“Welcome to the end of the world as we know it. The advertised future has been canceled, due to unforseen circumstances. All around us there are signs that our whole way of living is passing into histoy. This is a book about what we do next.”
What could I say about this passage, about my excitment for the book that this statement graces the back of, that wouldn’t sound cliche, that could really communicate the excitment that I feel fluttering in the marrow of my bones at reading these words? Nothing. Silence, in fact, is the answer. A quiet nod at what I can only imagine is a damn fine publication created by people who I would really enjoy sharing an evening with. Meet the Dark Mountain Project.
Being hopelessly out of touch with everything—even things that interest me passionately—I first heard about the project over a year after the second Dark Mountain anthology was complete, from fellow sometimes-small-houser writer dreamer painter and dream weaver Rima Staines. (Whose work you might remember from this post.) The group publishes hardcover anthologies of end-of-civilization writing and art, puts on festivals, and generally deserves a lot of hat-tipping and praise. As usual, they’ve already described the project well themselves, and I quote:
“We are citizens of the most destructive civilisation in human history. That civilisation is in the process of destroying much of life on Earth in order to feed its ever-advancing appetites. As it does so, it appears to be destroying itself. All around us are signs that our whole way of life is passing into history.
“In times like these, an honest cultural response is needed. It is through stories that we weave reality. The progress of civilisation itself is a story; as is the centrality of homo sapiens to life on Earth, as is the inevitability of human life getting better, of technology and science digging us out of the hole we are in. These old, creaking stories are now killing us. We need new ones.
“The Dark Mountain Project exists to write them. We aim to question the stories that underpin our failing civilisation, to craft new ones for the age ahead and to reflect clearly and honestly on our place in the world. We call this process Uncivilisation.”
dark mountain and dumpster diving
In a roundabout way, it all comes back to dumpster diving. Rima painted the cover for the first Dark Mountain Anthology. On a piece of wood she found in the trash. And another dumpster find of the week post was born. Isn’t it purdy?
As for where she scavenged the wood, Rima had this to say:
“As for the Dark Mountain painting….well the piece of wood came from a skip in a rather special place we have in our community called Proper Job. It’s a community recycling yard or landfill redirection—basically, a kind of heavenly junk yard with piles of old stuff, portacabins and compost… they take all the stuff we don’t want any more, and do house clearances too, and then sell it back to people who do want it. There are books, clothes, textiles, antiques, old tools, furniture, compost, and all manner of unnamable items, bits of metal, wood, and more…
“If you live round here, you generally tend to go there every week or few to see what’s appeared, and the longer you live in this area, the more you see items passing round to other people. Most of my clothes these days come from there, and friends exclaim when they see their old garments on me. Pieces of furniture make their way round many households in the village, and all in all it’s a great place. They have a skip for old wood that’s not obviously usable and people can take it for firewood for a donation (you can see where the skips are here).
“And that’s where I found the piece of wood for the painting. I love to paint on wood best of all—canvas is too springy, and often I like to keep the bark on (as with my handmade wooden clocks). Also, I really really love the worn wood aesthestic, flaking paint, and mottled broken colour. The older and more weathered the wood the better, which is why a skip is a better place to find wood for a painting than a wood yard. The weathering gives it soul I think.”
You can see more photos of the painting, as well as read more of Rima’s magical words over at Into the Hermitage.
Have you ever turned scavenged materials into art?