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Rach Wellbeing: Worship in a Modern Context

Worship responds to a question which I have asked myself and others. How do we worship these days? What is a modern contemporary take on worship?

People say “I worship the ground you walk on”; so is it the ground or person which is worshiped?

So putting aside formal and traditional worshiping, I explored this concept. I spent time before COVID interviewing and being with the local community residents from Aberdare and the surrounding area to explore this in more depth.

Surprisingly, I found a few themes which kept occurring throughout the responses I received.

These were:

  • Nature and the environment, a respect and love for the hills, valleys, and countryside that surrounded the community.
  • Their family and friends have a significant influence on the relationships often challenged by geographical distance and how they maintained that close connection through technology, but only as a tool and support to the human connection.
  • Pets were in the same as family and friends sharing vast amounts of time, love, adoration alongside people’s children.
  • And finally, other forms of worship, religious, and more community based with the varied styles of ceremonies, religious practices both ancient, traditional, modern, and contemporary.

This was before COVID, and I feel COVID only magnified these desires for connection of the community which conventional worship would have usually supported and held, with the centres, museums, churches, libraries, cafes closed, people voiced that they felt restricted and there was a longing for connection, highlighting what we love, adore or worship.

My response was to create artworks using a majority of waste and recycled materials, more than 90% were recycled.  This was of importance to me as often we throw things without thinking that they can be made into beautiful or good objects.

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Star

She has kept me company for years, lock down and before. For many of us, the comfort of animals and nature when we feel lonely, lost, or abandoned by life and other human beings. They give love and compassion in a sometimes cruel and heartless world.

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Trust

This shows some hands holding the person who is balanced on the hands trusting the care and support enough to sit by the edge and still be safe. Modern Worship, love, and adoration are a balance of this trust and reflect the care we show for each other resulting in trust.

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East meets West

This piece shows how we are a blend of cultures, personalities, showing people different sides of ourselves, also growing into the tree then bird showing how we and nature are inseparable.

Symbolically birds, particularly ravens, are often seen as the messengers between the worlds of life and death and associated in many religious cultures all over the world, particularly Bran the blessed, Celtic god who still has Ravens at the tower of London to stop the invasion.

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Virgin Mary/Mother Earth

 

This is a response to formal side of religious worship present in and around the Aberdare community.

I felt she also responded as a form of Mother Nature which others had spoken of. She stands upon the world. One which has changed in lockdown. People’s values and desires are shown by the figure standing on the snake.

She is an icon of sinlessness and purity and symbolises her conquering over evil /devil of the world upon which she stands. Like our hope for beating COVID, I also felt for those less formally religious she was a universal symbol of nature’s struggle with human destruction and waste of resources.

This has been made out of waste and recycled materials.

As Above so Below

This is a series of work made out of waste materials, depicting a person emerging/resting upon the surface of the earth, showing our symbiotic relationship between nature and ourselves how the earth supports us

The children show our naiveness in learning to protect and look after the earth, how we are still learning to worship with balance and respect what we love, they look made of concrete depicting are man-made desires which can be at odds with nature

The birds depict freedom, hopes we have for peace, harmony, and balance, with the colours represent diversity in heritage, culture, and belief.

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Cognitive Being

This piece was inspired by injury, disability, and the intergration in our daily lives with machines, tools, and even the replacement of body parts, which are accepted by society today.

Buddha

Represents a culture more centred, focused, on not eating or killing animals, against harming all living things, which seems an exception in the world of worship, but more people in the last few years are choosing vegetarianism, vegan, yoga, and I feel this movement, shift in culture more aligned to cultural beliefs of Buddha, maybe we all search for peace in the world?

This piece was all recycled except paint and glue.

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Smooth pair of prayer hand

Opportunities to express one’s hopes, dreams, prey for ourselves our best wishes the best version of ourselves, this is not about money, finances, or having new things but about values, emotions, habits, and qualities of character as it is easy to forget where true happiness lies. So maybe express what you want to develop in your life?

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Have a Prayer for me

 

This is an opportunity for you, the audience, to express prayers for others, those present and past, to express the depth of emotion we carry often in silence from losing or being separated from our loved ones.

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Video

‘I look at what’s real, what’s not’

Context

The context for this piece is my perspective, looking from many years of being disabled after being very physically active.

I fell into isolation, this experience brought me many opportunities for learning, self-recognition, watching my desires to connect, reach out, be loved, affected me in unforeseen ways even through retail consumption, a human urge, a desire to fill the gap of isolation, loneliness manifest itself in many profound ways.

I’ve reflected on how I now use my connection to nature to contextualise my place in the world and try to be in harmony, giving me a more balanced and peaceful lifestyle. COVID highlighted these extremes for the majority, affecting people, glimpsing for the first time these limits, restrictions, and being isolated in the world. This levelled the playing field, (allowing) the planet to be heard.  Birds and animals claimed back spaces along side us, as we too claimed nature we’ve heard each other again more clearly.

So I sat in my isolation again, looked at my life, what I needed and didn’t for the first time in a while. I realised I’d been swept along a current of trending consumerism, when I felt I really didn’t need or want all I needed was my health, friends, family nature and loved ones. The social model was really clearly not working for me, as requests previously for access support to be included in meetings and performances. And the doors were shut. Suddenly the majority had a need to connect and zoom was immediately born.

Now all I hear is when things go back to normal. So will the disabled society be ignored again, if not what I question whether anyone really cares -or not. As for some years nobody even saw me or asked if I needed shopping, and then suddenly they did,  so I ask has it had a long lasting effect? Will the caring fade away or will the world fall headlong into destruction and greed? I believe this is up to me and you.

Video
Transcript

There is invisible disability impairment not immediately apparent but impactful, nevertheless. Rach’s is practice is semi-autobiographical, exploring her experiences of being a former circus performer and climbing teacher, with invisible disabilities.

Her use of materials reflects how even the most invisible disability or perfect specimen when under scrutiny can expose the fragility, flaws, and strengths of being human.

The complexity of life is ever-changing and unpredictable experiences are reflected through the use of raw clay, Parian unglazed with broken and damaged pieces allowing the clay to transform and move during firing.

The process of the clay’s transformation documents physical and emotional journeys with the emphasis of fragility, balance, change, movement, flow, strength, and just as importantly, community and the collective, she is not alone.

Rachels video and audio compositions also reflect this outlook with a dynamic emphasis on the new and present and expand into a vast range of personal expression gathered over some 40 yrs practice. Rachel believes the importance of using diverse and shifting media to empathically express her conscious awareness of and towards the world.

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