The Art of Seeing


The forest is dark today; the beech leaves lie thick and dry under my feet as I move with care into a copse that I have never explored before. Saplings of young beech trees are pushing through the rich humus left by hundreds of years of leaf litter, lining the ground with a flush of viridian green. I have caught the whiff of badger and I am investigating to see if I can spy an entrance to their sett. Here, the glacial boulders are huge and tree roots form weird and wonderful twisted shapes, searching with animal fingers as they try to gain purchase over the smooth, mossed surface of the rocks to anchor themselves in. This place feels right; as if I could go on a thousand journeys right here, down through the gaps between the stones, through fox and badger holes. I feel like I have been here many times before, yet everything is new.

As I move slowly across the clearing, I see a configuration of vertebrae and ribs lying in front of me, adjoined in a slowly curved backbone shape; it jolts me out of my wondering. Deer perhaps, lying forlorn yet magical on the litter. It shows some signs of being gnawed and has been completely bleached by the filtered light; it has been here for many months, if not years. I watch it for a very long time, deciding whether to take a photo of it or not. For me, it is not always necessary or appropriate to have a record of the things I encounter in the woods. I respect its need to stay private and unseen, yet, as I continue to study the gorgeous curve of the spine, the whiteness of the ribs on the darkness of the leaves, the tessellation and the suggestion of fractals spinning off into infinity, I cannot help noticing its perfection. It would look incredible placed within the frame of the camera lens. Somewhere to begin …

… and so the image is made; digitised and enhanced, resized and replicated as it finds its way to the very beginning of the blog I decide on a whim to call Sightings. Here it is, standing as sentinel, watching out for danger, guiding me along the path as I tap, tap, tap and fill the screen with words – my Keeper of Secrets, Terminus at the boundary; calling this blog into creation, making sure I stay on the crooked path day-after-day.

As I start to write, I feel as if I want to explain what this thing is going to be all about. I search for words within the brittleness of each vertebrae and divine the slim bones, looking closely at the places in between. Yes, this blog is all about looking, feeling, sensing and intuiting: it is about understanding how to make ‘real’ what is not at first, apparent to the eye, it is about looking at how we look and learning how to scrutinise the metadata of our vision. I have looked at many things in my life, from Tarot cards to Old Masters, from animal tracks to fashion magazines and I have also looked into Nothingness; I am well-versed in the Art of Seeing and each day, from here on out, I will try to convey what I have discovered to you through this writing. Not that I think it will be possible to fully explain but because I think it will be fun to try.

I am a private person; I am not at all showy but I can be rather wordy (it’s the product of an airy horoscope and an INFP personality you know), so if you stick with it and look hard (yet gently) enough, I am sure you will be able to discover the basic nourishment that runs like liquid gold through my veins, keeping me alive each day. This I am sure, will be quite easy to discern, once I get into my stride and to give you a clue, it’s all about taking the dry, brittle bones of life and injecting them with enough love and devotion to allow the animal to alchemise back into beingness again, jump up and skip into the breathing forest before our very eyes.

Perhaps I will be able to show you how it is done …