DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


Forms of Fire

Filed under: Photography: Elemental Forces,Poetry — Tags: , , , , — fred @ 22:05

Dancing Fire Man, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

I recently returned from a week teaching art workshops at the Sirius Rising festival at Brushwood Folklore Center in Chautauqua County, New York.  I’ve been going to festivals at Brushwood since 1999, and it’s one of the special places in my world.  The climactic celebration at every festival is a huge community bonfire.   Here are some pictures from this year’s fire, with a few comments and two poems (written by others).

Circling the Bonfire, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Flames engulf the wood-stack, wriggling and leaping skyward.  This year’s pyre bore a carved blue dragon.  You can see the dragon’s trumpet-like shout and curled horns in the next two shots.  Salts of copper in the dragon color the flames blue and green.

Bonfire Nebula, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Horned Dragon, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt


A hymn from the Rig Veda (1500-1200 BC) in an English version by Robert Kelly

Your eyes do not make mistakes.

Your eyes have the sun’s seeing.

Your thought marches terribly in the night

blazing with light & the fire

breaks from your throat as you whinny in battle.

Blue Ghost, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

This fire was born in a pleasant forest

This fire lives in ecstasy somewhere in the night.

Arising Goddess, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

His march is a dagger of fire

His body is enormous

His mouth opens & closes as he champs on the world

He swings the axe-edge of his tongue

            smelting & refining the raw wood he chops down.

Lady Liberty, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

He gets ready to shoot & fits arrow to bowstring

He hones his light to a fine edge on the steel

He travels through night with rapid & various movements

His thighs are rich with movement.

            He is a bird that settles on a tree.

(from Technicians of the Sacred:  A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe & Oceania edited with commentaries by Jerome Rothenberg)

Launch, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Gazing into the fire is simultaneously exciting and calming.  The movement is too rapid to fully comprehend, but we know that this energy is within us, in the pulse of our arteries and the impulse of our nerves, the heat of our passions and the controlled combustion that is a life.

Firewatchers, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Firelight and Glowsticks, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Revelers in the Ember Field, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

I try to understand the essence of fiery energy by studying the forms of flame.  Combustion is all movement, so it’s really an abstraction to look at it as a still picture, but my slow draftsman’s brain likes to freeze the motion so I can trace its contours.  Photography is my tool for stopping time.  For the raging flames at the top of this post, a fast shutter speed (a thousandth of a second) shows the turbulence of shredded incandescent gas.  The images below use slow shutter speeds (half a second or more) to trace the movement of glowing embers as they rise through the column of heated air above the flames.

Bonfire Centerpost, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

These scribbles on the sky remind me of the tracings of fermions and bosons recorded in the cloud chamber of a nuclear partical accelerator.  They drift and loop and zag unpredictably.  This is the kind of energy I try to bring to my own drawings.

Incandescent Flux, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Dance of Hephaestos, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt


a poem by Elaine Maria Upton

There is a time of Water and a time of Wind.
This is the time of Fire, and Fire eats time.
The sands of the desert are uncountable!
Let go of the reckoning! Let go of time!
Let go of rain! Let go of forgiving!

Fountain of Sparks, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Cloud Chamber, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Fire eats rain and Fire eats trees. Fire eats
The leaves of corn. Fire is the grain and the husk
Of corn. Fire is the raging of Water. Fire is the roar,
the hum, the sting of Wind. Fire is the pepper pulsing
from the flower. Fire is the frenzied volcano dancing.
It is the lightning’s blitz, the drumming, the singing,
The beat of tribes, telling their story all night,
Piercing the bottom of dark, birthing the light.

Pyre, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Fire is the Earth exhausted, folding, sleeping
from days and nights of love, til there is no counting.
When flowers bleed, when lions sleep, when angels sigh, oh bleed, oh
sleep, oh sigh then! Oh, burn with mountains!
When leaves flame and fall to the ground,
When grass grows brown then gray, grieve not.
Grieve not, but follow the eagle and follow the grass.

Bottle Brush, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

River of Embers, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Weep not for the Earth. Weep not for the corn.
The Earth is the lover who gives all to love.
The Earth makes a bed of Love and the Sun knows.
The Earth makes a table of Love and the Fire knows.
The Earth feeds Fire. The Earth gives all to Love.
Follow the Earth. Look beyond your eyes as you go!
Follow the Earth to the beat of the Fire!
Open your thighs. Give all to Love!

From the website Poet Seers

Fiery Tresses, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

For more photos of fire, check this earlier post.

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