GOLDSMITHS | BA Fine Art & History of Art 2020

Anna Colwill

To be held (transcript)
Audio meditation (transcript)


From my body to yours –

To be held

What does it mean to sit differently? To notice your skin holding you together, so thin and yet so enduring.

Even when it is broken it will quickly knit itself back together. Because that is its purpose. A container for all that is you.

And under the skin, the delicate tendrils of nerves, discovering again what it means to touch, like listening very carefully at a closed door. They bring you the message and you receive it, sometimes passively, sometimes with intention.

What are they telling you now? Is it pleasurable? Or is it painful? You do not have to respond right now, your body will continue to hold you, in all its silent processes. All you have to do is listen.

Feel your body being held by the outside. The chair perhaps. The floor. the foundations of the building,

the soil with all its many inhabitants.

The ancient rocks that support them

and below, the unimaginably deep layer of ever shifting rock and lava.

deeper, a swirling mass of molten metal. We will never see it, because we are outside. But we can know it is there.

all of this encasing a dense iron core

Super-heated and yet held solid through the combined work of the layers, it protects us from solar winds with its powerful magnetic field.

Each layer of this planet helps to sustain your life: your body. Your cells know it, they too have layers.

They are inside you and, you are outside the earth, held close by gravity.

Feel how you are held by the atmosphere, the air you breathe in, clusters of minute molecules.

Notice your diaphragm making space for your lungs to expand as the air fills the branches inside, to the alveoli, clusters like grapes on a vine.

And here, visualise the meeting of inside and outside, as the oxygen particles diffuse into your blood stream and carbon dioxide from your blood is released back into the atmosphere by the relaxing diaphragm.

Outside, that carbon dioxide will be absorbed by flora. If you look inside, they too have layers.

Everything we can touch has a container, a periphery marking that which belongs, and that which does not. Some are more permeable than others.

But what of what we cannot see? The food we eat that becomes our energy. The tiny microbes that live in our intestines.

The first is a knowing permeation, the second, we never even notice, and yet, they too are holding us, from the inside. They keep us alive.

The moon is outside the earth’s atmosphere, and yet it pulls the tides and the water inside our bodies.

To the planet, your body is but a microbe. It may not feel it, but that doesn’t mean it is unimportant.

It does not mean that we are not connected.

The veins of our bodies mirror the roots of trees, the spiral of a clenched fist mirrors the spirals of the galaxies.

We inhabit contradiction. We are within and without. Our bodies know and our minds do not know.

And so, in the knowledge of being held by the universe, start making your way back to the body.

Out from the stars to the atmosphere,

to the air,

Up from the fiery centre of the earth

The surrounding liquid metal

The magma and shifting rock

The ancient stone

The soil and it’s creatures

The foundation of the building

The floor

The chair

Your skin.

And now we are back inside.

To be held (transcript)
Audio meditation (transcript)