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Wildering Dan Crockett

Wildering Surfing and Nature

Poetry & Prose 1.) 2.) 3.) 4.) 5.) 6.) 7.) 8.) 9.) 10.)

Roadsong Introduction Weald of Words-preview Vulture Shoreline at Sandwood Follow the sin-eater Grace Grime The Crown Austral Symphony

Plates Cover Dittany Plate 1. Ever Up Plate 2. Light of Various Senses P1 Plate 3. Light of Various Senses P3 Plate 4. Land from the lineup Plate 5. Bogangar Sun-down Plate 6. Encroachment Photographs Page 2. October 2006 Page 5. March 2005 Page 9. Nightsurf 1, December 2007 Page 12. October 2006 Page 20. John and the Homunculus


1.) Roadsong

Walked across fire and slipped into Forgotten villages with uncommon vistas Danced on street corners and squares Ate squid, tiptoed, smoked Got scraped by Noah’s leathery hide And bounced on rocks, sand and grass Lightning-lit Cane toad faces Crushed by velvet tyres in the night Smelled roadside sugarcane fire Held hands with glory, fate, chance Chewed Betel-nut miles from home Made friends with gabba fans and Dodged dumped asylum patients Left to die in the hazy light Whilst outside iguanas were stoned By less than rational thoughts Met heroes and realised zeroes Crested miles in laden Mercedes Laughed with Scottish farmers Drunk tequila with German schoolgirls Fanned phosphorescence in Mandalas Kicking splendid ripples on the stroke Smelled the west and its direction Got lost, got lost, got lost again Saw car-long catfish drying in sunlight Dwarfen bears and wolves in cages Wiped myself with the pages of novels Became Soviet water-child And trusted vagabond peasants with Mouths of blackened gold Propped up Soho bars and paced Weary streets in the morning, whilst suitWearing men went about their chores Swore at the future, swore at the past Streaked across serene plateaus Saw burning flesh on funeral pyres Voted liberal in a crumbling church Silenced by stained glass sculptures Mirth on the faces of poets and preachers Forged connections in the moonlit water Got lost, got lost, got found again Road song, back on the march

Plate 1. Ever Up


2.) Wildering - Introduction Wildering is a book of poetry & prose, photography, and paintings made by Dan Crockett. This pamphlet is to accompany an exhibition of the same name. All work is inspired by living a life close to surfing. This series of paintings are a representation of the wildering, the wilderness of subconscious yearning, the counterpoint to ‘rational’ thought and controlled environment. Rampant growth sprawls with unstoppable momentum. The wild is infinite, fecund dirt, leaves and branches, thickets and moors, claws and teeth, feathers and hair, cross-currents, seething cauldrons and cyclical lines - constant irregular, indefinable shapes, a tapestry of uncontrollable, unpredictable magic. These pictures are wilderness in miniature. As I paint, I access the same wild spaces that my body and mind call for. Through these spaces I dream-wonder like a child, absorbing the fact that before decades of fabricated impressions are heaped upon us, we regard nature with a splendid, up-close, questioning eye. Under the glare of nature we all become innocents – therefore my paintings express bewilderment, awe, astonishment. In the world that I seek to create, the human presence is no longer in charge. The buildings that I present in these pictures are uninhabited, crumbling edifices, shades of lost opulence, growing all the more glorious in their natural decline. So to the presence of woman and man, the human imprint. So hard to convey a human form without dominating any scene by subjugating the surroundings. To counter this, the human is represented as a single eye. Indistinct, these pupils are their namesake – open, receptive, non-dictatorial observers – learning from and being guided by the natural world. The pupil is not the subject, but a passive entity, silent, impotent and merely witnessing. These eyes see with a naïve, simple wonder. These paintings are directly influenced by living close to surfing and nature. To stop amongst nature, and to understand your own insignificance, is a true blessing in the perpetual, enforced motion of the modern world. Society seeks to distance the individual from the natural world with rules, trends, ideals and standards. The very signifiers of civilization – buildings, paved streets, and cars separate our feet from the ground and eradicate the natural passage of time. Without any pseudo-philosophy, hippy diatribe or cliché of harmony, I wanted to innocently examine the relationship between this modern-day human and nature. Detachment from nature is everywhere in a time-starved world. Humans, impressionable, foster and reinforce this constantly. Even within something as pure as surfing, where the media and trends have shaped an approach completely at odds with the activity, the odour of society creeps in. Yet it is nature that inspires many to return to the beach daily. Once you cut through all the peripheral tripe – all the egos, the questing for individuality, the opinions and definitive labelling, surfing and nature remain so natural, free and true. This fragile freedom is what I seek to represent in my painting. Dan Crockett, 2008


Plate 2. Light of Various Senses (Triptych. Panel 1)


3.) The Weald – 8 steps towards nature (Preview) i.) ii.) iii.) iv.) v.) vi.) vii.) viii.)


Sea View Lack of Light Surfing without Diesel Blissful silence 24 hours without food Sleeping wild Making no rubbish Night walk

The Weald is a comment on the relationship between the surfer and nature. Detachment One of the gifts a life close to surfing can give is humility – an appreciation of individual insignificance alongside nature. This realisation affects us each in different ways. Some realise the futility of the ego, others attempt to pit themselves against nature, whilst many miss the sentiment entirely. Realising the vastness of nature, and our relationship with nature, can render normal society less meaningful. Like the majority of surfers, I know this yet I adhere strictly to social criteria and my moments amongst nature are fleeting and stolen from a busy life. My purpose in writing The Weald was dual. Selfishly, I wished to gently reintegrate with nature and examine how this felt, and to accompany my paintings with a verbal explanation of purpose. Since being involved in surfing, a strong personal inspiration has unfolded, an innocent desire to explore the heart of something that I hold very dear. I realised some time ago that the heart of my infatuation with surfing is bound to the natural world, not the manufactured surfing experience as dictated by the media. Therefore, an exploration of our relationship with nature would be an integral step toward reaching this heart. My major objective was also to show how possible it is to question that which we as surfers and humans take for granted, to challenge this, and report the influence of doing so. Understanding the relationship between the surfer and nature is not a new concept, but personally it is a vitally important and poignant one. Detachment from nature is increasingly evident, even amongst surfers, who often choose themselves as custodians of the natural world. The series of self-imposed conditions and experiments undertaken to create The Weald were designed to give fresh meaning to the natural world that surrounds us. My conclusions cast an eye towards the future, although this project, if anything, has taught me to concentrate more fully on living only in the present moment.



Sea View

I chose the experiments for their simplicity, and their proximity to a daily surfing life, something any surfer could attempt and accomplish without sacrificing too much. For each experiment wrote about my preconceptions, and followed this with the experience as it occurred. Each experiment had to be something that I (and the vast bulk of my fellows) took for granted. I chose one photograph to accompany each experiment, and represented each on a larger scale to accompany the paintings in The Wildering. The Weald is available to read in full as part of the Wildering, the following are previews of the experiments.

Long-distance paddle into the ocean.

Electric light deprivation for a 24 hour period, including all appliances and light of every kind.

Surfing without any transport beside my own legs. Round-trip to the beach without a car.




24 hours without food

Food deprivation for a 24-hour period.



Lack of Light

Sleeping wild

Hike and sleeping amongst nature for a night with no assistance.


Surfing without Diesel

Making no rubbish

A week of making no rubbish at all, besides organic waste.


Blissful silence

Lack of speaking for a 24-hour period.


Night Walk

A walk by night.


4.) Vulture Light really burning now, sun got up all sudden spilling over everything. Dousing it. Noise of the cars playing pizzicato on my nerves. Bead of sweat springs up on Macy’s temple, I can see it throb throb throb through her hair. Slip of metal clasped tight. Calloused old vices sprouting curls, white in places where they bust up and healed and bust again. That bird at it again in the roof of the world. None too many back here, but that one always shrieking. Macy looks up, I do too, but it’s too dizzy and the heat starts up again like a motor. I had the same car since before Macy-O, bowing down in the shade there, trying to escape the press. Fucker roars into life and Macy climbs up rides shotgun when I open the door for her. House gone in the rear-view, all needs paint but been thinking that for years, it’ll be dust before. Pass on down past Brer and Peter, who waves with one stump because the other got took. We stop out the shop and I say to Macy ‘wait there.’ I done need say it anymore, because she always stays put. Shop-girl rolls her eyes at me. ‘Going see shore again, Farley?’ I go to the far wall and choose my water-grade. I choose an eight because Macy been awful dry late and needs it. I’d drink ten to get by, nine on Friday. I eye the 1s and 2s, but I can feel they eyes from behind the rack. Glance through the winder where the hot sun still cuts through the layers the girl got hung. It burns right through the glass. Poor Macy, I think, with no shield. Empties my wallet right out and just have enough, thanks oh thanks. Kids walking past looking real dry, looking at Macy, bug eyes and red skin. Back in the car she is all pinned up one wall in the shade, and I cap the water and pour a bit for her. Sailing out of town, cutting through the still and the wind feels good against our faces. It’s like before the heat come on and the green withered up. Feels like we headed out the coast, for pineapple and to play all day in the waves. Just like real wind come whipping down through the canyons and clusters, fanning the sea. And I think of my buddies, hooting and hollering, side-slipping down the waves. Then we eat up the miles, cutting through the dust on the road and sending it all pluming out behind us. All that curmudgeoning forgot, and even Macy has a smile on. Now you can clear see where the land end and the sea starts, like a great big column where the dry meets the wet. You’d think it’d be real angry and tense up there in the air, those great differences between the two, but it’s like all their energy for a fight just left. This is where they mine water grades 2 to 5, since the rain stopped. It still pisses a bit here, an it leaks a bit from the mills, so they fenced off five miles from the sea to keep people away. We get closer. Thing is, Macy don’t know why we are here and she is up all happy at the winder. Eyes find it hard to see the green now, but suddenly we are right up in it and the dust drops away from the tyres. The signs start up, one every hundred or so. I count em, I know where we gone. It was lucky that Macy found the narrow crack in the wire. The car was giving me trouble or we’da never seen it. Seen her scramble through and come back dripping wet was the happiest day. She shook herself off and I caught the drops on my tongue. Near Pure it was, I swear to you. Macy felt good then for a while but that was then. We crest the last hill before the slip down to the road where the green is so thick through the fences it feels like you hid from the world. Then there it is, that great jewel of ocean. It looks smaller though, acres of blue stretch and stretch. This is damn near close as you can see it. Pull over then and get out, do a big stretch as if sore from the road. Macy looks excited, cause she been there before. I let open the side door and she comes out like a shot. She knows where we gone and slopes off down the side of the road where little bits of green are trying to seed in the dirt. Macy runs ahead, and then she wriggles under the wire and beyond, in the natural shade. I want to go under with her, but they’d see the car and we’d have no chance then. I can’t keep her you see, can’t afford the grades of water she needs, and I know they’ll take her soon. I stamp the wire down where it was come up, and give Macy one last look through it. Then she goes.

5.) Shoreline at Sandwood A dull morning dredged you up, this morsel of the tide. You shed the viscous oil of night, rub the salty rime from ancient eyes and then you flail about, do folds of flesh hide gills? I might cast your battery south snuff the wick with fingers rough and be called at once below, scorned by lidless eyes aglow, stretched to pay on racks of bone, for you span decades in a leap.


Plate 3. Light of Various Senses (Triptych. Panel 3)


6.) Follow the Sin-eater

7.) Grace

The sin-eater motions you to flight His eyes are dull in the sunken light An inverted sun that courts the night It draws the air into leaden space Leaving the moon that is his face Forever scanning that beautiful face Time relentless worn in his skin His dreams end where ours begin For he spends his days feasting on sin

Barefoot with a gentle poise your grace unfolds as you find your feet, sympathetic: upper body conducts to the beat, a melody creep across the sand as if an orchestra sat in three neat rows, beyond the waves an almighty band, tuba and timpani hitting the bass notes, trombones as the throats, flute like a discovery, trumpet and clarinet coming to blows, punctuated by the accents, piccolos in your hand movements, violins in your gait, and grace follows you where you walk.

The sin-eater beckons you to come His fingers long and his face glum Without meaning to you’ve begun To follow him on his awful course Through solemnity and blank remorse Cock your ear to his applause And hear yourself start to fall In the blackness hear him call In the blackness, hear his call The sin-eater asks you to commence His bones creak weary pestilence And you are now within his fence Absorbed forever into his heart The sins pour faster from the start Streams that tear your soul apart Streams that drown you in their flood And his eyes peer from beneath that hood Livid eyes that extinguish good Follow the sin-eater was released as part of a limited edition of poems entitled And They Spoke The Word, Ashafine in 2007.

Grace is from the 2006 exhibition Gratitude to Nature.

Plate 4. Land from the lineup


8.) Grime These streets and the squalor, the shadows, the horror of the imprisoned, the dead faces of the people that walk and talk and exist in this place with no daylight and no sanctuary and no green and no heart and the breath that leaks from the mouths on the tube of the trapped and bottled-up masses herded like sheep from one stop to another and the rhythm and beat from the tramp of the feet and the to-and-fro of the legs like scissors and the eyes that dart to avert from a look and flicker and creep to another made object built in the quest to consume and consume and amongst the madness that comes from a world created by fallible and human desires and directions springs something impossible to ignore; beauty. And less so the parks with their clipped and spayed trees and more so the streets with nothing but ‘crete and buildings that stretch to the sky and lights that wink out in the blink of an eye and I ask myself what became of rejoicing in nature and peace and what happened to the ascent and descent of the sun and what happens in the twilight and the half-light and the dawn-light when all you see is this interminable grey, rising liek mist and pouring from the sky like fog that surrounds you and tugs you and twists you in wreaths like the garments draped across gaunt bodies that suffer from a lack-of-food whilst collecting paycheques with strings of zeros and gazing upward to their heroes. Check the endless lift of the hands to provide a respite with a smoke and a drink and the throbbing pulse of music of the band that holds the attention and keeps the great wolf from the door where he scratches and sits and sniffs at the air and decides that he’d be better off elsewhere in the wild where time goes by at a natural rate and spending moments with the people you love aren’t snatched and clung to like beacons of hope in this beautiful prison, in the thick of the crowd, surrounded by a thousand: a million: the giant throng: the innumerable multitude and always, but always, completely alone. Like the trees that cling on and somehow survive but also seem wrong in an environment where branches rot black, leaves sit thick with soot and roots encounter foundations and roads and the tread of infinite boots and obstacles that prevent them from growing and thriving like they naturally should and just remember that once upon a time all this was a forest. Wasn’t it Cicero who said that things perfected by nature are better than those finished by art but try telling that to the money-clip with a smile on his face and a wad in his pocket with a commercial development under his sleeve and assurance that his children’s children will live in comfort in the world he helped to create and where does that leave the people who couldn’t give a hoot for money or power or fame or status and would rather do what they do in silence with skill and grace.

What became of those glorious friends with integrity and wit who got subsumed by the system and swallowed by greed, whose laughter sounds hollow and eyes see nothing more than the glint of a coin or the reassuring press of a wallet bulging with notes overflowing and showering and always present to be wasted and wasted and blown and spent and satisfaction takes on different means when for half an hour each day you can’t lift your arms and the other sardines with whom you suffer your fate wont even look up with a glance or a smile, disciples of solitude, distrusting of all, the human condition fallen and shattered and layered with hate and who calls the shots here, who governs our fate? So here’s to the sin and the sleaze and the vice and the voices that haunt the rooms of despair and the green manalishi who watches from shoulders and infests the whisper of a breeze of fresh air that runs through the ruins of an idea once great that tainted and torn lies tossed on the ground as if saying ‘that’s what you get’ for playing at god and trying to forget that we are just here and no more and yet our passage will be felt far beyond our own span when we are pushing up worms lying silent in urns or scattered on shores, dispersed or interred and they’ll look to the past and think to themselves that they had it all and squandered their health, above all else. And innocence departs and leaks away in rivulets and streams to the graves and subways that crisscross the land and lie deep in the soil and upwards it floats to the air and drifts to the edge and everything is faster and out of control and those long moments become nothing but memory to smile upon in recollection with friends and ponder at times when nothing seems right and use as a ladder to climb up from the swamp and sit on the step with your arms round a girl or a boy, a sibling or friend and for scant seconds remember purity and remember joy. yet the grime lays thick, encrusted and dusty and viscous pollution leaks from the very seams of the earth and beneath the city a movement begins that threatens to engulf and tear down the empty roads punching a hole in the petrol tanks and the bank tellers that leer from each street corner like a wind it divests the materials and artefacts that we have collated and deified and it will suck and suck until its hunger is sated and as the sun tries to appear on another day reality transpires; and no movement exists. It’s not like the struggle for equality came easy with long nails tearing at the broken ground and blood ran free and the least we can do is sit up and take note that the leaders of the free world are nothing but broken minded savages without a care in the world and although we have freedom and liberty to speak on a stage our voices fall onto ears who would rather not hear and I ask you to consider that democracy is champion, democracy is king and yet sustainability is not considered or ill-considered or swept away to sit like a martyr or hermit, naked but for thoughts, ankle-deep in the grime.

9.) The Crown The Crown is something we’ve all worn. It is a heavy piece of metal, bedecked with multiple jewels that rise, like a flight of birds, from its heart. These precious stones, labyrinthine in their composition, are made up of everything good that has ever happened to us. The smallest stones – tiny topaz and rubies, are small events, like the lightness gifted by being alive on a fine morning. The largest, diamonds the size of pebbles, intricate golden sculptures bedecked with gems, these are the events central to our creation and ongoing evolution. Together this display makes up a phalanx, a cornucopia of positivity. These are the moments at which we appreciate life for what it truly is and could be, rather than what we have allowed it to become. The crown is a joy to wear, but as I said before it is heavy. So heavy, in fact, that the weight of manifold happiness can make you sad. So heavy that it can give you a bent neck and a hunchback, from the desire to collect and possess all those moments. And worse than bearing the curse of having to reach those heights again, is the fear that the stones might drop from their mount at any moment leaving only a hollow shell, plucked at by egrets that steal away with beauty, until the stones that are left glimmer dully, almost forgotten in their despoiled setting.


Plate 5. Bogangar Sundown

10.) Austral Symphony What odd sounds they make, This reptilian flock A crescendo, part cheese-grater sharp Part mellifluous Knock, drone on my supine head Caving lesions in And challenging The notion of sweet birdsong For now, do dada Becomes a harsh caw-caw and the boundary between tone and raking claw eroded, splits


Plate 6. Encroachment

Wildering Š Daniel Crockett Printed on paper from sustainable forests using vegetable inks. Number/Signed: For information, exhibition dates or to purchase prints or originals, please contact: Daniel Crockett 07812354122

Profile for Daniel Crockett

The Wildering  

Surfing and Nature, Dan Crockett

The Wildering  

Surfing and Nature, Dan Crockett

Profile for wildering