Friday, 4 March 2016

Nativity Part II: The Tattooed Lady

Our emergence from the womb signifies the epic awakening of our most primal sense - the visual. Tattooing, sometimes provocatively, often beautifully, embroiders our visual history, tracing the lineage of our ancestors and, since the first known art work, contributes to the description of our shape-shifting perception of beauty and ritual. 

Since the colourless nothing of mythical lands that 
Time forgot, civilisations have used their skin as
canvas...embellishing and adorning with prolific
surroundings - berries, beetle shells or different forms, 
shades and textures of earth and clay. Today, the art of 
tattooing remains a prominent artistic discipline in which 
that sacred and colourful legacy continues to flourish. 

  In the second installment of the Nativity series, which attempts to distill contemporary sense of the word "native", tattoo artist Clare Lupino invites us to understand how her dermal illustrations, commissioned for aesthetic purposes - including sensitive post-medical procedures - embroider and contribute to her relationship with her sense of nativity and place in the natural world.

"tattoos are totums, symbols, representations and metaphors that can mark phases, and phrases, of our lives"

Clare Lupino
Tell us where you live.
I live and work in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire (UK) in a creative, spiritually-oriented community.
When you were younger, how much time 
did you spend outdoors?
I lived with my nana for some 
of my childhood. She was a 
very insightful woman who 
grew her own vegetables and 
looked to nature for healing 
remedies. She encouraged my 
creativity by immersing me in 
the natural world. I would
while away hours counting the rings of a fallen tree, or making seed pies for the birds, 
gathering pine cones and observe how they opened and closed, according to the weather. I even  rescued worms from busy roads, returning them back to the soil! Some of this has continued into my adult life. As an older child, I would play lot outdoors, building dens
and jumping across streams.
Have you, or would like the chance to, grow your own vegetables, forage or hunt for game?
   I think I could survive in Armageddon - I know how to make a shift and connect with what is essential. I do love the excitement of cities and need that injection regularly as a barometer of social human development, to feel relevant with writing and art, but I flirt with my feral self. I love to read about keeping hens and allotment digging. Right now, it's a different world for me as a busy mother - there are only so many hours in a day! My current focus is my business so I can be financially independent and be free up creative time.
  The term "nature" evolves its meaning as much as our relationship to it. What does nature mean to you?
  Nature means being true to myself, to my own nature; as a woman, a mother, an artist. I see Nature as the domain of Mother Earth, the Goddess, the sacred feminine. I'm interested in using my work to promote that awareness of nature, both the gentleness and the power.
Generally, we've come to use the word 'native' for indigenous people. If this extended to include your own life, would that adjust your understanding of your place in the world?
I consider myself as a spirit in a body. I'm here on a 
journey to learn, to gather, teach and impart what I 
have experienced. I believe that, since we are all the 
same substance, really, we are native to a kind of 
'universal energy' both before and after we 
become native to this particular planet! The concept 
that we are all One (like "uni-verse" meaning literally 
"one song") means to me completing the dream of what 
I call an "earthly" nature. Our spirits become native to 
a specific culture when we are born and all of them 
contribute to a global human identity.
We are more aware than ever these days about our impact on the environment through waste, fracking, mining for minerals for technology, etc. How does knowledge of these contribute to your understanding of the natural world?
"Flame of Desire"                 Never a dull moment 
My motto is "waste not, want not" and also a concept that applies to my spiritual self. Energetically, if humanity aligns itself with its collective soul, then a collective conscience will develop naturally. Within each collective, the energy of the individual counts - I believe that my individual contribution is to help expand the concept of creativity in others through the medium of my own art work.
 How do any spiritual, religious or philosophical beliefs that you hold contribute to your idea of the natural world or being ‘native’?
I have an eclectic and all-encompassing set of beliefs. I look at the intention in religious and spiritual endeavour and cherry pick from each. It's important for me to get a sense that the intentions benefit everyone. I feel very connected to the times when women were brutally punished for their beliefs (the Burning Times of "witches") when orthodox ideas of Christianity were so ingrained. I feel the same about the obliteration of indigenous tribal rituals in many countries where political agendas have dictated via missionaries that their way was the only way. I seek to find and keep my native human spirit.
A recent controversial manifesto argues to keep humans 'separate' from nature in order to maximise conservation of the wilderness to keep it sacred. To what extent do you agree?
If we see the Earth as a mother - as female - which more accurately reflects indigenous traditions for millennia - we can come to understand that she can provide without a sense of dominion, control and separation. The sexes can be equal because both have a sacred part to play. Human evolution is an awakening of the individual to make sense of the masculine and feminine within us, to gain a sense of Oneness.
"Charleston"                Waste not, want not Stunning upcycled pieces
To what extent does technology affect your relationship to the natural world? How much do you consider technology to be natural?
If technology carries a holistic intent for the planet, including the generations of different species to come, then it can only be considered as an extension of human nature.
 Many people wish to get back to ‘the good life’. If an opportunity arose for you to move to an island with your friends/family, live more simply and aim for self-sufficiency, would you take it? Explain your reasons!
This comes down to the integrity and authenticity of others. Perhaps if there was a secret mini-island and a small boat! All artists need that kind of sanctuary.

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