gather in silence

fire drawing

During my residence in St. Andrews (NB, Canada) I did historical research related to my environment and the people that live(d) there.

Before the settlers coming from Europe started the village called St. Andrews (±1770), it was the sacred fire place of the original inhabitants, the Passamaquoddy.

If there was a dissonance amongst the tribes at the East Coast, they would join in the ‘Great Fire Council’. Every tribe sent their smartest and wisest people to a place where they gather in the ‘Wigwam of Silence’. Inside there is a sacred fire, that is kept burning for as long as the gathering lasts. They go in at sunrise, and out again at sunset. Inside they do not speak for 7 days in a row, but they do form their ideas in their hearts. On the 8th day the representatives will speech, but the agreement has already been formed without speaking. They gather every 7 years, unless a conflict urges them to gather before that time.

I am deeply touched by this way of having an assembly. I wish we would all be able to experience this way of gathering. I imagine our political leaders meeting in this way, I believe the world would look completely different. People will realize we stand together, side by side instead of opposite each other. In silence real wisdom can come to the surface.

Next to a small room (the intimacy of a Wigwam), I think the fire plays a magic role in this process. Imagine yourself staring at the flames when sitting around a campfire. That inspired me to the idea of creating a drawing made of fire only, a short lasting piece of art that might lead to a long lasting memory.

On the last day of my residence I created a drawing of the feather that is part of the Passamaquoddy insignia. All those present took part in lighting the drawing, after which we silently saw the drawing burn away.

description: line drawing of fire, 7 x 2 m2

Artist in Residency: Kingsbrae International Residence for the Arts (KIRA) in Canada

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photography: Nadine Flagel, Tippy Canoe

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