Last week I went to Melbourne for Jack Ward’s wake.
I met Jack not long after I came back from Antarctica.
All of what I do since those days involves raising environmental awareness. For many years I felt the opposite, numbed to my own connection to it. I see this in paintings long before I went: http://www.lisaroberts.com.au/content/artworks/2d/2d1979/2d1979.php
I now recognise the spheres as suns and planets and me as disconnected from things and feelings.
Being in Antarctica certainly challenged me. In the absence of much life there I experienced intense moments of being simultaneously part of past and future ice ages. Being there with climate scientists confronted me with the reality of human impacts on Earth and our collective disruption of natural climate cycles. I learned about the Milankovitch cycles that govern climate changes over long time periods – cycles of changing relationships between Earth and Sun that govern glacial and interglacial periods. This made me question my relationship to the world and to think about the massive scale of collective human action. It’s amazing to think that we can disrupt such major forces.
I met Jack in Mornington at an exhibition of Sydney Nolan’s Antarctic paintings. There he was, nose close up to the paint. Then I saw his eyes and I knew that he had been there and was most likely changed by that experience.
The other day I heard his voice when I rang his home phone. The sound was curiously disembodied, as I will always remember him, not of this urban noisy world.