Earth, Air and a Memory of Water
For the theme of Elements I decided to work with a recent trip across the Great Western Desert – the Sahara. We drove from the oasis of Bahariya to the Gilf Kebir – a plateau the size of Belgium at the junction of Libya Sudan and Egypt. The trip took sixteen days, five 4 wheel drive vehicles, and we had to carry all petrol, water, and food on the cars. We saw no other car in that time, and the only people were desert police in one distant post. The desert almost became a living thing, the main player on the trip and the element of earth seemed to dominate.
I thought of it at first as a series on earth – with the changing landscape and colours as we drove across it. Then I realised that the sky was a continual backdrop, so I thought of the series as Earth and Sky.
I realised each item I used in the lowest panel has in some way an echo of water.
Each piece has:
- The sky as the top panel.
- A Victorian-style charcoal drawing of the desert below, showing the colours on the day that we drove across it.
- A grid of crosses to relate to the maps we followed and the way that we continually compared what we saw to what we knew – contextualising what we saw to fit a western construct.
- A low section which represents the earth we walked on and the things we found on it. The marks of previous peoples were on rock walls or on the ground. I wanted viewers to have to bend to see what was there – as we did.