Archive for March, 2015


Chanctonbury Ring, a chalk spiral and ‘the basic motion of matter’

March 28, 2015

According to Asger Jorn, ‘the basic motion of matter has the character of the spiral’.*


I don’t know who’s responsible for this spiral arrangement of chalk at Chanctonbury Ring, on the South Downs of West Sussex. I found the picture on an English Heritage page which now appears to have disappeared, though the picture was never attributed to anyone.

I remember the wooded hill as something of a sinister presence looming over us as we made our way to visit family in Crawley many years ago, and I read about the legend about the Devil appearing if you circled the (now much-depleted) clump of trees on its crest seven times. I wish I could track down the reference to the Theosophist perceiving the dance of Oreads on the top of this hill (or was it Cissbury Ring), manifesting as dancing light.


Cows in the dew pond at Chanctonbury Ring in 1930 (Steyning Museum library collection).

* Peter Shield 1998 Comparative Vandalism: Asger Jorn and the artistic attitude to life. Aldershot: Borgen/Ashgate, p.43.


Pine Trees, Embley Wood

March 24, 2015

A picture taken on my travels around Micheldever Forest a few years ago.


One of the pines has been felled since…

Edit 11/4/2015: Here‘s an interesting article on the theft of wood and class composition.


Burning the Temple: ‘from spark to phoenish’

March 21, 2015


Last Saturday I finally got round to working on a log of pine, which I scavenged a few years ago on my travels around Micheldever Forest. As I sawed and hacked away at it a shape emerged, reminiscent of how I once imagined a Babylonian ziggurat looked.


In fact, the nearest architectural correlate to this figure today (other than a fairground helter skelter) would be the Great Mosque of Samarra (long may it remain!).


As it was, I was just chopping up a log to burn on what I hoped would be the last of the cold nights (it wasn’t). After several hours I ran out of steam and just heaved the whole edifice into the grate. I couldn’t help but think of it as a kind of temporary temple, to be consumed in the spirit of the decline and renewal of all things – that is, not as an idol to be destroyed, but an idol to be enjoyed. I saw it as a memorial to the years I used to work around that bit of Hampshire (no more, alas).


I learn today that someone has built a huge wooden temple in Derry, filled with the wishes, prayers and thanks of people in the city. It is to be consumed in flames tonight.



Hylda Baker and the Art of Invective

March 7, 2015