A beautiful sunny Saturday finds me in the candy shop in Gent, taking part in a workshop with a collection of remarkable characters aspiring to become researchers in the field of plant-human communication. One of these characters introduces the workshop by telling us the strangest story about Douglas, and I think how lucky I am to be surrounded by this carnival of interesting creatures full of imagination.
Just like this, our imaginations are captured and our doors of perception open wide. Welcome to another world - the world of the Patabotanists. One of the patabotanists’ assistants slowly unravels the secrets of string plants that we proceed to make in every available nook and cranny of the candy shop.
While Douglas flies in the night, we work slowly on creating a huge and beautiful spider, with moss, plants and threads. While we slowly and meticulously tie together this circus of greenery into a beautiful and original artwork, it makes me think how spending time with plants and making my fingers green is so relaxing and takes my thoughts away from everything hasty.
I create “Red Sonja” - a beautiful collection of moss, a red plant that seems to be constantly blowing in the wind, all nicely tied together with threads of blue and azure. Everyone gives beautiful names to their plants, my memory and imagination are at a loss to recall the weird names all of them had.
Then we all head out to our own playful garden - a nearby park in Gent with lots of sun and open space so all of us can unleash our energy.
Hanging… it makes me reflect upon my own favourite hobby. To hang… while there’s no denying the usual connotations, my own immediate reflection on the word is to “hang on” - an image of being suspended between heaven and earth and just being solid, where no wind or rain can cast any shadow on your state of happiness.
To hang on even if things seem to be a little bit unexpected and difficult. To hang on and share your joy in beautiful containers and in the perserverence to discover the appropriate space, time and means for everything that goes into the poetics of hangin’.
Together with the young patabotanists we look for ways of hanging our creations onto trees, and then how to hang next to them, amidst them, enjoying sun and wind. Our string plants do well and strangely enough, you can see connections between the creations and the creators.
These portraits were made with a very natural concentration of light and joy. Hanging on to what was brought forth by the aspiring patabotanists and research assistants.
I don't ponder a lot today about anything really. I feel I can be ageless, species-less and troubleless. Being one with a tree and hanging on to a tree… Until the moment when I can share this great joy with others. Just to hang on a rope bridge between two trees and enjoy becoming a string plant…
We observe the way our plants evolve their own choreography while dangling from the branches, and slowly mimic these movements on the rope, cautiously, adjusting the breath to the flow of nature and wind. Making use of our human endurance to let go of troubles and to hang on independent of the rushing world.
It must be that we love to hang like beautiful plants - and I loved to do this together with my young friends. It must be that I became one with the trees that day while hanging on to my little happiness. It must be that my endurance to hang on is tempted and seduced over and over without noticing the enticement and the dangers on the way. Ah - maybe endurance is just another way of saying stubbornness to hang on. See you soon for more hanging activities. Let's release our inner hanging dragon.
Before heading home, I wash away my stubbornness (to hang on living things of course) with a cup of wild herb Borrowed Scenery tea at the candy shop while reflecting with the research assistants and the young patabotanists.
I can't believe this day once back home. Maybe I dreamed I was hanging and then the hanging was dreaming of me. Maybe I was just filled with joy and slowly, intuitively began to understand the concept of freedom.
O string plants, I see today how free I am in my tight and tied up form.
Gregg Young and Vooruit made a nice video of the day: http://vooruit.be/nl/video/2066