Tuesday, 19 August 2014

How Shall I Get Elephants To Stay (a book of dreams)

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We sleep.
We dream.

During sleep the body and mind repairs itself in order to thrive. It is a time for restoration where essential truths are revealed in the realm of dreams, engaging with all the senses.

In dreams, perception of time and space defies scientific laws. There are no rules in these
surreal vistas, only an invitation to explore, untethered, and learn the true nature of our fears and desires.

Throughout history a reverence for the power and meaning of dreams has shaped civilisations.  They provide us with a potent awareness of ourselves and our bearing in the world.

How Shall I Get Elephants to Stay is an account of my own vivid dreams, illustrated and embodied by my photographs, paintings and sculptures. The title itself is from a vivid dream which showed me writing this book. It is my testimony to the beauty, wonder and mystery of the inner and outer natural worlds.

"When I first looked at Gaynor Perry’s remarkable paintings, populated by a curious menagerie of creatures, some partly human, and illuminated with a personal alphabet of almost hieroglyphic marks and symbols, it was evident that she had a well developed interior life. In conversation it emerged that her dreams played an important part in her artistic creations and that she drew on them for inspiration.

Most of us find our dreams intriguing and possibly even significant, if we can learn to hang onto them long enough after waking to make any kind of interpretation. People who are in analysis are encouraged to keep a dream diary and  often find themselves “dreaming for their analyst” in order to have interesting tales to recount. However, if you live with someone for any length of time, you generally learn not to greet them at breakfast with “You’ll never guess what I dreamt last night…” as, unless you are paid to listen to them, other people’s dreams are not always as riveting as they find them themselves.

Fear not! As an insight into an artist’s creative process this collection of remembered dreams, juxtaposed with paintings and photographs, takes on a rather more fascinating significance than those breakfast conversations when your own dreams are still too close to make someone else’s remotely interesting. The telling of them is concise and intimate, perhaps spoken into a tape recorder immediately on awakening, in the few moments before consciousness takes over, and the choice of images is intriguing and sometimes disturbing.

Gaynor Perry is a multi-faceted creative person, a singer-songwriter and talented photographer of the people whose creative lives cross paths with hers; an engaging collaborator. But the photographs in this book are the observations of a solitary being, frequently alone in the countryside, closer to birds and animals than to human beings. I imagine her walking at dawn, having chance encounters with the denizens of the natural world whose territory she has innocently wandered into, using her camera to capture significant elements along the way. The external world she observes may reflect Gaynor’s internal one, certainly the images she chooses to share with us in How Shall I get Elephants to Stay do and they acquire an additional symbolic resonance in their juxtaposition with the poetically recounted dreams in the book.

When offered someone else’s dreams in this way it could be tempting to play the amateur psychoanalyst and it is courageous of Gaynor to expose herself to our scrutiny in this way, but it doesn’t surprise me that she dares to do so. She might ride elephants or encounter elfin creatures in her dreams; I can perfectly well believe she does so in real life."

Jonathan Ross: Collector/Gallerist/Londoner www.gallery286.com

Jonathan Ross (Photo: G Perry)
"I consider Gaynor Perry to be endlessly inspired and inspiring. Her talent would be remarkable and abundant enough on any one of the crafts that she has mastered, but that she is equally and transcendentally gifted across all her chosen art forms is astonishing.

In her book How Shall I Get Elephants To Stay she brings mythical beauty and depth to all her subjects - the human body, rich landscapes and abandoned detritus of our 'civilised' way of life. Her dream stories add yet more otherworldly mystery and a fairytale lens of significance to her perceptions of our external world.

I am privileged to own Gaynor's book - a magical, internal journey into the subconscious and awe of our natural surroundings. It's a highly feminine, moonlit exploration into the endless paths within our selves."

Kate Daisy Grant: Musician, educator, somatic experiencing practitioner www.katedaisygrant.com

Kate Daisy Grant (Photo: G Perry)