There’s an old joke about a scientist going to God and saying, “We’ve cracked it, we know how to make life, we don’t need you any more.” “That sounds pretty clever,” replied God, “show me.” The scientist bent down and gathered together a little pile of dirt. “Hold on a second,” said God, “use your own dirt.”
In making my little dioramas, I am very conscious that no matter what resources I use, I am using the resources of the universe, even if I utilise plastics and human made fibres, paints, tools, etc., everything is made of the stuff of the universe, the stuff of stars and supernovas. It gives me a beautiful sense of connection with, and reliance on, nature because I too am made of the stuff of nature and the universe including, crucially, this precious gift of life. I find that an unfathomable, mind boggling, gift in my journey of life and living on this gorgeous planet we call Earth.
In making dioramas, I am mimicking nature, and their appeal is in how well that mimicry works and pleases my/our, sense of the natural world, how close they get or represent nature even if it’s cartoonish or a parody, they’re measured against the real thing. My dioramas are a parody, my little joke, not least because the proportions of the various parts are wildly distorted, but somehow they work. If they are pleasing it’s because they have similarities to nature, a reminder of the natural world we live in.
In whatever I do, no matter what I make, there is one crucial difference between art and nature – life, the incredible stuff that imbues every part of nature. My dioramas are not made of ‘real’ flowers, or real grass, or real ground, they lack that thing that makes flowers and grass grow, earth and dirt, water and light and the intricate biology that enables growth. My dioramas are static in every way, other than in natural decay, which I am no part of, over time, till they return to dust and dirt.
The only life in art is the creative inspiration that forms it and in the thoughts and feeling engendered by artistic expression. There’s beauty in that, but it lacks the creative force of life which makes all of nature possible. Art can mimic life, but is always lifeless other in how it moves us psychologically and emotionally in our lives.
There is a kind of quiet melancholy in art, perhaps unexpressed or even sensed most of the time, but a reminder of our limitations and how finite we are. Perhaps melancholy is the wrong word, but I struggle to come up with anything better, even if it’s coupled with joy and pleasure, or other feelings, that art brings to our lives.
There is another aspect of art that is vitally important, passion. Behind any creative expression, there is a passion to create, without which I am not sure anyone would bother, including our earliest ancestors drawing and painting on rocks in caves. The desire to create, the inspiration we seek, the craft we must learn, the tools we use, have their roots in a heartfelt desire to create something, to mimic life yet we are forever unable to achieve (in art) the ultimate expression of creation in nature, life itself.
The life is in the desire to go on to the next piece, the next inspired idea. It’s a wonderful process which will go on as long as people exist and are inspired by life and creativity. Every step of progress human kind have made has been through that creative drive, through creative thought and inspiration. Playing with ideas and trying them out. Finding what works and refining and improving the things we create. Perhaps no more so than in the gewgaws, baubles and trinkets, fancy buttons, clothes and things, that we gather for no better reason than they please us.
Long may we continue, as we surely will, to express our pleasures, our loves, losses and sorrows, in life in our art and creativity.
Love and peace,
Keith Lindsay Cameron aka KOG. 22 April 2021.