Descriptions of reality (2006)

pencil on graph paper 845mm x 595mm
detail of Descriptions of reality
photo: julia calver ©

(A drawing lies on a kitchen table.  A woman confides in two or three people invited to sit with her at the table.)

When I began unearthing, drawing and replanting the tuber, I could complete the process in a morning.  Since then, as the tuber has grown, the time has extended and facing the task anew has become increasingly hard.

Unearthing a plant is a tender business.  I rely on my fingertips, raking and sifting the earth from the roots alert to any sensation of a tear.  When the earth is dry it falls away easily, but the roots seem to be easily damaged.  When the earth is wet, the roots cling to it making the process more difficult so damage also occurs. The delight of discovering the new tubers (the size and paleness of birds eggs) is tempered a little by the new danger of unsupported parts snapping backwards under their own weight.  The roots that hold the tiny tubers are different from the other roots, more cord-like, white and unnervingly crisp.  The tubers need to be scooped to the plant and held in judged balance as I turn the plant to continue the sifting.

There is the thought that the drawing will not do justice to, or repay, the plant for the excitement it has afforded.  It looks very little like the plant despite my continuing application.  In part this is to do with the process of over-laying, but this does not explain the disparity entirely.  Belying the disruptiveness of my activity, the drawing has accumulated towards a quiet loveliness and all my marks, both good and bad, have conspired and compounded towards this state.  At first I was pleased: it seemed like an amnesty for mistakes, strengthening the resolve needed to continue.  But they say that maps of ugly places are beautiful and lately I have found this pleasing quality to be a lure, deflecting attention away from the impossibility of marking the damage and decline in the plant as it begins to die away.  The drawing remembers the plant.  Parts that are now gone, remain on the drawing larger and lovelier than the tiny dividing lines that attempt to mark their disappearance.