Janet Marie Bradley

The following paragraph taken from my artist’s statement was an introduction to my installation at Chateau de Padies in south west France.

'My love of and fascination with books and words has led me to what I call the devolution of communication. It is not a linear reversal but a circular movement which rediscovers the elemental form of communication of the cuneiform tablet much like those used in ancient Sumerian writing. Read the Earth- my 21st century cuneiform tablets- are the final form of material communication in my backwards journey. The Kiva, an ancient subterranean room used by Pueblo Indians for rituals and gatherings, is my next step back and my first interpretation of communication beyond the material.'
My intention was to dig a Kiva or Kiva like space -creating a place of communication where interchanges of thoughts or opinions would be exclusively verbal or gestural-a place where listening would be imperative.

After having explored the grounds, I chose a small mound about 500 meters from the Chateau. Surrounded by trees and protected from direct sun and wind, the mound was a nice round space which suggested gathering, storytelling and discourse. 

I set to work with my shovel uncertain how large I would make my Kiva.  I wanted it to evolve as naturally as the hedge lines of Chateau de Padies which follow the earth's contours have. (see links) Within moments of beginning work, I disturbed life.  Tiny yellow spiders moved away, frightened and frantic as ants.  The more I dug, the more lives of all sorts I disrupted -so I stopped.  I sat on the mound engaging my senses and reconsidering my project.  I hadn't spent so much time close to the ground in years, watching the normally unseen life forms that go on around us.  Where I had begun to dig, I had uncovered evidence of a human dwelling of some sort which used slate.  Underneath, there seemed to be space or tunnels.  While I lay there on my stomach looking at the opening, a large snake came out and moved slowly away from me.   


Reflection is communication with self, nature and God/Universe and the purest form of communication.  I could not, with a clear conscious, create a Kiva in this space.  Instead, I read.  I read the earth and read the sky.  I incorporated the life on the mound into my work and chose to represent the quiet quality of reflection by moving my installation next to a small pond.  I poured resin letting it take the form of its movement while adding local pigment, earth, flora and sometimes animal life that had already perished.  I wanted to create pieces which allowed light to show through yet held the earth so that they could be suspended-a reflection of the mound.

 The sky, full of light, finds its final resting place on the ground.  Except for those rays that are reflected off of various surfaces, they have travelled light years, thousands of miles, only to end here.  I chose books to be the surface on which the sky, the sun’s rays could rest and reflect thus representing the sky on the surface floating alongside elements of the earth suspended in the light.