Words That We Share
Zolder Museum, 2012
First of all I would like you to thank you all very much for coming this evening and to Iva for inviting me to the Zolder Museum tonight. In being asked to come and talk, I felt it most natural to think about words and share my love for them. As much as I love words, there has also always been something just as frustrating about them. At times in my life I have suffered from a stutter and an inability to talk, and since being a child I have had a problem writing. Although I have had problems with both writing and speaking, I have never had a problem with reading.
My earliest memories are of my mother taking me to the library. I remember the feeling of being surrounded by books, by words, by possibilities. It was in a library that I felt most safe. My older sister Faith hated libraries so she would never come with us. I can remember holding my mothers hand and the journey to the library. It was one of the only moments when I could be alone with my mother, away from my other brother and sisters. Once we were at the library, my mother would look for books herself and I would be left independently to find and discover what I liked and wanted. As I grew older, my love for libraries have grown and they are always the place where I go when I want to feel safe and have nowhere else to go. If my thoughts are confused or if I feel fragile, I can not help but turn to libraries. They are places of connection, no matter how different the subject matter, language, time or history. They are where feelings, facts and history come together. A place to search, ask questions and find answers.
A few weeks ago I was reflecting upon my relationship with the artist Louwrien Wijers and what I have learnt most of all from her since meeting in 2010. Throughout her life, Louwrien has brought the most incredible people together, through a process of listening and dialogue, weaving together an incredible tapestry of thoughts, ideas and feelings in the hope of creating a compassionate, sustainable, honest, happier and more human future. Since meeting Louwrien, her work and the words has provided me with a new library where I constantly return to. There are so many things that I have learnt from Louwrien, but one most of all was a reassurance and faith of words. After she took part in my work 'Can we leave things as they are?' I asked her if she felt so much had been lost in the dialogue, trying to define our feelings and thoughts through words and language. Louwrien wisely reassured me that we live in the world through language, so must embrace it.
During my reflections about Louwrien one afternoon, I found myself writing very simply 'word' on a page in my notebook. On the opposite page, my instinct was to write 'world'. A few days later I returned to this page and realised there was something that seemed special about this. There was only a letter difference between these two words - that letter, being the letter 'l'. Somehow this one letter seemed to reflect my relationship with words and language, and why they are so important to me, both as an artist and fundamentally to me as a person: some sort of 'connection'.
Words are something we all share and make our own, and in doing so perhaps reflects our own human relationship with the world and with all other forms of life. Just as we need to care for the world together, so perhaps our use of words and language. For words, isolated from one another are perhaps like lost stars and planets. Brought together, words form a cosmos of meaning and dialogue for us to share, search, explore and express. They are fragile yet certain, and reflect our main tools of communication. Over the course of the evening, I hope to create a dialogue thinking of the of words that we love, concern us, rely upon, use and cherish. In origin, the word 'textile' is born out of the word 'text'. In sharing the words that our most important to us, I hope we will weave a tapestry to understand the passions, delights, concerns and cares that connect us a group of people who have come together tonight at the Zolder museum.
To find these words, I would suggest that we allow time to find them. They maybe words that are already shining bright in your own cosmos, or they maybe far more distant. To give time, I suggest that we create a space reflection of quiet, in which the stars and celestial bodies of our 'words’ start to shine in the night sky. It maybe that you would like to respond to someone, just as planets suddenly come into orbit, pass, shine light and move on in their quiet and solemn journey through space. To start our diologue, I would like to read a passage from the Quakers to start the space and quiet we will find ourselves in, before we hear and find the first words that are important to us.
In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow - a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and the clamour of our emotions must be stilled. It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner Light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this Light may shine out.
Words must be purified in a redemptive silence if they are to bear the message of peace. The right to speak is a call to the duty of listening. Speech has no meaning unless there are attentive minds and silent hearts. Silence is the welcoming acceptance of the other. The word born of silence must be received in silence.