Here’s a drawing I made in my sketchbook during the last days of the exhibition. I’m looking down at the base of the tree, where it forks just above ground level. It was difficult to convey the perspective.
Looking down at the base of the tree
As the end of the show drew closer, I felt sad at the thought of not being able to climb the magnolia tree any more (I did so, for those two weeks, by special permission). It had been such a rich and unusual experience. These are some of the things I gained from my performance:-
It brought me closer to nature. Literally. I had to hug the tree and wrap my limbs around it in order not to fall out. I climbed barefoot, loving the feel of tree bark on the soles of my feet and against the palms of my hands and the tips of my fingers; loving the sensation of climbing, moving all four limbs in harmony, like an animal.
It showed me another perspective: that of an animal, a hunter in repose, watching the movements of others as they passed beneath me, or sat down to rest themselves, not knowing I was there.
It slowed down the pace of my life and my thoughts. It gave me t-i-m-e to think, have ideas, make notes, draw, write poetree, etc.
It tickled me, it genuinely did. It made me smile: here I was, putting myself on show in a public place, in such an absurd way – and unless I called out, most people passed by without noticing. Bizarre!
I had some wonderful conversations with some of the people who did notice me.
A lady called Marguerite in conversation with a leopard (in Didsbury)
I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my life, on the meaning of my performance, on the purposes of art… and on what I might have for dinner.
It brought me into the present moment, with its sunshine/cloud, birdsong, voices, next door’s lawnmower, aeroplanes overhead, summer breezes and so on.
It gave me a welcome break from phone calls, emails, text messages and facebook. (I don’t do twitter. Whoever heard of a leopard tweeting?)
It was a bit like staging a personal, peaceful, one-woman protest against a world full of noise, technology, and bad news.
It gave me an excuse to do something socially unacceptable without being branded mentally ill.
Last in this list, but not least: it introduced me to some wonderful artists (my fellow exhibitors) and their work.
No wonder I didn’t want it to end.