JIM CARTER
OF BLACK SHIRES, 2022
VIDEO - FOAL-LIT
VIDEO - MOTHLIGHTS
EXHIBITION AUDIO
ofblackshires.bandcamp.com

“To be a poet in a destitute time means: to attend, singing, to the trace of the fugitive gods. This is why the poet in the time of the world's night utters the holy."
— Martin Heidegger

It was on the evening of the spring equinox - when I had all but completed this work and my scarred hands smelt of bone, of the cow and the buzzard - that I first saw the shire of gathering darkness. In the beginning I had known it only as the Great Square of Pegasus, for I thought to arrange these pieces in a kind of sacred geometry and it seemed to me not fanciful to draw the lines from suns and constellations to the roots and twigs of the mortal body. The mare came first to the fierce and gentle universe and from her emerged the bright but tender animals, each a corner of a field cut from the sky and upon which there falls, in perpetuity, the shadow of the wings of Aquila.

I thought of the asterism as a containing and birthing shape inside of which were set a number of succeeding inner enclosures: among the first was the Rodd which, if we accept the uncertain origins of the name, I felt to mean a clearing in the infinite forest or a stick perhaps - a wand with which to scratch the magic square and made from young shoots or branches (these works themselves formed in part from pieces of bone, cow parsley, bracken, birch and pine); then there were the spaces and gardens around the site of the hayloft that I think of as a temenos of sorts, the building itself sanctuary for creatures to sleep and dream of ancestral forms of less egregious fates; and finally and ultimately, the hidden chamber within the belly of the horse into which I placed the remains of a buzzard (it was wrapped in a shroud of willowherb, downy and milky as a cloud of stars).

The black shires of the night sky and of the ground I felt to be immensely fertile: a deep, propitious unknown from which all life appears in the colours of stars and flowers and the fire of animals. But in the time of the world's night, when the senses have become skewed or blurred and the heart is dimmed, all I could see in this work were the twisted and decaying forms; all I could hear was the din of conflict, the murmur of abstruse and distant entreaties. The winter days passed into vernal night, and I made my wish: to reclaim a primal and generative vision against these modern times when shadow upon shadow has fallen on the hills and the radiant coats of the animals; to take to the dangerous border of the stellar field and return with the fire.

In this work, the boundary travels inwards from the ridge of Offa's Dyke along these spines of animals and the rachis of the buzzard's feather. When spring arrived, I danced that frontier of the living and the dead, waiting for autumn skies to align the winged horse with the gravid bodies. I danced to the noise of rooks and crows, drumming the mare with a club of bone I found in the river, striking the surface hard, singing to what remained, to my own self: wake up; the fugitive spirit and subtle body, the old world magic and imperishable flame: wake up.