The impact of attention

seahorse thing ed

“From the museum: sea kangaroo” (Ed Douglas)

I have been thinking about attention lately. It is a quality that is close to my heart as I know how powerful it can be in a counselling room. Paying attention really closely to someone, listening to them well, can often open up doors in their thinking, can help to release emotions, and can make a world of difference as people try to work through challenges and move on from painful situations. I also know this very well as the person being listened to. Having another person really attend to me as I work through difficulties is very restoring and helpful. This is partly due to the sense of not being alone – isolation is a real burden when things are tough. But I think that it may be more than that also – that creativity itself (in the form of new insights and new ideas) can come just from paying attention. This has been on my mind as I have been to a great exhibition in the past couple of weeks whose power comes partly from the sense that intense and sustained attention has been paid in the creation of the images.
My friend Ed is a photographer, and I went to the opening of his latest exhibition 10 days ago. He has been making images of natural objects that he has collected from around his place in the hills. There are pieces of wood – logs and sticks, a shell, some vegetables, other items, and the images are large and in black and white. Ed has really looked at these objects. He has spent time with them and become very familiar with them. I think he has let them work some magic on him and in turn he has found things in them – their shapes, their form, some kind of ‘essence’ in them, and then, through the lens has turned them into something new. They have become surprising creatures perhaps (a parsnip turned into an octopus, a stick into a stick insect),

Ed Stick insect

“From the museum: stick insect” (Ed Douglas)

or they give a sense of the immensity of nature and the universe (wood shavings turned into stars), or have me thinking of the wild world that is within us all (our tears, our hearts, our minds) in powerful ways.

head-ed-douglas-thinking-great-thoughts-2

“Head thinking great thoughts – after Paul Klee” (Ed Douglas)

They give me a feeling of wonder and amazement and mystery, and I think this comes from the attention that Ed has paid the objects. Through his looking, his attention, simple unprepossessing objects have become strange, beautiful, new. It is a wonderful exhibition and is on at the Prospect Gallery, just off Main North Road at Nailsworth, till 28 June. Here is a link to further information, and you get a peek at more of the pictures also.
http://www.prospect.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=1193

Ed and Christopher

Ed (left) and Christopher Orchard at the launch

EB and DV at Ed's exhibition

The crowd, including a not fantastic shot of me, Wendy behind me to the left, Deirdre in the blue coat and lovely felt wool dress, and next to her on the right, Bet.

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4 Responses to The impact of attention

  1. Mandy says:

    Hey what an interesting blog on “attention” there was a fair bit of that recently for the International Womens Day Awards” some of it quite unexpected, but well deserved. 🙂

    • Hi Mandy,
      Now that you mention it, that is another interesting side of attention – the IWD awards and the attention I received there so unexpectedly had the effect of having me feel really seen and noticed. Perhaps this is part of what happens to people (and who knows perhaps even to objects???!?!) when we are paid attention – we feel different, more visible, acknowledged, known in a bit of a different way. Whatever it is, (a mystery) it’s special…

  2. Deirdre veaney says:

    I really loved these images Eab. And it has made me want to engage in the practice of attending fully to things otherwise how else does one build the attention on purpose muscle.

  3. Yes Deirdre I agree. It was a treat to go to the opening with you my dear.
    xox

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