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Joe gets chased out of the forest ... / 8 November 2011

oak tree drawing

Broadwater Oak. Digitised pencil drawing (Joe McConnell 2011)

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Over a year ago, I started writing this blog to trace my journey in making art to battle the monsters that have been raging at my mental health for over half a lifetime.

Over a year later, I'm hanging in there. More or less staying well and still trying to draw and paint. However, things have been a bit on the blue-grey side for the past few weeks.

In the constant struggle against the unnameable, I've added 'roaming in the forest' alongside 'making art' in the attempt to keep on the bright side. And so have been having a great time foraging for sweet chestnuts, rosehips, hawthorn berries, sloes and such which grow in mad abundance in the forests surrounding London. Finding solitude there is a shade easier than in our city parks. But nature will remind you of its redness in tooth and claw just when you're getting too comfortable in these peregrinations. Like the other day when three beautiful but very angry cows - who are participating in a project to reintroduce cattle to Hainault Forest - decided they didn't like the look of this decrepit forager and gave chase.

Maybe it's the lingering sadness of late but I haven't seen or heard much art recently that has moved me or taken my breath away. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find myself last week in front of St Paul's Cathedral, where I was able to spend a couple of hours with the people participating in the Occupy London protest.

It seemed to me that the people camping in front of the Cathedral come from a broad range of ideological sources. A wee few seemed a little dodgy. But overall it is wonderful to see people of all ages giving time and energy to stand up and show their displeasure at the revolting regimen of capitalists who have betrayed us all. It felt a bit like being back at the non-stop picket outside the South African embassy throughout most of the eighties.

A rare moment of energy and optimism in a world where so many people seem disconnected and plugged into a bloody i-pod or similar flapdoodle.

Keywords: london