‘I am not here to show you a dance, I am here to be danced and I invite you to witness’ – Victoria Brant
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.
The creative project has been an extremely valuable part of the MA course for me. Within the confines of academic demands it is often difficult to move out of the head, indeed this has been one of the very unique challenges of the programme. The degree has offered a number of wonderful opportunities to tackle this issue by actively encouraging a more heart centred and intuitive approach to the content that we are facing here as students. To become more “…consciously aware of our intuitive process…” (Anderson, 2004, p.70) is a refreshing challenge to the more traditional approaches of academic research and engagement. But to be able to open the heart and engage our intuition in a manner that retains a level of conscious awareness and an ability to ‘see’ this process critically, is the real nature of the challenge we face as students. This represents new ground.
The idea for this project was rooted in Marie Angelo’s imaginal inquiry. According to Angelo, imaginal inquiry means trying to look at “the image as a living presence, entering its mythos and cosmos (narrative time and ordered space) and learning of it through participating in it” (2005, p.13). She argues that “if we allow the image to teach, to educate the eye, then we are gradually led to its heart, from the general to the particular, rom the outside inwards” One of the main objectives of my creative project was to create a piece of visual art that could have the transformative function that Angelo talks about. For me this meant conjuring a project that in some way codified a symbolic message that I wanted to convey to the world. In other words, an image with which one can engage and create a living bond, and not only look at.
One particular atrophied ‘not I’ that was calling for my attention was related to making art which I denied myself very early, as it was owned by my mother. She was the artist and she tried to ‘teach’ me to make art. I rejected her tutoring and instead learnt that what I already produced was not good enough, nor was it art, and that she held primacy over what art truly was. This assumption encouraged me to reject this aspect of myself and relegate it to ‘not I’, and so I have always blamed my mother for my fear of this particular type of creativity and the shame that goes with it.
After reading about the Flower of Life for several months from a wide range of authors from the ancient Greeks to the modern new age, I felt ready to draw my own Flower of Life symbol. I wanted to try and put myself in touch with Jung’s collective unconscious through the practice of scared geometry, using it as a metaphor for universal order, where in his book Sacred Geometry Lawlor advises us that “it is the approach to the starting point of the geometric activity which radically separates what we may call the sacred from the mundane or secular geometries” (Lawlor, 1987, p16). In his dialogue ‘The Republic’, Plato said that “God is always doing geometry”, and it is said that above the door to the Academy in Athens which he founded as the first institution of higher education in the Western world, the words were inscribed “let no one ignorant of geometry enter”. It was with some trepidation, and a feeling of pressure to do justice to my attempt, that I sat and started my first Flower of Life symbol.
Learning is my life passion, much of my recreational learning arising from a desire to maintain a creative balance with a career that has been in information technology and latterly lecturing in business management. In 2015 I attended a one-day woodcarving course learning the basics of the craft. Having a lifelong love of trees and wood, the smell of sawdust is evocative of my childhood as the daughter of a carpenter. The idea of carving a finger-labyrinth in the classical 7-circuit style kept re-surfacing in my consciousness. But would this provide sufficient scope for a creative project? Although simple in style, this carving was to present unforeseen challenges.
This project was a creative process that crystallized in my endeavour to attempt to momentarily create a soul connection with my fellow students through the theatrical production of a sketch titled “Speaking from the Heart”. I wanted to corroborate the idea of the value of self judgement through the act of heart-felt confession. In order to combine these two practices in an artistic fashion I had to connect the concept of the soul to an instantly recognizable cultural image that served both as a visual and empathic bridge between myself and the group; while at the same time connecting the soul to the cosmos. It was for this reason that I chose the symbol of the heart. For is it not the heart and the expression of its intentions that influence our behaviour towards others? The ‘Upanishads’ write of the supreme Cosmic Spirit, Brahman, “He is the bridge of immortality. Where all the subtle channels of the body meet, like spokes in the centre of a wheel, there he moves in the heart and transforms his one form unto many.”
Following the aims of transformational learning theory and using art as a means of expression I have attempted to do an exercise that showed how I have engaged with the materials presented in the MA course. At the beginning of my studies I was not familiar with most of the themes that are at the core of the MA programme, such as symbolism or divination. During these years of learning I have discovered and rediscovered different areas of knowledge that have impacted me in many ways and that have contributed, and will still be adding, to my growth as a person. Therefore I wanted to create something that reflected what the MA has meant for me. In my essay I will present a review of the process that lead me to create the collage I entitled “Looking out of my window”, attempting to explain its symbolism and the challenges I have faced while doing it.
This projects weaves together a family tradition of crafting with various elements of the MA that were meaningful to me, to create a tapestry of ’emblems’.
“At the age of 45 my heart literally broke. A boyfriend finished a relationship unexpectedly and a few days later I suffered a heart attack. My understanding as an Arts Psychotherapist is that there is no delineation between mind and body, so it did not surprise me that my heart physically mirrored my actual emotions of grief and abandonment.”
In this session celebrating the Spring Equinox, Angela and Mary introduce you to one of the most famous and iconic of Renaissance paintings by Botticelli, one of only four of his paintings inspired by pagan themes.
The Art of Seeing with Mary Attwood – A Harmony of the Hemispheres – Thursday 9th September 2021 – 7-8pm (UK time) -Via Zoom – £10
These run once a month on a Thursday from 7-8 pm (UK time) by Zoom. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for dates.
We know how to read a book and get lost in the other world of the imagination, and we allow ourselves to be moved emotionally and viscerally by music, but have we lost our visionary capacity when it comes to looking at works of art?
My creative project explores “the fecundating, magical action of the symbol on the mind” (Pietro Negri, 2001, p 91). In a sense this phrase perfectly encapsulates the aims and effects of the transformative material we have encountered on the MA, as the creative project is noted as ‘the heart of the MA’.
In Part One of this series of lectures on The Art of Seeing, Mary provides a more theoretical overview to the experiential and practical monthly ZOOM sessions on The Art of Seeing.
Alchemy is not merely a laboratory process to discover the elixir of life or the Philosophers’ Stone but was understood to also be a metaphysical process, concerned with the development of the soul. For my CP I decided I wanted to do a series of paintings working with the rich symbolism of the alchemical process that would lead to an appreciation of the stages of alchemy as stages of the souls journey to wholeness – of becoming a fully realised human being. In the course of doing this project I wanted to let chance happenings or synchronicities guide me to a certain extent. I found this approach to be liberating in that I could allow the paintings to come through me rather than from me. The paintings are meant to be meditated upon.
72 minute downloadable lecture. In this lecture, I focus on the possibility of a hidden meaning within the fresco The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, painted between 1495 and 1498. I want to ask whether he intended to hide a cosmic dimension behind or within this portrayal of a pivotal episode in Christian history, and if so, why.
Testimonial and Art by Lisa Hawkins MA Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred student 2014-2017 I have always been interested in the spiritual, the intangible element of life. I remember as a child asking questions of materiality, did it really exist – or was it just in my...
For millennia, images and form in art and architecture have carried meaning, inspired people to accomplish enormous feats and been the medium through which hidden realities could be realised.
Today it may seem an odd concept to move beyond just looking at art to perceiving it as a means with which we can wake up, transform consciousness and be informed with a sense of purpose.
Works of art often only scratch the surface of our thoughts as we fit past them in galleries and museums.
The inspiration for my creative project came when Angela Voss introduced Ficino’s ‘Book of Life’ and the idea of creating an image of the cosmos to contemplate in your home. I had a powerful reaction and decided to create my own version:
The inspiration for this Creative Project snuck up on me quite unexpectedly – rather like a wild beast in the forest creeps up on its unsuspecting prey. I’ve never thought much about masks before – other than being slightly alarmed by them as a child – so the unprecedented notion of doing a whole project on them took me by surprise.
“Sophia herself is not fourth to the Holy Trinity, but rather is the matrix of the divine creative power and as such is the bride of Logos or bridegroom.
The vesica piscis is an ancient symbol with many meanings in cultures all over the world. It often symbolises a portal or bridge between between earthly and transcendent realms. I decided to explore this symbol for my creative project, and made a painted, printed and sewn cloth with vesical designs for contemplation and meditating on. I also some other art works – they were quite different from anything I’ve done before. This was truly a journey of creative discovery and ’embodied spirituality’ for me, which was very healing.