Seeing Myself

Landscapes From Intimate Moments In Nature

M A R K    B R E N N A N

Opening, October 17th 2015

Harvest Gallery, 462 Main Street, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 1E2 Phone: (902) 542 7093

Mark Brennan’s new exhibition, “Seeing Myself, Landscapes From Intimate Moments In Nature” comes to us through a lifetime of connecting deeply with the natural world. The paintings are places where intimate experiences happened, where insight was gained or there was a change in his understanding of what it means to be alive.

Writing under an ancient pine.

If we are open enough and allow the world to move through us, we can gain a deepening of experience where we come to relate to nature in a way that we see it as ourselves. When this happens that felt separation between humans and nature ceases to exist for a short time and there is a sense that humans and the natural world are the same.” Many of the paintings contain a past story or intimate experience in which the artist felt that connection.

“Sometimes it is fleeting, lasting only a few seconds, when it happens there is a heightened awareness of the aliveness of everything, the understanding of the incredible continuous transfer of energy taking place around you, without you, in-spite of you, it is humbling, yet coming into a new awareness like this, even for a short time, you come to understand not only the vastness of life but that being alive is just as incredible as looking at the universe at night and trying to comprehend what lies beyond.”

The work covers many locations, most of them in Nova Scotia, some of them near his home in northern Nova Scotia, others in true wilderness settings like the Tobeatic Wilderness or the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. One piece, “Watching The Thunderhead”, acrylic on board, 11×14 inches, came out of a late summer canoe trip into a wilderness lake for just one night where Mark and his paddling partner experienced a huge thunderstorm move through the area.

Watching The Thunder Head Melopsesketch Lake 11x14 inches Acrylic

Watching The Thunderhead

We felt vulnerable at first, camped on an island of all places, with this massive storm moving towards us. It was allowing ourselves to feel this vulnerability which bought insight. Vulnerability is mostly seen as a weakness in our culture, but allowing vulnerability in without judging the experience gave me a deeper understanding into what a gift it really is. We were forced to surrender to the storm and with this came what I could best describe as a release of anxiety. We found ourselves living in the moment, the anxiety had come from what we thought ‘might’ have happened in the future! There is a bigger lesson here, that much of the anxiety of life comes from losing our focal point of the present moment.” There are several works from this short trip in the show.

In the small acrylic sketch, “Lake Shore In Summer” 7×9 inches, Mark had been recording the morning chorus in the virgin forests of Abraham Lake.

Lake Shore In Summer, Abraham Lake Liscomb NS acrylic 7x9 inches

Lake Shore In Summer

The forests around Abraham Lake are untouched, and I tend to sit for a long time when recording the sounds of nature. I usually have the microphones going well before the sun rises and have come to learn how to sit for an hour or more underneath these ancient trees. It is like meditation and you listen so intently to every sound that the experience becomes rich and full filling, there is enough there, in that forest  to satisfy all the senses. What happened after a few years was that I had come to take this deepening awareness into my everyday experiences, and began to notice the richness of life around me, not just visually but sound, smell and even intuition or the felt things like wind moving across your skin.  These are life affirming things and more valuable to living a rich fulfilling life than anything we could purchase in a shop.

The show will run from October 17th to November 15th 2015.

Further listening:

The Great Silence, recorded during the short canoe trip where the painting, ‘Watching The Thunderhead’ came from.

Ancient Forest, the sounds of the old growth forests of Abraham Lake.

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