Marja-Leena Rathje
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Hand with Bark


Hand with Bark
archival inkjet print
45.5 x 38.5 cm (18" x 15.25")

Marja-Leena | 03/04/2013 | 10 comments
themes: Hands, Printworks


Oh, that's a very tender image. I particularly like the way your fingers have splayed as you held the slice of bark.

Susan, thanks, I'm very pleased how this one turned out, being the last in the series.

Really, this is my favourite.

Olga, that's interesting. I have to say, I don't know which is my favourite.

Cousin to the shell...

Marly, ah yes... hold it to my ear and listen to its tale...

So a spring of metal, or a coiled leaf. I really like these very much.

Beth, thank you, I'm glad! I really appreciate your always positive comments.

Do you love your hands or merely feel equivocal towards them? Do you hold them responsible for the faults (assuming these exist) as well as the successes? After all, unless one depends on random processes, there is frequently a discrepancy between what is conceived and what is executed and one may as well blame the hands as (the less impersonal) system of electronic pulses between nerve endings.

My hands, for instance, are far from perfect and I'm glad I do not depend on them for my attempts to write half-decent sentences. I could, if I had to, resort to working the keyboard with my nose and I use this fact to curb my hands' excesses; all they're required to is pick out letters, numbers and spaces at a very modest speed and when they succumb to error, and get the sequence wrong, I can afford to tell them they're a load of merde. Doing prints with your nose would be far harder and I doubt you'd dare tell your hands the truth when (if) they let you down. You need to flatter them and rub them with unguents, emphasising their importance.

Which leads me to an observation. The hands that you regularly photograph appear to be manicured. Proof that I'm right?

Roderick, love is a strong word, I prefer value or treasure, for what would I be without my hands? I've often written about hands as well as used images of hands in my art. Here is one quote from a 2008 post:

I keep thinking a lot about hands and what they do. Hunt, plant, gather and eat food. Cook, clean, sew, build. Touch, hold, caress, massage, love. Hold tools to make, write, create, play. And print and paint hands on rock walls. (from here)

When I use my own hands in my art, such as in this series and some others, it is because I'm the most convenient model. Which is why I used to draw self-portraits a lot, just as many artists do.

Age has brought wrinkles and swollen middle fingers but my hands still work well for me and I'm grateful for that. Hands respond to brain messages, so if my brain goes, maybe my hands will too (what a horrible thought!) and I don't think my nose could do anything my fingers can, though I appreciate the humour. Voice will take over typing on keyboards thanks to technology but not much else that I know of.

Do I manicure my hands? I trim my nails, scrub garden dirt off and cream my hands when they are dry but that is it. I don't call that a manicure and I've never had a professional one though when much younger I did sometimes use nail polish - a useless vanity for busy hands like mine.