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Smoke & Soil

If you look at a tipi from the side you’ll see that it looks like an American Indian warrior sitting cross-legged on the ground with a blanket around him like that. He’s got a headdress that goes on like that, he’s got a pipe that goes up like the smoke flaps like that and he’s blowing pipe out. And in a way, you’ll see that the fire is like an altar, it’s that central thing that draws your mind in and gives a focus.

(Chris, resident of tipi valley until his death in 2016)

For most of human history, over 3 million years, people lived as hunters-and-gatherers. Moving from place to place,as land became void of fruit and meat. They gave earth a chance to restore, recover and renew. Untilaround10,000 years ago there were few, if any, permanent homes or villages. The Industrial Revolution took place around 200 years ago, and the digital revolution started around 70 years agoleading to what we now call modern life.

Housing, running water and central heating are just some of what many people consider to be advantages, but modern life can also carry many disadvantages. Through technological gains, mankind had become transfixed in a constant state of exposure to information, news and social networking. Living in a house and enjoying its’ comforts also brings its’ bills, and with the worry of affording it all.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, the philosopher Aristotle tries to discover what the best wayis to lead our lives and to give it meaning. This supreme good, says Aristotle, is happiness.

I have immersed myself in Tipi Valley, a low-impact lifestyle eco-community in South West Wales, of which most of its’ residents live in nomadic dwellings such as tipis, yurts and domes. My aim wasto gain an understanding not of how people there live, but why they live – what makes this place that extraordinary special for people to give up on their contemporary lives, far away from our modern world. My photographs are a visual respond of what I found, from my own personal journey through Tipi Valley.

Living alongside the villagers I began to understand Aristotle. I came across the most precious of all human goods, happiness. Living in a tipi you are exposed to the wills of the elements, it is like living outside, on the earth, around an open fire. I have learnt to appreciate the smallest things, in which you can often find striking beauty, such as the first beams of sunlight on an icy field after a freezing winter night, or moss hanging off trees with wide and tangled branches, lit gold by the sun. If it rains then it will rain,and there is nothing you can change about, but the rain also lays a glittery shimmer over leaves and grasses. I have learnt to appreciate to live and to be, and to find raving beauty in everything.

Living in Tipi Valley was a self-finding, almost spiritual experience that has taught me a lot about appreciation, respect and acceptance. Being one with yourself and your environment – respecting the Earth and what is on it – has for me led to inner peace, fulfilment and true happiness.

“Living here is like starting to live again, it’s like being born again”

Pete, resident of Tipi Valley for over 30 years.

“I am happier now with nothing than I ever was in my entire life, when I believed I had everything that I thought I need.”

Jason, recent resident of Tipi ValleyIf you look at a tipi from the side you’ll see that it looks like an American Indian warrior sitting cross-legged on the ground with a blanket around him like that. He’s got a headdress that goes on like that, he’s got a pipe that goes up like the smoke flaps like that and he’s blowing pipe out. And in a way, you’ll see that the fire is like an altar, it’s that central thing that draws your mind in and gives a focus.  

(Chris, resident of tipi valley until his death in 2016) 

 

For most of human history, over 3 million years, people lived as hunters-and-gatherers. Moving from place to place,as land became void of fruit and meat. They gave earth a chance to restore, recover and renew. Untilaround10,000 years ago there were few, if any, permanent homes or villages. The Industrial Revolution took place around 200 years ago, and the digital revolution started around 70 years agoleading to what we now call modern life. 

Housing, running water and central heating are just some of what many people consider to be advantages, but modern life can also carry many disadvantages. Through technological gains, mankind had become transfixed in a constant state of exposure to information, news and social networking. Living in a house and enjoying its’ comforts also brings its’ bills, and with the worry of affording it all.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, the philosopher Aristotle tries to discover what the best wayis to lead our lives and to give it meaning. This supreme good, says Aristotle, is happiness.  

I have immersed myself in Tipi Valley, a low-impact lifestyle eco-community in South West Wales, of which most of its’ residents live in nomadic dwellings such as tipis, yurts and domes. My aim wasto gain an understanding not of how people there live, but why they live – what makes this place that extraordinary special for people to give up on their contemporary lives, far away from our modern world. My photographs are a visual respond of what I found, from my own personal journey through Tipi Valley. 

Living alongside the villagers I began to understand Aristotle. I came across the most precious of all human goods, happiness. Living in a tipi you are exposed to the wills of the elements, it is like living outside, on the earth, around an open fire. I have learnt to appreciate the smallest things, in which you can often find striking beauty, such as the first beams of sunlight on an icy field after a freezing winter night, or moss hanging off trees with wide and tangled branches, lit gold by the sun. If it rains then it will rain,and there is nothing you can change about, but the rain also lays a glittery shimmer over leaves and grasses. I have learnt to appreciate to live and to be, and to find raving beauty in everything. 

Living in Tipi Valley was a self-finding, almost spiritual experience that has taught me a lot about appreciation, respect and acceptance. Being one with yourself and your environment – respecting the Earth and what is on it – has for me led to inner peace, fulfilment and true happiness.

“Living here is like starting to live again, it’s like being born again”

 Pete, resident of Tipi Valley for over 30 years.

 “I am happier now with nothing than I ever was in my entire life, when I believed I had everything that I thought I need.”

Jason, recent resident of Tipi Valley