February 14 08:00am Mount Ruapehu via webcam. Exhibition: 40 Days

Ash – 2010

ImagePierre and Freda couldn’t get here to see us yesterday because of the ash cloud. Dede couldn’t get to Paris. We may not be able to get to Malta for our honeymoon-we-never-had-because-the-in-laws-traveled-with-us-around-new-zealand-after-the-wedding. Javier is muttering about “bloody Iceland…bloody ash…”. Bloody hell.

Eyjafjallajökull. That’s her. No one can pronounce her name on the news, so she’s just called the erupting Icelandic volcano. It’s /ei-uh-fyat-luh-yoe-kuutl-ul/ or something like that. It means island-mountain-glacier, so, not even the name of the volcano really.

And, she is shutting us all down.

How rude!

Tectonic plates and vents disrupting Europe? How inconsiderate!

We haven’t got time for this. We want her to fix our energy problems, get the wind guy to blow into our wind farms and talk to the sun so he can heat our solar panels. We need more food, more power. Grow more tomatoes and fix up that botched job she called winter that meant all the potatoes and onions rotted.

Do your job!

Oh, and hurry up and make some more oil please, and while you’re at it, make my bougainvillea flower – it’s May already.

Pull finger!

This exploding Icelandic mountain makes me think of another. I can almost hear the scree scraping together under my climbing boots. I was sixteen, climbing up a slope of Ruapehu. The dry rock and dust is crunching together in my ears now after so many years. Near the ridge, I dislodged a large rock, surprised by its lightness, and it had tumbled and scraped over me with its brittle edges, sharp like corral, cutting into me as it went.

That rock had survived in some form for millions of years in the dark world within the earth. But one afternoon, a seemingly random one, amongst smoke and ash, into the long, bright, exploding world it had been catapulted. Te pu ao, Te ao tawhito, Te ao hurihuri… Meanwhile, blood oozed down my leg like a slow river, mixing with the dust. Te ao marama.

A life is the just the weight of a small insect that has flown accidentally into your eye. Now you’ve crushed it with your eyelid, drowned it in your salty tears and washed it out, discarded and formless. Another day the earth shudders and the people bounce on top of it like polystyrene balls.

The frightening world.

Mountain, you care nothing if I observe you or not, or make a journey to touch your worn feet. You will never remember that I was there because you have no memory.

However, my love is unconditional. I have a webcam on my laptop and a link to the Geonet site where I have just visited you. And today my beauty, you look like this.

So blow soft ash cousin Eyjafjallajökull, and make us remember our lightness.


About the author Emma Louise Pratt

Emma Louise Pratt studied at Ilam School of Fine Art, Canterbury University, New Zealand. She has been the runner up in the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award (2005), and a finalist in the Norsewear Award (2007) in New Zealand and finalist in the Focus Abengoa International Painting Prize, Spain in 2014. Emma is known for her landscape based work where she explores specific landscapes that convey significance to her either for their historical or personal importance, serving as they always have, as a personal travel map.

All posts by Emma Louise Pratt →

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