Thursday, 26 June 2008

A sense of place

Spaces produce feeelings. The arragement of objects in relation to each other can influence how a space creates its atmosphere. This is implicit in interior design and gardening.

In a garden, for I know something of that, as opposed to nothing about interior design, borrowing the landscape behind your garden can make the garden seem bigger. Indeed even painting your fence green or brown behind the shrubs can imply extra spaciousness. Strategically placed trees or bushes can imply some extra room behind, creating a sense of curiosity as to "what is back there then? I wonder what is through there."
It constantly surprises me the effect a place can exert by dint of its configuration.

Temperature and climate and time of day can make the same place feel different; a forest in sunshine of the afternoon with all the birds chirping can make it easy to see the figure of a dryad draped around a majestic tree, her smile inviting mischief and promising sensuality with her lithe feminine form.
But that same wood at dusk can seem filled with flitting spirits, intent upon deceiving the eye with swift flitting movements between the trees. Fireflies, such as I have seen in special places really can take on the occluded forms of Oberon, Puck, Peaseblossom and the fairy horde. You can easily see how such legendary creatures took shape in human culture.

Take that wood at midnight, however, on a cloudy moonlit night and threat lurks everywhere. Our primal fears of the Wolf in the darkness, come to eat us up after his eyes, yellow and luminous in the dark, have appraised us hungrily and unseen fron the cover of the undergrowth.
How places play upon us seems very much to be determined by our own sensitivity and awareness. It is much easier to view the forest as a benign mystery full of mischevious sprites if we are feeling poetic and have the wit to imagine them.

Our wolves may take many forms, although Our dryad could be fashioned from a real object of desire, possibly painted green for artisic effect and most alluring in her arboreal intertwining, the place of fear inside us from where the wolf springs has a common source from our ancient past.
Some of this we choose imagine and have consciousness of. Other feeings such as oppression can be involuntary and influenced by such simple things as a badly placed doorway, tasteless wallpaper or ghastly intrusive curtains.

And how did we, creatures of the savanna and forest, come to have this influence of place upon our psyches? What is is about a maroon and mahogany study that calms and comforts to creatures who only devised these things in the last evolutionary eyeblink?

Wolves in the forest are an old feeling, spirits of rocks and trees ans water also it is easy to imagine being with us since before we even clothed ourselves as species.
But yellow three piece suites, spacious kitchens of stainless steel and plumped up pink boudoirs seem odd things to feed our sense of place.

I have more to expand on this, but as usual, so little time. And the plane is landing so I have to switch off, as so often.


Martin Stickland said...

No, the Earl is still at large and so the rumor has it he should be with you by teatime!

Thanks for the comment!

NaiadAnglorum said...

Places are also determined by who they are shared with. The loveliest place can be spoiled by the wrong company to create a sense of frustration in unsatisfied longing for communication beyond words. A dark forest at night may be thrilling instead of frigthening when with the right person to enjoy and wonder with. Primal fears may still be felt but conducive to bonding with whom one feels close. A path oft taken gains new perspective when walked upon in company of a lover at night and is a different path altogether from when walked with one's child in daylight.
And then there are the places inside us where we can take those perceptive enough and by whose visitations we are changed.