I packed a few pine tree wood discs, sandpapered for this trip, along with my lenses.
I choose a quiet spot to set up ‘shop’ on Ipanema beach. I seat myself on my folding camp stool on the sand with my back turned three-quarters to the Sun. Polished wood in my left hand, a smallish lens in my right.
Now I have arrived. I’m in shorts, peaked cap on my head. I’m wearing glasses that protect me from 85 per cent of sunlight and from all harmful rays.
I am here at one of the most famous beauty spots on the planet. After the relative greyness of Northern Europe, I should be hyper aware of the privilege of being on Ipanema Beach. Normally my senses would be opened and scanning. I’d be drinking, seeing, hearing and loving these moments in paradise on earth.
As always, the meditative buzz of Solar Pyrography welcomes me. Soon my breathing slows, my mind empties, and what I am doing takes all of my focus. Smoke and occasionally sweet resin-scented flames rise from my wood disc, as if from a sacrificial offering.
When people see me, they nudge each other, pause and say, “Look what that man’s doing!” It’s easy to leave them on the edge of my vision.
The kids are not so shy. They barge in close. Thankfully they accept me with my monosyllabic noises. Some notice their shadows block my work. My lens moves on. Who will go home and try for themselves this trick of fire with a lens and sunlight? I am always amazed that Solar Burning is such an unknown activity in hot countries.
The Rio sun hurts. I’m in a race to finish my commission before the thirst and the pain drive me away. I’m not sunning myself, swimming, surfing, strolling along admiring the sea, the surf or the mountains. I am not drinking Brahma beer or ice-cold fresh juice from coconut stalls.
I am here, but I am not here! I am in an altogether other place.
It is as heavenly as this fabulous Brazilian holiday destination. This heavenly place is entirely contained inside of me by the precisely controlled actions of my body as I focus Sun energy through a glass onto pine wood
The engaged couple’s initials, B and D, woven into a heart made of hearts above the Lover’s Knot, looks ready to me. I hope they like it back home in Dorset.