To See a World in a Grain of Sand

The picture of ‘Children on the beach’ used in this blog’s ‘About‘ section carries the additional caption: “Their natural playground and the biggest sand pit at their leisure.”

The corresponding text below it tantalizingly introduces the reader to two related experiences that the sand, sand pit and the beach in general conjure up in the formative minds of Dravuni children growing up in this pristine environment. The first creates the image of children sitting meditatively on the sand and looking out towards the horizon before them and wondering what lies beyond it. The second relates to the ubiquity of sand, sea and sun in this insular and traditional setting and how it all impacts the socialization of these tender and young minds in the context of their social setting.

In the first experience referred to above, I am reminded by the first four lines (particularly the first line) of William Blake’s poem: “Auguries of Innocence”:

            To see a World in a Grain of Sand

            And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

            Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

            And Eternity in an hour.

In Blake’s metaphor, the entire universe can be contained in a grain of sand; to wit, the glimpse of something tiny can provoke you to imagine something really big. You can imagine therefore these children sitting there and visualizing their own different worlds in the grains of sand that they hold in the palm of their hands. You can imagine further that their imagined worlds would naturally be restricted to the limit of the horizon that encircles them. But imagination is powerful! You can therefore imagine for some that, with specific insight based on preconception, their imagined worlds would tend to be those partially characterized by images from beyond the horizon.

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Such idyll is the stuff for pure imagination and creativity. Such idyll was indeed instrumental in the conceptualization of the theme of the exhibition that my daughter Ema and I co-curated at the New Zealand Maritime Museum. Dravuni – Sivia yani na Vunilagi: Beyond the Horizon was opened on Friday 24 June 2016 and remain open until Monday 10 October 2016.

The second experience hints at the interactions between this idyllic maritime scenery and the traditional and cultural community of which the former is an indelible part. Such interactions are character forming. It would be fair to say that individuals will form different characters even though they would be subjected to the same socio-cultural and traditional pressures.

A specific pressure that unites all in a community and which is also character forming is the community’s origin story. The origin story creates a sense of identification to a community, a sense of ownership of the resources at the people’s command and a sense of being permanently rooted to a specific space, fauna and flora. I have discussed our origin story in the History and Legends pages of this blog. I wrote a short analytical piece about our origin story and what it means to me as my  contribution to a panel discussion that was convened as part of the programme for the exhibition, Between Wind and Water, which my daughter Ema had curated as part of the Summer Residency at Enjoy Public Art Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand from 10-24 January 2015.

Click here to read my short paper on my origin story, written in contribute to the discussion around Luisa Tora’s 2015 work, Naqalotu: Na qalo tu.

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