Wounded Warrior/Healing and Revealing’ (Pen, ink and watercolour sketch on paper by Alan Rayner, 2018) I have long been fascinated by the way wounds in tree bark heal over through the production of callus. The relationship between vulnerability and recovery is of pivotal significance in our emotional lives.

Triple Entendre’ (Oil painting on board by Alan Rayner, 1999) A lost, last, low speed train draws out of blackness towards open sky across a viaduct. The viaduct is supported by the cyperaceous triangular cross-section of a stem of wood club-rush containing air- and water-filled channels and framed by the left and right sides and head-on symmetry of three emerald and yellow grasshoppers fused by their antennae into a chaotic three-way attractor. The triangle is wedged between domains of grass and sedge, each with tripartite flower arrays and inhabited by grasshopper and sedge warblers with their fishing reel and grating voices. The traverse of a harvest mouse conjoins the domains and so in its own small, sweet way makes the interrelating, many worlds scene possible, suffused with sound and visual reverberations.

Ivy River’ (Oil painting on canvas by Alan Rayner, 1997). An ‘ivy river’ sweeps down from its collecting tributaries in steep-sided, lobed valley systems in high mountains, through dark forest and out across a sunlit, starkly agri-cultured, flood plain. Thence it delivers its watery harvest through deltas of leaves and fruits to a sea filled with the reflection of sunset. The fruits and leaves of a real ivy plant fringe the view of the distant river. The erratic pattern of veins in the lobed leaves contrasts with the focused pattern in the unlobed leaves and reflects the difference between the energy-gathering and energy-distributing channels of the river.

Out of the Freeze Frame’ (Oil painting on board by Alan Rayner, 2021). Square and circle melt into the dance of life between spatial stillness and energetic motion in receptive-responsive relationship beyond the abstract confines of frozen geometry. Earth, Water, Air and Fire keep each other company within and around the ever-present grace of immaterial space.

Nightfall’ (Oil painting on board by Alan Rayner, 1974). A female figure draws a net curtain of stormy darkness across a glittering daytime scene, irradiated by sunny terns and with flowers receptive to the wanderings of a butterfly and passing gannet.

Ibotenic Thread’ (Oil painting on board by Alan Rayner, 1999). A spiralling figural pathway around a vertical axis, symbolized by the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), cumulatively gathers elements of fire, water, earth and air into evolutionary flow-form

Future Present’ (Oil painting on canvas by Alan Rayner, 2000) featuring every major group of organic life forms currently resident on planet Earth and their watery evolutionary origin as fluid expressions, not fixed products of genetic code.

Breathing Space’ (Oil painting oncanvas by Alan Rayner, 2002) Spring IS Inspiring. New leaves open stomatal windows to sky. Sand Martins swirl down from migration towards water. Egrets flutter past. A white-ribbed Silver Birch, rooted to rocky diaphragm, transforms crimson lung-branches into leaves. Coral bark fires imagination. Pussy Willow erupts into incandescent catkins. Blackthorn snow-storms. Lichens pulsate with their own slow rhythm. Space receives within and without the embodied water flows of life. In, out, together, to gather. Implicit Human Being. In Formational Lining. Attuned.

Abstracted Fruits’ (Gathering and Photograph by Alan Rayner, 2021) A gathering of fungal fruit bodies, made by myself for a display of diversity: shaggy scalycap; common, rosy and burgundydrop bonnet; jellybaby; clouded funnel; collared earthstar; lilac fibrecap; sulphur tuft; crested coral; candlesnuff fungus; blue roundhead; white knight; birch polypore, deer shield. The many manifest flow-forms of the fruit bodies have each lovingly yet violently been singled out from their woodland source of emergence and placed ‘all-in-one basket’ (actually a plastic ‘trug’). The handle and bowl of the trug appear from above respectively to divide the gathering into two separate halves and from its woodland background. This is what we do to ‘others’ and what we do to ourselves when we mentally disregard natural continuity and definitively abstract material ‘contents’ from spatial and energetic ‘context’ — numerical ‘figure’ from boundless ‘ground’. In this way we set our selves and others at odds with our natural neighbourhood and perceive life and evolution either as a competition or collaboration for supremacy instead of a creative energetic flow around and between receptive centres of space.

Alan Rayner

Alan Rayner is an evolutionary ecologist, writer and artist, who is pioneering the philosophy of natural inclusion

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