and more dense as people pinned their wishes, blessings and memories to it. When worn they could enjoy a moment of reflection, wrapped in collected intention, given form.

Faye Dobinson 2015

Love Activism  2019

 

I am a Love Activist and I believe in ‘another way of doing things’: It is the baseline of my own practice, along with the implementation of more expansive approaches to areas of contraction in both the personal and the collective.

 

Creativity is a particular quality that you bring TO something/ a situation/ a person.  I have a cross disciplinary experience of applying a creative, heart led approach to different endeavours - personally, politically, culturally and socially. And the result is always an unfurling heart and therefore increased peace, productivity, connection and love.

 

I firmly believe in collaboration, the creation of community and honouring existing community. Time and time again, using a creative approach to a long-standing socio-political issue reaps great rewards- artists and creatives can help society reimagine situations and scenarios and therefore open up spaces of possibility, hope and resolution.

 

Generating a place or space that is ripe for creativity to flourish- THAT is what we can do. I use a creative approach to help solve dilemmas and blockages by asking: what are the possibilities opening up to me due to the limitations currently imposing themselves on me? Where might the flow be being redirected?

 

Running concurrently with my ongoing artistic practice, I have taught in a broad range of contexts that have included outreach work and the establishing of tailored youth provision to disaffected young people in SE and Central London, the leading of three groups across a year long course for the Newlyn School of Art and inspiring product orientated students at London college Fashion to enable them to implement joy and creativity into their process. I have had exhibitions in Tibet, Mongolia, London and Cornwall and I design and sell slogan t shirts to generate conversations of value, using conversation as a pre-condition to community.

 

I use my studio in Cornwall as an active space that holds different configurations of inspiration. These might include one to one Inspiration Clinics, group meditations or children’s workshops. All are underpinned by seeing teaching as a form of Love Activism.

Incremental II: Pilgrim Tree            

 

‘Incremental II: Pilgrim tree’ follows on from a piece I generated at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens last year where the audience took a stone from a pile at the foot of the gardens and journeyed with it to place it on a corresponding pile at the top, all the while consciously thinking of something that they wished to leave behind. Carrying a stone from the bottom of a hill to the top accessed something ancient- an act that spoke of hope, love, and purpose. These mounds (Cairns), found in almost every culture, act as points where interactions and flows are concentrated, given life as they are by the actions of many.

 

With this in mind, this new piece asked the audience to collect a strip of cloth and travel with it along the art trail, finally tying it to a copse of trees at the site of Old Kea Chapel. The ‘cloot’, as these strips are known in Celtic traditions, becomes activated with meaning and intent by the person holding it: tying it to the branches is a symbolic act- as the rag disintegrates through via natural forces, the intentions or wishes are released.

 

The site of the trees, which are connected together with delicate threading, became a place to commemorate, to remember, to leave a trace, to give form to a longing for someone or something that is gone. To let go. To celebrate. To heal.

 

A chair placed within the copse provided a place of reflection where one could sit amongst the flutter of collected blessings.

It is a work of art concerning spatial and social connectedness, memory and the acts of blessing and of ritual. It is a memorial both to its own creation and to those who created it.

 

In Tuva the word for a shamans coat (kujak) is also the word for armour, part of its role is to protect the shaman from hostile spirits while they perform their rituals. The traditional coat is hung with large number of bells as well as metal and wooden fetishes of animals and ancestors whose protection is being sought.

 

 

The Red Shoes

 

The use of stories as medicine have informed this piece, specifically the work of the Jungian psychoanalyst and cantadora (keeper of the old stories), Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

 

Where stories are medicine, and movement is ritual, I danced to embody and heal the wounded, wild feminine: danced for those who choose a too tame life and for those who grieve for their handmade life. For those lost in seductive lures and traps that keep them hungering for the heartfelt…As I once did. The music that I moved to was composed by fellow artist Jim Carter- after hearing the poem "Death of a Deer" by Nicolae Labis, whispered in a female Romanian voice, he created a piece inspired by a pull to both represent the wounded feminine, and the feminine incarnation of the sacred as it lives and dwells in animals. 

 

The tale of The Red Shoes concerns the loss of a woman’s ‘handmade life’, and the loss of the deep, wild, instinctive feminine nature. She takes on a muffled life, her joy is lost resulting in a famine of the soul. Her hunger for the heartfelt results in a disastrous choice that causes her to dance madly out of control.  Ring any bells?

 

This tale highlights the reclamation of instinct as a tool to regain a rich life, full of soul and a healthy sense of inner weights and measures.

I have cut up the marked paper I have generated through my dancing and used pieces of it to respond to the tale, creating a visual guide to the traps that can keep a woman from her meaningful, instinctive life.

 

Faye Dobinson 2016

Coming home, going home

 

I will open up a little deep night book and look up at the milky way, remembering a warm breeze and remembering who I am.

What needs more and what needs less?

What were those dream worlds giving me as I tiptoed around the water, infested with itchy longing?

 

Sitting at the base of a huge, kind tree that held me- that told me that instinct gets you furthest.

Holding your own inner weights and measures is golden.

 

What will I give back when I go back?

My one true wildish self.

 

And how will I sustain that?

I will lick my wounds, know when to rest to heal. Preventative love for me sees off a battle where I am never the victor.

 

Practically, what will I return to? How will I be living? What needs more, what needs less?

 

My art, my making, needs more- I will be singing over the bones of the way thing shave been and summoning up all the legions of fire, strength and inspiration. I will get shamanic. I will act, strongly with my softness.

 

I will be accessing the tickle of authentic joy as I slipped into the thermal waters at Hanmer Springs.

 

I will be letting the honey ooze from my opened, broken lozenge of a heart that dripped over the bones of my life as I was truly ‘in’ the beauity of this world.

 

My heart was cracked open like a  nut, staggered by what I was seeing- not just the scale but the kindness, the simple ‘being’ of it all.

I don’t have to ‘do’ anything

 

I sometimes feel living in both worlds so overwhelming.

 

I am buffered, held and protected at every turn.

Pure medial woman…that’s my leap.

Faye Dobinson

The Tyranny of the Quantifiable

 

Rebeca Solnit, from her 2009 essay ‘Woolf’s Darkness- Embracing the inexplicable’.

 

‘The tyranny of the quantifiable is partly the failure of language and discourse to describe more complex, subtle and fluid phenomena, as well as the failure of those who shape opinions and make decisions to understand and value these slipperier things. It is difficult, sometimes impossible, to value what cannot be named or described, and so the task of naming and describing is an essential one in any revolt against the status quo of capitalism and consumerism. Ultimately, the destruction of the earth is to do, in part, perhaps in large part, to a failure of the imagination or to its eclipse by systems of accounting that cant count what matters. The revolt against this destruction is a revolt of the imagination, in favour of subtleties, of pleasures that money cant buy and corporations cant command, of being producers, rather than consumers, of meaning, of the slow, the meandering, the digressive, the exploratory, the numinous, the uncertain.’

 

 

I am in the business of the unquantifiable, the slippery, the hard to pin down. Art making can often be a joy, but it can also be a frightening grind, a lost land of shapes and forms that lack logic but insist on showing themselves. This business of art making has no real rules, regardless of what some may say. And those saying those things are desperately clawing for an inference of certainty in a world of uncertainty. Face to face daily with not knowing is exhilarating, and knackering.  At the coal face of mystery is where I dwell. What I create did not exist even seconds before I complete it. There is no fanfare, no pat on the back or ‘good job’, just maybe an exquisite mini moment of a satisfaction that is grounded in its own framework of work well done.

 

I build scaffolds: supports and creative habits that give me a false sense of fragile security in my own creative ‘no [wo]mans’ land.

Scaffolds can give me sufficient sustenance and hope (though more often than not misguided and ungrounded) for the journey forward. Without the scaffolds, it all falls down- I am an inconsolable heap of doubt and self loathing, living a lie, not making anything of worth (and so forth).

 

Art making for me is a way of tracking my unknown, to meet and extend my edges, my borders, my boundaries. I give visual form to an unfolding- to a tension between artist, prompt and material used, to a deep and chiming pull to make things in response to something. No discourse, no analysis, just illuminating process.

 

Faye Dobinson  2015

Medial woman

 

So much has been happening both in solitude ( being on my own) and in conversation.

But mostly in solitude.

I have walked, talked as I walked, I have made art, I have done all the things that I had to do- work, deadlines, tax, assessments. But all the time I have been returning to quiet as soon as I can.

It is in the quiet that I start to hear my soul and what it needs to feed itself, to make itself whole again. I have started to hear my heart and heal my heart. I have been looking at all my fears, where they have come from, how they affect me. And slowly, in the quiet, things have shifted.

 

I have learnt that there is a cycle, where I have to come to this place, this solitude, and spend some time getting myself whole again. And then I can return to the world, to you: a little changed each time but more curious and open to what could happen next, lighter. So when I go and I return to my soul, I won’t be abandoning you, or Lilou, or friends but I will be learning about myself in a fresh way and bringing myself back to my real life in a wonderful way.

Faye Dobinson