JOURNAL

By christinaillenapeake, Sep 17 2017 12:24PM

Leary said ‘I die so hard everytime’. I watched the biography today on Leary and Abbas, linking back to every reference I have ever heard Joe Rogan echo about psychedelics. It was fascinating and quite unsettling when the conversation settled upon death but that was the point I guess to unpack that irrationality.


Leary died of pancreatic cancer and they filmed a lot towards the end of his life and their ‘reunion’ as it were. I was probably wrong but in some way there was an effervescence to him in the final minutes of the documentary holding onto anything and everything before the end but at the same time an acceptance born of a lifetime of curiosity. Abbas in turn radiated a sense of peace and wonder. His beaming smile and genuine innate wonder that would at the point of death and in that moment being fully present, the idea of which would make most people shit themselves but he described as the moment of becoming a God.


Death seems to walk ever closely as I grow older and it is a quick step to link it to those around me and our experiences and the intimate mythologies we create surrounding it. They published ‘The Psychedelic Experience: Manuel based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead’ (1964) but it relates to living and dying. I am think this Tibetan guide has to be the next book to read…


And so I started to read and the premise alone from the many forwards and introductions from Jung to the Lamas’ is quite extraordinary. That this manual follows the journey from death to rebirth feels illogical as a narrative but is perfectly rational in its instruction for a process we do not witness. As noted in the book it appears that it would be impossible to comment on a process that not a living soul has witnessed but the counterargument to that Western perspective is that everyone has died multiple times via the cyclical completion of numerous lives. I don't know the answers to any of that but in I am fixated on how this correlates to the ideas predation and consciousness that are forming my research.


How many times within our lives in this context do we ‘die’? The critical events or experiences in our lives that precipitate the shedding of one’s self for the next that grew within it? I find the ideas on consciousness that I am just starting to touch on link with the cosmologies and belief systems of those I am reading about in the Amazonas although they are thousands of miles apart and in many ways the systems themselves are as diverse as this ancient experimentation of consciousness and freedom to move within different realities and collective spaces of consciousness that are forming the foundation for my enquiries. What consciousness is of our creation and that of the collective? If there is a defined break at all as they are one and the same? Especially when you consider the examples of the collective consciousness that includes that of the natural environment from flora to fauna?


When Jung talks of the dominant archetypes and in this instance I am thinking of specifically predators, where is the demarcation of these creatures as spirits and/or gods of our creation and that of the flesh and bone animal that we fear may view us a prey?


Recently I have been watching videos of shark encounters, one in particular referred to the search for the Maori mega shark or Mango Taniwha, viewed as a shark spirit if I understand correctly. When the two men descend into the cage they film this female Great White or Tommy shark and she looks to be heavily pregnant and possibly 12 or 13 feet. There is a second video that claims 7m which would equal 23ft. The way she (in both instances) moves merging into the blue is absolutely terrifying and seductive simultaneously. This is probably my greatest fear that of the shark attack which for anyone that has seen the film Jaws will probably understand especially when seen at a stupidly young age where the fear gave body to the archetype that needed experience to feed life into it. She was stunning in every way and probably would have promoted a heart attack in me if I was in that shark cage that was completely open on one side!!


I have been watching animal predator attacks and encounters and I have noticed that the language used to describe maneaters or animal/human attacks engages the language use when you watch a serial killer documentary. The animal is completely anthropomorphised into a ‘killer’ as we understand that concept to the point where the animal to given a conscious morality and is witnessed through its attack of making or choosing the wrong action and in the worst cases vilified to the point of evil.


I wonder if animals have the breath of mental health illnesses that humans do? Do they have tendencies where such a categorisation would be correct? I haven’t read enough to know better but I assume so to some extent which is why we try to retrain animals to then rehome them. Animals have personalities so I assume logically that illnesses relating to that must exist.


It's amazing how we project the best and the worst of ourselves onto the natural environment to make it a personal vendetta or an ode to beauty and transcendence to point of god creation. The book Monster of God (Quammen, 2004) I think echoed a lot of that thought and concern and the subsequent implication on the natural environment from these interactions and the price paid from a Romanian dictatorship to Aboriginal communities.


So where does this leave my research, read more, read more, read more, watch more Youtube videos looking for the god or the monster and throughout try to focus that snowstorm in my head to create something on a page that will make your gut shake.





By christinaillenapeake, Sep 4 2017 09:28AM

These images are works in prgress for book based on research and experiences compiled during Iwati Parana residency this year. For the first chapter I am trying to recollect what my first perceptions were of the Amazon and impression from the initial research I was conducting before I travelled.

By christinaillenapeake, Aug 3 2017 05:33AM

My favourite place. All Saints church, St Margaret's Street, W1.
My favourite place. All Saints church, St Margaret's Street, W1.
Freize Sculpture Park, Regents Park
Freize Sculpture Park, Regents Park
Freize Sculpture Park, Regents Park
Freize Sculpture Park, Regents Park
Wallace Collection
Wallace Collection
Wallace Collection. My kid's reincarnation.
Wallace Collection. My kid's reincarnation.
Wallace  Collection
Wallace Collection
Wallace Collection. Gorgeous girl.
Wallace Collection. Gorgeous girl.
Wallace Collection. Gorgeous boy.
Wallace Collection. Gorgeous boy.
Rebecca Hossacks Gallery. Aboriginal Art.
Rebecca Hossacks Gallery. Aboriginal Art.
Rebecca Hossacks Gallery. Aboriginal Art.
Rebecca Hossacks Gallery. Aboriginal Art.
Artist's own book, 1930. 'Anatomy for Art Students'.
Artist's own book, 1930. 'Anatomy for Art Students'.

By christinaillenapeake, Jul 10 2017 03:38PM

I have posted a new journal entry after some much needed encouragement plus some of the audio journals from the Amazon residencythis April. Feels like I have been running all over London taking The Kid out to see what we can while the weather is so gorgeous whilst enjoying my garden andthe roses blooming hard and fast!


The latest entry discusses new work and research surrounding the themes around predation which influenced the residency work and taking that forward for a new project. The Peshmerga triptych was completed this week and after 15 months of work that is a really amazing achievement for me. I have uploaded one of the panels for the homepage and updated the 'New Work' pages for you to see the final pieces.


Happy hunting.

The Kid fascinated by seeing the Earth suspended. Science Museum
The Kid fascinated by seeing the Earth suspended. Science Museum
My gorgeous roses!
My gorgeous roses!
Saatchi and the Selfie. The Kid slept through this one.
Saatchi and the Selfie. The Kid slept through this one.
Russian mafia tats. Haven't read this means yet but it cant be good?!
Russian mafia tats. Haven't read this means yet but it cant be good?!

By christinaillenapeake, Jun 25 2017 12:37PM

When I secured the opportunity to participate in the Iwati Parana residency I was indulging all the dreams or fascinations that I have held since I was a child with the Amazon. I always dreamed of visiting the Amazon, a pristine jungle environment that echoed so many childhood stories such as the Jungle Book but mostly it is the archetype to me of exoticism. An strange point to some being of a mixed heritage (English and Caribbean) which means that I am often referred to as exotic. The second basis for fascination is 'predation' ( a word I learnt there is no equivalent to in Spanish) as it is one of the most dangerous environment on Earth with everything in some way out to bite, sting, hunt and/or consume you.


The numerous BBC nature programmes I have watched in awe of nature and then the indigenous communities that you see there and the archetypal untouched tribes that do not know of the human world. The first Human Planet series aired by the BBC showed film of uncontacted communities watching the plane that the famous Brazilian anthropologist Jose Carlos Meirelles and protector of these Brazilian peoples resided within, while watching them. That two minutes of film floored me. As ignorant as it sounds, I didn't realise the Amazon stretched across Brazil into Peru. The mythology surrounding the region is so centred on Brazil that many I spoke with didn't realise this. Assimilate into this fantasy the creative icons that have featured across literature, film and for my proposal comics as illustrated in Wonder Woman. Yes she is based upon the original mythology based in Europe stretching to Russia where the Scythian tribes first gave basis to these stories of warrior women that were then encapsulated in Grecian art and culture.


And then you arrive at your destination and the realities of the a country, culture, history and politics come into play. It is always a mark to stop and reflect when I see the wood sheet and corrugated iron housing that has become a common motif when visiting developing countries with occasional mud floors, or accessing your accommodation for the next five weeks by raft or canoe but I fell in love with the place. The kids running around and the scenery was so very beautiful. I fell in love with my first impression. But as the time passes the fantasy gives way to the realities of living in the Amazon. The weather, the storms building in hours to release a torrential downpour and the humidity plus the temperamental electrics meant that everyone lost electrical equipment of some kind from laptops to cameras. I lost my graphics pad and learnt that I can draw with a mouse. A new skill found out of necessity.


The legend of the gringo and the inherent luscious financial liquidity meant that I was ripped off in various ways from taxis to food sellers to restaurants and so on. I don't really have a problem with this as it is usual from my experience and I assume an amount to offset that, but in Peru I have to admit that I found it the most blatant to the point of resentment. On more that one occasion I had to demand my change when I had ordered something for less than 5 Sols and paid 20 sol where change would be expected. Being overcharged or the price rising each day for the same product with no explanation as to why that was the case and my minimal Spanish had little to do it. This I found whether it was a small item or I was eating at a restaurant and there the resentment would show if I didn't order a large meal. This point sounds damning but Peru I found to be the most welcoming Latin American country that I have visited to date. Poverty is poverty and I seem to have money but no one is forcing me to stay or pay anything and when I challenge being ripped off, the person invariably let it go or I just refused to buy or went to another seller the following day. I appreciate I was an opportunity for some but not for all.


When it came to working during the residency there were many difficulties encountered for everyone depending on what your interest or proposal was it could be difficult to engage people but at he same time the fascination that the children held for us was imitable. We had between the lot of us artists many gadgets and trinkets plus we were working in different ways some interesting some not so much so they soon got bored watching me colour in backgrounds with black brio pen. The children were the getaway to the community as in my estimation how we treated them was observed and evaluated by the rest of the community which is exactly how I would be with my own child if others I didn't know came to my home town. We were running activities with them and to a greater or lesser extent engaging them and I am sure they went home telling their families of that. I always make a point to show manners as I don't think it matters where you go they always communicate a lot very quickly and wealth or poverty have noting to do with acquiring them.


The problem is that you cannot dictate the terms of engagement therefore the studio/accommodation/originally community space for the children remained just that so it was difficult to impossible to enforce that the space was for working rather than play especially as we had the majority of the workshops there. The children or boys mostly, were wonderful and a font of knowledge as they passed on a lot of the knowledge from jungle stories to general perceptions of the environment by the local community. I have to admit that at times I found it difficult as well.


This extended to when we took a trip to see the indigenous communities further up the Amazonas. Everyone was excited but then when you were there it was a hard sell tourist affair where you were draped in jewellery, 'welcomed' and dances performed before being hit for money. I think everyone of the artists left not wanting to repeat the experience as it lacked the imagined 'authenticity' that everyone had hoped for. I remember sitting in the large community house thinking was this any different to the institutionalised tourism that we have in the UK, London holding the reputation of the most visited cultural cities in the world and the price tag we placed on this culture is considerable so what is the difference and what is my understanding of authenticity? Why should feel entitled for these communities to open themselves to me. If it is the other way round I can't say that I would appreciate it necessarily.


At the time I thought it was clear that some of the women were uncomfortable being bare chested as they made attempts to cover themselves or some wore bikini tops and I understand that when everyone is covered in front of you watching you and you are selling a version of your culture. The Boras we learnt were actually invited to move from Columbia by the tourist board to Peruvian Amazon in the 1970s. I understand that as the Caribbean I grew up with is not the one sold to tourists and its not the one I sell to friends and acquaintances when I visit. This idea or question of indigenous communities, tourism and authenticity is a complex and loaded question and I felt as did many of the other artists a little exploited by the end of it. Whatever your assessment of that trip I left with more questions than I arrived with which I think is a good thing, such as the observation of the five star hotel in-between the two tribes and the subsistence farming and poverty were severe.


This reflected a few experiences but you also learn very quickly and start changing from the tourist to the traveller as you learn the cultural eccentricities, taboos and injustices that pervade a community, culture, country and humanity.


One of the things that really shocked and/or saddened me was learning that Iquitos was the child sex capital in Peru. I had seen things, mature white men whose behaviours was strange and situations that were weird. Not to mention that there were posters in the gringo cafes saying that child sex was illegal. The fact that you would have to say it! I heard stories of the British and German man in the village of Santo Thomas who I was unfortunate enough to have spoken to on occasion after they had consumed large amounts of mushrooms and alcohol. The local people seemed wary of them and the language used about the local women wasn't the best. Domestic violence and other taboos were also muttered in conversations but I didn't hear or see anything during my short stay.


Peruvian food was another entry way into peoples' hearts and something I fell in love with. Meat cooked over open fires each day and slow cooked bundles of rice and chicken cooked in banana leaves plus the fish could not be fresher as it was usually cooked that day.


I weirdly enough was not seen as your standard gringo as I was mixed race but some special type as I looked similar but was different and towered over most there which is the soundtrack to my life so no change there.


Peru was an exceptional country with a people that exhibited a warmth and cunning that illustrated a stunningly rich culture that Peruvians fight to maintain, seen in the efforts of the residency organisers and protect despite the national and local governments not reflecting the same investment, apart from the major tourist attractions such as Micchu Pichu which is the most expensive cultural trip I have ever been on to date. I wondered how many Peruvians actually get to visit and how spectacular the discount must be. It was worth every penny and I felt that I was privileged to see so many wondrous sites through the Sacred Valley and Macchu Pichu itself.


Now that I am home I wonder of the legacy we as a group of artists and I as an individual have left in Santo Thomas after the residency, if there is any legacy at all? I think that as much as you aim and hope to create a dialogue that by its very nature implies that it is reciprocal between a minimum of two parties, the reality of making an impact can be a very difficult thing to achieve. I never really assume that I am very influential but I do aim at the very least to ensure that I have conducted myself in a respectful and open manner and seek to be fluid whether in addapting or engagement in which ever new environment I encounter.


I will definitely visit this country again! The cosmology, spirituality (from animism to Christianity), culture (local arts to UNESCO sites), art, environment (jungle to mountains), Peru is incredibly seductive and this is a country that is on a firm upward trajectory in its development and I think the start of teaching indigenous languages in schools from 2018 is indicative of that. There is so much I haven't seen and I had no idea the amount of cultural sites to visit which is similar to Mexico in that respect.


This is the first country that my husband has travelled through rather than as a firm tourist and after seeing the country through his eyes after a month of the reality the wonder was only reaffirmed, and that affirmation has only solidified my commitment to continue to travel to different countries as an artist to engage and experience new cultures aiming to seek some kind of truth through the preconceptions, awe and disappointments to understand the realities and if capable reflect that in my practice.



E. info.christinapeake@gmail.com  M. 07909 145 741  Instagram. @chrisllena

 

All rights reserved to the artist Christina Peake. Copyright 2017.

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