Nearly ten years on from when I first made this panorama, it pops up on display at Widecombe Church on Dartmoor. An interested viewer took the trouble to find out who the artist was, and got in touch (thank you DB!). It perhaps says a lot about how photographic displays are perceived in a church/tourist venue that a 4-metre-long, full colour print should not be deemed worthy of identification, which saddens me. But it’s still a delight to feel some sort of resonance from old work, in this case, my first serious attempt at digital manipulation.
In Praise of Creation was originally produced during a 6-month-residency on Dartmoor hosted by the then St Michael’s Princetown Trust (now the Tormentil Trust). The piece was originally finished with a few words from Job written across the sky, which today I have removed. Ordinarily, I’m against the alteration of finished pieces at a later date, but in this case, various prompts reminded me of a latent discomfort at the presence of these words. This was not the content of the words, rather the disjunction of text within what is a particular type of image – unlike the maps I also produced for the show, which happily accommodated labels and poetry in their design – see here for all 10 pieces created.
As if over-excited by Bible-text at the time, I also included a paraphrase from a Psalm in the accompanying leaflet. I find myself, now, wondering what the text is doing and whether the invitation to contemplate scripture works alongside the invitation to contemplate a visual piece. The jury’s still out. This is what I said in 2004:
Though not espousing pantheism, the Bible resounds with delight at God’s handiwork, from the creation account in Genesis to the new heaven and new earth in Revelation. This piece invites you, like Job’s friend Elihu, to ‘stop and consider God’s wonders,’ (Job 37:14), to see if there is not his ultimate authority and agency in the turning of the seasons, the cycle of the weather, the thousands of different species of flora and fauna, and in the caterpillar found on Dartmoor.
‘He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the hills.
They give water to all the beasts of the moor;
the wild ponies quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches…
He makes grass grow for the sheep,
and plants for man to cultivate –
bringing forth food from the earth.’
Paraphrase of Psalm 104:10-12, 14
Header image: In Praise of Creation, 2004, by Sheona Beaumont.