2014 – The Rights of Spring, Willow Gallery, Oswestry

the rights of spring poster-print


The Rights of Spring:

“Spring” can mean many things: not only the glorious season of renewal and growth after winter’s long grip, but also elasticity, agile leaping movement, poise and flexibility. It is the spring which is our source of life-giving water, both actually and symbolically.

The title of this exhibiton is the Rights of Spring. This is no confusion: the word Rite expresses the mechanism through which we celebrate, and the word Right expresses our liberty to do so.

In Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the Dances made to welcome the Spring are brought to a dramatic conclusion with one of the participants dancing herself to a sacrificial death. All our ancestors across Europe were pagan; each year they danced and celebrated the seasons round as an affirmation of life, done through a deep connection to the living earth. Stravinsky’s finale was a travesty of this truth, born of centuries of deliberate misinformation by the Church about our shared ancestors’ beliefs.

Likewise the currently perceived meaning of the word Orc does not contain the whole truth.  He is not, as Tolkien described, a dark malevolent creature, but holds an entirely different meaning as expressed in the works of William Blake.  Blake’s Orc is a positive figure, the embodiment of creative passion and energy, standing opposed to the figure of Urizen, the embodiment of tradition and authority.

The “Rights of Spring” are the freedom to express our connectedness to nature and to our own bodies. They are not the commercial exploitation of oversexualised imagery or the schizophrenic media pumping out simultaneous titillation and prudish outrage, but the opportunity to look upon and marvel at the human form, to challenge the values that have eclipsed and constrained human sexuality as a means of controlling the ”plebs”; prurient and prudish values enforced by church and state to stifle the creativity and free expression of the masses and to keep them in their place.

A notion so eloquently expressed in verse three of the hymn All things Bright and Beautiful:

“The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate,

God made them high and lowly,

And ordered their estate.”

The “Rights of Spring” stand in absolute opposition to this. Certainly they are a celebration of youth and new life, but they are also a celebration of freedom, of the liberation of the inner spirit and the creativity in us all.