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The Soft Animal of Your Body was an exhibition at By Our Hands, Nottingham. These drawings, made during the isolation of the pandemic and long illness, express a deepening embodiment - a way of relating to the world in an intuitive, emotional and sensual way that became more possible when the world became still. In the humming silence of limbs and intestines and pulsing arteries, a fountain of joy is found. Wounds veiled by the conscious mind are remembered in the body, and held with tenderness. An organic queer ethic is revealed to have been there all along.

The exhibition takes its title from Wild Geese by Mary Oliver:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

 

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese,

high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

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