Shiva the Destroyer is the third god of the holy trinity formed with Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver. Together they personify the cyclical regeneration of the Universe, and in artist George Chakravarthi’s project, AUM, their unification is represented in trees, and their reverence in Hindu tree rituals. Chakravarthi speaks of how the processes of regeneration are informing his approach to life and his artistic practice: “…but I do want and need to give this aspect of my work some context, I do. It's really important to think about the body beyond gender and sexuality. It's important to know and experience what happens to the body when it turns against you and then what happens to the mind, then what happens to the heart… and then what happens to the people around you, and your world view. It’s a knock-on effect, and pain can be really transformative if we accept it and love ourselves into healing, it awakens you from the trance… The privilege of being an artist is that you can find ways in which to share some expression of these ideas. It also serves as an immense and valuable contribution to conversations about the body, nature and about aligning the body with the natural cycles. I felt like that's what my body and my mind were doing, going through a really severe cycle of change and transformation. It’s made me a calmer person and I'm kinder to myself, I'm gentler, more compassionate with myself, you know, these are things that I've struggled with for years having been incredibly punishing and hard on myself. And as a result, I’m much more compassionate with other people. I’m now much more motivated by the light instead of the dark. I'm not saying that those characteristics have completely left me, but my awareness is incredibly high, and that level of awareness changes the entire dynamic.” Get in contact at: to receive or collect AUM a free limited edition postcard pack of the three images we have previewed. Supported by Arts Council England and the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust @iamgeorgechakravarthi @phytologyuk @acegrams Image: AUM Shiva, courtesy of George Chakravarthi.
Vishnu the Preserver is the second god of the Trimurti, the divine Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Shiva featuring in George Chakravarthi’s, AUM. In Hinduism, the tree symbolically represents the unification of all three gods. Vishnu represents the trunk of the tree. In the following second extract from AUM a conversation between artist George Chakravarthi and curator Adelaide Bannerman, the artist shares insight on the shift in his practice responding to his spiritual awakening: “...I've never ever thought about my body and the image of who I am in such specific depth, albeit with the awareness that it’s an integral part of my work, but those strategies no longer applied, they no longer had any relevance to the person I'd become in those six months. It was like my body isn't limited to this, artistically or personally. It's about so much more and though I’d always known much of this instinctively, I hadn’t allowed myself to commit to those areas of thoughts… there was a moment of surrender. I had to get on with making the projects I had been working on, which had nothing to do with what was going on with me at that point in time. It was like being on autopilot, just continuing in the familiar terrain by meeting everyone’s expectations… “ “Having suddenly gone into an internal space made me realise how comfortable people are about talking about the external world, external self. When you start talking about the internal world or the inner workings of a body and mind, people are either deeply uncomfortable or incapable of going there. I think that's partly because they don't know where to start or where to go, or they think they're going to have to become as vulnerable as the work to have that dialogue, which is probably somewhat true. That wasn't particularly a great problem to me, just an interesting observation.” Visit our link in the bio for full details at: Image: AUM Vishnu, courtesy of George Chakravarthi. Supported by Arts Council England and the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust @iamgeorgechakravarthi @phytologyuk @acegrams
This image by artist George Chakravarthi is of the god Brahma the Creator who is one of the Trimurti - the divine Hindu trinity formed of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. This rendition of Brahma features in the free limited edition postcard pack, which can be collected on arrangement from Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, visit our link in the bio to get in contact: Taken from AUM, a conversation between artist George Chakravarthi and curator Adelaide Bannerman, this is the first of three interview extracts where the artist recalls his research and experiences underlying the development of a specific and ongoing body of work that he’s been exploring that visually merges flora and flesh to form mandalas – geometric visual configurations that help focus attention, evoke spiritually and support meditation. "I had spent most of that period bedridden and horizontal because I couldn't do anything else. We had a walnut tree in the garden, which was the only thing I could see through our bedroom window and it became my sole focus of attention, a portal and my focal point of meditation, even though I didn't even think of it as a meditation at the time. But it was the only thing I could see and the only thing I could relate to. It was during autumn, so the leaves were falling, adapting to the climate and cyclical change and preparing to regenerate, a bit like myself. I didn't even think about these things in any particularly meaningful way, but the tree just became a reflection of what was happening to me." Supported by Arts Council England and the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust. Visit the online gallery (link in bio). @iamgeorgechakravarthi @phytologyuk @acegrams Image: AUM Brahma, courtesy of George Chakravarthi.
‘We Extend Ourselves Towards Each Other's Aliveness’ Billboard by Farzana Khan & Sarah Al-Sarraj. Farzana Khan was artist in residence at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve during 2022, and part of, ‘We Speak In Tongues About The Thing(s) We Love’ programme curated by Adelaide Bannerman for the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. The billboard quote originates from writing Farzana made and shared during her residency, which explored, what grief, loss, and trauma is, and how the process of healing can lead to understanding ’aliveness’ – the state of being alive. What does that mean to us as individuals and communities? Aliveness is more than being physically present, it’s a generative approach and feeling that pulsates, and reaches deeply, amongst beings. We Extend Ourselves Towards Each Other's Aliveness, invites us to consider what it means to access and offer each other life during times of multiple and cascading losses of many kinds. How do we commit to our own and each other’s aliveness whilst honouring grief, practices of liberation and survival? In conversation with Farzana, artist Sarah Al-Sarraj visually interpreted the quote, into a painting which responds to Farzana’s Curanderismo - a Latin-American folk practice rooted in plant-based traditional medicine and healing. The plant Marigold, also known as Calendula, adorns the image. Marigold is often used in healing wounds and guiding in new life. Its petals and the entire flower are used in spiritual offerings across different cultural and spiritual traditions, including Farzana’s South Asian heritage that she draws from. #RehearsingFreedoms Translation by Rittika Dasgupta. Connect with Farzana: Twitter @khankfarza IG: Farzana.K.khan Web: Photo of large billboard hoarding standing in front of an urban woodland. Large white lettering reads ‘We extend ourselves towards each others Aliveness’ by Farzana Khan #RehersingFreedoms. The writing is in both English and Bengali. Surrounding the text are marigold flowers and four colourful birds in mid flight. Photo by @adelaide.bannerman. Supported by Arts Council England.
The Garden Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus) is one of the largest spiders found in the UK, a very common resident in most gardens and parks. The distinctive white cross mark on the abdomen has given rise to its common name. Colours vary and include sandy brown, fox-red and almost black. They are easily seen between June and November, before the first frosts of winter kill them off. The Garden Cross Spider webs are built by the larger females, which hang head down in the centre of the web or remain hidden in nearby foliage, with one claw hooked to a signal line connected to the main orb, waiting for a disturbance to signal the arrival of prey. Prey is quickly bitten and wrapped in silk (to be stored for later consumption). The initial bite serves to paralyse the prey and minimise the danger of the spider herself being stung or bitten, and the enzymes injected serve to begin liquefaction of the prey's internal structures. This photograph was taken at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve by Gino Brignoli, entomologist and neighbour of the Nature Reserve. You can see more of Gino’s photos here @gino_brignoli. Source references for further reading on this remarkable being can be found here: What does the drastic decline in insect populations mean for our lives? Insects are a crucial part of our way of life. They are experts in pollination, pest control, and decomposing corpses, and yet humans don’t seem to spend a lot of time thinking about them. But with populations in decline due to habitat loss, pesticides and the climate crisis, what would our world look like without them? Scientists are warning that we ignore these animals at our peril. In recent decades they have detected a stark drop in the number of insects. These tiny creatures, often dismissed as an annoyance, play a vital role in making the Earth habitable. Check out the podcast (link in bio) by The Guardian’s Oliver Milman - exploring the miraculous creatures and how they play a vital role in making the Earth habitable. The Experimental Ecology project was generously supported by Awards for All ‘Together for Our Planet’ fund. @TNLCommunityFund
Reflections on the Wetland Enhancement project Part 6 - Local knowledge (continued) The last post shared from our external site visits and consultations during the Wetland Enhancement project and Ecology Internship. Our learning was also informed by workshops and conversations held in Bethnal Green. Visit our website to read about the enriching conversations, tours and workshops we had with: @hayley_harrison_ Nick Bridge @shumaisakhan @jane_mutiny @adelaide.bannerman @dazeaghaji @pocockjoanna and Andrea Cox. “Some of the wonderful people who nourished our thinking included Hayley Harrison, a multidisciplinary artist in residence at Phytology in 2021. Hayley works “with people, forgotten spaces and abandoned materials (human and non-human) to start conversations about our relationships with each other, places we call home and the non-human world”. In response to her installation displayed throughout the site last year, I thought about how we often project human emotions, assumptions, desires, voices, and ways of creating meaning onto other beings. But how do other living beings experience the world? How do human-made entities find place and relationship in ecological communities? I think of the kebab boxes that can sometimes be found at the site’s margins, discarded by people, enjoyed by foxes, discarded again. If left, they could potentially take up residence for decades or centuries. I also think of the wartime bomb ruins and rubble throughout the woodland that now form part of the site’s terrain and soil composition. The existence of artificial or waste materials in designated sites for nature can raise tensions between romantic ideals of pristine wilderness and the realities of urban habitat management. I hope that there can be space to appreciate the complexity and hybridity of these worlds, which are not altogether human nor non-human. It is also possible to approach contaminants (both actual and metaphorical) curiously, to sensitively consider their histories, and the web of impacts that different objects and materials bring to the site.” With thanks to all of our mentors — continued on (link in bio).

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