6. Owl

30 x 20.5cm, silk and cotton embroidery thread, acrylic paint, calico

I see you



But some things will never die

This work is about the brutal inevitability of paradox. Killing life in order to save life, living in order to understand death, waiting patiently for the miracle to happen.

The world of conservation is now a militaristic idea. We hunt and kill in order to conserve animals. It is an idea that continually haunts me. It is as if the paradox seldom affirms the irony that sadly has become the song of many conservation hymns. Trade in animal carcasses and skeletons, canned hunting, taxidermy, international wildlife sales to zoos and private farms is the orgiastic material norm; we have to kill, market and entertain in order to survive. Culling, splitting of herds are anecdotal buzzwords in conservation. This normalized brutality affirms the scientific statistical data and illusion that nature must be subdued and managed in order for it to be sustainable. It underpins the rationale that allows us to destroy and contain the natural world for profit in order that our technological universe may grow. It also becomes the dangerous paradox of Africa, that wildness is a manageable tourist destination. This wildness also applies to the humanity that survives in Africa, mirroring the colonial idea of an exotic, dark, dangerous but wild continent.

One night at around 7pm, one of the owls who lives in the canyon flew into the glass sliding door of the kitchen where I was making my supper. This was a highly unusual event; a nocturnal creature colliding with a glass window in the evening. I sat with the unconscious owl for a while without touching him, willing him to be ok. Eventually he opened his eyes and got to his feet by using his wings as paddles. He stood with his back to me and swiveled his head around to look directly into my face for what seemed to be a protracted period of time. It is the time of extraordinary silence, where it is possible to communicate with something that touches your soul. When he was ready to leave, he simply disappeared into the night.

This work fills in the silent spaces of the conversation where an ordinary event becomes a miracle, where the miracle becomes the mystery and the mystery explains everything.