My creative project title arose from an exploration of two approaches to dance movement. Approach one explores dance movement in a meditative state of presence, which I called Being. Approach two explores the intention ‘pretending to Be’ through dance movement. The terms ‘Be’, ‘Being’ and ‘pretending to Be’ in relation to approaches one and two I will using throughout this essay. The primary intention for my project is approach one, to explore dance movement that arises from a state of presence and meditation, Being. I created approach two, so I had a counter opposing reference to approach one for greater clarity, for instance, one cannot comprehend black if they do not know white. I am using the terms ‘Being’ and ‘pretending to be’ instead of authentic and inauthentic, as authentic would suggest I am trying to be authentic, when I am only trying to Be.
Resolution of inner conflict was at the heart of my decision to create a virtual place as the creative output of the Creative Project . This project would, I hoped, reconcile seemingly divergent ontological aspects of myself and in doing so potentially create something of interest to others. After months of consideration, I settled that creating a digital application (‘app’) might be both a cathartic and symbolic merging respectively of my professional experience and my personal passion. In seeking this reconciliation, I was unexpectedly accompanied by my daemon. The product of this companionship was to be ‘The Book of Daemon’, a digitised book whose primary aim was to inspire potential readers to possibly establish, renew or develop a conscious engagement with their personal daemon. In undertaking this initiatory endeavour, which is in process still, I had hoped the exercise would engender a deeper knowing of myself by learning new skills and subjects. What I would not anticipate was the extent to which undertaking praxis ‘and entering into unknowing’, would bring me to the edge of sense and in doing so instigate a complete re-visioning and shift of my very being.
This creative project was inspired by a trip to Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island in Northumberland . It was here that Eadfrith created the Lindisfarne Gospels, ‘one of the world’s greatest masterpieces of manuscript painting’, around 698 CE (Backhouse, 2014 p.7). The Gospels were created in honour of St. Columba who having died in 687 CE, was formally declared a Saint when it was found his body had not decayed on its exhumation in 698 CE. After a walk around the Lindisfarne Priory ruins (which date from 1093 on the site of the earlier monastery), the project to ‘do some Celtic artwork’ was hatched in a café on the island and I went home clutching a copy of ‘The Celtic Design Book’ (Meehan 2007).
During the first term of this MA during a seminar discussion, we explored the allegory of Plato’s cave (Platos Republic VII, 514a to 517), and I felt myself being drawn to the idea of the cave being a womb like place in which gestation can occur; a place of darkness where, having lost a sense of self or meaning of life, we can either relinquish our journey or discover within us, a spark of awakening that can initiate a return or a rebirth. It reminded me of the myth of the descent of the Sumerian goddess Inanna to the underworld and that night, I dreamed of being in a cave deeply asleep as if in hibernation. I heard something calling me, yet could not identify the sound; it felt more like an intuitive ‘hearing’ and yet seemed to come from within me. It was urging me to rouse myself. On awakening I amusingly thought I had dreamed of the opposite of the opening lines to Inanna’s myth; “From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below” (Wolkstein, Kramer and Williams-Forte, 2004, p.52).
I had, in my dream, opened my ear from the ‘Great Below’ to the ‘Great Above’ and the idea to explore her myth as a creative performance began.
Can we access the archetypal ideas via the practice of painting. Does “being in the world” have an effect on the soul of the artist, by retreating into a world of interiority but remaining wholly present can we access the soul?Can we create a dialogue with the imagination which is reflected in the strokes the artist puts upon the page? How does active imagination equate to this. Can we see through our projections? Can we see the “gods” in the landscape and if so, how does the painter interpret this? Is this Alchemy?
I already possessed some artwork, a painting which I produced several years ago on a short course in Visionary Art. I was interested in exploring the metaphorical significance of the images which had emerged. The painting was full of meaningful symbols in terms of my personal life at that time, and had been a helpful companion since then. Now I was in a position to revisit the picture with fresh eyes, and found that this was giving rise to even more possibilities and questions. I realised that, as well as looking at how an image emerges, I also needed to consider how the onlooker “reads” an image as symbol, and how meaning may arise from a completed piece of work when it is “out there” in the world.