- Where do leafages come from? Where does anything come from?
When it happened, I had no idea of its signifcance. In my travels I have always picked up a leaf here or there and pressed it between the pages of my notebook. It was 1998, I was in Burma and had spent the day at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, dazed by the hundreds of glittering gold stupas and huge colorful buddhas. I picked up a leaf that I thought was from a peepul tree and pressed it in the pages of my notebook. The next day I saw that the leaf had absorbed my writing. I did not know then that two years later I would be making leafages. I did not know that the peepul leaf was in fact a bodhi leaf and that bodhi leaves would inspire much of my work.
- Page from Burma diary
It was one of the last days of summer 2000 in Abiquiu, New Mexico. On this particular day I walked around a grove of cottonwood trees and plucked one of its thick, dark green serrated leaves. Then I saw a cluster of startlingly yellow ones on a branch beyond my reach. I wanted one but I couldn’t have it. And still I wanted it.
I sat down with my small notebook on a picnic bench under the tree. The air was still, the sun was hot. Suddenly, a yellow leaf floated onto the table and settled onto my notebook. I looked up but no more leaves were forthcoming.
I recorded this by writing on the leaf with a Sakura 0.1 mm pen and stuck it in my diary.
This was my first intentional leafage and I’ve been in thrall to leaves ever since. I see now that leafages are the confluence of many threads of my life–nature, storytelling, calligraphy, writing, languages, alphabets, gypsies, crones, paper, design and color.
I don’t know whether this leaf or the Burma bodhi is the actual ur-leafage, the one from which all the others have come. Not that it matters much!