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landscape in Lewis and Harris, Scotland.


Time Is a Continuing Process

I had never seen heather field at home.


The landscape looks so calm from outside, yet I could not tell the depth or thickness of it, or if there’s anything hiding in it. This raised my awareness and reminded me of the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), which usually grows on the surface of ponds. It breeds so fast that after a period of time one cannot even see the water, just like heather field which I could not see through its dense surface. In October 2018, I went on a field trip to Outer Hebrides with my tutor and colleagues. For a few days I walked only on paths but did not reach to the part that seems to be most “nature,” the part which made me feel maybe I should not disturb it. But I must do this—sometimes one just understands that it is time to get out of her comfort zone even if she has to cruelly step on some heather and feels sorry for it. I went into the heather field, further and further away from the edge of path, until I was surrounded by clusters and clusters of heather. They were accumulated by layers with old, grey ones padding underneath, and they gradually grown into a big mattress or duvet, covering the whole terrain. I needed to walk step by step, slowly placed my shoes onto the plants, then stopped when I finally felt I had reached the deep firm surface that I could put my weight on without falling. It was almost like a ritual that one must follow in order to join them.


During my walk in the heather field, I found some plastic chip bags already turned into white or transparent under sunlight. Something so obvious yet I had never taken seriously came to my mind: As the colour of plastic bags diminishes, heather field looks young year by year. The force of time seems to create opposite consequences on these two entities. While the colour of plastic bags would never come back, heather gets thicken but grow into fresh and beautiful flowers again and again; it is like they are living in linear time and circular time. The most fascinating of all is the grey old layers beneath the young surface, which not only as supportive structures, but also make us the witness of time. I boldly lied my body down onto the heather field, suddenly I felt there was a soft but strong force lifting me. To me they are no longer just beautiful landscape one can enjoy, as I once been so close to them.


I started to make time visible through my works since my encounter with heather field. What is old? What is new? They are all just a part of the continuing process of reassembling. The world is made by particles. Atoms bond with atoms then become molecules, then into compounds, and so on. Eventually they turn back to particles again. Organisms die and gradually decompose, rock weathers into soil, and metal oxidizes. Everything can be seen as tiny bit of a huge cycle, and the world is filled with huge cycles which intertwine with each other thus become a complex web.

Scottish Heather
Heather and things I found in heather field.
Heather field in Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.

Heather field in Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.

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