I had already painted a similar scene, but each lane and each hour of the day brings a different mood. In contrast to the previous scene the dappled sunlight is a little harder, the sun higher, and the treatment busier. I looked at the words I had written for that other scene and I couldn’t think of any more fitting, so here they are again.
This country lane could be anywhere in Europe, but this one is in Guernsey. The vanishing point of the painting is the light, and I think this is a popular motif. Vanishing into the light probably reminds us of transcendent images and apotheosis. When life is hard it is understandable to reach for a transcendent experience. Unfortunately, this tendency keeps the world suffering – simply because we don’t do enough about it. But walking in a place like this with the sun on one’s face is transformative in itself. The natural world (including our animal bodies) is the only reality of consequence, certainly not politics or economics.
Let’s not forget that without human agency this view would not exist. Humans have moulded the land, making the lane and very probably planting the trees. It is when flawed human intelligence overreaches, becoming dominant and toxic, that problems appear. Neuroscience asks us to place our experience in the frames of cognition or medicine. This article asks us to ‘transform’ our existential dread into a physical problem. This is utterly pernicious logic, telling us to deny the message of our bodies that all is not well in the world. Walking in a country lane with dappled shade and summer sun is part of the enjoyment of the world that belongs to our essential animal rights.